Shock wave or, maybe, not

As all the world knows, Hamas has done better in the Palestinian elections than expected, pulling ahead of Fatah. Understandably, this has caused a great deal of commentary.

The BBC called it a “stunning victory”, going so far as to describe Hamas as Islamic, a term they tend to omit when writing about suicide/homicide bombings. With slightly more understanding, perhaps, Deutsche Welle referred to a “shocking victory”.

The Guardian wrote of it as a “shock victory” but it would, perhaps, be more of a shock to people who have been publicly proclaiming that the so-called peace process was stalled repeatedly solely because of Israel’s supposed intransigeance.

All the news services have been quoting various people, some named, some anonymous or semi-anonymous, in Arab countries, who were rejoicing in what they saw a victory to the people who had given their blood (and other people’s, of course). All of these are countries and people who are prepared to fight for the cause to the last drop of Palestinian blood and why the Palestinians allow themselves to be manipulated in this way has always been a mystery to me.

But is this really such an enormous change? In the first place, it was clear that Hamas would do well, as the splintering and quarrelling groups in Fatah had only barely managed to come together to produce a single list of candidates.

It appears from some of the coverage that numerous Fatah supporters decided not to vote or to vote for Hamas “to teach Fatah a lesson”. The trouble with tactical voting is that the tactics might not achieve the results you wanted.

In the second place, what exactly is the difference between Fatah and Hamas? Hamas sends in suicide/homicide bombers and fights other Palestinian groups for ruling position. Fatah’s side group, the Al-Aqsa Martyrs’ Brigade sends in suicide/homicide bombers and the whole group fights other Palestinian groups for ruling position.

So far equal, more or less. It is true that Mahmoud Abbas made it clear that he was prepared to negotiate with Israel but he had been unable or unwilling to disarm the militant terrorist groups (I bet, he is sorry now) and merely rung his hands after every outrage and demanded that Israel desist from retaliation.

Furthermore, Abbas had recently announced that money would be given to the families of “martyrs” or, as most of us would call them, terrorists.

Hamas, of course, does not even acknowledge Israel’s right to exist and has already announced that negotiations are not on the cards.

The Daily Telegraph (and other newspapers and news agencies) reports that Sheikh Said Syam, “one of Hamas’s leading strategists in Gaza” has explained:

“Talks with Israel are not on our agenda, and our military wing will not lay down its arms.”

Interestingly, he has also added:

“Nor will our fighters become part of the Palestinian security forces. They will remain separate.”

Clearly, his strategy does not envisage a peaceful Palestinian state either. The seeds of a very nasty civil war lie in that statement.

In a way, that is quite useful. At least we can dispense with the charade of the peace process or peace negotiations. (That was my first reaction and I am delighted to see that Emanuele Ottolenghi, who teaches at the Middle East Centre in Oxford and is an international expert on the subject, said more or less the same thing in the National Review Online.)

Not that we shall. As the shock of Hamas victory dies, we shall see the same people popping up to tell us that, no matter what, Israel must make concessions and it is unreasonable of her to demand that the terrorist groups disarm or that they acknowledge her right to exist.

We are already hearing voices telling us that the EU should not just acknowledge Hamas (nothing else to do, after all they were elected) but continue pumping large amounts of money into the Palestinian Authority.

The voices on the other side of the Pond are more muted, though I understand former President Jimmy Carter, one of the least successful American politicians of the twentieth century, has been making similar comments. His suggestion was that European and American money should be channelled through the UN, to avoid the legal difficulties of not being allowed to pay terrorist organizations.

According to Deutsche Welle, on the other hand, German politicians are questioning whether the EU should continue to pump the annual half a billion euros into the organization.

“Either Hamas renounces violence and recognizes Israel’s right to exist “or we’ll think about letting the finances dry up,” Gert Weisskirchen, foreign policy expert of the SPD told daily Berliner Zeitung.

“We can’t give taxpayers’ money to such a government,” said Elmar Brok, a CDU member and head of the Foreign Council in the EU Parliament.

Other politicians have underlined that Hamas must fulfill the twin requirements of renouncing violence and recognizing Israel’s existence before there can be further cooperation with the EU.

In addition, Hamas must formulate a concrete plan for disarming its various factions, others said, saying that future German future financial help to the region would hinge on the factor.”

Angela Merkel, who is due to visit the Palestinian territories very soon (she seems to dislike the idea of staying in Germany for any length of time), has said that she will not meet the Hamas leadership while there. That will be fine for this visit, as the new government is not expected to take over for another month or so.

