Palestine matters…

I am sure many of you have heard about the recent fighting between Hamas and Fatah in Palestine. I don’t claim to be an expert on this issue but the hypocrisy of the United States and the West is beyond the pale.
For starters, I should point out that the major differences between Hamas and Fatah. Hamas (widely labeled as a terrorist/extremis group, by the West in particular) does not formally recognize Israel as a sovereign state and would ideally want to see Israel as an Islamic Republic. Fatah, on the other hand recognizes Israel as a sovereign state and seeks to negotiate a two-state solution. There are much more nuanced discussions to be had but these two groups are in constant political turmoil as they fight for power in the Palestinian territories.

Can you guess which side is most supported by the West and the US? I hope you guessed Fatah.

In any event, things took a darker turn after Palestinian Parliamentarian elections in 2006. We should also keep in mind Bush’s dogged insistence that democracy is the style of government most needed for Middle Eastern countries. In a stunning victory, Hamas wins the majority of the seats and is now a legitimate political force.

Many people ask how Hamas won. Hamas won because they made themselves indispensable to the Palestinian people by “establishing extensive welfare programs, funding schools, orphanages, and healthcare clinics, throughout the West Bank and Gaza Strip.” For Black folks, there are some similarities to be had between Hamas and the Black Panther Party because,

“At the street level, the Party began to develop a series of social programs to provide needed services to black and poor people, promoting thereby, at the same time, a model for an alternative, more humane social scheme. These programs, of which there came to be more than 35, were eventually referred to as Survival Programs, and were operated by Party members under the slogan “survival pending revolution.”

I will come back to parallels between Palestinians and Black folk in another post. Nevertheless, the Hamas victory did not sit well with the West and the dream of democracy turned into a nightmare. So after free and fair elections were held, severe economic sanctions were levied against the Palestinian government which I thought was completely insane. Not only did it make life difficult for the Hamas led parliament to provide much needed services but it also put the West-backed Palestinian Prime Minister Mahmoud Abbas in a precarioius position of having to deal with Hamas and have no way to give the people the goods and services they need.

While the West was busy imposing sanctions, Hamas and Fatah played nice and agreed to form a unity government. The important goal of the West though was to essentially force Hamas out of the government. So when fighting broke out between Hamas and Fatah recently, Mahmoud Abbas dissolved the Hamas-led government. No sooner than the ink was dry, the US announced “plans to lift a ban on direct aid to Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas’ emergency Government in the wake of Hamas’ bloody takeover of the Gaza Strip.” The timing couldn’t have been more convenient and the logic is simple, Hamas = no aid. No Hamas = aid.

Foreign aid should be about the people, not the politics. Why would the West punish the Palestinian people for voting for Hamas into power when Hamas provided goods and services that Fatah could not or was not providing? Aid with conditions isn’t really aid and do we really think (the US) is pulling a fast one on the Palestinian people?

I believe most people of the world really don’t care about politics and all they really want is work, dignity, and a better world for their children. Playing geo politics with aid is no way to gain friends or make the world better because it only creates enemies.

The struggles we face here in the United States would be considered a blessing in Palestine.

Stay up fam,

Brandon Q.

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2 responses to “Palestine matters…”

  1. Fatima says :

    Welcome to ‘Palestine’
    by Robert Fisk

    How troublesome the Muslims of the Middle East are. First, we demand that the Palestinians embrace democracy and then they elect the wrong party – Hamas – and then Hamas wins a mini-civil war and presides over the Gaza Strip. And we Westerners still want to negotiate with the discredited President, Mahmoud Abbas. Today “Palestine” -and let’s keep those quotation marks in place – has two prime ministers. Welcome to the Middle East.

    Who can we negotiate with? To whom do we talk? Well of course, we should have talked to Hamas months ago. But we didn’t like the democratically elected government of the Palestinian people. They were supposed to have voted for Fatah and its corrupt leadership. But they voted for Hamas, which declines to recognise Israel or abide by the totally discredited Oslo agreement.

    No one asked – on our side – which particular Israel Hamas was supposed to recognise. The Israel of 1948? The Israel of the post-1967 borders? The Israel which builds – and goes on building – vast settlements for Jews and Jews only on Arab land, gobbling up even more of the 22 per cent of “Palestine” still left to negotiate over ?

