Archive for the ‘Palestinian’ Category
[CounterPunch: Tells the Facts, Names the Names » Does Hamas Hate Peace? ]
Does Hamas Hate Peace?
Ignore Them at Your Peril
Certainly, the consistent message of Western Media seems to suggest that this is the case. HAMAS represents the most popular wing of that Western bogeyman, Political Islam, in Palestine. It has been labeled by Western governments as a terrorist group, and is seen as an organization bent on the destruction of Israel. It is also a pragmatic organization that has captured a small majority of Palestinian support for its public refusal to accept the most heinous proposals offered by the Israeli occupation in the interminable peace process. There are no small numbers of Palestinians who bitterly oppose HAMAS’s policy domestically, but in this bloody summer of 2014, proffer their full support for HAMAS’s acts of resistance against the occupation and the siege in Gaza. Here, I hope to provide a critical analysis of the false pretense reproduced as Western media repeats phrases such as “HAMAS rejects Egypt’s cease fire proposal” and HAMAS “opposes terms for ceasefire”, and to explore the importance of HAMAS in the current political landscape.
I have made the siege of Gaza the focus of my research for the last 5 years, and have had the privilege of entering Gaza multiple times to see, first-hand, the effects of Israeli policy on the civilian population. What I have encountered could be considered nothing other than collective punishment, itself a crime against humanity. The strength of the resolve of HAMAS is that it draws upon the deep frustration Gazans have with Western-oriented FATAH leaders who excuse and accept the continued human rights catastrophe that is the Israeli siege.
It is easy to forget that HAMAS won the Palestinian legislative elections in 2006, largely the result of a protest vote against FATAH leadership who seemed disposed to negotiate Palestine into oblivion. FATAH insisted on using the terms of the 1993 Oslo interim agreement as a starting point with any negotiation with Israel, while Israel regularly violates the terms of these accords. The FATAH Palestinian Authority leadership is ossified, seen by many Gazans as trading the crumbs of VIP checkpoint passes for the politicians in the West Bank and access to international donors’ funds for any possible future peace with justice for the wrongs of the ongoing Israeli occupation of Palestine. The terms of Oslo were themselves an absurd step backwards for Palestinian liberation, splitting the West Bank into 3 zones (Areas A, B, and C) and fragmenting potential areas of a future Palestinian state into isolated Bantustans. Gaza itself was completely isolated by Israel, and though the Oslo accords treat Gaza and the West Bank as inseparable, Israel has done all in its power to subvert this collective identity. In effect, the very notion of “facts on the ground” was reified by the FATAH leadership, further empowering Israeli intransigence and an unwillingness to negotiate in good faith. The extent of this enabling was documented in the Palestine Papers, published by Al Jazeera, wherein PA negotiators allegedly went so far as to ask Israel to reoccupy the Philadelphi corridor along Gaza’s southern border in order to help topple HAMAS.
In contrast, HAMAS, once it came into power in the Gaza Strip followed another tack: HAMAS insisted that Israel honor UN resolution 242 that demands Israel withdraw to its pre-1967 boundaries, Israel must follow the norms of international law, and in return HAMAS would enforce a 99-year truce with Israel. The idea of this proposal is that while the parties to any current agreement are themselves the victims of countless atrocities, if a 99 year truce can be maintained, the progeny of the signatories would have no personal grudges, no personal experience of the pain of occupation, and would be willing to create a permanent solution. HAMAS has made this proposal numerous times, though these proposals are unsurprisingly missing from US media portrayals of the Islamist group.
To begin with the Oslo accords, and to accept further expansion of settlements and the ever greater limitation of Palestinian political aspirations was more than most Palestinians could accept. In the intervening years, Gazans suffered under the brutal regime of the Israeli siege, and many suffered from problematic policies put into place by the HAMAS government itself, which become more professionalized, bureaucratized, and seemed to be unable to settle on a coherent policy of resistance, the very reason they were voted into power in the first place. When I was most recently in Gaza, earlier this summer, I saw a population that was growing tired of HAMAS refusing to support popular positions, and one that spent the majority of its time quashing resistance and democratic movements among the youth and non-affiliated sectors of the population. This was a HAMAS that prevented groups from firing rockets into Israel and enforced the terms of ceasefire agreements with Israel, a far cry from the bastions of armed resistance that had made HAMAS a popular option in the elections. The HAMAS that signed on to the unity government was not in a position of strength, and as the West Bank PA leadership played games with the terms of the agreement, HAMAS struck back by closing the banks across Gaza, a move sure to further alienate it from a people already suffering from the artificial humanitarian crisis of the siege.