EU foreign ministers are meeting on Monday to decide on some sort of a common stand but the chances of them doing so are slim. So far, nothing has been heard from the Great Panjandrum, Javier Solana or, for that matter, President Chirac.

The left-wing Norwegian government, on the other hand, sees nothing wrong with continuing to deal with Hamas, reasoning that the UN has never managed to define terrorism and, therefore, you cannot call any organization terrorist.

Others, such as the Daily Telegraph leader, have encouraged politicians to separate Hamas leadership, that had decided not to boycott the elections from its hot-head “activists”. I must admit I do not remember the Telegraph making the same distinction between Sinn Fein and IRA but that was our problem. (Still is.)

On all sides we are told that Hamas must now abandon its violence or, more optimistically, that being in government will bring it to its senses and violence will gradually be abandoned. Both those arguments seem to me to be nonsensical.

It is the Hamas leadership and the many “activists” who stood in the election and are now in the Palestinian parliament, who are assuring us that they have not the slightest intention of abandoning the fight of sweeping Israel into the sea. If that involves missile attacks, bombs, explosions, so be it. If retaining power means violence towards other Palestinians, who do not obey the rules as laid down by Hamas, so be it again.

In the wake of the election results being announced, Reuters published a piece, entitled “Arabs see US changing stance on Hamas”. It was not so much a question of seeing as assuming.

“Mohamed Habib, deputy leader of the Egyptian Islamist movement, told Reuters that the vote for Hamas meant that Palestinians had opted for the choice of “resistance.”

“(Israel and the United States) will have no alternative but to deal with Hamas … The Americans will submit to this, especially as Hamas does not want to monopolize power,” he said.

“The Americans will start secret contacts with Hamas and in fact they have already started. But in the first moments they will exert public pressure to try to make Hamas change some of its ideas,” added Diaa Rashwan, an Egyptian specialist on Islamist movements in the Middle East.”

What is so interesting about the various comments, apart from the already noted readiness on the part of Arab politicians and commentators to fight the battle to the last Palestinian, is the tendency for expressing views that echo those of the left in the West.

“The (Palestinian) voters have answered Israeli extremism with a Palestinian counterpart and I believe only those more extreme sides will produce peace,” said Anani.

“We want hardline politicians in the face of the Israeli hardliners. We need that in order to deal with Israel, which gave nothing in return for … concessions. We need an Arab Sharon,” added political analyst Dawoud Sharayan, referring to Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon.

Abdulaziz al-Mahmoud, a Qatari columnist and political writer, said Hamas was in a strong political position after winning elections while retaining its armed wing.

“But they are also humans who want to live in peace, so I believe they will start negotiations with Israel, but as equals, not like the Palestinian Authority that gave so many concessions which were not returned by the Israeli side,” he added.”

Fascinating. What were those concessions, one would like to know. And what happened to the withdrawal from Gaza, the dismantling of the settlements, all carried out in the teeth of a great deal of Israeli opposition? Forgotten, apparently.

A Jordanian official commented more soberly:

“The Hamas victory could have enormous implications for the peace process and Hamas must now act responsibly to ensure the Palestinians don’t lose more.”

But then, Jordan, unlike Qatar, has had her own problems with Palestinian militants and dealt with them in a ferocious fashion.

Which, of course, brings us to the question of what will be Israel’s reaction. There is an election coming there, as well. We can be reasonably certain that the half-hearted suggestion of withdrawing from the West Bank and, even East Jerusalem, made in the last few days by the acting Prime Minister, will now be put on ice.

The withdrawal from Gaza was made for various practical reasons but, also, in the hopes of changing the political situation. Now, Israelis, who opposed it, can proclaim that nothing had been gained – quite the contrary. Those who had supported the withdrawal are likely to turn away from more concessions until something practical is given in return.

Many Israeli “doves” voted for Sharon because of Arafat. How many will vote for Netanyahu because of Hamas?

Well, what now? Is the fight for democracy over because it can produce anomalous results? As I see it, there can be several reactions when terrorists and extremists are elected in a hitherto untried democratic system.

One can try the Algerian method and call off the second round. That resulted in a bloody civil war, massacres and something like 150,000 dead.
One can abolish democracy completely and, indeed, that is usually what happens, though it is done by the victorious party. It is not clear whether Hamas will call any more elections, particularly if they cease to be popular. The late unlamented Chairman Arafat did not, after all.

The outside world can do little, beyond accept the decision and watch warily how the new government treads. Handing over money without being able to monitor it sounds like an extremely bad idea.

What will actually change under the new rule? Very little, I should have thought. Despite the assurance of British journalists from the BBC to the Telegraph, nothing much has changed in the local districts Hamas had taken in the last lot of elections.

