Friday, 3 September 2010

Fatah vs Hamas part II

Good day all, been checking out the new blogger stats feature and it seems that the page about the Fatah and Hamas conflict is my most popular by quite a large margin so I felt a quick post highlighting an interview by the Real News Network with Palestinian Activist Omar Barghouti (pictured) that discusses the split would be welcome to some of you.

It also contains a brief update on the current successes of the Boycott of Israeli movement within the European Union Israel's largest trading partner though that isn't really surprising given that the EU is the largest trading partner to everyone else in the world including its self, In fact the only country that has bigger trade connections with non EU nations that I can think of is North Korea with China and South Korea beating the EU into third place.

I also came across a piece in Monday's Morning Star by Israeli peace activist and former Knesset (Parliament) member Uri Avnery about the growing anti occupation movement especially the growing Boycott movement.

I disagree with a number of his points and will be dissecting them below, but for the sake of fairness you can find his entire article here.

The first part of the article is an analysis of the national psyche of Israel which is not only very interesting and revealing but also depressing its own way. Given that Uri is an Israeli and lived in Israel and I have not I will defer to his greater wisdom and move on though I will include his quote from former Israeli Golda Meir for emphasis "Deputy Avnery thinks that they hate us because of what we do. He does not know the Goyim. The Goyim love the Jews when they are beaten and miserable. They hate the Jews when they are victorious and successful." Lovely.

In regards to the protests and boycotts Uri is much more sceptical and negative then I am. "These aims can be achieved only through peace between Palestine and Israel. And such a peace can come about only if the majority of Palestinians and the majority of Israelis support it. Outside pressure will not suffice."

This is a major theme of his argument, that the majority of Israeli's agreeing with him and like minded peace groups in Israel is the only way to end the occupation and give the Palestinians the space they need to build up the institutions necessary to achieve full state hood and bring stability to the region. And yes if it happened it would be great that would be by far the best way to achieve what we all want. However he argues as if that is the only way that could be achieved. Which is actually somewhat disingenuous, you see Israel is not and can not be completely close off from the world and self sufficient it is neither resource rich territorially large or populous enough to say to the world in the spirit of the old Israeli folk song says "go to hell". Further exacerbating its dependence on trade and aid is the legacy of almost constant warfare its geopolitical position forced it into (the 1948 war, the Sinai war,the six day war, the Yom Kippur war, the 1982 invasion of Lebanon, the 2006 invasion of Lebanon etc.) have left Israel with an entrenched technological and expensive military apparatus putting great strains on its economy.

All of this makes outside pressure a much more viable and realistic tactic then Uri is making it out to be.

Compare this with another nation that found itself in a similar position to Israel, Apartheid South Africa.South Africa's non Jewish white oligarchy found itself having to suppress a large domestic population and often resorted to violence, it alos had a colonising and occupation project occurring in Namibia, was surrounded by neighbours (Angola, Mozambique etc.) who while not continuously hostile to it clearly didn't approve of its policies and ideology. And often intervened in its regional neighbours affairs. And while the Africaans population had a number of brave activists and groups who opposed Apartheid at great risk to themselves including imprisonment the idea that the majority Africaans would just decide to end Apartheid on there own is ludicrous.

"Anyone who understands this must be interested in a worldwide protest that does not push the Israeli population into the arms of the settlers, but, on the contrary, isolates the settlers and turns the general public against them".

Ok Good where getting closer to same page now,but how do we do that Uri?

"The first thing is to clearly differentiate between the boycott of the settlements and a general boycott of Israel. The TV report suggested that many of the protesters do not see the border between the two."

Oh dear, the problem with this tactic of only boycotting settlement goods is two fold, first the settlements and the settlers have a strong hold on the Israeli right wing whom usually have no problem cobbling together a majority in the Knesset and thus form government. Even Israel's all weather friend the USA is getting sick of these settlements and yet there still being built. At best Israel has placed temporary freezes on settlement expansion (not including East Jerusalem) which quickly expire so what exactly will stop the Israeli government from stepping in and financially supporting the settlements since they already spend so much guarding them?

And second were exactly do you draw the line? this important as despite constantly reiterating that we must draw a clear line Uri fails to do so himself. For example what about the IDF and its military companies, should they be boycotted? the settlements depend on them to safe them from Palestinian backlashes but there also a key part of Israel as a whole. And what about Israel banks, pension schemes and insurance companies that serve clients in the settlements, a boycott on these companies international businesses would affect both settler and Israeli proper wouldn't? and what about construction Uri does concede that Caterpillar the company that supplies Israel with bulldozers that mostly see service levelling Palestinian homes during forced evictions, but since they to have a legitimate purpose in Israel that just muddies the water even further.

Anyway moving on.

"Today a large majority of Israelis say that they want peace and are ready to pay the price, but that unfortunately the Arabs don't want peace."

I think we've all heard this one before. The insincerity of it astounds me. What if any price have the Israelis paid to show they want peace? nothing. The Arabs on the other hand? well Fatah has been cooperating with Washington and Tel Aviv has not actively supported armed struggle for several years and is participating fully in the Palestinian Authority and supports the Two state deal, Egypt under Mubarak has effectively allied with Israel to the point that the two now regularly engage in joint military operations in the form of the blockade of Gaza and reaffirmed its acknowledgement of Israel's existence. Lebanon has a history of given government support to Israel (even when the latter is ending its military into the former)and Beirut is now a close ally of Washington with the only sticking point being the popularity of Hezbollah which the Israel sort of help with there 2006 invasion. So whose done more for peace here? well Uri doesn't say.

"The mainstream peace camp, which could once bring hundreds of thousands onto the streets, is in a state of depression. It feels isolated.

Among other things, its once close connection with the Palestinians, which was established at the time of Yasser Arafat after Oslo, has withered. So have relations with protest forces abroad.

If people of goodwill want to speed up the end of the occupation, they must support Israeli peace activists."

Err why? you said so yourself Uri not only have you lost the support of your own people as this report shows well as isolated yourselves form the global movement what good would concentrating are efforts into supporting you guys do? Especially when we take into consideration that back when you were a political force in Israel you were completely impotent and achieved little. Over the period your talking about Israel continued to expand the occupation as well as shift further and further to right and antagonise its neighbours through military clashes and disputes what if anything did your peace movement achieve? or was that the fault of the outside world not being clear in there distinction as well?

"They should build close links with them, break the conspiracy of silence against them in the world media and publicise their courageous actions, and organise more and more international events at which Palestinian and Israeli peace activists are present side by side."

Err we have time and again I can't think of a single Palestinian solidarity group or campaign that hasn't boasted of its ties with or support for a group in Israel. But again it hasn't achieved anything of substance your continually becoming more marginalised. Also doesn't this contradict your first points? if the average Israeli is close minded to the rest of the world then how is the global movement getting even more buddy buddy with there Israeli counter parts supposed to raise there esteem in the eyes of there fellow countrymen?

I'm sorry Uri but I'm not convinced.

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