Once the Israeli attacks on Gaza began, it became clear that HAMAS was now in a struggle for its own existence, in addition to being the voice of the armed resistance in Gaza. Their popularity has skyrocketed since the invasion began, and they are seen once again as an alternative to the avarice and cowardice of Mahmoud Abbas’s leadership in the West Bank. All of this is in the context of the failure of Arab leaders across the Middle East to take meaningful stands against the occupation. Egypt, after the fall of Morsi, continues to actively aid the Israeli and international community’s enforcement of the siege, and to spread propaganda about the threat Gaza poses to the Egyptian homeland.
Israel has emphatically denied the targeting of civilians, and insists on the humanitarian nature of its operation. This claim, however, comes from the same military and civil organizations that for 2 years denied Gazans access to chickpeas for hummus, bath sponges, and unfertilized chicken eggs (GISHA). Instead, Israel has repeatedly targeted civilians and fundamental civilian infrastructure. This same infrastructure has been made all the more vulnerable by repeated Israeli invasions since 2000 and punitive siege measures that prevent the entry of materials that would allow vital repairs to keep the water flowing and the electricity running.
Many observers fail to understand the importance of this infrastructure. Gaza, as many have pointed out, includes refugee camps which are the most densely populated areas on earth. A lack of electricity is not an inconvenience, it is a calamity. All aspects of clean water provision require uninterrupted electric service, throughout the water chain. This includes the pumps at the wells, the reverse osmosis filters in the desalination plants, the distribution pumps, and even the small electrical pumps in the multistory apartment buildings in the camps, where water and electricity must be present at the same time in order to fill the rooftop tanks. The electricity supplies the refrigerators and the fans in the overcrowded rooms in the camps, often housing 15 people in two 3 by 3 meter rooms, in an area of high humidity and summer temperatures of up to 100 degrees. This same electric supply is all that keeps the lights and incubators on at the hospitals.
This is to say nothing of the sewage systems, again repeatedly targeted in this and all other Israeli bombing campaigns, which create sewage tsunamis, floods, and destruction of the marine ecosystem. This ecosystem sustains the few brave fishermen that return to the seas to face the violence of .50 caliber guns on the Israeli navy ships that patrol the ever decreasing fishing boundaries to augment the protein intake of Gazans and to promote the rich fish-based culinary culture.
Gazans are a resourceful group, by necessity. In the face of the international siege, Gazans moved underground, and created a tunnel economy that by some accounts included as many as 3000 tunnels. These tunnels were regulated by HAMAS, and the goods from the tunnels populated the markets, the convenience stores, and the home goods stores for the entire strip. These tunnels were dug by hand in the sandy soil along the Southern border, using hand-drawn maps. They represented a challenge to the international boundary, and were built in open defiance of the siege. Along with the products smuggled through the tunnels came the expected distortions of Gazan and Egyptian economies. Tunnel owners became relatively wealthy, while the workers were paid less and less as the tunnels became more common. Soon electrical goods flooded the market, from televisions to refrigerators to air conditioners, but what good were these items with no electricity to run them? In the end, this warren of tunnels under the border were ended by the US-supported Sisi regime, and flooded with sewage. The tunnels, for the most part, came to an end, and the largest source of employment disappeared. The economic impacts of the destruction of the tunnels were significant, as more and more Gazans became dependent on international food aid, reaching 80 percent of the population. Population densities in the camps actually increased, as young Gazan families were unable to afford rents on apartments, and moved back in with their extended families. This contributed to an increase in diseases such as scabies and lice, and a resurgence of mumps in the confined spaces of the camps.
Why is HAMAS so reluctant to accept a ceasefire? Because life before the invasion was intolerable. With the ascendence of Sisi to power in Egypt, Gazans are completely dependent on Israel, a hostile occupier, for all goods entering the strip, for electricity, for water, for safe passage. All the while, Israel denies its responsibilities under international law to maintain the wellbeing of the occupied population, and engages in wholesale transfer of populations, another violation of human rights. All the while, the world turns a blind eye to these violations, and Israel becomes ever more blatant in its disregard for common human decency. This is a scenario no country would accept.