It is true, that it will be difficult for the organization to keep its glamour and mystique when they have to deal with unemployment of rubbish collection. On the other hand, they are unlikely to wind up their security services, much of whose activity is directed against Palestinians brave enough to defy them.

An almost immediate set of victims will be the women of Palestine. While the religious aspect of Hamas is not always clear – many of the terrorist groups grew out of Marxist movements – they will undoubtedly use religion to impose controls.

How will they deal with the economy? After all, the Israelis are hardly likely to open the borders to let in Palestinian workers if an unknown number of them might be carrying explosives. What else is there?

A great deal of money from the West, of course, and I predict that it will start flowing again after a certain amount of foot-shuffling, particularly from Europe, both the individual member states and the EU. After all, they were rarely fazed by evidence that money to the PA in the past went astray.

The United States may hold out longer. After all, the decision will have to be taken by Congress and that body, unlike the State Department, say, is reasonably capable of understanding that Hamas does not intend a two-state solution.

Will the money help the ordinary Palestinians? Don’t be silly. Whether siphoned off to terrorists and their families or to individuals, little will change in financial terms. And Israel will go on being painted as the cause of the poverty and hopelessness.

How soon before the Palestinian people realize that they have made another mistake and try to correct it, and what will happen then, are all things that are impossible to predict. On the whole, they have not been lucky with their leaders.

Gaza has been sliding steadily into chaos and that is unlikely to stop. The fights between Hamas, Fatah, local chieftains and the Palestinian security services will, one assumes, continue, as will the burgeoning kidnap and ransom business. There is some indication that the existing security services are aware of what is going on and are not uninvolved.

The same might happen in other parts of the Palestinian territory.

(Rather nastily, I must admit that I cannot summon up any anger while the victims are dumb peace activists and their equally dumb relatives.)

The one thing, however, is clear: we cannot really be surprised by the results. This is the bloody legacy of Arafat, who had oppressed his people, stole their money, destroyed their economy and made any kind of a normal political life impossible. With the best will in the world – and we do not know if he had the best will in the world – Mahmoud Abbas could not have turned the PA or Fatah into viable political entities.

The EU bears its share of responsibility. Its blind and insane support for Arafat, no matter what happened, simply to annoy the Americans, has contributed to the bloody mess he left behind him and the even bloodier future.

Cross-posted (mostly) from EUReferendum.

23 thoughts on “Shock wave or, maybe, not”

  1. There is a religious war when two worlds meet; that is when two visions of the world meet; or in more modern language when two moral atmospheres meet. What is the one man’s breath is the other man’s poison; and it is vain to talk of giving a pestilence a place in the sun.

    Penny wisdom from G. K. Chesterton, in The Everlasting Man, 1925

    As for Westerners calling for “dialogue” with the new leaders of Killbot Nation, Bill Clinton must be accounted among the first, and most prominent:

    One of the politically correct things in American politics … is we just don’t talk to some people that we don’t like, particularly if they ever killed anybody in a way that we hate,” he said. “I do think that if you’ve got enough self-confidence in who you are and what you believe in, you ought not to be scared to talk to anybody.

  2. The left-wing Norwegian government, on the other hand, sees nothing wrong with continuing to deal with Hamas…

    My opinion of Europeans is so low that statement provokes no reaction at all. Europeans buying off terrorists? What else is new? Meanwhile, the papers will be full of some supposed new American crime everyone can rage against. Europe, where hypocricy is an art form.

    The outside world can do little, beyond accept the decision and watch warily how the new government treads. Handing over money without being able to monitor it sounds like an extremely bad idea.

    Agreed. Stop all payments immediately. I never understood why we financed those folks to start with (or Egypt, for that matter). Did we think we were buying influence? Fools, if we did.

    We certainly should not rewarding this sort of thing.

  3. The one person who might have predicted a Hamas win may have been Arafat. He manipulated the 1996 election and was in no hurry for a second: he probably suspected how he & his crew would fare. Friends in the American left complained because Bush would not work with Arafat, implyng that America wanted a puppet; Arafat, instead, represented his people. I’d respond that it is not the first but the second election that is important. Nor was the first, well, an accurate reflection of the country’s choices. Joel Mobray observed that, in 1996,

    Maybe Arafat would have won in a free and fair election, but he didn’t. Propagating the myth that he was “elected” only serves to illegitimately legitimize his status as a democratic leader.”

  4. Hamas and Fatah or both genocidal organizations. They only difference is that Fatah fakes moderation for the benefit of global leftists, and Hamas doesn’t.

