25 thoughts on “Palestinian Civil War: The Dissolution of Hope – Tikun Olam תיקון עולם إصلاح العالم
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  1. Hope is certainly gone. I agree that all of this could be avoided 2-3 years ago. Now there’s nothing to do.
    And unfortunately, Barak will enter his old-new job on Monday, and the chances of war are higher.

  2. Hope is never dead, but it certainly is looking very small. Unfortunately, every step down this particular road makes the possible options and possible outcomes far less palatable, in the short term.

    Those grasping at the straws of 2005 need their heads read. The possibilities of 2005 are gone and they aren’t coming back, no matter how enticing they seem now. This should be a salutory lesson, but it almost certainly won’t be. The same people will likely be saying in another few years, that we really should have taken the opportunities available in 2007. They never look great at the time, but they have an annoying tendency to look a whole lot better in the rear view mirror.

  3. Brief:

    this is not a palestinian plan.

    The iranian junta-mullah wanted to create as much damage to our friends in israel as possible.

    while we need reforms in our usa, a war on rich crooks, we also need firm actions to overthrow the junta of a few rich iranian families who keep a symbolic but very oppressive junta mullah in power

    it can help the ordinary palestinian to regain a sane order in gaza and the west bank

  4. Richard

    Maybe I am missing something here but Hamas seemed pretty moderate to me after they were elected. There were fewer attacks on Israel. I remember reading some of the statements of Hamas leaders after they were elected. They seemed reasonable. Israel and the US responded to the election of Hamas by trying to strangle Palestine. Overall it seemed like a lot fewer people were killed for many months after Hamas was elected. Then for reasons I still don’t understand Israel seemed to go crazy with their targeted assassinations and in the process killed a lot of people. Innocent people. This was right before the war in Lebanon last year. Wasn’t it just within the last month or two the factions in Palestine reached an agreement to work together? Didn’t the US and Israel once again undermine that agreement. Hasn’t Elliot Abrams of late been doing everything he could to foment civil war in Gaza. Are we not completely responsible for what happened here? Why be critical of Hamas? Sure I would like them to be reasonable, but who else is being reasonable? To be honest it does not look to me like Israel is interested in peace. It looks like they are interested only in further land theft. But let me know if you think I am wrong. I’m sure you will.

  5. Ahh, I was with you until right after the Pottery Barn quote (great quote btw!). After that, you write an article that refuses to reconcile the result and facts on the ground with the views that got it there. The US enabled it, the EU funded it, and Israel bought into it. And now, they all got exactly what they lined up.

    They imported and empowered a terrorist movement. It arrived corrupt and idealogical, and imposed it’s ideology on the population it was brought in to rule over. It brought it into the education system and all levels of the media. It was tutored in what the rules of international relations were, they always arrived in nice Western suites and spoke the right diplomatic language. Then they went back about their business in Arabic.

    The results weren’t working, but nobody wanted to challenge their significant political and financial investment. So they gave them more, more money, more autonomy, and even more land to control. Again, it didn’t work, again, it didn’t work, and again. And some how, every single time they were given, things got worse.

    Why? Because there is an ideology behind it. Eventually, their ideology was fully successful within their society, and due to their corruption and apparent violoation of their own ideology (by working with the West), they created an even more extreme version of themselves.

    There is no right wing joy in the current situation. It’s going to be a disaster. But the left wing, and the State Dept, and the EU, should ask themselves what motivations and societal signals are going on there that have led to the increasing radicalization year over year specifically since the beginning of Oslo. Because prior to that things were at an unpleasant but stable equilibrium.

