Wednesday, May 10, 2006

On Palestine

Like most lefties, I’ve long held deep sympathy with the plight of the Palestinians, the world’s longest standing refugees. Ethnically cleansed by the Israeli’s from the 1950’s onwards (with full backing from the British), thousands of villages razed without trace and banged up in squatter camps for generations, it’s hard for an unbiased outsider to avoid seeing Palestinians (whether Muslim or Christians) as the underdog victims of the sweep of history. Just as is it is hard not to see the policies of successive right-wing Israeli governments as anything other than pathological if not demonic behaviour, perhaps originating in the suppurating wound of the Holocaust.

All that said, it’s just as hard right now to sustain sympathy for a people who recently voted in a bunch of terrorists (Hamas) and are now suffering the consequences from the international community. Hamas pig headedly continues to refuse to recognise the State of Israel or to renounce suicide bombing or other acts of terrorism against ordinary Israelis. How then can one disagree with the EU and America’s decision to withdraw funding? The fact that the economies of the West Bank and the Gaza strip are now on the point of collapse (civil servants, who receive something like 40% of all money entering the economy, have not been paid for months) has been inevitable since the elections. Just like Serbia holding on to genocidist Mladic and therefore guaranteeing continued rejection from joining the European Union, Hamas really have nowhere else to go but to renounce terrorism and agree for a two-state solution. Amongst all the criticism, it;s good to see the EU exerting just the right kind of diplomatic pressure. Relying on other Arab nations for replacement funding is a non-starter (neither Egypt nor Syria would dare, as for Iran..).

Something will have to give in the next few weeks. Let’s hope Hamas wake up and smell the olive oil: the only viable route out of their self-imposed quandary, before more Palestinians languish in a suffering elected by themselves, is to redefine themselves as one half of a two-state solution for that tiny strip of land currently called Israel.


Nkem 12:17 pm  

The danger in all of this is that the Palestinian people rally behind their government in a spirit of collective victimhood. There's nothing like a people supporting their government when they feel they're being punished for their legitimate democratic choice. But the other four parties in the Middle East peace process have pulled off a coup today by bypassing the Hamas government to get funding direct to the Palestinian people. This stresses the "we have no quarrel with the Palestinian people" message.

One thing you forget though is that Hamas was voted in manner of localism writ large. Hamas made provision for social welfare, education etc, while Arafat/Qureia's Fatah government was riddled with corruption, siphoning money away from desitute refugees. Hamas got voted in despite the fact that there was rapprochement between Sharon and Qureia.

I actually believe in a one state solution. Two federations, one border. Not at all unrealistic, just a smattering of bravery.

Akin 12:39 pm  


I beg to disagree with your analysis of Hamas.

I wrote on this in my blog sometime ago.

Hamas was elected on the platform of the obliteration of Israel, the non-acceptance of previous agreements and the non-renunciation of violence as it suits them.

This whole manifesto of Hamas has always been evident to everyone including their electorate.

When it comes to matters on the ground, Hamas showed a better understanding of their people's problems than the corrupt and ineffective Fatah or PLO.

That is why they were voted in with popular support.

This blackmail of West is tantamount to saying a conservative party should junk their beliefs for liberal ideology.

Like the Republicans having been voted in should now ditch Republican principles for those of the Democrats.

It does not happen in the West, it should not be imposed on the Palestinians.

We are distorting the whole concept of Democracy if people cannot chose and elect leaders who really work for them - just because we in the West were caught unawares by the real situation in Palestine.

I'll stop here!

Jeremy 1:20 pm  

Hi Akin,

you say "This blackmail of West is tantamount to saying a conservative party should junk their beliefs for liberal ideology." This is not the issue. The issue is the international community putting pressure on a terrorist organisation to renounce its previously held core principles. These principles concern its committment to terrorism and violence against Israel; issues of conservative vs liberal ideology are not relevant. Not all blackmail is bad or wrong.

the flying monkeys 1:35 pm  

Do you guys really believe in the concept of democracy? Do you think it is real? Or a mere fallacy!

Why can't we develop and market our own indigenous concepts to the world. Take religion, where some may think the yoruba gods are dead, and then we have judaism against christianity versus islam and xyz...or capitalism versus communism...and in all of this, we have fascism op;erating underneath...

Its all a load of bollocks

mind the language

Akin 1:37 pm  

Hello Jeremy,

These principles "commitment to terrorism and violence against Israel" were part of the democratic platform of Hamas when they were elected.

We cannot disavow that by withholding aid, hoping they would cave in and acquiesce or the Palestinian infrastructure would collapse leading to greater unrest, a new election and probably Hamas again in government.