    The election of Hamas is a disaster for the global leftist movement. They need the false moderation of Fatah to justify their appeasement. Oh, they’ll try to try to impose their standard moderate/extremist dichotomy on Hamas. But it won’t succeed because Hamas doesn’t read from the leftist script.

  5. The US likes to project itself internationally as a fighter for freedom and democracy. Democracy means that everyone has a vote regardless of beliefs, race, gender etc and it means respecting an elected government of a state. Hamas was democratically elected, and suddenly the US does not like democracy anymore. You should take a look at Ariel Sharons hisatory and see if maybe he isn’t just as much a terrorist. He is also democratically elected but I never hear about the US boycotting Israel?

    In South-America Evo morales, also a democratically elected president, is under constant threat of the CIA because the US doesn’t like his politics.. The american government has, and is still attempting to kill leaders in other countries. If that isn’t a terrorist act, I don’t know what is.

    Secondly, the US has destroyed all attempts of creating an international democracy by disregarding the UN completely reducing it to a pathetic organization with no real power. All political attempts on agreeing on international issues (like for example CO2 emmissions) is continuously sabotaged by the american government.

    Here is the last point: Maybe you should try to fix your own democracy before bombing people overseas to instate democracy there? Face it, America is closer to being a corporate run organization rather than a democracy. Your foreign policy is profit guided imperialism. The inconsistency of your actions in other countries make you look like idiots without integrity to the whole world and no one believes in america anymore. It seems everyone who disagrees with american policies are terrorists. The idea that you can fight and kill “the terrorists” is pre-posterous. It’s not a static group of evil people that you can just remove. It’s a response to something and it will keep growing until DIALOGUE is created. The norwegian government is simply saying that dialogue is better than nothing. Alot of people seems unable to reflect on this fact as emotions seems to numb the mental faculties.

    Europeans, like me, are maybe too critical of the US sometimes, but it surely looks like we have good reason to be..

  6. -Freedom and democracy are not synonyms. Freedom is an important political goal, while democracy at best is a mere means to achieve that goal. At worst, democracy allows bad men to be elected by corrupt means. Hitler, Hugo Chavez and Ahmadinejad were all elected.

    -The USA supports Israel and other open societies because we share interests. The USA doesn’t support Hamas or the governments of other unfree societies, because we don’t share interests. Ariel Sharon never tried to destroy any of Israel’s neighboring countries. Hamas’s raison d’etre is the destruction of other societies, particularly Israel and the USA.

    -Imperialism by the USA is bad but the USA should submit to the authority of unelected and unaccountable bureaucrats at the UN. Do you not see the irony in your position?

    -American “profit guided imperialism”? We could, like France and Russia, have cut a deal with Saddam Hussein and gotten all the oil we wanted at favorable prices. Instead we embarked on an extremely expensive war to defend our principles. So which is it — are we profit-driven imperialists or are we paying a huge price to spread freedom and democracy? You can’t have it both ways.

    -If the USA is trying to kill Evo Morales why is he still around? Why is Hugo Chavez still around — after being elected in a USA-certified election? Why is Castro still around?

    -Hamas is legitimate but the USA is a corporate-run non-democracy? Well, you said it so it must be true, but good luck convincing people who actually live in the USA or Palestinian territories.

    -Why is “dialogue” an appropriate response to people who are trying to kill you?

  7. Putting Chavez or even Ahmadinejad in category with Hitler is pushing it very far. There are other presidents who fit the bill much better, if you were to draw the analogy between historical events of the 2nd world war and events of today…

    How is Chavez a “bad” leader? In what context? Because he wants to nationalize the natural resources of his country and take it away from private international companies? Because he is socialist?

    And do you propose that Chavez was not elected fairly? Again, there is another president who was suspected for winning a rather dodgy election just recently from what I’ve heard.

    “-Imperialism by the USA is bad but the USA should submit to the authority of unelected and unaccountable bureaucrats at the UN. Do you not see the irony in your position?”

    No, what is the irony in this position? That the US would have to behave and oblige to an international democratic institution when the US instead can do whatever they want? What do you mean unelected? Each government chooses a representative in the UN. The governments are democratically elected.

    I would appreciate a clear definition of “unfree societies”. How is Palestine for example an unfree society? The only thing that makes them unfree that I can see is the Israeli occupation of their land. Israel has broken more U.N. resolutions than Iraq ever managed to break.

    The biblical reasoning that the land was promised by god is straight out unfair and arrogant. One could humouristically compare it to the Native Americans wanting to take the US back.

    “Hamas’s raison d’etre is the destruction of other societies, particularly Israel and the USA.”

