Monday, January 23, 2006

Wishful Thinking

We are used to world figures coming to the region and giving Israelis and Palestinians all sorts of advice based on nothing but their own celebrity and wishful thinking. We have had to endure the likes of Richard Gere, Jane Fonda and Phil Collins to name but a few. People who are famous and talented in various arts and sports who suddenly believe their talent allows them to postulate about a conflict that was raging before they were born. Then they swan out of here with their egos intact, knowing that a UN or humanitarian award must be just around the corner.
The 'celebrity' who causes the greatest ire to many in Israel is former US President Jimmy Carter. As opposed to some of the other 'celebrities', Carter has a background in diplomacy and leadership in conflict resolution. This makes his comments even more infuriating.
Carter's latest comments come straight out of the top draw of wishful thinking. Carter believes that Hamas will be transformed into a non-violent group after the Palestinian elections.
Carter of course provides no evidence for this belief, in fact there is far more evidence to the contrary. Hamas has run on a platform which is familiar to the Palestinian electorate and part of it is to destroy the State of Israel. Hamas does some very important social work in the territories but it has a very bloody agenda that is at the forefront of its agenda. Why, having been voted in to power on a platform would they change directions? It has brought them success.
Other examples that would disagree with Carter's hopes are close to home. The world told Israel that if it left Lebanon, Hezbullah would go back to being farmers and leave their weaponry behind. Even though Hezbullah have a significant representation in the Lebanese parliament they still run a quasi-autonomous region in southern Lebanon and frequently attack Israel. Contrary to UN resolutions, the Lebanese have not lifted a finger to disarm Hezbullah and assert control.
Why does noone ask Carter on what basis he makes the assumptions he does? Carter who supports the unpopular and intentionally vague Geneva Accords is welcomed to forum around the world to espouse his views to all that will listen. Isn't it time we said enough?
We welcome all those who wish to come to Israel, celebrity or not, but enough of the posturing, the half-baked ideas, the ridiculous claims and above all the wishful thinking.

7 comments:

Hugh said...

Carter's position isn't that unreasonable - if you look at Sinn Fein and the IRA for instance - it took time but, by letting the beast into the house, it became domesticated after a while. It is not easy but by the alternative of denying the democratic wishes of a section of the electorate you are likely to end up in a far worse situation and one which is likely to require far greater effort to resolve.

Ashley Perry said...

Hugh, I understand what you are saying in relation to Ireland. Having family from Belfast, I am very familiar with the conflict.
There are however, massive differences. The first and perhaps the biggest is the existential problem, the IRA never wanted Britain to cease to exist and tried to minimize casualties. I remember whenever the IRA planted a bomb they would phone up and let the authorities know where it was so they could evacuate the area. Now compare that to the carnage that is created by the suicide bomber. Not only do they pack themselves with glass and nails they have also been known to carry phialls of rat poison and people have died from that alone.
Although both conflicts have a peace process and have a religious dimension to them, that is where the similarity ends.
Carter and his cohorts do not seem to have a realistic grasp of the situation. The facts can not be ignored, Hamas want to set up a Sharia state, which would resemble the Taliban. Any right-minded and moral person must abhor their participation in elections until they meet certain criteria.

Hugh said...

Hi Ashley,
Murder is murder, and I think you will agree that despite the warnings the IRA normally (but not always) gave, they managed to kill several thousand innocent people.
Within the IRA, as within Hamas, there are/were a range of opinions and fanatacisms. At the end of the day, the military can only provide a holding operation in regards to any terrorist movement which is based on large scale popular support. Political solutions, where the aggrieved faction percieve justice to have been done, rather than military force are the only way in which insurgencies are permanently supressed. I see no choice for Isarel but to search out those factions within Hamas that are not so extreme in their views and commence a search for an understanding. These shades of opinion most certianly exist and your politicans do the Israeli people no favours by urging them to ignore them.

The Hamas victory in the elections provides Hamas with as big a dilemna as it does Israel. It is the ideal time for Israel to start encouraging the rational and non-extreme element of the Palestininan people. I suspect that the vast majority of Palestinians in voting for Hamas, did not vote for suicide bombers or sharia law but voted for uncorrupt government, an end to anarchy and for change - as any change could only be for the better given the present abject misery of their circumstances.

