Why the Ghaza blockade should end!

This post has been a long time coming. Ever since last December actually, where I've given hints of it on my twitter account. I just never got around to writing it, but today is as good a day as any I guess. So there goes it: I think it's time to lift the trade blockade off of Ghaza.

Ok, before you say what you are going to say, I know. I know. Hamas is still in control, and they were voted in by the Palestinian people, and Yeah yeah yeah. Chill out, and listen, ok? And if by the end of this, it doesn't make sense to you, feel free to tell me how much of an idiot I am in the comments section (otherwise, where is the fun, right?). Agreed? Ok, let's go.

Ever since Hamas was voted into power in Ghaza as a protest vote against Fatah (the same reason why the MB won so many seats in the Egyptian parliamentary elections), and democracy in the Palestinian territories has suffered a major blow. The blow became a full on gushing head wound the moment Hamas started its coup, and kicked the Fatah people out, create what got immediately dubbed Hamastan. And ever since that day, the blockade went up and stayed up, and some of us, including me, cheered, thinking it was a fitting punishment for big bad Hamas, and that soon enough there would be a second election, I even hoped for an open revolt, where the Palestinian people would throw out Hamas from power on its fat Jihady ass. In the throngs of our self-righteous indignation and punishment, we forgot that Hamas, now that it is in power, was going to do what every islamist organization in power would do: Destroy the democratic institutions that brought them there, and clamp down to solidify their power big time. And that's what they did.

Stories started trickling out from Ghaza: Hamas beating and arresting Fatah supporters or member, Hamas breaking into the houses of ex Fatah supporters and seizing the weapons there, Hamas stopping the sales of Alcohol all over the Ghaza strip, Hamas demanding control over reporters and what they report, Hamas trying to enforce law and order Islamic style. And as the blockade intensified, and the people got really hungry, Hamas started being the big daddy figure: Every aid shipment would get seized by them and distributed by them; the rest of the food and guns that would get smuggled into Ghaza would do so in tunnels controlled by Hamas, and thus placing more of people's livelihood in their hands. Slowly, but surely, a picture started being drawn: Hamas was surviving, and are using the blockade to make the people- who had no choice thanks to the blockade- more dependent on them. In essence, the anti-Hamas world managed to give Hamas every tool it ever needed to survive, and even strive, with donations coming in from all over the world to "save Ghaza", which, as you can guess by now, went into Hamas' pockets, and some of which back into the hands of the Palestinian population to buy support. Still, the big hope was the upcoming elections, which-even though there was very little hope of having it being realistically democratic at this point- would have such a public outpouring of voters who want change that they would kick Hamas out of Power. Hamas, knowing this, refused to renew and broke the ceasefire before the election with a month, and the rest is history.

Now, given the history and the current political climate in Ghaza, it is safe to say that democracy is dead, and that Hamas is instituting a theocracy. In other words: an Islamist dictatorship, just like the one in Sudan, or Iran or the one that sparked the civil war in Algeria (Not as bad as Afghanistan yet, mind you). And since this is the case, then the people in Ghaza should receive the same kind of sympathy and support that we give to people who are forced to live under Islamist dictatorships, because like it or not, this is the current reality in Ghaza.

Now, as I previously mentioned, the siege has helped entrench the islamist dictatorship in Ghaza, because there is no private market for goods. Without a private market for goods, there are no independent economic power centers. Independent economic power centers are important because they will finance dissent movements. If your livelihood is dependent on Hamas, you know that you can't dissent, or you won't get to eat. But if food is readily available in the market separately from them, and if the economic conditions are well and good, then people will be dissenting more in the open. The people wouldn't accept the islamist bullshit restrictions that Hamas placed on their lives. They will have the funds to run counter propaganda campaigns and form underground opposition groups, they will money to buy weapons to resist the theocracy that took away their freedom, and put them all a hostage in the high stakes political game that was the last Ghaza war.

So, in essence, if you want to get rid of Hamas, you don't use aerial bombings, you don't use IDF ground incursions, and you don't place an economic blockade. What you do is 1) lift the siege of Ghaza , 2) with the condition that fair, internationally monitored elections be held 3 months after the blockade is lifted. Just give the Ghaza two months of free trade and non-Hamas dependence, and I guarantee you will see open and visible opposition against Hamas in the streets.

Some of you are naturally skeptical, and will think that I am overestimating the amount of hatred in the Ghaza strip against the Hamas rule, but I am not. Fine, don't believe me: Check this poll out by Ynet news:

In Gaza, the poll put Hamas at 28 percent against 33.6 percent for Abbas' Fatah.

And if that's not good enough, since Ynet are lying Zionist jews, how about one conducted by the Palestinian center for Public Opinion, where:

(40.6 %) are in favor of Fateh, (31.4 %) of Hamas.