    That may be true but there are things that could come out of dialogue: To find out WHY they want to destroy you for example and reflect, maybe even act on that knowledge. And by acting I don’t mean Pre-emptive strikes. Remember that the only occupants who has nuclear weapons at the moment is the US and Israel.

    The US is also an aggressor. First you attacked Iraq on false grounds and now you are planning to attack Iran. What rights do you have to dictate how other people should live or be? You keep on talking about freedom, but bombing everyone who doesn’t subsribe to your way of thinking does not seem like freedom to me.

    “-Instead we embarked on an extremely expensive war to defend our principles.” What principles is that? Do you sincerely still believe the crap lies that your government served you before going into iraq? Nothing of what Powell layed before the UN council was true. The only principle I’m left with then is that you bomb anyone that you don’t like? Why Iraq and not North Korea for example? They are much more capable of producing weapons of mass destruction than Iraq has ever been.

    When you say “why is Castro still around?” I hope you’re not serious. Everyone knows that the US has tried to get rid of him for years.

    As far as I’ve understood, Israel now wants Hamas to legitimize the state of Israel as it is being planned by the state of Israel. That is not a compromize or dialogue, that is supression.

    But I know this conflict is extremely complex and I most likely don’t know enough about it to provide a fair picture of it.

    But the idea that these people are just irrational and evil isn’t really convincing.

    Supporting nations who share your interests is avery logical thing to do. But sharing interests isn’t an incentive for being international dicks.

  8. Anonoymous, some of your points may have some validity but generally your vision of the foreign relations of the U. S. lacks clarity.

    Let me begin by saying it’s easy to criticize when something is being done and you are doing nothing. To make mistakes you have to be active. I don’t know what country you’re from but….

    Iraq was on parole after the first war. It did not live up to it’s UN mandated requirements. This was justification enough for Iraq’s invasion. Bush’s political use of “weapons of mass destruction” convinced some people in this country (not your concern really) invasion was justified. Finally, if I recall, Germany and France were doing some profitable business with Iraq (not in compliance with UN restrictions, I believe) and so their governments have “sour grapes”.

    The U.S. was so far out of line that these governments severed diplomatic relations, threatened product bycotts, and even rattled sabers over U.S. action. Oh, that’s right, my bad, that was only a dream some anti-US people had.

    Re. Palistine being “unfree” – It’s my understanding that you put your life on the line there when you disagree with the chief thug. In what way does this seem like freedom?

    The U. S. has not “tried to get rid” of Castro. If the “U. S.” wanted him gone, he’d be gone. What you mean is some aspects of U. S. gov’t. agencies may have tried some attempts on him “on the cheap”. Even the “Bay of Pigs” fiasco was limited to parts of the executive administration (somebody correct me if I’m mistaken here).

    “Biblical reasoning” for Israel. Huh? Thought there was some diplomatic agreements after WWII and a UN agreement for the birth of the state of Israel.

    In my opinion dictators and tyrants are fair game – if necessary for U.S. security – swap them out. In Iraq the U.S. is doing more than that. It took out Sadam but instead of just “swapping out” it is trying to provide a structure for a better government and a better place for the population. How do you miss this?

    “These people are evil” because, for one, because they put dissenters in dungeons for years, for starters.

    Finally, with respect to your last comment: Glad my country would rather be an “inaternational dick” than an international pussey.

  9. “Iraq was on parole after the first war. It did not live up to it’s UN mandated requirements. This was justification enough for Iraq’s invasion.”

    It wasn’t because the U.S. never bothered to wait until it was formally justified by the UN. In retrospect, we know now that Iraq had no WMD’s. If breaking UN resolutions was the only reason for invading iraq, then you have alot of invading to do.

    (The following text was originally posted at

    During the period between 1967 and 2000, Iraq was the subject of 69 Security Council resolutions. By comparison, Israel, the US’s closest “ally” in the Middle East, has been the subject of 138 resolutions. Not surprisingly, most of those resolutions call upon Israel to comply with basic principles of international law embodied by the UN Charter. Many of them condemn actions taken by Israel and call upon Israel on more than one occasion to comply with previous resolutions that Israel ignored and continues to ignore to this day.

    If you want to have a look at what resolutions the U.S has broken you can have a look here:

    Guantanamo Bay is another example of activites that are not exactly in sync with human rights.

    But fortunately you can’t invade yourself.

    “Re. Palistine being “unfree” – It’s my understanding that you put your life on the line there when you disagree with the chief thug. In what way does this seem like freedom?” It seems whole nations put their life on the line if they don’t think and act the way the US wants. In what way is that freedom?

