Steve Erlanger has an important
in today’s NYT about joint US-Israeli governmental plotting to overthrow
the new leadership that was recently freely elected by voters in (still-occupied)
We should all be quite clear that this heinous, anti-democratic plotting
should be halted immediately.
Here’s Erlanger’s lead:
The United States and Israel are discussing ways to destabilize
the Palestinian government so that newly elected Hamas officials will fail
and elections will be called again, according to Israeli officials and Western
The intention is to starve the Palestinian Authority of money and international
connections to the point where, some months from now, its president, Mahmoud
Abbas, is compelled to call a new election. The hope is that Palestinians
will be so unhappy with life under Hamas that they will return to office a
reformed and chastened Fatah movement.
Erlanger quotes Israeli Foreign Ministry flack Mark Regev as denying the
existence of any such plan. (What’s the guy going to say, anyway?)
So “the plan”– as described to the well-connected Erlanger by, let’s repeat,
more than one Israeli official and more than one Western (ok, make that American)
diplomat– is to impoverish the Palestinians even more, and squeeze them even
more through Israel’s existing systems of movement controls, to the point
where either Hamas ‘cries uncle’ and bows to Israel’s demands that it ” recognize
Israel’s right to exist, forswear violence and accept previous Palestinian-Israeli
agreements” — or, a new revivified Fateh will come along, riding on a wave
of popular discontent with the general impoverishment, demand a new election,
and sweep back to victory…
I can’t even begin to tell you on how many points this totally ignorant
and idiotic “plan” is doomed to fail. (Okay, shortly I’ll start to
enumerate them.) But first, just reflect for a moment on the sheer,
colonial-style chutzpah of these plotters!
Re ignorance, I see that up at the top of the story Erlanger writes:
The officials also argue that a close look at the election results
shows that Hamas won a smaller mandate than previously understood.
Like, duh!!! I was writing in the CSM
on January 31, that despite its huge majority in terms of seats, Hamas had
only gotten 44% of the actual popular vote… And I had written about
that even earlier, on JWN. But it takes these “officials” this long
to suddenly “understand” this?
Also, Hamas got 44% of the vote in a strong turnout of– was it around 75%
of eligible voters? (= 33% of eligible voters who voted for them.) And
George W. Bush won in 2004 with just over 50% of a turnout of 60% (= 30%
of eligible voters.) In both cases, the electoral system used allowed
the frontrunner to virtually “take all”.
If we live in a “rule of law world” where there is a single rule for everyone,
is the US saying that it’s okay to “take down” Hamas because it won support
from only a minority of eligible voters…. And therefore, it should
be equally legitimate to do this in the US, too? Right?
Erlanger also has this quote from “a senior Western diplomat” (= journo-speak
for the local US ambassador):
“The point is to put this choice on Hamas’s shoulders… If
they make the wrong choice, all the options lead in a bad direction.”
Okay, let’s just move beyond the fact that this plan is wrong, arrogant,
extremely coercive, actually and quite predictably lethal to a number
of its targets, anti-democratic, and colonialistic…. Here’s why it
- The Palestinian people have been dealing with a situation of
tight economic siege for the past five years. They have survived it.
They can certainly survive whatever further economic tightening the
US and Israel might cook up.
- The US and Israel cannot starve the Palestinians to death unremarked
and unhalted by the outside world. The UN has a huge presence throughout
occupied Palestine, and in bad times supplies basic foodstuffs to the majority
of Palestinians (as well as a broad range of other services to that large
portion of Palestinians who are registered refugees.) The US and Israel
cannot alone stop the UN from providing these services. Certainly,
Israel has hampered the UN from providing basic services to Palestinians
on many occasions, and might be expected to continue to do so. But
other powers on the Security Council will, if necessary, ensure that basic humanitarian
aid gets through.
- During the previous situations of tight economic siege, Hamas
has proved it was far, far better at delivering basic services to the Palestinians
than Fateh. So how, again are the political dynamics of this reported
plan supposed to work during the period of further economic punishment??
- They think that Fateh is “reformable” within just a “few months”?
- They think Fateh has a base that could be organizable into becoming a
pro-Israeli Fifth Column within the Palestinian community??
- The OPTs are well-wired, both technologically and ideologically
, to neighboring countries and the outside world. Attempts to “starve”
Hamas into submission can be expected to be met with a much broader and smarter
campaign of pan-Muslim resistance than all previous attempts to use economic
siege to cow the not terribly well-loved Fateh.
- Just perhaps, large portions of the US and Israeli peoples might
consider that starving a whole national community into submission is not
quite how they want to pursue worldwide “democratization”?
Well, I see that today there have been further
cascades of denials
from Israel and from Washington:
In Washington, White House spokesman Scott McClellan said, “There’s
State Department spokesman Sean McCormack said he was “puzzled”
by the report.
“We are not having conversations with the Israelis that we are
not having with others, including the Quartet. There is no plan, there is
no plot,” he said.
… Israeli Ambassador Daniel Ayalon told The Associated Press:
“There are no ongoing discussions with the U.S. designed to bring down the
“There is no conspiracy between Israel and the United States to
hurt the Palestinian people and there is no plan whatsoever to compromise
the well-being of the Palestinian people,” he said.
My inclination is to trust Erlanger’s earlier reporting of what he had earlier
(over)heard. But it looks as if, subsequent to those reported utterances
having been made, the officials in Washington and Israel may have had second
thoughts? (Or not?)
Well, as you know, they never take my advice. But if they were to,
I’d urge them to look at the points I listed in numbers 1-7 above.
What a load of bumbling incompetents, really. But as Dr. Martin Luther King
, “The arc of history is long, but it bends towards justice.” I think
it is bending towards justice as we speak.