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Democracy can be a damned nuisance
Well, the debate on Webdiary on the election of Hamas in Palestine has already begun on the Can the UN work? thread, so thanks John for providing a more explicit place for it. I don't pretend to understand all the issues of Palestine, but I do know from my Webdiary experience that it is about the most emotive, polarised and personalised issue there is. So straight up, when it comes to moderating abuse and bile on this thread, I am going to be savage. I request that all Webdiarists be sober and careful in constructing their points of view, using references and links wherever possible so we can see the source of your opinions (unless of course you are an eye-witness or participant and hence a primary source yourself, in which case please reveal this). Treat nothing as self-evident - if it helps, imagine that you are presenting evidence to a court of law. I also invite Geoff or Will to submit to Webdiary an alternate perspective on the election to John's, whether their own or someone elses which we may publish. Thankyou everyone for your cooperation. Hamish.
The Hamas victory in the Palestinian elections has thrown the parties in the faltering peace process into a real spin. Even more so given the fact that the US illegally tried to pre-empt the election outcome in favour of Fatah (U.S. Spent $1.9 Million to Aid Fatah in Palestinian Elections).
But the “surprise” result once again underscored the inability of the US and its allies – the phoney champions of “freedom and democracy” - to truly understand the dynamic forces at work in the region, whilst their shrill, alarmist reactions to the election outcome rudely highlighted the fact that they were caught entirely unprepared to deal with the new situation.
Reflecting a need to buy time for their analysts to workout what it all means, whilst appearing to remain in control, the hypocritical crusaders for freedom fell back on the tried and proven tactic of noble chest-beating, outright lies and large dollops of hyperbole.
George Bush led the way by declaring: "I don't see how you can be a partner in peace if you advocate the destruction of a country as a part of your platform," he told a White House press conference (Bush Demands Renunciation Of Violence And Recognition Of Israel).
Condoleezza Rice echoed her master’s empty rhetoric by proclaiming: "Anyone who wants to govern and do so with the support of the international community has got to be committed to a two-state solution and must be committed to the right of Israel to exist, must be committed to the renunciation of violence." (Bush Demands Renunciation Of Violence And Recognition Of Israel).
Meanwhile, de-facto US Ambassador for Australia, John Howard, chimed-in with this: "So far as Australia is concerned, we cannot have a meaningful relationship with a government that continues to support and promote suicide bombing in Israel and the destruction of the Jewish state," he said (Leaders Urged To Accept Hamas Government).
Of course the “white hats” (the good guys) made no mention of the fact that the “black hats” (the evildoers) had already dropped the destruction of Israel from their manifesto prior to the election (Hamas drops call for destruction of Israel from manifesto) and nor did they make mention of the fact that Hamas had declared a ceasefire (“tahdia”) on their terrorist operations in March, 2005, in-line with their decision to pursue the very electoral process championed by the West.
And in making their loud demands of Hamas, the posturing princes of the “coalition of the willing” quietly and conveniently ignore the reality of Palestine, not mentioning the fact that the Palestinian parliament and government lack the authority and rights their counterparts have in sovereign states.
The Palestinian “government” has no control over the external and internal borders that Israel draws between the various Palestinian districts, to the point where they are cut off from each other.
Sixty percent of West Bank land, the primary physical resource of the Palestinian people, has been under total Israeli military control since 1967 and has been fraudulently deemed “state land” by Israel, thereby allowing it to claim that it does not misappropriate private land, whilst doing exactly the opposite. No Palestinian government can do with that land what Israel does: sow and plant; build; develop; maintain.
Israel controls the water sources from its territory and in effect sets quotas for the Palestinians.
Israel's control of the Palestinian population registry and freedom of movement means that it intervenes in personal decisions like family ties, place of residence, work and study.
Through its control of the external and internal borders, Israel also determines how the Palestinian economy will look - the rate of unemployment, the salary cap, the types of economic activity, the location of the factories.
And, notwithstanding the initiatives already taken by Hamas to underwrite its commitment to the western-sponsored electoral process and notwithstanding the US-backed military control exercised by Israel over Palestine, Israel, Washington and their marionette allies continue to condemn the organization as terrorists.
Whilst Hamas has already taken tentative steps to achieve political legitimacy, there will be little point in their continuing that process if Israel refuses to engage them in constructive discussions in pursuit of the peace process and the ultimate achievement of self-determination by the Palestinian people.
Quite to the contrary, continued condemnation in the face of a legitimate electoral victory will only serve to strengthen the cynicism of the Palestinians towards the west, making the task of governing and the achievement of lasting peace even harder for Hamas to manage.
We should not forget the historical Palestinian experience of first British and then American duplicity and betrayal visited on them over the past 100 years: they won’t.
We should not forget that whilst Bush, Blair and Howard continuously seek to justify in part their illegal invasion of Iraq on the basis that she ignored UN resolutions, whilst Israel has ignored many more such resolutions with impunity, simply by dint of US and British hypocrisy and their UN veto power.
We should not forget that Palestine has been subjected to brutal military occupation for 40 years. The Palestinians have experienced first hand the military might of Israel's superpower-funded F16s, tanks and Apache helicopter gunships and to expect Hamas to lay down its arms in the face of this ongoing military occupation is a pipedream.
Indeed, the Palestinian people fervently believe that they have a legitimate right to engage in armed resistance against the Israeli military occupation and International Law provides a firm basis for that belief: UN General Assembly Resolution 33/24 of December 1978 recognizes “the legitimacy of the struggle of people’s for independence, territorial integrity, national unity and liberation from colonial domination and foreign occupation by all means available, particularly armed struggle.”
Meanwhile, the arch debasers of true freedom and democracy continue to unashamedly parade their hypocrisy in denouncing Hamas, whilst pursuing kidnappings, secret renditions, torture, targeted assassinations, military attacks on civilian populations and other terrorist tactics, wherever and whenever the whim strikes them.
For the US and its acolytes to suggest that the choice for peace in the Middle East is dependant on Hamas agreeing to disarm is as deceitful and dishonest as the claim that Saddam Hussein possessed weapons of mass destruction or that the illegal war of aggression waged against Iraq was pursued to “liberate” the Iraqi people.
Hamas and most of the world is capable of recognizing and understanding that there is no difference between democratically elected governments employing terrorist tactics and terrorist groups forming democratically elected governments.
Whilst Hamas can jump through as many hoops as the world might demand, nothing will change until such time as Israel, the US and their allies, including Australia, acknowledge that same reality and demonstrate a willingness to support and pursue genuine negotiations for a just peace in the Middle East.
Democracy may be fine but it’s a damned nuisance when the result does not serve your interests.