    And so today, we are supposed to talk to our faithful policeman, Mr Abbas, the “moderate” (as the BBC, CNN and Fox News refer to him) Palestinian leader, a man who wrote a 600-page book about Oslo without once mentioning the word “occupation”, who always referred to Israeli “redeployment” rather than “withdrawal”, a “leader” we can trust because he wears a tie and goes to the White House and says all the right things. The Palestinians didn’t vote for Hamas because they wanted an Islamic republic – which is how Hamas’s bloody victory will be represented – but because they were tired of the corruption of Mr Abbas’s Fatah and the rotten nature of the “Palestinian Authority”.

    I recall years ago being summoned to the home of a PA official whose walls had just been punctured by an Israeli tank shell. All true. But what struck me were the gold-plated taps in his bathroom. Those taps – or variations of them – were what cost Fatah its election. Palestinians wanted an end to corruption – the cancer of the Arab world – and so they voted for Hamas and thus we, the all-wise, all-good West, decided to sanction them and starve them and bully them for exercising their free vote. Maybe we should offer “Palestine” EU membership if it would be gracious enough to vote for the right people?

    All over the Middle East, it is the same. We support Hamid Karzai in Afghanistan, even though he keeps warlords and drug barons in his government (and, by the way, we really are sorry about all those innocent Afghan civilians we are killing in our “war on terror” in the wastelands of Helmand province).

    We love Hosni Mubarak of Egypt, whose torturers have not yet finished with the Muslim Brotherhood politicians recently arrested outside Cairo, whose presidency received the warm support of Mrs – yes Mrs – George W Bush – and whose succession will almost certainly pass to his son, Gamal.

    We adore Muammar Gaddafi, the crazed dictator of Libya whose werewolves have murdered his opponents abroad, whose plot to murder King Abdullah of Saudi Arabia preceded Tony Blair’s recent visit to Tripoli – Colonel Gaddafi, it should be remembered, was called a “statesman” by Jack Straw for abandoning his non-existent nuclear ambitions – and whose “democracy” is perfectly acceptable to us because he is on our side in the “war on terror”.

    Yes, and we love King Abdullah’s unconstitutional monarchy in Jordan, and all the princes and emirs of the Gulf, especially those who are paid such vast bribes by our arms companies that even Scotland Yard has to close down its investigations on the orders of our prime minister – and yes, I can indeed see why he doesn’t like The Independent’s coverage of what he quaintly calls “the Middle East”. If only the Arabs – and the Iranians – would support our kings and shahs and princes whose sons and daughters are educated at Oxford and Harvard, how much easier the “Middle East” would be to control.

    For that is what it is about – control – and that is why we hold out, and withdraw, favours from their leaders. Now Gaza belongs to Hamas, what will our own elected leaders do? Will our pontificators in the EU, the UN, Washington and Moscow now have to talk to these wretched, ungrateful people (fear not, for they will not be able to shake hands) or will they have to acknowledge the West Bank version of Palestine (Abbas, the safe pair of hands) while ignoring the elected, militarily successful Hamas in Gaza?

    It’s easy, of course, to call down a curse on both their houses. But that’s what we say about the whole Middle East. If only Bashar al-Assad wasn’t President of Syria (heaven knows what the alternative would be) or if the cracked President Mahmoud Ahmedinejad wasn’t in control of Iran (even if he doesn’t actually know one end of a nuclear missile from the other).

    If only Lebanon was a home-grown democracy like our own little back-lawn countries – Belgium, for example, or Luxembourg. But no, those pesky Middle Easterners vote for the wrong people, support the wrong people, love the wrong people, don’t behave like us civilised Westerners.

    So what will we do? Support the reoccupation of Gaza perhaps? Certainly we will not criticise Israel. And we shall go on giving our affection to the kings and princes and unlovely presidents of the Middle East until the whole place blows up in our faces and then we shall say – as we are already saying of the Iraqis – that they don’t deserve our sacrifice and our love.

    How do we deal with a coup d’état by an elected government?

  2. Brandon Q. says :

    Thanks Fatima, I actually caught that article on Alternet.org at

    http://alternet.org/story/54410/

    The article pins down the issues like a laser and I only wish that more Americans made time to be educated on issues facing oppressed people around the world. Thanks again Fatima,

    Brandon Q.

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