The facts on the ground are that Hamas has not terrorised Israel for over a year and the previously set agreements probably did not have the greater consensus of the people through the leadership of Arafat.

Hamas is now in control of the Palestinian government, we have dealt with and entertained more despotic undemocratic governments with greater candour than Hamas now receives.

Besides, whose terrorists are they anyway? Definitely, not of their people in the fight for a Palestinian nation.

The label of terrorist is a convenience that allow us to ignore the advent of democracy in Palestine - it is appalling double standards.

The West withholds aid and Israel withholds their tax remittances, if only the Arabs would now rise to the challenge of standing with their people.

uknaija 1:44 pm  

Yes, but isn't it hypocritical to say, "we want to promote democracy and allow you free choice", and then when people exercise that choice, we say "Oh no- you've made the wrong choice" It's something that's often bothered me especially with regard to the rise of fundamentalist governments- if they're freely elected and chosen, why shift the goalposts because their beliefs are abhorrent?

Perhaps the answer is in setting out the rules that enable parties to take part in the electoral process well ahead of time, so that if they then win, they can't renege...although some would argue that that would still be undemocratic....

I don't presume to have the answers, but surely you must see that double standards such as these only (with some justification) strengthen the anti-Western democracy lobby in these countries...

grace,  2:18 pm  

Terrorist is another word that has meaning depending on who is using it. Hamas terrorizes Israel, but Israel doesn't terrorize the palestinians? Both Hamas and Israel are terrorists. Aid (particularly military/weapons) should be cut off to both.

Jeremy 3:06 pm  

good point Grace. The moment the US withdraws its 5+billion dollar support to Israel, we'll probably start to see a more harmonious Middle East. Quite what will happen to Israel when the oil's gone, who knows?twotoz

the flying monkeys 4:34 pm  

What will happen to Nigeria when the oil and gas is gone?

Anonymous,  4:43 pm  

The funniest part of your post to me (or maybe I should say the saddest)is that you recognise the wrong that has been wrought on the palestinians but you insist on a solution without addressing that wrong.

In a "just" and "equitable" world, the original wrong is first addressed and then a solution is sought to the problem. Just a thought.

St Antonym 6:30 pm  

"Terrorism" is just a name we use for war when it's waged by the weak.

If the Palestinians had planes and nukes, there wouldn't be a Palestinian "terror" problem. They'd be in a position to wage war with all the sophisticated belligerence of modern nation states.

I find all military violence sickening. It's all a visitation of death and destruction, in the name of political ideals. Whether it's conducted by the figure-skating piano-playing Condi Rice or by the Koran-addled disaffected youth strapped with explosives in a nightclub is irrelevant.

Our problem is not "terror." It's the continuing idea that killing people is a good solution to our problems.

What is important is to be aware of how the strong can use language to make the methods of the weak look illegitimate.

caveman,  6:45 pm  

but do we really live in a just and equitable world?

the flying monkeys 6:46 pm  

why do humans like going round in circles? why are people scared to speak the truth?

the rot of capitalism (recipe for disaster) and the calamity of the jews in the 20th century is no different to our tragedy i.e. that of the ibo, yoruba and other ethnic minorities enclaved within the space known as nigeria
i am speaking as a yoruba, and would think that before we can resolve the jewish question, the yoruba question would need addressing, equally the ibo question too

from the nigerian point of view, imagine if all of the yoruba in the world were today palestinian citizens

a separate state of palestine would be an extra bat in arab hands, but would a separate ibo or yoruba state?

nigeria, what's new 8:41 am  

Akin, your "Besides, whose terrorists are they anyway? Definitely, not of their people in the fight for a Palestinian nation." is not entirely true, there none Hamas supporters who are also looking for a Palestinian nation through peaceful means, these people, some of them are none muslims are also being terrorised by Hamas.

"I am right, you are dead" (WS), "it is my land, it is god's land"(me), "you be tif, I no be tif"(FAK). Wouldn't life be wonderful, when more people agree with St Antonym's "Our problem is not "terror." It's the continuing idea that killing people is a good solution to our problems." Life is all there is and to kill in order to live will probably get us all killed.

obifromsouthlondon 9:32 am  

hamas are the only ones putting up a fight and now they find themselves in government. ideal and not ideal. ideal because these gentlemen represent a fighting spirit of no compromise. not ideal because you may be good and up for a fight but that does not mean you are good to govern anybody. We'll soon see who the skilled politicians amongst them are.

As for Isreal? As long as the americans support a terrorist state no one has a chance.