  6. Akiva-good point. Oslo granted wordwide legitimacy to terror organizations, like Arafat’s.
    Note the massive increase of worldwide anti-Semitism since Oslo and worldwide Islamic terror. Oslo undermined Israel’s own claims to legitimacy by saying “Yeah, the Arab terror groups really have a point”. It was when Israel made concessions that its virulence became so widespread, NOT during the period of “occupation” and “settlement building” before 1993. The weaker the Jews seem, the more their enemies come out of the woodwork. The more concessions Israel makes, the radicals say “see they are ready to collapse, the way is not to make peace, but to use force. The more force we use, the faster they will collapse.” Israel and the Jewish people are respected when they are perceived as STRONG, not when they are perceieved as “victims” as the Left seems to believe.

  7. Why be critical of Hamas? Sure I would like them to be reasonable, but who else is being reasonable? To be honest it does not look to me like Israel is interested in peace…But let me know if you think I am wrong. I’m sure you will.

    I always say about these ME disasters that there’s more than enough blame to go around. And it’s seldom a situation in which one side is fully at fault & the other not at fault at all.

    I agree that political developements appeared promising for a time. Hamas had really reduced terror attacks during its ceasefire/hudna. And I agree that there had been political soundings fr. Hamas leaders that were promising. I am completely mystified why Hamas has chosen this path though I can understand the level of frustration they, & all Gazans must’ve felt under current conditions.

    Israel’s disastrous Summer Rain Operation in Gaza after Shalit’s kidnapping certainly set the stage for this current development. The international boycott pretty much sealed the deal. I presume Hamas just got sick & tired of waiting for relief that never happened & sick & tired of its ongoing frustration & tension w. Fatah. But if they think this coup d’etat in Gaza will help them in any way they are profoundly mistaken. Misery will only increase because I’m sorry to say the world will give little more than a rat’s ass about Gaza now. Israel’s attitude will be: “let ’em rot in Hell.” And the world won’t be much more sympathetic.

    I think Israel is schizophrenic about peace. At times it does & says thing that seem rational & pragmatic regarding making peace. And at times its policies seem the most cynical exploitation of all avenues to promote war & avoid peace.

  8. the left wing, and the State Dept, and the EU, should ask themselves what …led to the increasing radicalization year over year specifically since the beginning of Oslo. Because prior to that things were at an unpleasant but stable equilibrium.

    I’m weary of the whole “blame Oslo” meme of the Israeli right. Oslo did not radicalize Palestinians. Oslo made both Israelis & Palestinians realize there might be a way out of the impasse that would lead to peace. Oslo raised hopes. The problem is that EACH SIDE violated its obligations under Oslo just as each side violated its obligations under the Road Map. The intifada didn’t happen because of Oslo. It happened because each side raised the hope of peace but wasn’t willing to honor the commitments they made under Oslo.

    At least we agree that the current predicament is disastrous. I am glad to hear that you don’t feel joy in it. But I assure you there are Israeli officials who do. In fact, Olmert’s staff is quoted in the media as saying precisely that.

  9. Israel and the Jewish people are respected when they are perceived as STRONG, not when they are perceieved as “victims”

    You are living in a world that has long passed us by. The days when Israel could simply impose its views & will on Arabs simply by brute military force or even international support (as happened in 1967) are long gone. Unless Israeli is prepared to do to Palestine what Rome did to Carthage, that is eradicating it & sowing the ground with salt so no living thing could grow–then Israel will fail w. a strategy that relies solely or even largely on military force.

    Your path is the road to disaster.

  10. Richard-today the newspapers are saying that Barak is planning a nice little war in Gaza , officially-to restore Israel’s “deterrence”, but, of course, in reality, to establish his credentials as a “tough bitchonist (security-minded man)”. Then, the speculation is, that he would then have enough political backing (assuming he makes it to the Prime Minister’s chair which is a definite possibility -Netanyahu is proving a disaster as “leader” of the supposedly “right-wing” opposition) to give up the Golan to Syria and win kudos as a “peace maker” like Rabin, get prizes, be treated as a hero around the world, etc.
    This would simply be a reply of last years Lebanon II war which Olmert said explicitly was designed to give him the aura of a “victorious leader” in order to be able to get rid of the Jewish communities in Judea/Samaria.
    My question to you is, assuming that it is true that they intend (or intended) to really make major territorial concessions, is it “moral” or “wise” to carry out a war of this type in order to give them the political capital they would need to make such major concessions?