And

(51.3 %) of the Palestinians are of the opinion that Hamas is navigating the country towards the wrong direction, (46 %) believe Fateh is doing that.

Hamas has lost the public opinion war. In a fair election they would be out on their asses. But no fair elections could take place in Ghaza under the current conditions. Empower the people of Ghaza to have an economic base and resiliency to stand up to the thugs in charge, help them get their democracy back, and I assure you that Hamas would be done with politically before 2010. And hey, if you are having security concernes, don't allow the people to travel out as long as Hamas is in power. Just allow goods to come in. Just allow the Ghazans to live, so that they can tell Hamas to fuck off forever.

Your other alternative is the current masturbatory exercise called the "ceasefire brokerd by the Egyptian government". The best case scenario would entail Hamas and Fatah joining up in some stupid totalitarian fated to fail "unity government", which will fall apart sooner or later and the current scenario will repeat itself. Or, in the worst case scenario, such a unity government succeeds, and you can kiss democracy in Ghaza and the Palestinian territories goodbye forever. After all, we would have a national unity government, why would there need be any elections anymore? And the bonus? Hamas would stay in power forever. How good does that sound?

Since neither one of those last two options sounds even remotely pleasant to me, let's stick to what works: Lift the economic blockade on Ghaza immedietly, under the conditions that a fair and internationally monitored elections would take place anywhere between 3 to 6 months, during which a ceasefire would be held. Parliamentary elections would be held first, followed by Presidential elections. Even if Hamas cheats, we would've provided with the Ghaza residents with enough economic power and money to start an effective resistence against Hamas, something they can't do at all under the current conditions. Oh, also there is the whole looking humanitarian thing and lifting the suffering of the Palestinian people, which can't be a bad PR move for Egypt or Israel at this point. It won't hurt, at least.

What do you think? Who is with me?

Comments

  1. You put it here clearer than you did on Twitter.

    I wish to see your view implemented sooner than later to see that Hamas will not go down even by elections that you speak about.. If not, i dont want to see those collaborators from fateh seizing the power in Gaza even if by elections, they are totally a loss for the pals

  2. Good article backed with statistics from many sides. However even if the blockade is lifted now, how do we keep the ingoing exports to Ghaza out of Hamas’ hands? One thing that also puzzles me about the oxymoron of freedom in the ME is: why do an oppressed people (when they get a chance fir free elections) vote for a crappier, more corrupt, restrictive governement aka Islamist movements, to replace the existing secular dictatorships?

  3. Sandmonkey,

    You logic is based on contradiction.

    On one hand you state and probably with reason that next election is not possible because Hamas created dictatorship.
    On the other hand you assume dissent would be possible if only there would be alternative to tunnel smuggling – free economy.
    Sorry, dictatorships do not operate that way. If Hamas ceased control over tunnel smuggling rest assured it would’ve done to each and other free enterprise for the same reason – to stay in control.

    Then there is simple matter of Egypt’s and Israel’s security. Palestinians converted themselves into anti-social culture over the years. They are menace even to their benefactors (I doubt they have friends). If you wish to risk letting them roam your country it is your prerogative. I would not dream of suggesting Israel (which is clearly their mortal enemy) do it to itself.

    “So, in essence, if you want to get rid of Hamas, you don’t use aerial bombings, you don’t use IDF ground incursions”

    I am not so sure anybody wants to get rid of Hamas.
    Tamed? Most certainly.
    Gone? Hardly.
    Hamas (and Fatah too) is the movement greatly contributing to Palestinian disunity and weakness.
    Let’s not kid each other. There is a war.

  4. The main problem with your plan is that you think there’s a happy ending available. And that people would want the happy ending, for that matter :o

    I attribute this fatal flaw to youth :P

  5. You are a fool Sandmonkey, take it from the Ape who said so. Your so called, statement is a farce:

    “Empower the people of Ghaza to have an economic base and resiliency to stand up to the thugs in charge, help them get their democracy back, and I assure you that Hamas would be done with politically before 2010.”

    You had better concentrate on elections in the DR Congo or Ghana, or maybe even Israel because you got your foot so far up your own ass it aint funny!

    Hamas is a socio-political movement, an anti virus to Zionism. It doesn’t matter what they are called. As long as a people are controlled they way the security huburis situation in israel dictates, there will always be some so called resistance that will emerge as long as there is democracy. End of story!

  6. While I agree with your conclusion and some of the reasoning behind it I have one minor quibble, which ended up being longer than I wanted it to be or others might, but I think it is necessary.