    What I’m trying to articulate is that with power comes responsibility, which the US at the moment is showing the world that it can’t handle. There is total inconsistency in what you preach and what you practice.

    It may be that the intentions are good, but there is an inheret arrogance and lack of understanding for others in what the US is doing. If you don’t have the ability to self-reflect over who you are compared to others you are going down a dangerous route.
    (See for a very extreme interpretation. I don’t subscribe to it, but I think it has some validity)

    “In my opinion dictators and tyrants are fair game – if necessary for U.S. security – swap them out. In Iraq the U.S. is doing more than that. It took out Sadam but instead of just “swapping out” it is trying to provide a structure for a better government and a better place for the population. How do you miss this?” As I said earlier, it is quite possible that the intentions are good (allthoug Bush changed the reason for invading iraq about 5 times, and most people in retrospect doubt the freedom of the iraqi people was/is the main concern). But to think that one can just impose democracy on people and cultures completely different from us is a simplification. It has to develop from within, and whose business is it anyway, to decide for others what systems they should live under? What if someone occupied the US and wanted to impose communism on you? A scenario where americans tried to blow up others or maybe even themselves to get rid of the occupants is not hard to imagine. And it probably wouldn’t be called terrorism.

    “The U.S. was so far out of line that these governments severed diplomatic relations, threatened product bycotts, and even rattled sabers over U.S. action. Oh, that’s right, my bad, that was only a dream some anti-US people had.”

    It is true that European countries may be a bunch of paralyzed cowards and that it is easy to critize others. My country is Norway, if you want to Google it and dig up something to critize :) It’s only fair. There is alot being done on grass-root level though in Europe as well as in the States (By those who is starting to see what’s going on) but our governments are cowards because they are dependent on the US economy. Only the recently elected Norwegian government has had the integrity to make decisions that are unpopular with the US government (like simply talking to the democratically elected Hamas-government).

    If anyone’s interested, this article is a good read:

    “”Biblical reasoning” for Israel. Huh? Thought there was some diplomatic agreements after WWII and a UN agreement for the birth of the state of Israel” True. There was a diplomatic agreement after WWII. But the borders that are drawn up today, including the wall that is being built, is far outside the borders that were agreed upon in these meetings. Feel free to check the facts.

    In effect, the Israeli state is an occupying force. The illusion that palestinians are plain evil and simply likes to blow themselves up should be disregarded once and for all. It doesn’t legitimize terror but it should be clear that we are not dealing with some sort of irrational “axis of evil”.

    If no-one wants to talk or have dialogue with the palestinian government it is difficult to see what alternatives there are to a straight out war.

  10. Anon: “Israel’s borders are far outside the origonal boundries….an occupying force”.

    Look at the back of your hand. In the mideast the proportion of land that Israel is amounts to the area of the fingernail on your smallest finger. Israel gained the extra land through success in defensive wars that were waged upon it. It’s righteously and logically theirs as far as I can see. I believe that much, if not all, of that real estate it is held to buffer and aid in defense of the country from its hostile neighbors. Jordan, Egypt, Syria were the agressors in those wars. It only makes sense for Israel to seek some security for itself in retaining lands gained that would be useful in her defense against proven enemies surronding her.

    Are these the facts your refer to?

  11. I’ll thread lightly when it comes to facts about this conflict as there seems to be lobby activity from both sides when it comes to information and it is difficult to find neutral sources.

    I mean, let’s face it, I don’t live in the conflict area and having opinions about things that aren’t personally experienced more often than not appears plain provocative and arrogant rather than constructive.

    Anyway, I thought the turn of events was like this:

    The last URL is biased, but I’m happy to read an alternative version of history if you have one.

    How big the middle-east is compared to Israel, and how little has been taken seems irrelevant to me.

    “The Israeli occupation violates the preface to the United Nations Charter banning the acquisition of territory by war. What the Israeli government has been doing in the occupied territories also violates the Fourth Geneva convention, which forbids the transfer of populations to or from such areas.”

    That the Israeli government to this day is still expanding and building settlements on Palestinian land is a quite established fact.

    I’m also quite sceptical about the logic or validity in that it is fair or beneficial to occupy land acquired through war to increase security. In fact, I’m quite sure it instigates more violence rather than less. I am also of the understanding that this acquisition of land happened through a pre-emptive strike. To me the whole concept of pre-emptive strikes in itself isn’t morally defendable.

    Anyway, here is a recount of the turn of events from the beginning that I have read in numerous places, including the facts that I was referring to in my previous post:
    “One of the myths that many Americans still believe is that the initial war between the Arabs and Israelis broke out on May 15, 1948 when the British withdrew and military units from Egypt, Jordan, Iraq and Syria entered Palestine, allegedly because the Arabs had rejected a partition plan that the Israelis accepted.