It is important to ask at this time, why would HAMAS increase in popularity so dramatically, if, as Israeli and numerous US media pundits would have us believe, that they themselves are to blame for the massive civilian deaths throughout the Gaza Strip since the beginning of Operation “Protective Edge”? Herein lies the contradiction of collective punishment. Gaza’s siege has created unbearable hardship for Gazans throughout the strip, and across class, politics and geography. Gazans that I have met have been harsh critics of the HAMAS regime. Those critiques, by and large, have largely been focused on domestic policy, perceived local mismanagement and the lack of progress in bringing the siege to an end and softening the occupation. HAMAS’s support before the current invasion was far greater in the West Bank, where Palestinians suffer under Israeli colonialism and FATAH collaboration with the Israelis. In the end, this is the explanation for the significant expansion of public support for HAMAS in Gaza. They have come to represent resistance. Resistance in the context of the siege, of periodic invasions, the day to day humiliations and injustices, the lack of clean water, electricity, housing, and medical care, the constant firing on fishermen, farmers and rubble gatherers, is the embodiment for many of sumoud, the spirit of steadfastness that permeates popular Palestinian society. As one Gazan blogger recently posted, “People find it hard to understand, the youth, we hate Gaza, we only want to leave, but we love it and will fight for it. We will not be refugees again, it is our home.”
It is Israel that drops 1-ton bombs into overcrowded housing. It is Israel that attacks UN schools that it acknowledges are shelters. It is Israel that shuts off power and water supplies, and limits the entry of food through the Karm Abu Salem terminal. It is Israel that has killed 1900 Gazans, the overwhelming majority civilians. To blame Gazans or even HAMAS for this is unconscionable, and nonsensical. This was a war of choice, based on false premises. Ostensibly the original justification was the abduction of three teenagers on the West Bank, which all, even Israel, now acknowledges, was not the act of HAMAS. Israel has created and taken advantage of an opportunity to attempt to destroy HAMAS and to try to crush Palestinian resistance through bombs, bullets, and missiles. It will fail, but at an unacceptable human cost. With each Gazan child killed, the pain of international culpability in the siege and the invasion is further exacerbated.
HAMAS’s rocket fire and tunnel strategy, as impotent as it may very well appear, may be the only thing preventing a shift to genuine terrorism. The repeated calls in the US congress to denounce HAMAS activities as human rights violations are intolerable hypocrisy in the face of one of the most advanced militaries on the planet deliberately targeting civilians, their homes, and their infrastructure. Israel does this knowing that unless its siege is lifted, it will be almost impossible to rebuild. HAMAS is not the ideal, neither for Gazans, the West or for Israel. They are, however, a group which carries the support of large sectors of the population, and the democratically-elected leaders of Palestine. This is something Israelis, and the West need to fully comprehend: HAMAS is your partner for peace and for negotiations. Ignore them, or attempt to destroy them at your own peril. It is the very violations of international humanitarian law, the wanton destruction of civilians and UN hospitals, clinics, and schools, and the unwillingness of the world powers to condemn these actions, that makes violent armed resistance, including that aimed at civilian targets, an attractive option to a population that has been deserted by the world. Peace is not a ceasefire. For these reasons, alternatives to violence must be pursued. The most promising of these non-violent forms of resistance is the global grassroots solidarity movement encapsulated in Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions. BDS is not only practicable, it is also gaining more and more traction in light of the intransigence and complicity of the West in the violations of decency, humanity, and human rights law.
This article originally appeared in Logos.
Alice Walker’s poem, Democratic Womanism” is reproduced here because it is appropriate and important for our times. When she read it on Democracy Now it touched a nerve.
You ask me why I smile
when you tell me you intend
in the coming national elections
to hold your nose
and vote for the lesser of two evils.
There are more than two evils out there,
is one reason I smile.
Another is that our old buddy Nostradamus
comes to mind, with his fearful
400 year old prophecy: that our world
and theirs too
(our “enemies” – lots of kids included there)
will end (by nuclear nakba or holocaust)
in our lifetime. Which makes the idea of elections
and the billions of dollars wasted on them
A Southerner of Color,
my people held the vote
while others, for centuries,
merely appeared to play
One thing I can assure
you of is this:
I will never betray such pure hearts
by voting for evil
even if it were microscopic
which, as you can see in any newscast
no matter the slant,
it is not.
I want something else;
a different system
One not seen
on this earth
for thousands of years. If ever.
Notice how this word has “man” right in the middle of it?
That’s one reason I like it. He is right there, front and center. But he is surrounded.
