Wednesday, February 01, 2006

This frightens me

Hamas' recent election win frightens me. I don't think it bodes well for anyone's future--not even Palestine's.

Probably because I'm currently reading Never Again? The Threat of the New Anti-Semitism, I'm feeling especially sensitive to the whole issue. It's almost certainly a holdover from my upbringing that I'm doggedly pro-Israel, as a default position. Certainly, as the Palestinian situation has smoldered over the years, there's been a great deal of pressure to understand and empathize with the plight of Palestine--pressure especially from the left and far-left, where I'm usually ideologically comfortable.

You know what, though? I find a curious blank wall in my brain, where those arguments just don't get through. I simply cannot bring myself to sympathize with people that view suicide bombing civilian targets as a viable diplomatic strategy--I don't care how goddamned desperate and hopeless they feel. At what point is doing wrong just...well, wrong? (Which is equally applicable to Israel's behavior toward civilians in the conflict, of course--but when civilians are the primary combatants, those lines become very blurry, don't they?)

From the Palestinian side of the ideological chasm:

There is no doubt that Fatah was entirely complicit in the game, to which it had become both a prisoner and an indispensable partner. Why else would the United States have desperately tried to shore Fatah up by spending millions of dollars on projects in recent months designed to buy votes, and why else would the EU have threatened to cut off aid if Palestinians voted for Hamas? Most Palestinians could see clearly that after years of negotiations and billions of dollars of foreign aid that they are poorer and less free than ever before as more of their land has been seized. It is no wonder that this kind of bribery and blackmail had no power over them and probably had the opposite effect, increasing Hamas support.

Hamas' victory pulls the rug from under the project of trying to deflect the blame for the conflict from Israeli colonization to Palestinian internal pathologies. The peace process industry will not give up easily, however, and will now urge Hamas to act "responsibly" and to "moderate" its positions -- which means in effect abandoning all forms of resistance and assuming the docile and complicit role hitherto played by Fatah.

The instant US demand that Hamas "recognize Israel" is like rewinding the clock twenty-five years to when this same demand was the pretext to ignore and exclude the PLO from peace negotiations. But as Hamas has observed, all the PLO's submission to these demands did not lead to any loosening of Israel's grip or any lessening of US support for Israel. Hamas is unlikely to do as the US demands, and even if it did, it would probably only give rise to new resistance groups responding to the worsening conditions on the ground generated by the occupation.

From the other side of the chasm, "Abraham H. Foxman, ADL National Director, issued the following statement:

It is a sad day for democracy when a majority of Palestinians vote for the party that employs and glorifies terrorism to achieve its aim to destroy Israel. The empowerment of Hamas puts peace in peril and dashes hopes for a viable
Palestinian state living in peace and security with Israel.

History has shown time and again that extremist groups come to power by promising a better life for the people, but once governing, implement their extremist policies. As long as Hamas remains an armed terrorist group it cannot be a partner for peace or accepted as a legitimate government by the international community of nations.

What are your thoughts on this, folks? Is it something you're interested in talking about? Because even though I haven't perhaps said so, directly, I'm often stunned and grateful at the kind, smart, and reasonable discussion that results in the comments here, despite our various and deeply-held differences of opinion.

Thank you for that, all of you.


Anonymous said...

You should be frightened, Mac. And for good reason. You're talking about the most volatile part of the world at the moment. An area no one has any control over.

How can anyone reason w/ a group who believes in random murder as a solution to a problem they lost sight of years ago? and have no desire in resolving anyway! They've one agenda and they've clearly expressed it-Hamas will not rest until Israel no longer exists.

I would love to side w/ the Palestinian plight, I really would. Regardless, I cannot support homicide as a solution to any given set of problems. Therefore, I join you in your well-founded fear.

Stacia said...

Haven't you heard? Anti-Semitism is the New Black.

I agree with Jean Marie. I do sympathise with the Palestinians. But there's a point where sympathy dies, and it's right around the time that innocent people do too.

And I am conservative, in the old-fashioned way. I think the government needs to butt out of my life, and I think gay people should be married because it's only fair (and then we cut off any "unmarried" benefits), but I also think I should be able to raise my kids how I want and I'm tired of everyone insisting that means telling them it's OK to have sex at 15.

Sorry. Ranting.

I do find this election very scary, and I find it disturbing that the major media outlets (that I've seen, anyway) aren't really stressing what this means.

Mac said...

Ah! I responded in the wrong thread. :)

December, would that more conservatives were like you and Jean Marie.

Anonymous said...

Aww, thanks, Mac!

T. M. Hunter said...

Unfortunately, there will never be peace in the Middle East. When almost every country there is after the complete and total destruction of Israel, I'm not even sure why anyone would think there could be.

JL4 said...


You are cordially invited to see "the other side" of your new-found curmudgeon aquaintance.

You get a chance, take a gander at "Broken things".


Jill said...

Mac, You wrote so eloquently about the struggle between wanting to want good things for the residents of Palestine yet being unable to support people who support suicide bombing as a diplomatic tactic. I know you're read my posts about my inner turmoil on this issue, so I won't repeat myself.

What I would like to hear more of, and I do think some of it's getting out there, is how do Muslims around the world feel? Is this what they want Islam to be identified with by non-Muslims? I know they don't - I know that there are Muslims speaking out about how their beliefs do not support suicide bombing. But what hasn't that group taken hold? What is preventing their voice from being the dominant one inside the more radically religious and conservative Middle Eastern governments?

I saw the picture on the cover of the NYT just after the election, and it was a sea of men and boys. Not a single female face. Doesn't that alone speak to scary?

Mac said...

Jill, it's terrifying, in fact. I hear more from the various feminist blogger voices than from anyone else about the dangers of this.

You asked: I know that there are Muslims speaking out about how their beliefs do not support suicide bombing. But what hasn't that group taken hold? What is preventing their voice from being the dominant one inside the more radically religious and conservative Middle Eastern governments?

It's an excellent question--and a question that applies to our own brand of religious extremism, though admittedly to a lesser degree of desperation.

I just a really excellent talk by a member of a hopefully-growing movement to reclaim Christianity from the religious right.

What exactly does it take to convince everyone that we all have a right to draw breath? Because, in the case of Israel and Hamas, it isn't about wanting to convert Israelis, or make them live by Muslim rules, or any of the things that American liberals fear about our own religious right...It's about whether or not Israelis (and Jews, by extension) are entitled to live.

If we're smart, we'll damn sure be taking a lesson about extremism from this.

Mac said...

That should have said I just attended a talk given by a local member of the hopefully-growing movement to reclaim...yadda, yadda.

My fingers couldn't keep up with my brain, and apparently went for the short-cut.

Jill said...

I filled in the blanks just fine but thanks for the clarification. :)

Also - great post today - I really appreciate the additional thoughts.