"Let freedom reign with a buckshot but not just yet, first we need to understand the nature of the threat"

the flying monkeys 9:59 am  

thanks for the other day

Jeremy 10:37 am  

let me crystallise the issue of my post. The EU money that has been withdrawn since January came from EU tax payers. I don't see how the EU could continue to defend people's hard earned tax-euros going to an organisation that has yet to renounce policies and solutions based around violence.

This is an entirely separate issue to the deeper question of what solution there should be for Israel/Palestine. If only we knew our history a little more. Before the British waded in with the Balfour agreement, Palestine (as it was called) was a mixed community of jews and arabs living side by side. My hunch is that it will return to such, once the oil has gone. Perhaps a similar transition will take place in Nigeria, when non-oil revenues eventually far outway the extractive curse money.

Anonymous,  11:25 am  

I am sorry, the same EU-Tax payers money was going to the utterly corrupt, inept, incompetent and dishonest government of the PLO and its Fatah faction.

The money did not stop flowing when they instituted the Intifada in September 2001 - the violence that ensued from the Al-Aqsa Martyr's Brigade which is closely linked to the Fatah Movement did not stop the funding.

That Hamas accepts or rejects the existence of Israel would make no difference to the fact that Israel is still there and would not be wiped off the face of the earth.

That reality has to dawn on Hamas eventually.

To use the EU tax-payers argument is disingenuous in the least and baseless on deeper analysis of the issues.

I do beg to differ on your premise, once again.

Akin 11:36 am  

Sorry, the last comment regarding Fatah and Al-Aqsa was mine.

You've got some aggregators, counters and external sites running on your blog - it is first not very responsive and switches to anonymous if one aborts a post because of a very tardy response.

the flying monkeys 12:24 pm  
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
the flying monkeys 12:33 pm  


your thinking was quite clear at the onset

but further to your elucidation, i think the crucial answer to the deeper question is about the secular, it is about what constitutes a threat to arab-islamic civilization, and what constitutes a threat to democratic principles from the jewish standpoint

its about why some civilizations decline while others flourish

its about what nigeria has done, is doing and would do to our (YORUBA and IBO in particular) civilizations

it is about identifying and removing any threat to our civilization, and I believe nigeria is a threat to each and every one of us and think that is an appropriate anecdote upon which to end this comment

arabs have been murdering the jews (regardless of whether right or left wing) even before the establishment of the secular state of israel and the motivation has always been that the jews are not genuine…and subsequent to the establishment of israel a further reason (threat of democracy to arab civilisation) was added to the list

so i don’t think removing oil from the equation would make a fundamental difference – and it would be a mistake to ever foresee arab relations with jews as trouble-free albeit your viewpoint on EU is a very interesting one,

Jeremy 1:38 pm  

But the point is, arabs and jews have co-existed for thousands of years in more-or-less peace. From the outside, the differences are marginal: both theologically regard themselves as children of Ibrahim/Abraham, both are ethnically semitic peoples, the languages have many common origins. There is even new archeological evidence that hebrews and arabs have lived in Israel/Canaan/Palestine for thousands and thousands of years (challenging the Abraham-the-nomad conventional belief). The arab/muslim world is way more heterogeneous than the western media represents. There is a growing liberal/intellectual tradition which we hear little of. In many ways, one can see wahabism/salafism and the Al-Qaeda phenomenon as the growing pains of a rapidly modernising and secularising Islam. What happens in the next few years in Iran is key, what happens with Turkey (to join the Eu, or to stick with the headscarves) is almost as important. Remember, it was only a few years ago that Iran witnessed a minor cultural/spiritual renaissance. What is going on now is a backlash. There will be a backlash against this backlash in time. Muslim culture and civilisation is too deep, rich, internally divided and continuous for the current crop of fundamentalists to remain hegemonic for much longer. Western interference does not help - I strongly believe in applying Chomsky's maxim of leaving well alone if at all possible when it comes to foreign policy. This is why I support the EU withdrawing support for Hamas and redirecting money to the people.

the flying monkeys 2:43 pm  

in any event, like i conceded, and without spending long on the details, i can understand your viewpoint on the EU which is a very interesting one and has not been dismissed

but i suppose my basic point rests on yours and is only as good as the capacity of your interpretation

its about what nigeria has done, is doing and would do to our (YORUBA and IBO in particular) civilizations

we are probably saying the same things in what identifying and removing any threat to our civilization should be of utmost imprtance

i should for completeness repeat my belief that nigeria is a threat to each and every one of its ethnic minorities and this is what concerns me

our civilizations are declining while others are flourishing

in the result nigeria must fail, i cannot part with this without speaking of my own sense of dissapointment

some of us may be critical of my position and i cannot see any chance that they will accept it

i appreciate the perils of hidsight but given our abilities i have to hope that we can rebuild the yoruba civilisation, the ibo civilisation etc, we have much to offer and time is on our side

akin 3:56 pm  

The money cannot even get to the people, there isn't enough as the UNRWA reports.