I want to vote and work for a way of life
that honors the feminine;
a way that acknowledges
the theft of the wisdom
female and dark Mother leadership
might have provided our spaceship
I am not thinking
of a talking head
kind of gal:
happy to be mixing
with the baddest
on the planet
her eyes a slit
her mouth a zipper.
No, I am speaking of true
Where women rise
to take their place
at the helm
of earth’s frail and failing ship;
where each thousand years
of our silence
and the cruel manner in which our values
of compassion and kindness
have been ridiculed
brought to bear on the disaster
of the present time.
The past must be examined closely, I believe, before we can leave
I am thinking of Democratic, and, perhaps
For who else knows so deeply
how to share but Mothers
and Grandmothers? Big sisters
both female and male?
Not to mention those in between.
To work at keeping
the entire community
would have as its icons
such fierce warriors
for good as
Aung San Suu Kyi,
& Barbara Lee:
With new ones always rising, wherever you look.
You are also on this list, but it is so long (Isis would appear midway) that I must stop or be unable to finish the poem! So just know I’ve stood you in a circle that includes Marian Wright Edelman, Amy Goodman, Sojourner Truth, Gloria Steinem and Mary McLeod Bethune. John Brown, Frederick Douglass, John Lennon and Howard Zinn are there. Happy to be surrounded!
There is no system
There is no system
now in place
that can change
the disastrous course
the Earth is on.
Who can doubt this?
The male leaders
appear to have abandoned
their very senses
though most appear
to live now
in their heads.
They murder humans and other
forests and rivers and mountains
they are in office
and never seem
to notice it.
They eat and drink devastation.
Women of the world,
Women of the world,
Is this devastation Us?
Would we kill whole continents for oil
(or anything else)
rather than limit
the number of consumer offspring we produce
and learn how to make our own fire?
Democratic Socialist Womanism.
A system of governance
we can dream and imagine and build together. One that recognizes
at least six thousand years
of brutally enforced complicity
in the assassination
of Mother Earth, but foresees six thousand years
ahead of us when we will not submit.
What will we need? A hundred years
at least to plan: (five hundred will be handed us
when the planet is scared enough)
in which circles of women meet,
organize ourselves, and,
allied with men
brave enough to stand with women,
men brave enough to stand with women,
nurture our planet to a degree of health.
And without apology —-
(impossible to make
a bigger mess than has been made already) -—
devote ourselves, heedless of opposition,
to tirelessly serving and resuscitating Our Mother ship
and with gratitude
for Her care of us
“The PA recognized Israel’s existence in 1993, and now Israel needs to recognize the Palestinian state in line with the 1967 borders.”
Mutual recognition and acceptance, represented in the simple handshake, is the first prerequisite for peace. Israel’s unilateral demand for Palestinian recognition as a legitimate Jewish state – “declare its recognition of Israel as a national home for the Jewish people” – is a demand for surrender and submission.
The New York Times lays out Michael B. Oren’s Israeli position. He is Israel’s ambassador to the United States.
By MICHAEL B. OREN Published: October 13, 2010
NEARLY 63 years after the United Nations recognized the right of the Jewish people to independence in their homeland — and more than 62 years since Israel’s creation — the Palestinians are still denying the Jewish nature of the state.
The reason, as history so clearly proves is that the Jewish people’s so-called “independence in their homeland” is illegitimate. The are simply thieves and plunderers and a mob’s acceptance justifies only anarchy, chaos and war. The proof is the Jew’s abject refusal to recognize the Palestinians as a legitimate people for 63 years. As long as the Arabs, in particular the Palestinian people, reject the legitimacy of a Jewish State regardless of what the United Nations or other exterior countries do, the Jews are without standing and will not hold that land.
Eric deserves just credit for posting a thoughtful and serious discussion about a subject that touches everyone, whether they like it or not. When it comes to that, he does a pretty good job.
Eric and his blog, in my book, are atypical of the many serious and concerned people in this community. Anyone that tries to stay abreast of what’s going on locally, nationally and internationally has good reason to be concerned if not really worried. Mostly, because there is so much cross-purpose misinformation and they don’t think, even if they had the truth, they’d know what to do about it. Voting doesn’t seem to work, because it really doesn’t matter who or what political party affiliation is voted into office they are all essentially the same. They seem to follow a hidden agenda no matter what the majority of the people want. Demonstrations, sit-ins, write-ins, petitions, or whatever other “action” you can dream up consistent with the so-called Gandhi philosophy of “non-violent” protests seems to work. The thing you hear all the time is, “If we can just get our message out. Once the people see what’s going on, they’ll make “them” change.”
