Lessons In Gaza's Bloodshed
By Ramzy Baroud
02 July, 2007
Hamas-Fatah clash that has culminated into a mini-civil war in recent
weeks is both old and new, and while some of its elements are uniquely
Palestinian, much of it was manufactured at the behest of US-Israeli
intelligence and governments.
The tensions between Fatah
and Hamas are decades old. Fatah has - since the late 1960s until today
- claimed a superior, if not exclusive, position at the helm of Palestinian
politics. At times there seemed little margin for any other organization
- be it secular, socialist or religious - to share a platform with Yasser
Throughout the years, Fatah
ensured the relevance of Palestinians to their own struggle. It's important,
therefore, that Fatah is not seen as one monolithic body. Fatah security
chief Mohammed Dahlan and the likes have tainted the reputation of Fatah
forever, but the movement and its decades-long struggle must not be
reduced to these individuals. With Fatah through its hegemony within
the Palestine Liberation Organization being the "sole legitimate
representative of the Palestinian people" for so many years, Hamas'
rise was never accepted as part of the fold.
The second Palestinian uprising
of 2000 can be seen as a revolt against Israel and its occupation, but
also against those who did its bidding among Palestinians - the shameful
legion of Palestinians whose wealth grew to unprecedented levels as
the great majority were steeped further in poverty.
Such shamelessness fostered
support for Hamas among ordinary Palestinians, and in January 2006,
Hamas swept the polls, to its own surprise and the surprise of many.
The elites and wealthy few had espoused a society that was governed
by brutality, nepotism and favoritism and was unabashedly managed with
the help of Israel. Hamas was the only serious alternative: its anti-corruption
record and the tough fight it displayed against Israel made it deserving
of the responsibility from the ordinary Palestinian's point of view.
Though Palestinians were
ready to give Hamas a chance, the US government, Israel, various Arab
regimes and Fatah were not. The latest weeks in Gaza, the tragedy of
killings and brutality there, all attest to the lengths the US and Israel
are willing to take to keep Hamas at bay.
What took place in Gaza was
tragic, but the question remains. Considering the circumstances at the
time, did Hamas and Fatah have other options that could have allowed
them to achieve their objectives peacefully?
I think there was enough
determination on both sides to prevent a civil war at any cost, thus
the agreement in Mecca. However, US officials entrusted with ensuring
the failure and collapse of the unity government and the utter corruption
among Fatah's self-serving security circles made good intentions simply
The violence was heartbreaking,
especially when one read the details: people getting thrown from the
top of high buildings and summary executions. Palestinians were caught
in many violent episodes in the past, but this one is most tragic, for
it took place under the watchful eye of Israel, which mercilessly continued
to kill Palestinians, young and old at the same time that Palestinians
were killing one another.
Now that the tragedy has
occurred, one can only hope that common sense and sanity will return
and for Palestinians to rediscover, once more, that they are still an
occupied nation that has no meaningful political sovereignty.
Unfortunately, the US government
and Israel remain most relevant in determining the course of action
in Palestine, and naturally, they continue to infuse much harm. Israel
is now scheduled to hand back the money it stole from the Palestinians
in the form of taxes collected on their behalf to Mahmoud Abbas in the
West Bank, while declaring it intends to tighten the siege on the already
besieged and utterly poor Gaza.
Even personal money transfers,
Western Union and the like, will be halted to ensure the total suffocation
of Gaza. The US will pumping tens of millions of dollars into hand Abbas'
hands, and Fatah's warlords - rampaging against Hamas institutions in
the West Bank - will also receive more than their fair share of money
and weapons. It is quite simple to understand the underlying intents
of this generosity after a year and a half of embargo, or to picture
the horrible scenario that will result from an empowered, corrupt and
Israel is committing itself
to ensure that the friction among Palestinians will destroy their national
project in the West Bank as well. Fatah will now be allowed to do what
Israel has failed to do over six decades of occupation.
Despite the painful nature
of this conflict, one can only hope that some valuable lessons can be
gleaned from all of this, not just by Palestinians alone, but by others
who endure along with them the meddling of superpowers and whose democracy
is a constant target.
First, Gaza has exposed,
like no other experience in modern history, the hypocrisy of the US
government's democracy charade; if it was true democracy that the United
States was seeking, it would have acknowledged the Palestinian people's
collective will and fostered dialogue with their representatives, as
opposed to starvation and blockade and covert operations to topple the
Second, corruption, although
temporarily rewarding, is never lasting, and the people, although forgiving
and patient at times, have the ability to withstand pressure, to prevail
and force change, even if violently.
Third, proxy politics is
most harmful, in Palestine and elsewhere.
Palestinian leaders must
learn that selling one's political will to foreign polities for the
sake of money, power or political substantiation is unforgivable in
the eyes of ordinary Palestinians. After all, it's those "ordinary"
people who have stood up and confronted the awesome powers of Israel,
the US and the corruption and brutality of some of their own for many
decades. They will continue to do so no matter how high the price may
be. Freedom for Palestinians is more precious than bread, no matter
how irrational this may sound.
Gaza might have descended
into chaos for a few weeks or months, but so also has the US agenda
championed by the remnants of the neo-conservative clique in the administration
of President George W Bush, which stubbornly fails to operate outside
the parameters of the doctrine of violence, secrecy, conspiracies and
They refuse to knowledge
that it is not weapons that Palestinians want. It is simply freedom.
Ramzy Baroud is a Palestinian-American
author and editor of PalestineChronicle.com; his latest book is The
Second Palestinian Intifada: A Chronicle of a People's Struggle (Pluto
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