The border has been closed for the Passover.

I write, do we have to wait for pictures of the magnitude of misery in Ethiopia in the 80s before our principled soap-boxes, pulpits, platforms and whatever stands we postulate from collapse in response to, hopefully, that remaining iota of humanity and compassion left in us?

the flying monkeys 4:59 pm  


wa gbo additional ayetoro samples

oga and pepple street blues!

nigeria, what's new 9:09 am  

Is this the begining of the end of civilisation as we know it? Wahabism, Al-Qaeda, US troops, "withholding funds to a state-in-waiting", and Nigeria "today" will cost more lives. How advanced does a civilization need to be in order to stop all these killings? The few people doing the killing in our view are selfish idiots that have not opened their eyes to the wider picture. We take comfort in Michio Kaku's "The Physics of Extra-Terrestrial Civilizations, How advanced could they possibly be?"

Ola,  10:22 am  

The simplistic potrayal of the palestinian-israeli conflict as a straight forward case of an oppresive israel 'stealing' palestine territory is perhaps one of the biggest spin jobs in history. It often amazes me to read opinions to this effect by apparently intelligent writers.

A few points:

1.There was never a Nation called Palestine which the Israeli's took over, rather as Jeremy pointed out,(though i disagree with him on some other points of his), Palestine was a mixed community of Jews (the few who never left the area and the returnees from the early pogrom in europe from the 1800s), arabs, turks, greeks, syrians etc. The area called palestine was part of the ottoman empire which the brits defeated in 1917-18. all the people in this area were referred to as Palestinians-arabs and jews alike-THERE WAS NEVER ANY DISTINCT RACIAL OR ETHNIC GROUP OF PEOPLE KNOWN AS PALESTINIANS as is commonly portrayed today. this is plain wrong-it is more a political description than an ethnological one

3. The issue of who owns the land revolves around the question: How far back in history do you want to go? everyone can lay claim to the land as "Father Abraham"'s bequest to them but might it make sense to draw the line at the Balfour declaration or the expiration of the British mandate which led to the creation of the jewish state?

3. The U.N 'created' israel and established some part of the palestinain territory as a jewish permanent homeland-the UN voted for the partitioning of the palestinian territory-a decision unanimously rejected by the Arab bloc which led to the declaration of war on the nascent state of israel by several arab nations. It was this early conflict that led to the first exodus of refugees-same people who later became "palestinians" refugees

4. people so conveniently forget that these same "Exiles" were on Jordanian territory-the west bank was annexed by JORDAN (see, after the 1948 war and claimed by Israel after 1967. The claim for it as Palestinian territory is at best legally dubious. The palestinian refugees under Jordan lived under the most appaling conditions. The gaza strip was occupied by EGYPT after the 1948 war against israel till it was re-capturd by israel in 1967. Also, the refugees lived in horrible conditions and no effort was made toward nationhood for them-why didnt jordan and egypt then begin to sow the first seeds of nationhood by granting the palestinian refugees autonomy over these territotries, injecting massive funds etc?-rather they were happy to hold on to the territory as a political weapon and a 2 state solution was out of the question. Its unfortunate that a lot of people have no appreciation for the kind of hateful, vitriolic, anti-semitic sentiment that was the backdrop to these events. The sad truth is that the palestinians have been more victims of the arab world than they have been of the west or israel.

5. What exactly has the arab world done for the palestinians? They were NEVER absorbed into mainstream jordanian, egyptian, or syrian society but kept under the most horrible conditions in refugee camps as this was convenient for political purposes

6.On HAMAS, akin seems to view democracy as a concept in the can it be? does it not have a framework of values and ideals? undoubtedly it is a profound issue that leaves many advocates of a global democractic order somewhat confused-when is democracy democracy? Is the popuplar vote the only condition for a democratic order? are there universal democratic values? isn't the freedom of association at a macro level an inherent democratic right, as in the West choosing nt to associate with Hamas? more practically, what basis is there for discussion, and less so,a resolution when HAMAS insists on the right to DESTROY israel and not to recognise it?

7.I think the EU and the US have made the right decision-let HAMAS be a little reasonable

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