    In fact, the fighting began almost six months earlier, immediately after the partition plan was announced. By the time the Arab armies intervened in May, some 400,000 Palestinians already had fled or been driven from their homes. To the Arab nations the military forces they sent to Palestine were on a rescue mission to halt the dispossession of Palestinians from the areas the U.N. had awarded to both the Jewish and the Palestinian Arab state.

    In fact history has revealed that the Jordanian forces had orders not to venture into areas the U.N. had awarded to Israel. Although the newly created Israeli government didn’t formally reject the partition plan, in practice it never accepted the plan. To this day, half a century later, Israel still refuses to define its borders.

    In fact, when the fighting of 1947 and 1948 ended, the State of Israel occupied half of Jerusalem and 78 percent of the former mandate of Palestine. About 750,000 Muslim and Christian Palestinians had been driven from towns, villages and homes to which the Israeli forces never allowed them to return.

    The four wars that followed, three of them started by Israel in 1956, 1967, and 1982, and one of them started by Egypt and Syria to recover their occupied lands in 1973, have been over the portions of Lebanon, Syria, Jordan and Egypt which the Israelis occupied militarily in those wars, the other half of Jerusalem, and the 22 percent of Palestine – comprising the West Bank and Gaza – which is all that remains for the Palestinians.”

    Anyway, the reason I started this post is because I don’t agree with people who are so outraged with the Norwegian government for speaking with Hamas. What is the alternative? To dictate what these people should vote? To bomb them all?

    I appreciate any tips on detailed, neutral academic sources on this topic.

  12. Anonymous,
    Isn’t part of the question whether those 400,000 had “fled or been driven”? The loss of land has throughout history been considered part of the deal if you attack another country and lose. (A policy that should probably be spread to our tort system to discourage frivolous law suits; certainly it should discourage frivolous attacks.)

    Of course, in the twentieth century, we’ve seen such claims leveraged when the country (and its “allies”) did not choose to fight. This is not a great precedent.

    I doubt that anyone here thinks the Palestinians are “just evil.” However, they have developed a political view that is destructive of the best in them. This has been nurtured by the kleptocratic nature of their leaders and the nature of the help given them, which is less interested in giving them a “leg up” than in using them as pawns.

    The UN has run refugee centers that encourage people to think they are in a transition, only waiting until the day they can take over Israel, rather than encouraging a daily life that includes a productivity, making a way that one’s children can have a better life is a major part of the problem. That this has been going on for several generations has led to a destructive & self-destructive culture. This is a crime.

    The violence & deaths in Jordan in 1970 are seldom mentioned, but lend a perspective on Jordan, Palestinian terrorists moving into the second generation after the partition, and of Arafat’s methods. It did not indicate that encouraging a terrorist-run government is likely to lead to long-range peace nor prosperity.

  13. Re. the comparative size of Israel:

    Israel, a country some 40 miles x 10 miles (if I recall these dimensions correctly)is invaded. It succeeds in defending itself. It stirkes me as absurd to blame them for keeping the high ground (artilery on the Golan heights can cover the entire country) and some buffer around their borders.

    The motive you have given for attempted Arab destruction of Israel over the years: “Coming to the aid of the Palistinians” seems unlikely as they were not that altruistic. Afterall, If Israel had not been there they would have been (and were earlier) at one anothers throats. I’d suggest to you that their motivation was more comparable to that of Iraq’s invasion of Kuwait. They saw what they thought was an easy mark.

    Also, given the vast expanse (that isn’t Israel) I don’t recall Arabic invitations or plans to help for Palestinan resettlement (other than the obliteration of Israel). They have no obligation, of course, but still….

  14. Why is it that our morally fastidious friends so often end up focusing their indignation on the Jews?

  15. My bad. Israel land area is about 7200 square miles. (Could have been better represented by dimensions of 50 mile x 150 mile).

  16. Tyouth, you were half-right. On the 1949 armistice lines Israel was less than 10 miles wide at the narrowest point between its major population centers.

