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Home arrow Blog arrow June 2007 arrow June 19, 2007

June 19, 2007

I don't have much to say today;

But, I have been busy living and writing So, This is 53,

Two articles and one link are posted today:

The first by Sam Bahour, a Palestinian-American living in El-Bireh/Ramallah who has devoted his life seeking an end to the Israeli Occupation and Justice for Palestinians,

The second was published by Haaretz regarding Ariel Sharon's dream.

In clean up position is the link to Russian President Vladimir Putin's hour and a half-long press conference which was attended by many members of the world media.

The contents of that meeting---in which Putin answered questions concerning nuclear proliferation, human rights, Kosovo, democracy and the present confrontation with the United States over missile defense in Europe---have thus far, been ignored by the USA Media.

June 18, 2007  Hamas' Shock and Awe
by Sam Bahour 


The recent overrunning of Gaza by Hamas militants was the equivalent to the United States' Shock and Awe campaign in Iraq.  Both campaigns were conducted outside the realm of international law and were violent and brutal, albeit each relative to their respective resources and internal contexts; both claimed to be 'preemptive' in nature; and both events placed the Palestinian people and struggle for national liberation in even a more precarious position. 


Shock and Awe is a US invention in the same way that the US flavor of "shrink wrapped" democracy is a US creation.  As the Bush Administration failed to export its understanding of democracy to Iraq via the US military, the US's second regional blunder was trying to impose US democracy in occupied Palestine by using a proxy governing body called the Palestinian Authority.  The US's weapon of choice for Palestine was to dangle millions of dollars as bait, there for the taking if the Palestinian leadership showed total obedience.  While US and other donor countries channeled billions of dollars to 'promote' democracy and 'build' Palestinian security forces, Hamas was busy learning the intricacies of the US game of military shock and awe and imposed democracy.  During the last 17 months, Hamas attempted both, successfully: they won democratically held elections, as confirmed by election observer President Jimmy Carter, and then went on to overrun Gaza by brute force. 


One thing Hamas did not do during this short time was govern.  Correctly blaming their inability to govern on the Israeli and US-led economic blockade and the blatantly illegal Israeli policy of arresting Hamas-affiliated ministers and lawmakers, Hamas was given a free ride -- permitted to sit in the seat of authority without having to assume the full responsibility of governance.  Instead of respecting the outcome of elections that one if its own past presidents monitored, the US allowed the Palestinian people to remain unable to define Hamas either as a legitimate governing body or as a failed experience.  US meddling in other peoples internal affairs is the norm in the Middle East, but in Palestine, that norm was violently challenged last week in Gaza. 


While Palestinian President Yasir Arafat was still alive, the US initiated the process of restructuring the Palestinian political system.  The US forced Arafat to accept the creation of the position of prime minister, then they proceeded to demand that the bulk of the Palestinian President's authority be transferred from President Arafat to the newly appointed Prime Minister.  Then the US created a series of political hoops that Arafat would have to jump through to remain in the political game, of which the most relevant given today's crisis was the restructuring of the Palestinian security forces.  Millions of dollars and tons of equipment were dumped on the multitude of Palestinian security agencies and a high-profile US security 'expert,' U.S. Lieutenant General Keith Dayton, set up shop in Israel to make sure the Palestinian security forces were developing strategically, those same security agencies that were overrun in Gaza in a matter of hours.  Then, Palestinians, under extreme pressure from the US, held legislative and municipal elections and when the results were not to the US's liking, the Bush Administration mobilized the world to boycott the Palestinians -- people and government alike. 


While all of this was going on, Israel maintained its hypocritical posture of the past 10 years -- talking peace while at the same time destroying any chances for a peaceful settlement.  In the hopeful days of the Oslo Peace Accords, Israel accelerated its illegal Jewish-only settlement-building in the West Bank like never before.  When a Jewish extremist assassinated Israeli Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin, the Oslo framework was, for all intents and purposes, buried with him.  To make sure the central Oslo principle of 'land for peace' would never be resurrected, Israel violently increased its attempts to bring about the collapse of Palestinian society via 'targeted' assassinations, home demolitions, uprooting of olive groves, over 500 military checkpoints, withholding $800 million in Palestinian tax revenues, nightly arrests, building of an internationally-proclaimed illegal separation wall on Palestinian lands, and on and on.  This is the true context leading to the violence in Gaza. All of this -- and the international community watched, while continuing to fund the status quo and, all the while, referencing Israeli obligations in the already buried Oslo Peace Accords. 


Thus, today's events did not drop out of the sky unexpectedly.  A 4-part mixture of 40 years of Israeli occupation, a US-led coup to collapse a democratically elected Palestinian government, a shift in internal Palestinian power-sharing after over 40 years of a single-party monopoly on authority, and most importantly, the international community's failure to uphold its obligations under International Humanitarian Law - the Fourth Geneva Convention to be specific: All contributed to bringing us to where we are today. 


The international community has a clear decision to make, and the decision must be made now.  Will the community of nations bring about an abrupt end to the four-decade-old Israeli occupation that has caused so much death and destruction to both Palestinians and Israelis? To end the occupation today would mean to do the near impossible task of salvaging a sovereign Palestinian state on all of the land that was acquired by force by Israel in 1967. Barring this, the international community will likely continue to appease the Israeli occupiers, thereby forcing the Palestinians to revert back to calling for possibly the only remaining viable solution, the formal creation of one state from the Mediterranean Sea to the Jordan River for all its citizens. 


Given the Israeli refusal, even today, to classify the Gaza Strip and West Bank, including East Jerusalem, as "occupied lands" and the refusal to mark the Green Line (1949 Armistice Line) in most of the textbooks in their schools, all indications are that the Israelis have already decided that there is no room, on the ground, for another state between Israel and Jordan, although in cheap verbal discourse one may be led to believe that such a state already exists and that its citizens are squabbling over ministerial positions. 