  11. I am completely mystified why Hamas has chosen this path

    Maybe you should pay more attention to what those who were not mystified by this have to say about the middle east. The reason Oslo, Camp David (Barak-Arafat-Clinton summit) the road map and all other initiatives have failed to bring peace is because they are all predicated on two utterly false assumption. 1) that the palestinian leadership is concerned with the welare of Palestinian Arabs. 2) that they want peace with Israel. Fortunately, most Israelis understand this already (but not enough). Unfortunately many non-Israelis still don’t.

    I couldn’t tell if LWB’s comment was serious or a parody.

  12. My transcription of Rashid Khalidi’s comments on the tragic situation on NPR, June 16- go there to hear all of it.
    Q: Do the actions of Hamas weaken or strenthen their political position in Gaza?
    A. They weaken Hamas because Hamas was not elected to launch a civil war nor to divide the West Bank and Gaza Strip. This intercine killing has harmed both Hamas and Fatah.
    Question about the cuurent outlook for the Gazan population.
    A. The Palestinians of both Gaza and West Bank have been subject to a seige. Now it will likely go from a very bad situation to a worse one.
    Q. What do you think of Fath’s reprisals against Hammas in West Bank?
    A. It is the same blind, short-sighted irresponsible actions that Hammas took in Gaza. Shows that neither of these groups represent the deepest aspirations of the Palestinian people.
    They have become vehicles for personal and group ambitions rahter than represent leadership of the Palestinian Liberation Movement. The Palestinian Liberation Movement is in grave, grave crisis.

    The current situation is the logical inevitable result of Israeli, American and European policies.

    Both factions have lost enormously in the eyes of the Palestinian public opinion, world opinion, and Arab opinion.

    —ellen

  13. Olmert and his people seem very foolish. Whether you say they are right wing (as you do), or left wing (as I do), probably neither is true. What they are is focused on their self interest, rather than national interest. Any problem they don’t have to deal with lets them focus on their business & control concerns.

    I see you ignore the micro and the undercurrents and focus exclusively on the macro. Israeli society was running around for 10 years declaring peace and cooperation, to the public, to their children, in play’s in school, on TV, etc etc. The PA was busy declaring preparation for war, hatred of the enemy, martyrdom, etc etc. Not only do these things matter, they set the tone for next years interaction.

    The fact the EU, the US and USAID continued to fund the PA cultural focus set the stage for current events. And my statement about Oslo was about the import of the thug culture. In theory, it could have been reformed, but that would have required those funding to actual monitor and, most importantly, respond, to provide the proper signals. That didn’t happen.

    And here we are, with no choices left that won’t result in significant civilian suffering.

  14. Egypt needs to take some of the responsibility for the Gaza mess. When Israel withdrew from Gaza, Egypt insisted that Israel evaculate the Philpadephia crossing at Rafah. After the Israeli withdrawal, Egypt pumped in tons of arms into Gaza in order to wage a proxy war of attrition against Israel, much the way Iran has been doing it in Lebanon. Oops, Hamas won, allowing the Hamas allied Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt to gain more prestige and embarass the Mubarak government. Egypt has two choices-allow the Muslim Brotherhood to gain more prestige at home or take control of the mess it created in Gaza

  15. I don’t quite get this meme that Hamas launched the civil war. There’s been an ongoing attempt to topple Hamas by Fatah, Israel and the US ever since they were elected. Hamas finally put an end to it in Gaza.

    Not that I like Hamas either. But this internecine fighting reminds me very much of the ANC and Inkatha in South Africa. Inkatha was supposed to be the “moderate” party. It turned out that South Africa was funding them and supporting their violence. Both Inkatha and the ANC fighters committed atrocities against each other and innocent people and they were responsible for that, but the South African government was equally responsible.

