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More on What Went Wrong

The last few days have been obscenely hectic, events in the region, the Olmert US visit and a lot of media. I have also been reviewing media commentary and looking back at my own long analysis piece, I will be responding to some of your comments in a post soon.

A lot of the positions prospectsforpeace.com has been taking are echoing widely. A fair number of commentators, Israeli, Arab, and international, have pointed out the role of the boycott of the unity government in precipitating last week's events.

Ben Kaspit, the lead commentator in the Israeli Ma'ariv newspaper gives US policy a good portion of the 'credit' (translation courtesy of Mideast Mirror):

Bush holds preferred shares in the debacle.  His democratic gambits set fire to the entire region, his black-or-white policy left the U.S. wading in another quagmire whose end in the U.S. has no hope of reaching.  His policies scared off the moderate forces, bolstered the radical forces and have made the Middle East far more dangerous and volatile. 

An Editorial leader in the UK Guardian describes the "Bitter Fruit of Boycott":

The sanctions did not encourage the unity government to function properly.  They killed it off... Far from being a success, the international boycott on the Hamas-led national-unity government has proved to be a disaster.

And a Financial Times editorial adds this thought:

Palestinian leaders of all stripes are responsible for the collapse of their national project into quasi-tribal internecine war. But the Bush administration can add this mess to its catastrophic record in the Middle East. By imposing unrealistic preconditions, and then sanctions, on Hamas after its 2006 election victory, and then backing local Fatah warlords, it seemed actively to seek this violent outcome – another human disaster for the Palestinians.

Danny Rubinstein, the senior Palestinian analyst in Ha'aretz, spreads the blame more evenly:

 The Primary reason for the break-up is the fact that Fatah... refused to fully share the PA's mechanism of power with its rival Hamas...

Fatah was forced to overrule the Palestinian voters because the entire world demanded it do so.  The United States, the European nations, most of the Arab leaders and, of course, the State of Israel, warned Fatah not to share power with Hamas.

There have, of course, also been bitterly hostile exchanges -- verbal and written now, less military, between Hamas and Fatah personel over what happened.  It does seem that Hamas moved preemptively to prevent the build-up of Dahlanist-Fatah force capacity in Gaza -- a build-up that Washington, Jerusalem, and others in the region were all active partners in.

There has been massive criticism, not only from Hamas, but also within important Fatah circles, of the role played by Dahlan and his deputies.  Neither Dahlan, nor the head of the International Security Forces Rashid Abu Shibbak, nor a key Preventive Security Forces leader, Samir al-Mashharawi were actually in Gaza for any of last weeks clashes.  Marwan Barghouti, from his Israeli cell, is leading the calls to sideline Dahlan.

As TV and Ma'ariv newspaper commentator Ofer Shelah notes (translation once again, Mideast Mirror):

Israel's contribution to this deterioration has also played a key role.  Marwan Barghouti is in an Israeli jail and Israel continues to prefer the corrupt and weak Arafat cronies over the new generation of Fateh leaders.

Hamas, too, has hardly emerged smelling of roses!  The cruelty on display from Hamas has received a very wide airing -- even if some of those focusing on it are rather late arrivals in expressing concern for Palestinian suffering.  Both Fatah and Hamas have lost credibility. 

Charles Levinson, who writes for several publications, has been blogging from Gaza at  conflictblotter.com.  He has some really useful insights and first hand accounts, including a post on how "Fatah Never Fought" and how betrayed their rank and file feel by a leadership who went awol.   Levinson floats the following idea, and follows up by apologizing for sounding conspiratorial, so I will leave you with his musings:

Ousted Fatah loyalists in Gaza widely suspect a political decision was made early on in Ramallah to surrender the Gaza Strip to Hamas in order to extricate Abbas, Israel and the US from the seeming intractable pickle they were facing as infighting spiraled, living conditions worsened, and the peace process seemed hopelessly stuck. With the Palestinian territories now split, the US, Israel and Abbas suddenly have way forward, without compromising to Hamas. 


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Comments (3)


I suspect there were many in the 1940s who thought blaming Germany was silly, too. After all, wasn't the mess in Warsaw the result of innate Jewish depravity? Didn't they rat on each other for a piece of bread, living like rats themselves? It was easier to blame Jews for their plight than look at who'd created their living conditions.

Similarly, there are those who blame Palestinians for their plight... overlooking how Israel created the mess and controls their lives.

Some saw the German-Jewish conflict as "complicated"...something that needed time to be resolved, something the world could wash their hands of (until the pesky Japanese attacked Pearl Harbor). One just needed to ignore the immense power differentials. Doing so allowed a fight between well-fed, elite Tiger tank corps and sickly, pistol-packing ghetto inhabitants as a fair fight.

Some think Hamas "a bad bunch" despite its honoring a cease-fire hudna while Israel constantly violated it. Arabs, after all, lack honor. Unlike America that killed 600,000 of the wrong people in revenge for 3,000 murdered at the WTC. Unlike Israel, too, a state created by later-to-be prime minister terrorists sought by the British Army. Shamir and others belonged to groups like Irgun, Haganah, Stern Gang, etc. that assassinated Lord Moyne and Count Folke Bernadotte, killing sailors on the USS Liberty, Rachel Corrie, passengers on the Cairo-Haifa train, inhabitants of Deir Yassin and on and on and on.

Israel, contrary to its own PR, is a blight unto other nations. Yet its defenders damn others, never Israel Uber Alles.

Israel thinks itself superior to other nations, refuses to make peaces, steals land and oppresses people at will. It does unto others what was done to Jews in the 1930s. Only not against Germans or anyone that can fight back. It always "cracks down" on the weak...who remind of Jews' weakness 60 years ago.

Israel, the abused child, is now the abusive father acting omnipotently, terrorizing weaker others "for their own good."

Maybe it SHOULD disappear, just like the USSR, East Germany, etc. Jews could then live wherever they wanted in peace.

Israel's days as America's pet pitbull are numbered. Aid to it cannot end soon enough.


Dana's comments are a mean-spirited as they are childish. Of course, outside forces are to blame. Let's recap: Hamas won a fair election. Israel and the West then decided to subject the Palestinian people in Gaza to collective punishment for VOTING. They then trid to foment a coup to overturn a democratic election. Dahlan's criminal gangs, aided and supported by Israel, then lost.

Wake up, Dana. As usual, Israel's bloody hands are all over this situation. What a surprise!


Why do we always have to blame the system and outside forces instead of looking at the people who are actually doing the killing and just generally going crazy?
Hamas is a bad bunch. they were founded on the idea of destroying israel, and they've ALWAYS been violent. Maybe they're just crazy. Why should we blame fatah for not wanting to legitimize them? Why should we blame Bush or Israel or anyone else? Why can't THEIR crimes be THEIR fault?

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This page contains a single entry from the blog posted on June 19, 2007 6:15 PM.

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