Yesterday, I wrote my own analysis of Hamas’ stunning victory in yesterday’s Palestinian legislative elections. Tonight, I was listening to Open Source Media’s coverage of the elections, Hamas 2.0, which featured Gazan blogger Laila El-Haddad, author of Raising Yousuf: Diary of a Mother Under Occupation. It made me hit my head and realize I’d enjoyed hearing the sound of my own voice talking about the elections, but what about listening to the Palestinian bloggers (and Arabs blogging about Palestine), who are much more deeply and personally affected by this milestone? It is all too easy in this insular world we live in to think that what we have to say is far more important that what anyone else has to say. In this case though, Palestinian bloggers have something important to tell us and we’re hearing it right from the source as it were.
Laila puts the election in the context of the political history of greater Middle East:
The latest events can only be described as a political earthquake, both locally and regionally. Not only are these the first truly democratic and hotly contested elections in the Arab Middle East, but also the first time an Islamic party has come to power through the system and the popular will of the people.
…Whatever their political affiliations and whatever the fallout in the coming hours, Palestinians here seem very proud of themselves, of the fact that they carried out arguably one of the only truly democratic elections in the Middle East, all the while under occupation and without a formal state.
I hadn’t thought of her point that no Islamic party has ever come to power through the ballot box. This is truly a revolutionary development. This is what Algerian Islamists were poised to do in 1992 until the military staged a coup and nullified that election. It took thirteen years for it finally to happen and now it has. Palestinians may be able to show other Islamist parties in Egypt and other countries in which they are vying for power, that it is possible to win and govern. And perhaps, if Hamas succeeds in its new governance role (an uncertain proposition at this point), then it will show other Arab countries that Islamist parties can win elections and not wreak havoc with the nation in the process. If that were the case, then the Algerian military would be shown to have made a major miscalculation in not trusting the voice of the people.
The Guardian has also featured Laila’s blogging at its News Blog, where she’s published five posts in the run up to the election and thereafter.
My blogging friend, Ray Hanania, has written the only post (actually this is a Newsday column which he hasn’t yet published in his blog) that is overtly critical of Hamas and doubtful of its ability to “reform” itself by renouncing its terrorist impulses. It should be noted that Ray is a Christian Arab-American and is especially sensitive to what he views as Hamas’ religious zealotry. His views are so interesting I’m going to blog about them in greater detail in a separate post.
As’ad at The Angry Arab places the election in the context of George Bush’s campaign to “democratize” the Mideast:
It is high time to evaluate Bush’s doctrine in this year. This new Palestinian election-under-occupation is big, and the results are quite significant not only in terms of Palestinian struggle, but also in terms of Bush’s so-called project for changing the Middle East. You have to think about it: his policies has helped install the rule of the Ayatollah in Iraq (and the fragmentation of Iraq), and now the rule of Hamas in Palestine. Make no mistake about it: the Palestinians were not voting for Hamas’ ideology; nor for its peculiar style of rhetoric and “actions.” This was merely a strong vote against Bush’s Palestinian candidates: a vote against the charlatans, crooks, thieves, and demagogues who lead the Fath’s list of Bush’s candidates.
Ali Abunimah has been covering the elections at Electronic Intifada. His “day-after” post is Hamas Election Victory: A Vote for Clarity. My own feeling is that he sees everything that happens in Palestine including these elections through a strong ideological prism. He reads the Hamas victory as a statement about Palestinian attitudes toward Israel and the Occupation. While of course that has to be true to some extent since Occupation is the largest factor looming over Palestinian lives, my own take based on what I’ve read and heard on the radio is that this election was much more a rejection of Fatah than it was a statement of Palestinian attitudes toward Occupation.
One Arab World features Hamas Won–Where Do We Go from Here?
Will at KabobFest, a multi-author Arab-American blog, writes Hamas Claims Victory — Protest Votes Win.
Palestine Blogs has written On The Results of The Palestinian Elections:
I believe that since Palestinians are all alone facing their destiny with no one ever being able to stop their suffering, then it’s only Palestinians who have the right to choose their representatives. Let’s give Hamas a chance, and hope that things will become better… I know I sound extremely optimistic, but let’s wait and see!
Haitham Sabbah has also blogged about the elections at Sabbah’s Blog.
I must say that in my sweep through the Palestinian-Arab blogworld I was surprised to find so few posts (aside from the ones above) about the election relative to how important the event is. Perhaps they’re all out celebrating or they’re trying to figure out what’s going on politically before they blog about it?
Thank you for this interesting post… I had been busy these past few days and so I have a lot of catching up to do on the hamas victory analysis. The links you’re providing are wonderfully helpful!
While I’m so tempted to throw in my two cents on the issue… it feels like so much has been said already, and I would rather read, ponder, and reflect more before articulating my thoughts and feelings!
It does seem to have been a vote against corruption – what’s weird is that Bush’s comments acknowledged that while not seeing that had anything to do with US policies or actions.
I am not at all an expert on any of this, but it does seem to be a mess for everyone involved and my heart goes out to all who wish for and work for a peaceful and fair set of solutions for all the people.
Thanks for posting on this.