    Change Inkatha to Fatah, ANC to Hamas, and South Africa to Israel and the US and it’s the same thing all over again.

  16. two utterly false assumption. 1) that the palestinian leadership is concerned with the welare of Palestinian Arabs. 2) that they want peace with Israel. Fortunately, most Israelis understand this already (but not enough). Unfortunately many non-Israelis still don’t.

    This is utterly false. It represents yr own & right wing Israelis views of the matter (with a goodly smattering of centrists thrown in). But a majority of Israelis support withdrawal fr. W. Bank settlements, creation of a Palestinian state. Hell, till a few days ago a majority even favored negotiating directly w. Hamas. I’ve covered poll after Israeli poll here that confirm these numbers.

  17. Akiva: We may disagree on some fundamental issues but it’s surprising how much we do agree on. For example, this statement about Olmert is right on:

    they are is focused on their self interest, rather than national interest.

    my statement about Oslo was about the import of the thug culture. In theory, it could have been reformed, but that would have required those funding to actual monitor and, most importantly, respond, to provide the proper signals. That didn’t happen

    Yes, I fully agree. The world community deserves much blame for letting Arafat develop his own little gangster state & doing little to monitor his use of their money.

  18. Egypt needs to take some of the responsibility for the Gaza mess

    In theory, yes. But if you think Egypt wants to get mired in a Palestinian civil war you’ve got another thing coming. Egypt sees the example of Israel’s utter failure in Gaza to influence events positively. The only thing Egypt wants is to isolate the Islamist movement in Gaza & ensure it doesn’t ooze back into Egypt proper. The only way it would intervene in Gaza is if Hamas decides to export its militancy to Egypt. Hamas would be fools if they they tried to do so.

  19. There’s been an ongoing attempt to topple Hamas by Fatah, Israel and the US ever since they were elected. Hamas finally put an end to it in Gaza.

    Yes, of course you are right & all of these entities are partially responsible for the current mess. But Hamas made a calculated choice in eliminating Fatah’s presence in Gaza. It didn’t have to do what it did. And whatever they intended to gain fr. this (I’m not even sure they thought this through very carefully because I can’t see any way they can gain) will very likely not come to pass. In fact, it could make the entire situation, including for them & Gazans as a whole much worse.

  20. Barak is planning a nice little war in Gaza , officially-to restore Israel’s “deterrence”, but, of course, in reality, to establish his credentials as a “tough bitchonist

    Yes, this is the utter cynicism of Israeli politics. War substitutes for diplomacy or political strategy. When you want to prove yr bona fides you stir up a nice little war. Unfortunately though, the sons of Israelis suffer the consequences in death just to prove the mettle of cynical pols like Barak.

    I don’t know about the corollary of yr argument regarding Barak. He had a chance to make peace at Camp David & didn’t make much of it imho. So whether he’s prepared to do what he didn’t or couldn’t do then is doubtful in my mind.

    No, I’m not prepared to say that waging a war is a proper way to negotiate a peace. But to be candid this is precisely what Sadat did in ’73 & it worked. But it would be much less likley to work today since the ME is a tinderbox that could explode in a regional or even nuclear conflict well before Barak ever got to negotiate a peace.

  21. Egypt needs to take some of the responsibility for the Gaza mess. When Israel withdrew from Gaza, Egypt insisted that Israel evaculate the Philpadephia crossing at Rafah. After the Israeli withdrawal, Egypt pumped in tons of arms into Gaza in order to wage a proxy war of attrition against Israel, much the way Iran has been doing it in Lebanon.- Herbert

    Yes and no.

    Egypt did pump arms in, but it’s ridiculous to think that Egypts’ target in doing so was Israel – clearly it was Hamas.