The US and Israel, drunk on power and addicted to war, have enlisted many in the region to do their dirty work.  As the US and Israel try to distance themselves from their many colossal failures -- from Iraq to Palestine -- by engineering the creation of banana republics to serve their narrow self-interests, millions of common folk fall deeper into poverty and extremism. 


Palestinians may be at a low point in their history and corrective action is undoubtedly on the horizon.  The Palestinian people have a collective memory like that of an elephant, and as such the rampage and killings in Gaza by fellow Palestinians will not be legitimized or swept under the rug.  Most likely, Hamas' brutal actions in Gaza will mark the beginning of the end of Hamas as we know it today.  With Hamas in the picture, or otherwise, the Palestinians will maintain a pluralistic society and political system that will continue to resist, as has been the case since the outset of this struggle, all foreign intervention in its internal affairs, be it Western, Iranian or Arab. 


The present is volatile and the future is bleak, but one thing remains constant: When all the dust settles, there will still be an occupied and dispersed people -- the Palestinians -- and a colonial, military occupier -- Israel.  No Shock and Awe campaign, from Hamas or Israel, and no imposed democracy, from Fatah or the US, will change this equation.  Until Palestinians are free -- all Palestinians -- the world would be well advised, for all our sakes, not to turn its back on our just struggle. 


- The writer is a Palestinian-American living in El-Bireh/Ramallah and may be reached at  


Sharon's dream
 
By Akiva Eldar
 
If Ariel Sharon were able to hear the news from the Gaza Strip and West Bank, he would call his loyal aide, Dov Weissglas, and say with a big laugh: "We did it, Dubi." Sharon is in a coma, but his plan is alive and kicking. Everyone is now talking about the state of Hamastan. In his house, they called it a bantustan, after the South African protectorates designed to perpetuate apartheid.

Just as in the Palestinian territories, blacks and colored people in South Africa were given limited autonomy in the country's least fertile areas. Those who remained outside these isolated enclaves, which were disconnected from each other, received the status of foreign workers, without civil rights. A few years ago, Italian Foreign Minister Massimo D'Alema told Israeli friends that shortly before he was elected prime minister, Sharon told him that the bantustan plan was the most suitable solution to our conflict.

The right and the settlers feared that the disengagement from the entire Gaza Strip was no more than a down payment on a withdrawal from most of the West Bank. The left and the international community similarly believed that if the evacuation of Israeli soldiers and civilians from Gaza went well, the way would be paved for a two-state solution; but there were also some who feared that Sharon did not intend merely to sever Gaza from Israel, thereby erasing 1.4 million Arabs from the demographic balance, but also to drive a wedge between Gaza and the West Bank.


Exactly two years ago, in June 2005, Egyptian Foreign Minister Ahmed Aboul Gheit warned Shimon Peres during a visit to Israel that if the disengagement were not accompanied by progress toward a solution in the West Bank, the Gaza Strip "would explode," in his words. The then vice premier told his guest that he agreed with every word, but took care to point out that his statements did not necessarily reflect the views of prime minister Sharon.

Israel's violation of the Agreement on Movement and Access, which was signed by U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, strengthened suspicions that Sharon was plotting to sever Gaza from the West Bank. The order that the dogs could bark, but the caravans would not move between the Palestinian Authority's two sections had already been quietly issued by the end of 2005. That was a few months before Hamas' victory in the PA parliamentary elections provided the winning excuse for sealing off Gaza. Following the political upset in the territories, the severance policy became official. Israel imposed a sweeping ban on Gaza residents entering the West Bank, which even applied to students with no record of security offenses. Even as it was protesting the Hamas government's refusal to commit itself to previous agreements, Israel was disavowing the interim agreement (Oslo II) that it signed in Washington in September 1995, under which the West Bank and Gaza constitute a "single territorial unit."

Alongside the severance of Gaza from the West Bank, a policy now called "isolation," the Sharon-Peres government and the Olmert-Peres government that succeeded it carried out the bantustan program in the West Bank. The Jordan Valley was separated from the rest of the West Bank; the south was severed from the north; and all three areas were severed from East Jerusalem. The "two states for two peoples" plan gave way to a "five states for two peoples" plan: one contiguous state, surrounded by settlement blocs, for Israel, and four isolated enclaves for the Palestinians. This plan was implemented on the ground via the intrusive route of the separation fence, a network of roadblocks deep inside the West Bank, settlement expansion and arbitrary orders by military commanders. The cantonized map that these dictated left no chance for the road map or the "gestures" that Israel promised to PA Chairman Mahmoud Abbas and the Americans.

But the hope that Hamas' thugs and Fatah's good-for-nothings will finish the work of that well-known righteous man, Sharon, and his flunkies in the government and army is no more than a warped delusion. Eight years of rioting and terror ended in the liquidation of South Africa's bantustans and their inclusion in a unified state governed by the black majority. This dream of Palestinian protectorates - Hamastan in Gaza and the Fatahland enclaves in the West Bank - is similarly the end of any solution based on dividing the land: Israel in agreed-upon borders based on the Green Line and Palestine on the other side. If we do not quickly wake up from this dream and rescue what remains of the two-state vision, we will truly be left with a choice between the plague - an apartheid regime - and the cholera: the Jewish state's replacement with a binational state between the Jordan River and the sea. Including the Gaza Strip.

http://www.haaretz.com/hasen/spages/871983.html


Read Russian President Vladimir Putin's press conference which was attended by many members of the world media, but NOT a word did I learn from the USA MSM:

http://www.informationclearinghouse.info/article17855.htm
 


   
 
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