Ashley Perry said...

Hugh,
I appreciate what you are saying but I have to disagree, murder is not necessarily always the same. The first terrorists of the modern age were the anarchists of Russia who would cry and wrench their hearts every time they killed an innocent. This is one extreme of terrorism and groups like Hamas who eagerly await the deaths of innocents and aim to kill as many as possible are the other. The IRA are somewhere in the middle. These differences are important, the mental and psychological outlook directed at the enemy is vital as to whether the militancy can be superceded by politicism.
I do personally agree that the victory by Hamas had more to do with the corruption of Fatah. I would also ask the world why it did nothing all those years when Israel scremed to the world about corruption and the world kept lining the pockets of gangsters but blaming Israel for the poverty. Will we receive an apology??
As to whether we have to deal with Hamas. Why do we have to deal with whoever is elected. I don't get this point. For 13 years we dealt with the PLO and we got nothing, in the end Israel unilaterally withdrew. In response we get a group who seek the death of myself, my family and everyone around me, preferably in a gruesome way. It should also be remembered that many times when Hamas calls for death and destruction, they refer to Jews, not Zionists or Israelis.
So, no we don't HAVE to deal with them anymore than the Allies HAD to deal with Hitler. There are some democratically elected governments who are so repugnant in their ideology that they should and can not be negotiated with.
The British for many years would not only not speak to the IRA but not allow them to speak on TV.
Hamas may be less corrupt and may do excellent social work in the territories but we are only talking about their relationship with Israel. In this respect they only have one thing to say, our utter destruction.

Hugh said...

Well we do have to disagree Ashley! In my experience it is a mistake to view any political movement as a monolith and most unsubtle to treat it as such. Hamas voters represent many viewpoints - the vast majority are not devoted to the anhilation of Israel - though all no doubt would like to see it modify its behaviour towards them. You cannot claim that Israel has no responsibility for the current plight of the Palestinian people and I have yet to meet an Israeli who would deny that Israel is looking for peace. Here is a new set of circumstances; you see it as a crisis; a crisis, as the Chinese proverb would have it, is also an opportunity.

Ashley Perry said...

Hugh,
One has to view a political grouping as a monoloith until proven otherwise. We can not know what is in the mind of each and every individual in that grouping so we have to go by its directives, aims and statements. I have not heard one Hamas member state that he or she is reconciled to the Jewish State. You say that the vast majority are not devoted to the anhilation of Israel, on what basis?
I have proof for my theory, if you have proof that I am wrong and a large percentage of Hamas does not seek my destruction I would very much like to see it.
I look forward to hearing from you on this matter.

Hugh said...

Hi Ashley,
You are closer to the scene than I am - check this out and see if it's true. I am told, but have not seen with my own eyes, that this week's Al-Hayat Al-Jadeeda carried the results of a survey of the Palestinian population in which 84% supported a peace deal with Israel and 75% of Hamas voters were opposed to calls for the destruction of Israel. Evidently this survey was reported in the Jerusalem Post.My personal impressions of the many Palestinians blogs I have read would give it credence - as would my experience of and observation of other populations suffering from crises of law and order and occupancy such as those affecting the Palestinians. The majority of humnanity just want to live normal lives with their families.
If Israelis genuinely want peace they should explore the opportunities available rather than building themselves up into frenzies of paranoid fear and demonising yet another democratically elected Palestinian leadership. I believe last year Palestinians murdered less than 50 Israeli civilians. Out of a population of 5 million that is a relatively low statistical risk for any Israeli citizen and certainly Israel more than equalled their score! Yes, the violent ones would have dearly loved to kill more innocent civilians but thankfully Israel appears to have that threat pretty well under control. I would argue that now is the time for Israeli politicians of courage to try and pull the rug from under the terrorists' feet by making Hamas face up to the wishes of the vast majority of the people who elected them - rather than fall back on the mirror image of the hackneyed Israeli excuse "there is no one on the other side willing to negotiate."