  17. -“The loss of land has throughout history been considered part of the deal if you attack another country and lose.”
    Israel was the aggressor because they launced a pre-emptive strike.
    It’s as if the United States launched a pre-emptive strike on Iran, and then afterwards decided to keep parts of Iran. How anyone can say that it is only fair that Israel keep these occupied territories is beyond me. It is in these areas that Palestinians now are being supressed, treated like second range citizens, homes destroyed, and human rights are consistently being broken while new Jewish settlements are being built. For every innocent Israeli who is killed, about four Palestinians are killed. It is also these new borders (after the illegal occupation of land) that Israel seems to want Palestine to recognize.
    “Arab mobilization compelled Israel to mobilize its troops, 80 percent of which were reserve civilians. Israel feared slow economic strangulation because long-term mobilization of such a majority of the society meant that the Israeli economy and polity would be brought to a virtual standstill. Militarily, Israeli leaders feared the consequences of absorbing an Arab first strike against its civilian population, many of whom lived only miles from Arab-controlled territory. Incendiary Arab rhetoric threatening Israel’s annihilation terrified Israeli society and contributed to the pressures to go to war.
    Against this background, Israel launched a pre-emptive strike against Egypt on June 5, 1967 and captured the Sinai Peninsula and the Gaza Strip. Despite an Israeli appeal to Jordan to stay out of the conflict, Jordan attacked Israel and lost control of the West Bank and the eastern sector of Jerusalem. Israel went on to capture the Golan Heights from Syria. The war ended on June 10.”
    -“The UN has run refugee centers that encourage people to think they are in a transition, only waiting until the day they can take over Israel”
    What do you mean take over Israel? Don’t you mean take back the parts of Palestine that are illegaly occupied?
    -Back to the reason for me discussing this: What is it that we hope to achieve by not talking or recognizing the newly elected Hamas government? To suppress and empoverish the palestinian people so much that they give up? The fact of the matter is, it doesn’t matter what government the palestinians elect because as long as Israel continues it’s illegal occupation there isn’t really anything to discuss.

  18. Anonymous, you are so ignorant of the historical record and so stubbornly convinced of your own rightness that debating you is probably a lost cause. However, for the benefit of others I will mention that both Nasser’s expulsion of the UN force from the Sinai and his blockade of the Straits of Tiran were acts of war by any international legal and political standard as well as by the standards of your vaunted UN. Arab leaders threatened genocide against the Jews. These are matters of easily accessible historical fact, available for the googling. There were no occupied territories before the 1967 war, unless you consider Israel to be illegitimate as Hamas (among others of Israel’s antagonists) does. What is there to negotiate with a group that denies your right to exist? No reasonable country would do so and no reasonable person would suggest it.

  19. Arab leaders threaten (present tense) genocide in Israel. Arab textbooks do not (present tense) include Israel – no matter how small the boundaries might be. Anonymous’ position isn’t just ahistorical, it must be maintained by not reading readily available (and not particularly partisan) news reports.

    I am curious, however: Why did he choose to dig out a six-month-old post and launch his attack? Is this because he wanted to make these arguments and googled to find an appropriate (or semi-appropriate) comment section? Did he google our site or merely all sites? Does he worry that we are moving along and getting too far from a topic about which he wants to obsess? What’s going on here?

  20. Anonymous is an odd combination of wrong and fanatical opinions, combined a rather sane-sounding and measured presentation, without the usual scatology or vile personal attacks or overt conspiracy theorizing, or calling Bush bad names.

    Maybe the Lefties are field testing a new approach in which they will say the usual psycho things, but trying not to appear obviously as spittle-flying, arm-waving, bug-eyed lunatics. Diabolically clever, if that is really their game.

  21. It is the territories that were occupied as a result of the 1967 war that I’m talking about.

    It is true that the outspoken goal of Arab nations has been and is the removal of Israel. If they want Israel gone alltogether, or if it’s more a matter of rethoric I don’t know. But this fact isn’t an incentive for ignorance or suppression of the palestinian people.

    All I’m saying is that as long as Israel maintains an illegal occupation of Palestinian land I don’t see how the conflict can ever be solved.

    By the standards of the UN the occupation is illegal regardless of who attacked who first etc.

    “Anonymous is an odd combination of wrong and fanatical opinions” -Which opinions are wrong? The details around historic events? The fact remains that there is an occupation going on..

    Whether I just googled to find some semi-correct facts to fit my cause or not is difficult to say.. One can always find facts saying one thing or the other.. But the sum of all the information coming out of Palestine is quite consistent.

    Calling me a psychotic leftist etc with fanatic opinions is not very constructive for the debate.

    Anyway, I’d appreciate if someone could provide me with a turn of events that would be satisfactory in the Israel/palestine conflict?

    Should the palestinians just accept living under siege and get on with it, alltough they have little potential for leading a normal life, or providing a future for their children in the occupied areas? Or should they be slowly driven away through degradation?

    Lastly, is the Norwegian government completely wrong in maintaining a dialogue with the palestinian government? Should we just ignore them once and for all?

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