Jan 26, 2006

On The Palestinian Election

Left: Supporters of Hamas celebrate in Ramallah; photo courtesy of AP.

The stunning victory by Hamas in yesterday's election likely signals an era of increased conflict in the Middle East, and it appears that the militant political group has achieved a majority of the seats in the country's Legislative Council.

Whatever the true aims of Hamas, which has a history of supporting terrorist acts against Israeli civilians, it is difficult to see how the electoral results can be shown in a positive light.

Israeli politicians will likely perceive this turn of events as an affront to any good faith efforts they have put forth, and this probably bodes well for hard right Likud Party leader Benjamin Netanyahu. Israeli voters take to the polls in a little over two months, and the fear of increased violence will weigh heavily on their minds.

Some try to spin this as a sign that Palestinian voters are frustrated with the corruption and ineffectiveness of Fatah, and there is a good case to be made that the death of Yasser Arafat doomed the party he founded.

That is little consolation for those who desire peace in the region, though. Yes, the Palestinians may have voted for Hamas in a collective fit of "throw da bums out," but it is difficult to find a hope for peace in the rhetoric of Hamas, which refused to back away from its official stance that Israel should be "destroyed."

It is also unclear if the Hamas-led government will even achieve recognition by Western nations, which will deal a blow to President Bush's vision of a democratic Middle East if the US chooses not to recognize the democratically-elected Palestinian government.

In any case fears of a widening Middle East war loom even larger.

Update: I just listened to the President's news conference.

"I don't see how you can have a partner in peace if you advocate the destruction of a country as part of your platform," he said. "I know you can't be a partner in peace if your party has an armed wing."

It should also be noted, as an observant reader reminded me in an email, that Hamas is still on the US government's terror watch list.


Anonymous said...

If Netanyahu come to power in March, it will not lead to a regional war - it will be World War 3.


historymike said...

That might be a stretch, anonymous, and I hope that you are wrong.

I do think we could see a widening of the war to include Israel and Iran.

I trust that we have learned enough from the first two world wars that cooler heads will prevail.

That being said, I suspect that the Israeli military will forcefully respond to any saber-rattling by Hamas. They ran roughshod over Arafat, and he was ostensibly more moderate than Hamas.

Newsguy said...

Why did Hamas get such a large percentage of the vote? That is the question I would like to have answered. What was the motivation of the people to give Hamas such an endorsement? And is it possible that Hamas has now been brought into the political arena that it might now be encouraged to become a moderate political player?

Lisa Renee said...

I'd suggest that the Bush administration giving 2 million dollars to the Fatah party didn't help. It was supposedly a "secret" but given the Washington Post wrote about it (as one example) it appears they didn't do a very good job at being secretive. Hamas here is viewed as a terror organization, there? Hamas has done alot more for the Palestinians than the government as far as humanitarian needs. This is not to say that Hamas does not have terrorist connections or does not have a part of the organization that is comprised of terrorists. People are tired of the corrupt way the government of Palestine has been run, many hoped after Arafat's death that things would change. They obviously got tired of waiting for Abbas and others to fix things.

In a way many feel this will be the end of the terrorist arm of Hamas even though Hamas denies this, because Hamas will lose their ability to complain about the failures of the government, they will be the ones responsible for action. It was felt by many middle eastern experts that the only way Hamas would be able to continue that "excuse rather than action" mentality was if they received a minority vote.

historymike said...

Interesting thought, Newsguy.

Perhaps a parallel could be made between the Sinn Fein/IRA example.

historymike said...

Yes, Lisa, more needs to be said about the social functions that Hamas fills in a nation where government services are all but non-existent.

In re-reading my post, I note a slight sense of an anti-Hamas rhetoric.

I was trying to look at the macro picture of greater instability in the region rather than pointing out the weaknesses of Hamas as a voice of moderation, but the post does sound more like something FOX might run.

Timothy said...

Yup, that's Mid-East Democracy in progress. Too bad the people vote elect people unfriendly to the West and Israel (like Hamas), but that is the will of the people. Or maybe just a protest of the corruption of the current fatah regime...

...I guess we'll see how well the Palestinians like their choice in a few short months...

historymike said...

Let's hope so, Tim. Let's also hope that Hamas moves toward the center once they actually grab the reins.

Stefan Schmidt said...

