A new craze is taking form in political circles throughout the international community. After the Gazan “civil war” which killed 90 people (only 617, 910 less than the American civil war) everyone and their grandmothers seems to be an expert on Palestinian politics and its internal affairs. Hamastan, as it is now being called in Gaza, like the multitude of evil empires that have taken hold throughout world history, is scaring the bejesus out of Fatah, Israel, the US, the European Union, the Arab States, and most theater goers of Spiderman 3. The reason: Hamas, as if it was filming the promotional video, “How to Spank a Militia in 3 Easy Steps,” routed Mohammed Dahlan and his US backed henchmen in Gaza before dinner was on the table.
This backyard beating prompted Israel and the US to embark on a new strategy. The two nations are bolstering Mahmoud Abbas, the Palestinian president and head of Fatah, because of a new “window of opportunity.” This opportunity is claimed to be the chance to embrace so-called Palestinian moderates. The US and Israel believe they can rejuvenate the corrupted peace process, which is about as alive as Ariel Sharon, by helping to consolidate Abbas’s power in Fatah’s heartland—the West Bank. What these think tank geniuses forget to mention is that this window had been open in the same capacity after the passing of Yasser Arafat. Furthermore, they persist in pushing forth a vision of paradise in the West Bank, with children dancing in the street greeting their new liberators with flowers and candy, reminiscent of the vision of the fall of Baathism—minus the 650,000 deaths and actual civil war.
The propaganda machine in the US has been working at full steam to enlighten its citizens on just why Hamas is filled with foaming-from-the-mouth jihadists. Only a few anti-Semites have come out to criticize America’s policy towards Hamas, namely ex-Ku Klux Klan member Jimmy Carter. In plain terms, this “violent” and “fundamentalist” organization cannot be allowed to function because it’s a terrorist organization, with terrorist values, terrorist roots, and a terrorist vision of the future. The only problem with these labels is Hamas’s lack of terrorism. The group, infamous for its history of suicide bombings, hasn’t been behind such an attack in more than three years. The group imposed and abided by a unilateral cease-fire with Israel even before it came into power and held onto the cease-fire while Israel continued to attack the organization. The group only ended the cease-fire after persistent Israeli attacks on it and the civilian population of the Gaza Strip and the West Bank. Nonetheless, when Hamas ended the cease-fire it didn’t revert back to suicide bombings, but rather engaged in some firing of Qassam rockets, which are about as deadly as a Roman candle at a Fourth of July beach party.
The Western press fails to recognize that outside of its dream world, where Paris Hilton is queen and real news is crap, Hamas is the democratically elected majority party in the Palestinian territories. This makes the accusation that Hamas staged a coup against Fatah all the more silly. George Bush can’t stage a coup against the president; he is the president (no matter what Dick Cheney says). Furthermore, Hamas only took action against Dahlan and his clan of thugs after a major buildup of Dahlan’s militia by the US and Egypt. The international community is reveling in the breakdown of Palestinian society because it feels it can now impose more desirable realities on the ground. Yet, contrary to the thought of most Westerners, Palestinians do value democracy, as long as it doesn’t come with a side of cluster bombs and forced starvation. Abbas’s illegal appointment of a new government is going to sit as well with Palestinians as Jerusalem’s gay pride parade sat with ultra-Orthodox Jews.
The fact remains, the international community, specifically Israel and the US, missed a huge window of opportunity after the election of Hamas. The group had significantly moderated, ironically much more in action than words, and deserved a chance to govern without being bankrupted and imprisoned. Now Hamas is being told, oddly enough like democrats and republicans tell Iraqis, that they are to pick themselves up by their bootstraps and govern in Gaza without the basic means of survival. Granted, Gaza can’t function with the world’s strongest nations investing in its failure, but so what, get ’em next time right?
Rubbing Hamas’ face in the dirt (along with the 1.4 million people of Gaza) like schoolyard bullies may seem like an after school delight, but it will only foment more hatred against Israel and more disgust with Fatah. There won’t be three states, four states, or any other “new solution” to combat the power of Hamas: any vision for the future will ultimately have to pass a unified Palestinian litmus test for it to stick. Abbas can pretend that Gaza is now Hamas’s mess, but he was elected as head of the Palestinian Authority, and will be held to account politically if he keeps treating Gaza like an unwanted stepchild. Even for someone who likes international popularity and money more than George Bush likes bombing brown people, Abbas will eventually come around to engage with Hamas. Whether Abbas likes it or not, his brothers are in Hamas, and no matter how well he gets along with his neighbors, if he doesn’t make peace in Palestinian society, the rest of his family is going to think he’s self-serving sellout.
Remi Kanazi is the co-founder of the political website http://www.poeticinjustice.net/. He is the editor of the forthcoming book of poetry, Poets for Palestine, for more information visit Poetic Injustice. He can reached via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.