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Juan Cole: The Situation in Gaza

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    The Situation in Gaza By Juan Cole June 19, 2007 http://www.juancole.com/2007/06/situation-in-gaza-i-have-been-traveling.html I have been traveling and not
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      The Situation in Gaza
      By Juan Cole
      June 19, 2007

      http://www.juancole.com/2007/06/situation-in-gaza-i-have-been-traveling.html


      I have been traveling and not able to spend as much time as usual
      scanning the news, but of course have followed the events in Palestine
      with dismay.

      It is to be expected that a lot of comment in the United States on
      these events will be rife with racist attitudes and polemical
      dismissals. The Palestinians have long been demonized by the Western
      media, apparently for not going along quietly with their expulsion
      from their homes, the large scale theft of their land, and their
      reduction to an almost slave-like status of statelessness.
      Palestinians are not intrinsically more violent than anyone else, not
      essentially less able to administer or govern than anyone else. Few
      countries have not had civil wars or at least major civil conflicts.
      The question should be not "Why are Palestinians like that?"-- which
      is a racist question-- but what social and economic factors are
      driving the present conflict?

      Why is it that so little analysis is offered of why things have
      developed as they have? Isn't anyone interested in the important
      differences between Gaza's economy and that of the West Bank? Gaza is
      much poorer and much more isolated from the world. Is it any big
      surprise that its population is more radicalized and might be drawn
      into supporting Hamas?

      The Gazan population is being thrown into more misery by an Israeli
      blockade of electricity, fuel and even food. (Israeli Prime Minister
      Ehud Olmert says that it will be a humanitarian blockade; if you
      believe that, I have a bridge over the River Jordan you can purchase
      inexpensively from me). UNRWA is warning against the blockade. With an
      unemployment rate of 50% and widespread malnutrition, caused by the
      ordinary everyday Israeli pressure on Gaza, the territory's population
      can't take much more extra deprivation without an immense human toll
      being exacted.

      It seems obvious that Hamas will be overthrown in Gaza, jointly by
      Mahmud Abbas, Israel and the United States. But it seems unlikely that
      Mahmud Abbas will gain any genuine authority there if that is how he
      comes to power. And, the events of the past few days have driven a
      nail into the coffin of Bush's "democratization" program for the
      "Greater Middle East." The Haniyah Hamas government had come to power
      in free and fair elections, but was immediately boycotted, starved of
      resources, and actually often simply kidnapped by the Israelis; and is
      now being put out of office in a kind of coup. The people of the Arab
      world are not blind or stupid. If this is what the "Greater Middle
      East" looks like, it will too closely resemble, for their taste, the
      colonial 19th century, When Europeans dictated government to Middle
      Easterners.

      If Bush and the Israelis couldn't live with a Hamas electoral victory,
      they should have exluded Hamas from running a year and a half ago. The
      Egyptians don't let explicitly religious parties contest elections,
      and a similar rule could have been made in Palestine. Holding an
      election, having people win it with whom you won't deal, and then
      overturning the election with militias, is a recipe for violence and
      instability. That's what happened in Algeria in the early 1990s, and
      it caused untold suffering.

      The Israelis may be sighing a sigh of relief that the Palestinians are
      busy fighting one another for the moment. But what has happened is not
      good for Israel in the medium to long term, since I suspect it signals
      the end of the possibility of a viable Palestinian state. And, if you
      don't have a two-state solution, ultimately the likelihood is that
      Israel will be stuck with the Palestinians as citizens. The world is
      not going to look the other way forever as they are kept stateless,
      poor, landless and hungry.


      Juan Cole is President of the Global Americana Institute

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