    That is why Hamas struck at Fatah. They could see the writing on the wall, and it read – Coming soon: Egypts’ proxy war on the Muslim Brotherhood in the GS.

  22. The following is a statement by Amir and then your comments:

    ————————————————————-
    Amir:
    two utterly false assumption. 1) that the palestinian leadership is concerned with the welare of Palestinian Arabs. 2) that they want peace with Israel. Fortunately, most Israelis understand this already (but not enough). Unfortunately many non-Israelis still don’t.

    Richard’s reply:
    This is utterly false. It represents yr own & right wing Israelis views of the matter (with a goodly smattering of centrists thrown in). But a majority of Israelis support withdrawal fr. W. Bank settlements, creation of a Palestinian state. Hell, till a few days ago a majority even favored negotiating directly w. Hamas. I’ve covered poll after Israeli poll here that confirm these numbers.

    ————————————————————————–

    Your reply to Amir didn’t really address his comments. Both Palestinian groups that have power, FATAH and HAMAS are run along lines typical of all the Arab states, i.e. along hamullah lines (i.e. clan and family relationships-top positions are given to members of your clan regardless of competence) also the leaders have the right to take as much as they can for themselves, and that once in power, you never give it up voluntarily (i.e. no room for real democracy) You didn’t refute that. This , of course, is a big reason why the Arab world is falling further and further behind the rest of the world .

    Regarding your claim that “majority of Israelis” support creating a Palestinian state…well that may or may not be true, but those who do would put a lot of caveats like insisting on ending terror, recognition of Israel, etc. Few Israelis would now support simply pullling back to the pre-67 lines and handing Abbas or whoever the keys.

  23. imjudy. I don’t agree with your extremely cynical assessment of Barak. First I doubt that the reports are true, though war should be an option to consider. If he were to start a war, I don’t think it would be for the sake of his credentials. Certainly if the war was a failure, it wouldn’t help his credentials. A few weeks ago I left a comment on this blog thta Israel should conquer Gaza. Now, I think is the time for a short wait and see. The new situation has increased the number of possible actions Israel can take with its friends (and Hamas’s enemies).
    Yout responce to Richard’s responce to my comment was right. There is no contradiction between what I said and what he responded. A majority of Israelis don’t trust anyone on the Palestinian side, and may be willing to take risks for the sake of a peace agreement. But most Israelis have sobered up and don’t blame their leadership anymore for the failure of the peace process. That doesn’t measn they won’t go along, passively, with another attempt.

  24. 1) that the palestinian leadership is concerned with the welare of Palestinian Arabs. 2) that they want peace with Israel.

    Since both my interlocutors believe I haven’t answered Amir’s comment let me try again. First, one could easily say that the Palestinian leadership is about as concerned with the welfare of Palestinians as the Israeli leadership is concerned w. the welfare of Israelis. If Olmert were truly concerned w. the welfare of northern Israel would he have gotten the nation into the Lebanon disaster? Would the government have allowed so many of its children to die in the futile first Lebanon war?

    Further, making a blanket statement that the “Palestinian leadership” isn’t concerned w. the welfare of their own society is not reasonable. They just interpret the issue differently than you or I because they face potential annihilation as a people while neither you nor I do. Yes, I know Israel does face the issue of annihiliation in a particular sense given terror attacks & a general sense given those extremists who wish to destroy Israel. But this issue is nowhere near as immediate & broadly deadly as it is for Gazans living day to day in their hellhole existence. When you face what they face, defining what is in someone’s welfare may look diff. to them than to you or I.

    In addition, I don’t make any claim to defend every action taken by the Palestinian leadership. There is much I would do differently & I have said so here loudly & clearly. In some cases (such as the Hamas coup in Gaza) I would agree w. you that their actions are not in the welfare of Gaza’s inhabitants.

    Second, Palestinians are just as justified in believing that Israel does not want peace with them. Placing blame solely on one side as you do is not only counter-productive it does violence to the truth & reality.

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