Michael as usual has taken the pro-Israel stance. What he has forgotten to mention is the barbaric, xenophobic, genocidal, and racist fascist government of the Israelis. They have the gull to go into sovereign countries and abduct people illegally to satisfy their own fetish for power. In fact, there are no Israeli troops in Iraq even though the invasion was lobbied by radical Zionists (like Wolfowitz) and if the invasion benefited anyone it was the Israelis. Now they want us to invade Iran. How many innocent White Americans have to die for Jewish interests?

historymike said...

While I disagree with your take on Israel (as well as your assessment of my supposed pro-Israel stance), it is interesting that there can be commonality between us on the wastefulness of the Iraq war, Stefan.

Stefan Schmidt said...


This is off topic but…

If Hal protests Black crime in Detroit will you be there?

historymike said...

I will be in Detroit whether or not Hal Turner shows up. I am still trying to find a periodical who wants a stringer to give them on-the-ground coverage.

If worse comes to worse, I'll snap a few pics and blog it.

I doubt Hal will actually do this, but he is very unpredictable.

He will look silly with tens of thousands of football fans who did not come to see his traveling road show.

Also, I doubt that he would be able to get a permit near the stadium. UAW workers could only get about 100 yards from Cobo Center a few weeks ago when they protested outside the North American International Auto Show, and Detroit is a pro-union town.

I would imagine that the city government would have no problem giving Hal a hard time, especially after Toledo.

I wouldn't be surprised if they arrested him on the spot and held him until after the game - they want this to go off without a hitch.

Lisa Renee said...

Jill over at Writes like she talks, pointed out this quote from one of the Fatah Leaders to Hamas

"It's time for you to discover the suffering of being in government."

Hamas is about to discover it's not as easy as they thought to deal with the huge problem of corruption in Palestine on top of Israel's habit of makig life more difficult.

I'm more pro-palestinian so I have to try to temper that the other way. I think Palestine has gotten the shaft from not only England who caused this initial mess but all of it's "brother" arab nations as well as Israel and the US. When you realize that these arab nations who claim to be so concerned about Palestine still have not allowed refugees from Palestine to become citizens and forced them to continue to live in refugee camps? I don't have alot of respect for either Israel, Jordan, Egypt or the rest of them when it comes to Palestine. Sure from a lip service point of view they do a good job talking about the suffering of the people of Palestine and how evil Israel is, but when you cut to the heart of the matter? They haven't treated Palestine much better. Slow starvation and lack of medical care in refugee camps still results in death and alot of suffering. Unnecessary suffering at that if they are all truly "brothers".

Stefan Schmidt said...

I have tickets for the Super Bowl but I might sell them and protest with Hal (if he does actually protest).

Hey, who knows, we might even run into each other.

kooz said...

stefan...you must be out of your mind to call the Israeli government genocidal and racists!

The people of Palestine elected Hamas because they have no interest in peace! It comes down to the simple fight of our god against your god.

The question is...which country is fighting for the true god? Israel's Jehovah or Palestine's Allah?

There will never be peace in the middle east as long as these two worship different gods. And, if you read the Bible or Koran...you will find both sides claim ultimate destruction of the other.

Anonymous said...

I agree that the Middle East could easily devolve into the Europe of the 1930s. There are entangling alliances, vicious despots, and political instability.

Every Republican and Democrat, liberal and conservative, and everybody that calls themselves an American should hope and pray that our president (and whoever succeeds him in that office) is up to meeting the challenge.

That does not necessarily mean keeping us out of a larger conflict. We don't need another Neville Chamberlein.


Hooda Thunkit said...

If Palestine manages to survive the election...

That's going to be the region's most pressing problem.

historymike said...

No Kidding, Hooda - the post-election violence is very disturbing.

While Florida in 2000 was a tense place, at leat the Dems and Repubs were not pointing AK-47s at each other!

Dariush said...


"I agree that the Middle East could easily devolve into the Europe of the 1930s. There are entangling alliances, vicious despots, and political instability.

"Every Republican and Democrat, liberal and conservative, and everybody that calls themselves an American should hope and pray that our president (and whoever succeeds him in that office) is up to meeting the challenge.

"That does not necessarily mean keeping us out of a larger conflict. We don't need another Neville Chamberlein."

Oy, veh. For the "neocons" and their ever-compliant Amerikahn lackeys the calendar is alway locked on "the 1930s" and anyone who so much as utters a "but" or "why" is a "Chamberlain-like" "appeaser".

Remind me again, oh anonymous shabbas goy, exactly what American interests are at stake in waging war against the Palestinian people?