Saturday, January 10, 2009

"A durable solution for ordinary people"

"Relying on overwhelming military force to respond to terrorist provocations invariably imposes horrendous suffering on innocent Palestinian civilians while entrenching the agents of terror in their midst. We have no alternative but to pursue rational, long term political options that promote moderation and marginalise extremists."
So says Shalom Lappin on behalf of "a group of Britain's most prominent Jews." Shalom is actually "a Toronto boy, born and raised," and significantly, a leading co-author of the Euston Manifesto. In other words, around these parts, Shalom is a highly-respected comrade. He's also something of a scourge of what he calls the "anti-imperialism of dimwits" that has come to serve as a substitute for a proper left-wing internationalism, as well as the closely related "socialism of fools" that is situated where a real anti-war movement should be. "We see ourselves in the tradition of Orwell," Lappin tells Steven Paiken in this interview.

His essay How Class Disappeared From Western Politics is central to understanding Lappin's politics. From today's statement: "It is our desire to see a durable solution for ordinary people and our view that an immediate ceasefire is not only a humanitarian necessity but also a strategic priority for the future security of Israelis, Palestinians and people of the region."


Blogger Kurt Langmann said...

There is only one answer to the asses who don't respect the ordinary folk:

12:15 AM  
Blogger James O'Hearn said...

But that's the rub, then, isn't it? How do you marginalize extremists who not only have a vise-like grip on their populace, but who hold that populace hostage during times of peace and war.

That's the impossible situation, here. Cease hostilities, pursue diplomatic initiatives, and negotiate in open faith are all a part of how nations deal responsibly with a hostile situation. But when that kind of response is no longer an option, it is the ordinary people who will suffer. Not should, or might not have, but will.

Is the situation hopeless? I don't think so. The remarkable economic growth in the West Bank over the past while, under a more moderate, and somewhat less kleptocratic Fatah, has show what Israeli/Palestinian cooperation can achieve, and benefit both sides. A similar situation is not possible with Hamas, as Hamas is not a rational actor. They have a stated purpose and goal, and it's not stewarding the growth of a nation.

What else can Israel do? Foster a resistance movement as the British did for occupied France? While it sounds both just and justly romantic, Hamas's intelligence network is so pervasive and effective in Gaza that at the least sign of resistance, those who oppose Hamas face bloody retribution.

9:36 AM  
Blogger Terry Glavin said...

You nailed it, James. And this is also where the approach I conventionally favour in such situations is wholly insufficient. It's all very well and good to counsel solidarity with and support for an indigenous, progressive resistance to Hamas (and to Hezbollah, and to the Taliban, and to Jamat E-Islami and so on), but when even the hint of resistance will get you a bullet in the head, then solidarity has to be matched by the kind of muscle normally reserved to state actors and armies.

This is a huge problem, and I don't see how Israel can solve it, and I don't know why Israel should be expected to solve it on her own, but this is what Israel's critics all appear to expect. So Israel tries. And Israel fails. And it carries on, thus: "It's Israel's fault."

11:03 AM  
Anonymous Balter said...

What your language sugests is that the occupation has become so normalised within our discourse that we cease even to mention it. Those of us with a longer historical memory know that the Palestinian national movement, for all its faults, has been led since the 1970'd by the seculat left. In fact, as Zizek suggests in his debate, it was Israel who initially provided support for Hamas in the 1980's as a way to undercut the national movement,as they were seen as less of a threat than Hamas.

The bloodshed in Gaza raises broader strategic questions for both sides, issues related to recent history. One fact that needs to be recognised is that there is no Palestinian Authority. There never was one. The Oslo Accords were an unmitigated disaster for the Palestinians, creating a set of disconnected and shrivelled Palestinian ghettoes under the permanent watch of a brutal enforcer.

The PLO, once the repository of Palestinian hope, became little more than a supplicant for EU money. Western enthusiasm for democracy stops when those opposed to its policies are elected to office. The West and Israel tried everything to secure a Fatah victory: Palestinian voters rebuffed the concerted threats and bribes of the ‘international community’ in a campaign that saw Hamas members and other oppositionists routinely detained or assaulted by the IDF, their posters confiscated or destroyed, us and EU funds channelled into the Fatah campaign, and US Congressmen announcing that Hamas should not be allowed to run. Even the timing of the election was set by the determination to rig the outcome. Scheduled for the summer of 2005, it was delayed till January 2006 to give Abbas time to distribute assets in Gaza—in the words of an Egyptian intelligence officer: ‘the public will then support the Authority against Hamas’. Popular desire for a clean broom after ten years of corruption, bullying and bluster under Fatah proved stronger than all of this.