I mentioned Eric’s Whoot! Whoot! post because when you consider the commentary, it is a really good example of the kind of thinking, or rather NON-THINKING, and arbitrary and mindless beliefs I run into all the time. Endless discussions about, mostly nonsensical, conjecture you’d swear came from God Almighty himself – or is it herself?
Never any workable solution – that’s the problem. There is a workable solution. It is a solution anyone can do. In fact, it is a solution that works best when everyone does. Here is an example of one that does work:
“In just a few years the Palestinian campaign to boycott Israeli goods has become truly global”
This is a very timely article about the BDS movement published in recently published in the Guardian:
The movement for boycott, divestment and sanctions (BDS) against Israel was launched in 2005, a year after the international court of justice had found Israel’s wall and colonies built on occupied Palestinian territory illegal. Over 170 Palestinian political parties, unions, mass movements and NGOs endorsed the movement, which is led by the BNC, a coalition of civil society organisations.
This is what I call the essence of Mahatma Gandhi’s teachings that are consistent with one another: Truth and Non-cooperation, NOT non-violence which conflicts with his understanding of Truth and love.
What I’ve learned the 6 decades is that if you want peace then you must first be peaceable. Living in a constant state of self-defense is the same as living in a constant state of war. Israel’s history from the beginning is war. War for the singular purpose of getting all nation states to agree with them, the Zionist Jew, that they have the legitimate right to exist. Whereas everyone that refuses to yield to them does not. If the Jews want recognition as a prerequisite, the they can recognize the Palestinians legitimate right to exist with the same rights and duties and Israel claims. Israel treats the Palestinian people, primarily, as illegitimate, sewer-scum dogs (bastards and bitches) then embargoes them like a legitimate state. The land the Jews occupy belongs to another people. It’s time those people laid claim to that land and enforce their rightful, legal ownership – start acting like the legitimate people they are.
It is also about time the Jews recognize this reality and do what they can to seek peace with these people and stop using the Hamas and Hezbollah as excuses to continue trying to justify their criminal existence. That is while they still can.
The latest from Israel is consistent with their war face. Here’s the latest from Haaretz:
“Lebanon aid ship Miriam to set sail to Gaza Sunday; Israel’s UN ambassador says ships linked to Hezbollah, Israel reserves the right to defend itself.”
Why is it that ONLY Israel has “the right to defend itself”? What makes them so special?
Just in from The Jerusalem Post:
By JPOST.COM STAFF
“Israel tells the UN Lebanese flotilla will not be allowed into Gaza.”
Just posted – Israel’s whores fall right in line:
By HERB KEINON
“Israel approves of UK’s move.” The article concludes:
“One Israeli Foreign Ministry official said that statements such as these were significant because they make it clear that the governments that issue the advisories view the attempt to break the blockade as negative, and hint that those who insist on taking part in the flotillas should not later come to their home governments looking for support.”
Here is where the Jews demeaning, judgmental attitude blinds them. People that participate in these flotillas are doing so exactly BECAUSE their governments DO NOT support them. Without a government to fight the Jews don’t know what to do. So they look for terrorists out of terrorist eyes.
Commentary from an objective Israeli perspective is always interesting. Their ‘objective’ in the very beginning has never changed. Only how they hoped to achieve that objective. The Jews and for that matter their American benefactors will never recognize the legitimacy of the Palestinian people and their thousands of years claim to all of that land. Anyone that knows anything about Christianity should realize Jesus Christ revoked God’s promise to Abraham’s seed over two thousand years ago. The quality, character and value of the Jew as manifest by their nation-state Israel, is solid, lawful proof of that truth and reality.
Conclusion: A two-state solution is someone’s wild dream.
Anyone know why this?
President Obama, Joe Biden and Hillary Clinton including the majority in Congress support Israel and the Jews without question while Obama has done nothing but pay lip-service to the manufactured foreclosure crisis that is making millions homeless. Anyone know why?
Do you know why American tax payer’s are subsidizing these people? There seems to be a real contradiction in this country. It seems we have all the money in the world for phony wars, the Jews, Pentagon, banks and big corporations, but no money for meaningful healthcare, Social Security or Medicare.
By DAVE LINDORFF – April 13, 2010
[Picture Source] Click the picture and tell me if you’d like to live in a place like that?