Saturday, January 28, 2006

Hamas Euphoria and the World's Shock

The world’s eyes are set on the Palestinian territories. Maintaining the status quo has proven itself to be a failure factor for running politics in the Middle East. Late Palestinian Leader Yasser Arafat’s Fatah remained in power until he died. Fatah has been dominating the lives of the Palestinians for 40 years with no progress towards a lasting peace. On the other hand, the Palestinian people are seeing their neighbor, Israel, is thriving in freedom and democracy, growing to be one of the world’s political powers since it was established in 1947.

For 40 years a bunch of people lived on the Palestinians’ plight and pains to send their children to be educated abroad and live in expensive houses in the world. The wife of President Arafat has been living in Paris with her daughter since she married Arafat. She has never been among the Palestinians at crisis times. Her daughter is going to the best schools in Paris and other Palestinian children do not go to school at all. I have met many sons and daughters of the beneficiaries of the Palestinian Authority’s so-called leaders in Cairo. They are growing in Cairo and educated in the most expensive schools and universities at the expense of other Palestinians living in refugee camps having no access to potable water or electricity, and their only mistake that they were not born among the circles of the dictator, Arafat. The disaster is that this money is the money of the US, EU and some Arab countries.

The money is flowing, peace is not achieved and the poverty of the Palestinians is not alleviated. Corrupt government is deeply rooted with no intention to leave power as the status quo remained until few days ago.

At the time, Fatah was lavishly enjoying the money of the aid and Arafat was distributing it on his close allies, a new rank of group of people started interacting with the misery of the Palestinians and provided services. That explains why Hamas has such popularity in the poor areas, Gaza, and not in the West Bank and that's why they want to continue providing services. This is Hamas's strength. Hamas became the salvation for so many desperate Palestinians. Hamas promised heaven at a time when heaven on earth was restricted to a close circle of beneficiaries from the Palestinian Authority. Hamas succeeded in making some Palestinians believe they can be part of changing their destinay by resisting Israel. It made Palestinians feel like citizens. You are only a citizen when you change and be part of your future. Fatah with its corruption failed the dreams of the Palestinians. So when choosing day came, people could not choose Fatah, but also they did not find so many alternatives, so they chose Hamas.

I believe that Hamas stipulated in its Charter wiping out Israel out of revulsion to the entity of the Palestinian Authority in the first place for its corruption and failure to bring decent lives to the Palestinians.
It is the same sentiment you can find among some Middle Eastern citizens against the U.S. Some Egyptians hate the US because they hate its support to their oppressor represented in the current President. They believe that the US is supporting the regime to cause them more humiliation to lead miserable lives. Arab leaders were so successful to pull the trigger of media apparatus full of hatred towards the US and Israel. And everyone now is paying the price.

Hamas chose to come to power through the ballot boxes and not a war with Fatah. And this means a lot. Now there is a legitimate responsibility that Hamas must take. Palestinians depend on foreign aid mainly from the US, EU and some Arab countries. The Palestinians depend on Israel to collect their taxes and customs. Renouncing the new responsibilities and ignoring the key players will mean the starvation of the Palestinians and the failure of a the new government, that came through ballot boxes. If Hamas’s decision is to take responsibility and to denounce terrorist ideas and be up to the expectations of the Palestinians that will definitely bring a great success to the processes of democracy in the entire Middle East. That will bring an end to those who are living on the Palestinian Cause as parasites, more openness and transparency to the aid money, freedom to the Palestinians to make their own choices for political leaderships out of the political equation of Fatah and Hamas.

I believe that what happened is a good development and not a bad thing at all. If Israeli Prime Minister and former leader of the conservative Likud Party Ariel Sharon, God give him health, wanted to bring peace between the Palestinian and the Israeli peoples, then the idea of Hamas bringing peace is not ruled out. It is kind of ironical that the first Likud Prime Minister Menachem Begin, a former leader of the hard-line paramilitary Irgun, helped initiate the peace process with Egypt, which resulted in the Camp David Accords and the 1979 Israel-Egypt Peace Treaty. History never stops to surprise. Days will come to tell…

Earlier: Are Islamists Faster to Democratize?


At 12:12 AM, Blogger Doubting Thomas said...

Almost no one here thinks this is a good thing, but you've half-convinced me it's not all bad. The startling thing will be if they manage a transfer of power peacefully, but I've heard Fatah police swearing they won't accept Hamas members in their ranks nor will they take orders from Hamas officials. The weird thing is how we keep saying we won't deal with terrorists. So what is Fatah, the boy scouts?

At 8:29 AM, Blogger Freedom for Egyptians said...

Doubting Thomas,

I believe that Hamas will keep babling for a while about its self-delusion as a might, but in fact they have but one choice, which is to cooperate with the international community. If they did not, their government is out and new elections will follow. And that's the beauty about democracy.

The other thing is that they can fall into civil war with Fatah and here we can pay our condolences for the peace process forever.

At 3:21 PM, Blogger Tater said...

Like you I'm hopeful. We tried dealing with Arafat, but that pretty much failed. I notice that the administration (US) is taking a hard line with Hamas, but has so far kept the option of dealing with them open IF Hamas gives up terror, & recognizes Israel. The ball is in Hamas's side of the court now, we'll see if they truely want to play or not.

Your post indirectly highlights the dilemma we in the US have in the ME. In one part of your post you say that if monetary funds are withheld the Palestinians will starve, yet the people often hate us for supporting their leaders in the ME. What should we do??? Arafat squandered millions, but millions more made it into their society and helped the people.

Similarly we support Egypt, and as you said raise the ire of the people. Egypt however is supported by agreements we made with them at Camp David, so it's somewhat a contract as long as they live up to their side of the bargain. So far they have. Should we break our side of the bargain, would that in itself be bad for the Egyptian economy & people? Hard questions for us to answer.

Being a superpower doesn't mean we have the power to right all wrongs, sometime we have to choose between what is bad, and what is worse.

At 8:34 PM, Blogger Prup (aka Jim Benton) said...

Please correct me if my basic assumptions are wrong here. When i heard about the Hamas victory I wondered how long they could keep the power they won for two reasons. I have thought that Palestinians were among the most secular of Middle Eastern Muslims, and no matter how they were distracted by cries against Israel, they would never submit to Islamicization, Sharia law, etc. And I have doubted that Hamas has the sort of Administrative or Bureaucratic experience capable of running the basics of a government, hospitals, law courts, fire brigades, etc, even as badly as Fatah did.

If my assumptions are true, and some form of democracy continues to exist in Palestine, I foresee the Government falling in a relatively short time. (Arafat was forgiven much too much because he was a symbol, but I doubt if Hamas will get as much leeway.)

But are my assumptions correct?


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