Hamas’s electoral triumph was treated as an ominous sign of rising fundamentalism, and a fearsome blow to the prospects of peace with Israel, by rulers and journalists across the Atlantic world. Immediate financial and diplomatic pressures were applied to force Hamas to adopt the same policies as those whom it defeated at the polls.

Uncompromised by the Palestinian Authority’s combination of greed and dependency, the self-enrichment of its servile spokesmen and policemen, and their acquiescence in a ‘peace process’ that has brought only further expropriation and misery to the population under them, Hamas offered the alternative of a simple example. Without any of the resources of its rival, it set up clinics, schools, hospitals, vocational training and welfare programmes for the poor. Its leaders and cadres lived frugally, within reach of ordinary people. It is this response to everyday needs that has won Hamas the broad basis of its support, not daily recitation of verses from the Koran

I've always argued that if the West wants to strike a real blow for Arab freedom they would exert the kind of diplomatic pressure needed to end the occupation, which crushes every aspect of Palestinian life.

1:05 PM  
Anonymous balter said...

Terry, Joanne Landry's group campaign for peace and democracy has an excellent petition which is well worth signing

1:08 PM  
Anonymous Balter said...

"This is a huge problem, and I don't see how Israel can solve it, and I don't know why Israel should be expected to solve it on her own, but this is what Israel's critics all appear to expect. So Israel tries. And Israel fails. And it carries on, thus: "It's Israel's fault."

This is simply embarassing. Now back to reality

1:15 PM  
Anonymous Balter said...

To be fair I should explain the reason why I find Terry's comment to border on the absurd. One point that keeps jumping out, apart from the ceaseless dehumanization of the Palestinians overall, is how "extremist" Hamas apparently is. Now, I hold no brief for Hamas; I've repeatedly criticized them, and have no love for their theocratic mindset (Israel has shown more support for Hamas than I could or ever would have). But "extremist" was once applied to the PLO, especially during the period of Fatah's moderation. Israel couldn't negotiate with them, their charter called for the elimination of Israel, they held civilians hostage and used them as human shields . . . all the same rhetoric we hear today about Hamas.

No sane observer would confuse Fatah for Hamas, yet in relevant periods of Palestinian history, both groups ostensibly behaved the exact same way toward the exact same end. It's a simple narrative to memorize, and can be applied to any form of Palestinian resistance, secular, religious, whatever. Thus, any Palestinian who resists a rational, moral agent like Israel must be hell bent on destruction, either for themselves, against the Jewish state, or most likely both. Keeping to this narrative helps one glide over numerous complexities, chiefly, regional history. It's an all purpose excuse, which is why it's been used for decades.

Since all "extremism" resides with the Palestinians (a genetic trait?), there's no need for Israeli state apologists to review Zionist comments about Palestinians being sub-human and diseased; no need to discuss "demographic time bomb" fears among Israeli politicians, their version of worrying about Mexican birth rates in the US; no need to unearth Zionist statements and charters calling for a Greater Israel, however unlikely that seems at the moment; no need to recall how the Israeli mainstream insisted that the Palestinians simply didn't exist -- they were an "invention of some Jews with distorted minds," as Golda Meir once put it; no need to be reminded of death squad leaders like Begin, Shamir, and Sharon, who became Israeli Prime Ministers. There's no need to do any of this. Why? Because Israel cannot be "extremist."

There's also the colossal disparity in body counts, a disparity openly embraced and excused by Israeli statists. To tell those who you have surrounded and outgunned that you will slaughter 100 of them for every single Israeli killed is not "extremist" -- it's how democracies function. This also holds true in weaponry. Qassam rockets with variable range and destructive capabilities: "extremist." F-16s, helicopter gunships, tanks, bunker busters and white phosphorus -- democratic. It's really quite simple once you learn the lingo.

For American supporters of Israeli violence, the use of "extremist" is even more inspired, especially when you recall some of the crazed reactions to the 9/11 attacks. If the United States was ever treated like Gaza, a Hamas-like reaction would doubtless be viewed by many Americans as appeasement. Qassam rockets? Fucking pacifists.

1:28 PM  
Blogger Terry Glavin said...

Balter: It's not just your snide insults, which I won't tolerate here, but you have nothing to say for yourself except "It's all Israel's fault." You take me task for being bored with this pathetic and rote analysis, and then you present that same analysis yourself. Nice work.

