Monday, June 18, 2007

A Friend Indeed?

The prime minister of Israel, Ehud Olmert, said: “I call on my friend Abu Mazen,” referring to Mr. Abbas, who was in Ramallah, to take the opportunity, now that almost the entire world understands the viciousness, the brutality of Hamas, to exercise his authority as the leader of the Palestinian people.”

Israel will do what it can, he said in an interview with The New York Times in Tel Aviv, to “be helpful and supportive of the Palestinian people in every possible way, including economic cooperation and security cooperation.”

It is so refreshing to see that Israel’s prime minister is so willing to help the Palestinian people. As the Palestinians continue to struggle against one another in a push for power between the democratically elected government headed by Hamas and the Fatah party led by President Abbas, the Israeli government is now willing to help.

I think that it is interesting that throughout the “so-called” Middle East peace process the Israeli’s have done everything within their power to undermine Mr. Abbas, that now when faced with the prospect of a Hamas led government they are willing to support him. I am afraid that it is too little, too late for Mr. Abbas. The Hamas led government is a direct result of the foot-dragging and disingenuous negotiations that Israel and the US have been engaged end trying to placate the Palestinians while the Israelis continue to cement their land grab and occupation of lands taken in the 1967 war. If the Israeli’s had bargained in good faith in the past maybe we would not be in the position we are today.

The occupation has not made Israel safer and it has only inflamed the passions of the Palestinians and the Arab world. Before the Hamas victory in elections, Israel had ample opportunity to negotiate with the moderate Palestinians, but instead chose to stonewall the process and continue to build settlements, settlements that violate the letter and the spirit of the peace process. However, due to their lobbying efforts and media domination they have been able to present the occupation as being humane and in the best interest of the Palestinians. The Palestinians are too barbaric to be able to govern themselves and require the benevolent assistance of the Israelis to save them from themselves. This picture will again be played out in the main stream press as the violence intensifies.

Of course throughout this process what won’t be discussed are the efforts of the Israelis and the US to destabilize the Palestinians and to keep them splintered so they cannot mount an effective defense against the media savvy Israelis. Thus allowing them to present the Palestinians as uncivilized and therefore unworthy of having a place at the bargaining table. This has allowed the Israelis to continue to fortify their positions and settlements in the occupied territory. The Israelis and the US will disavow any complicity in the violence that is now taking place in Gaza, not accepting that this violence is in direct response to the fact that the lawfully elected government is being kept from governing by the interference of Washington and Tele Aviv.

Am I a fan of Hamas? Certainly not. But I am not a Palestinian and so my vote doesn’t count for anything in this struggle. I do know that you cannot create an environment that fosters frustration, hopelessness, and fear and not expect some backlash. You cannot restrict the daily movements of a people and interrupt their interactions with their families and then be shocked when they respond. Let’s not forget that for a long time this land belonged to them as much as it did to Israel, if not more. Are they also entitled to self-determination? Are they not entitled to their own state?

So what is there to do? We can continue to play the blame game and the retaliation mess or we can try something novel and maybe talk to all parties. If we continue to marginalize and isolate those who we disagree with we only continue to foster their beliefs that we are insensitive to their needs. We open the door for even more radical elements, because the moderates have shown little, if any gains. Hamas is a creation of the corruption of the Fatah party and the frustration at the lack of progress for the average Palestinian. In a conflict of this magnitude, one that runs this deep there are only two options: either we make peace and sacrifice for that peace or we kill all of them. Because as long as they are there, there will be no peace. There will be no peaceful co-existence. So either sit down with all parties and negotiate in good faith or stop the “snipe hunt” and let the killing begin…

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