It’s a funny thing about globetrotting diplomats who pontificate about the suffering of people about whom they know next to nothing. Those common folk rise up to bite them in the ass in this day and age of interactive communication and immediate reporting. Here’s what Condi Rice said today at the international donor conference at which the U.S. pledged a paltry $500 million to bolster our beleaguered “friend” Mahmoud Abbas (we spend $720 million EVERY DAY in Iraq):
Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice said Sunday militant Palestinians, not Israel, are to blame for deteriorating conditions in the sealed-off Gaza Strip, as the United States announced it intends to donate $555 million to the impoverished Palestinians next year…
”The responsibility for what is happening in Gaza should be put directly on the shoulders of Hamas,” Rice said as she flew to Paris for a gathering of world donors to the Palestinians.
Her remarks suggested that she will not pressure ally Israel to ease off, despite the erosion of Gaza into a beggar state.
”It is the policies of Hamas that have led to its own isolation and by implication the Gaza as well,” Rice said.
The fact that Israel has blockaded Gaza turning it into not just a prison, but a charnel house of human misery is the fault not of Israel, but of Hamas, because it refuses to recognize Israel and renounce armed resistance to the Occupation. That’s an interesting, if twisted spinning of reality.
Compare the wishful thinking and delusion in the above statement to this quotation, also from the NY Times, of a Gaza woman who demonstrated at the 20th anniversary Hamas rally in Gaza yesterday:
The crowd featured many who are poor and devout, with many veiled women and masked men. Layali al-Kher, 27, said there was little money in her family, because restrictions on cement and raw materials have led to the closing of factories and a halt to construction. “But this siege was not imposed by Hamas but on them, so why should we criticize them?” she asked. “They’ve put Hamas in a bottle and they are trying to suffocate it. But they have achieved a lot: the streets are safe, the traffic is controlled. They have adapted quickly and have a strong will.”
This woman lives day by day with the suffering Rice knows next to nothing about. She could tell Condi a thing or two about what’s what in Gaza (not that Condi would care to have her convenient bubble busted by such a dose of reality). Who does Condi think she’s fooling?? Of course, she’s catering to an Israeli audience in delivering atrociously lopsided remarks like those above. She apparently believes that demonizing Hamas will somehow score her points. But will it score her points with anyone that matters? Anyone who can advance the peace process even a millimeter forward? I doubt it.
I want to make clear something I’ve stated continuously in talking about Hamas. I don’t find either Hamas or Fatah politically credible for different reasons. I’m no fan of either. But it’s for damn sure that this type of grandstanding rhetoric & futile attempts to isolate Hamas will not only fail, they will hurt the chances for a real peace agreement.
Bill Pearlman says
God forbid we demonize those happy go lucky lads of Hamas. Why they’re just a fine bunch of fellows. At least they are in the bizzarro world of Richard Silverstein.
liberal white boy says
Even though sometimes I disagree with you Silverstein, as I told a friend the other day who also reads your blog, you are a good man with a good moral compass, and this post proves my point. Sooner or later you will come around to our socialist way of thinking. Don’t you think it’s time to put all this ethnic monkey business behind us.
Richard Silverstein says
Thanks for the compliment, Liberal White Boy. I’m not quite ready to put the ethnic monkey business behind me yet though.
“She apparently believes that demonizing Hamas will somehow score her points. But will it score her points with anyone that matters? Anyone who can advance the peace process even a millimeter forward? I doubt it.”
Look – the people who matter is the AIPAC and corporate donors. That’s all that matters.
Looking deeper into this, exactly WHO wants peace in Palestine?
The Israelis? But that would mean that they have to stop the settlements. Unacceptable.
Hamas? Their whole raison d’etre is to be the underdog and combat Israel. Peace would destroy them.
USA? USA does whatever AIPAC tells it to do.
Perhaps the only people who want peace are the common Israelis (of the non settler variety, i.e. sane), Europeans (who are just sick of the whole mess and generally try to be the lovey dobie lib good guys) and Palestinians themselves, who just like Afghanis before them couldn’t care less who is in power as long as they can leave home and go shopping and not get shot or blown up or stopped at a checkpoint and turned back or shot…
Profound ain’t it?
Norman Weinstein says
Perhaps as an octogenarian my memory is faulty, but didn’t Hamas overwhelmingly win a parliamentary election a year or so ago that was apparently a hell of a lot more honest than ours in 2000? And didn’t we, along with Israel (the other part of our symbiotic we) then rapidly denounce this democratic election as unacceptable? Only does our arrogance exceed our hypocrisy. And these words are from a pro-Israel Jew whose wish for that country is that it become a just nation worthy of respect instead of contempt and condemnation.
“Layali al-Kher, 27, said there was little money in her family, because restrictions on cement and raw materials have led to the closing of factories and a halt to construction.”
This would seem to be the money quote here. Richard, you follow all of this much more closely than I do – to what extent is there a Palestinian middle class? IMO, if Israel and the U.S. are really serious about peace, then they need to do whatever it takes to create a strong Palestinian middle class that could (a) fend off the extremists and (b) demand/produce more competent leadership. With respect to Gaza, at the very least, Israel should relinquish control of Gaza’s borders, coastline, and airspace, and generally get out of the way and thus give the Palestinians the opportunity to economically pull themselves up by their own bootstraps, so to speak.
Richard Silverstein says
Andy: There has been a Palestinian middle class & the Palestinians are quite enterprising when there is any economy to speak of. Of course, the Palestinian economy has become pretty flattened & pretty much everyone has nothing. Were Israel to “get out of the way” the economy would grow & become vibrant in short order I’m convinced.