I can't be bothered to respond to your last comment because it's just incoherent spleen-venting. I'll ignore the advice in your second comment because I'm a Canadian and as a consequence I wouldn't even consider signing a deranged American hippie petition drawn up by some deranged small-town American hippies for submission to the American government. In your third comment the clip you link to is an "interview" conducted by Alex Thomson for which he deserves to be fired (then again, I suppose his firing would just set off even more plaintive cries about pressure from Zionists who are always and forever silencing criticism and stifling debate etc. etc.). That is what you call getting back to "reality": A hectoring idiot, a disgrace to the profession of journalism, the TV version of a British tabloid raver making a spectacle of himself.

But I'll address your first comment. You begin by arguing that Hamas is a creation of Israel, then move to characterizing Hamas as some kind of union of frugal social workers, nurses and schoolmarms, then turn around to present Hamas as a function of the popular will of Palestinian voters, and then dismiss the proposition that Hamas is "an ominous sign of rising fundamentalism" for the sole reason, apparently, that this was properly recognized by "rulers and journalists across the Atlantic world."

You don't just want it both ways. You want it at least three ways - four, if I count you slagging off the EU's subsidies for the Palestinian Authority , because judging by your method of "argument" I can only surmise you would have screamed bloody murder had the EU not subsidized the Palestinian Authority as well, and five, if I take into account your "yes, but" attempt to distance yourself from Hamas and its theocratic politics.

You don't need to lecture me about Palestinian history or try to convince me that the Israeli policy of permitting West Bank settlers is incendiary and wrong. Coming from you, it wouldn't be convincing anyway, because if Israel unilaterally withdrew all its settlers from the West Bank as they did in the case of the settlers in Gaza in 2005, the terror would not cease, and that, too, would all be Israel's fault, wouldn't it?

I also find it more than odd that the deafening "anti-war" silence about PLO corruption during the Fatah years has become, since the emergence of Hamas, a crescendo of outrage raised in defence of Hamas, to which you now add your voice.

I'm not going to engage you in conversation anymore, Balter. It's time for you to leave here and give out of yourself somewhere else.

2:27 PM  
Blogger vildechaye said...

I am busy at work now and don't have time to dissect Baiter's typical "progressive" left cant point by point. But I was struck by one particularly silly comment: namely,
"When you recall some of the crazed reactions to the 9/11 attacks. If the United States was ever treated like Gaza...
2 points worth mentioning here: 1-"crazed reactions to the 9/11 attacks," as opposed to "crazed 9/11 attacks." That alone speaks volumes. 2-In those crazed attacks, the U.S. lost 3,000 people in about an hour in an unprovoked attack. Since "baiter" (appropriate name) is so fond of numbers, it's worth mentioning that Gaza has lost 800-900 in 16 days of sustained fighting, contrasted to an unprovoked surprise attack that killed 3,000 in the space of a couple of hours. Yes, the U.S. was not treated like Gaza, it was treated worse than Gaza on 9/11.
The rest of the Baiter's narrative is as one-sided as all that, but I leave it to others to demolish it point by point, as I have to get back to earning a living. cheers all. And terry, the only "embarrassing" thing in this thread is Baiter's faux prog-left spin, which is so hackneyed i could spew it out verbatim without thinking about it or believing it. Your analysis, as usual, is well thought out, moderate and very much conforms to "reality," mine at least.

2:30 PM  
Blogger vildechaye said...

Ooops just noticed it's BALTER, not BAITER. Eyes at 54 just ain't what they used to be. Pity though, Baiter was just so much more appropriate. cheers all.

3:23 PM  
Blogger Craig said...

Balter - yeah, the PLO was pretty 'moderate' in the 1970s when they were hijacking planes and assasinating Jordanian politicians. Or in the 1960s when their goal was to eradicate Israel in its pre-1967 borders. Is that your idea of what secular leftism is in practice?

As for the issue of Hamas - I don't think it's improbable to claim that Israel may so weaken Hamas that non-Islamist, non-rejectionist Palestinians may be able to emerge in Gaza. The idea that attacking these nutters only creates more martyrs has been disproven in Al-Anbar (among other places).

3:25 PM  
Anonymous Balter said...

"I wouldn't even consider signing a deranged American hippie petition drawn up by some deranged small-town American hippies for submission to the American government"

The idea that you consider this to be an accurate description of Doug Ireland, Katha Pollitt, Chris Hedges and others is highly rebealing

4:17 PM  
Blogger James O'Hearn said...


It get's more and more depressing.

Never again, eh?

12:08 AM  

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