    I would caution against comparing the Algerian Islamists (FIS) to Hamas so broadly. There is little evidence that in the areas where they were elected at the local level they were instituting anything approximate to a “theocracy” and had they come to power at the national level we do not know which faction would have come out on top and how they would have governed. There was no ideology behind the 1992 coup. The only ideal there was power, naked and unabashed and to the extent that “secularism” had anything to do with it is that the Generals who took power wanted to continue to steal and murder with impunity. These were men who did not even become nationalists until the war with France was won and when they got into power in 1992 they killed the founders of the national movement because they dared to suggest that these “soldiers” behave like soldiers and abide by the law. Mind you I have no love for the idea of an Islamic republic or theocracy, but there is nothing to defend in the 1992 coup. The potential of religious rule was substituted for mass slaughter and trauma. Algeria lost more than a decade and got nothing in return. Look at the economic, social and political situation. It is no different than before 1992. The only difference is that now there is no credible opposition whatsoever.

    What we do know is that the armed and militant factions — the ones who preferred the Egyptian and Saudi “theology” of Qtob and Wahhab — had secularist assistance in butchering and terrorizing the Algerian people for a decade and a half. The state authorities admitted to having infiltrated the religious parties and militias and to committing atrocities against the people in order to turn the population against them. It has been written down by army officers and government officials of the period (Souaidia and Zitout for instance) that this was the policy, and they describe the way in which the government did it in detail (see La Salle guerre by Souaidia and look up the Rachad organization as well) and the head of the junta Gen. Khaled Nezzar admitted that the government infiltrated the armed groups. So the Islamist violence in Algeria is not quite comparable to Hamas’s disrespect for democracy. Algeria’s is the result of the elite class as a whole and the theologians’ overall contempt for it and their struggle to keep it any cost, with the bill reaching almost 300,000 Algerian lives and perhaps 80-95% of the national honor as interest, for those violated but not killed (the rape victims, the mute orphans who saw their entire families slaughter, the misery of people who left and whose families were wiped out and the people who were complicit in the violence).

  7. i like the idea even if most commentary i have come across seems to imply hamas came out of the war relatively well popularity-wise.

    as bankrupt as hamas’ foreign policy is, they do seem to be more competent and less corrupt than hamas on domestic issues – social services in particular.

    i’m not sure democracy is top of the fixing palestinians lives’ list. the truth is neither hamas nor fatah instill confidence in their abilities to better the lives of palestinians- forcefully combined or apart!
    i’m in agreement that a focus on economic betterment on the ground in gaza and the west bank is needed. how that is achieved without strengthening hamas (which no one outside of iran really wants) is an open question. a perceived ‘win’ for hamas would also cast further doubt on your forecast election results.

  8. Although the Hamas government, but an election that the Palestinian people now regret that they have proved that power since they did not care for their personal interests only and is asking the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt are those who do not have access to the only authority that Barlgm Tz in Egypt and the Egyptian people

  9. Regardless of the merits of Hamas, sanctions and blockades of consumer goods are rarely a good idea. Let’s look at the historical record shall we?

    Cuba – communism still going strong!
    Iraq – sanctions not only didn’t get rid of Saddam, but made Iraqis hate Americans and really poisoned the well for the later invasion making the US’s job there that much harder.
    Iran – well, these aren’t universal sanctions, just US ones, but still, not exactly having a big impact other than denying Iranians their precious American imports.
    Burma – dictatorship still going strong
    Hamas – Hamas still going strong.

    Anyway, sanctions just aren’t a good foreign policy tool. Dictatorships generally use them to maintain power through control of resources (as SM noted) and they just end up punishing the people and getting them to hate whoever is imposing the sanctions. Now, if you want to ban arms sales, or something like that, fine. But general sanctions just don’t work, and are usually counter-productive.

    So yes, I support lifting the blockade, but it shouldn’t have been imposed in the first place.

  10. I agree with the economic premise of the argument and with the ramifications. What a lot of the commentators here are missing is that hamas cannot control what goes in and out the border if restrictions were lifted because it needs to keep the herd content. Besides, for all their faults, Fateh has some smart guys that would jump at the opportunity to crucify hamas for restricting markets to win back suppport. So the omnipotent dictatorship contradiction does not hold I’m afraid. Well thought out Sammy.

  11. Lift the economic blockade on Ghaza immedietly, …
    O.K. Open Rafah crossing.

  12. The purpose of the blockade is to limit the amount of arms coming in to Gaza. Shipments of weapons from Iran are stopped regularly. Who will it help to allow those?

    Finally, if the blockade is lifted, the Egyptian border crossings are open and there is no occupation of Gaza, then one could legitimately argue that Israel has no obligation with regards to Gaza and could shut their borders (as is the right of any sovereign nation) to anything moving in any direction including: fuel, medicine, electricity, food, etc.

    How will Egypt feel being completely responsible for Gaza again?

  13. what will you do then , when the people of Palestine reselect Hamas?

    They did so 5 years ago, and guess what? it didn’t mean shit to all those who claim to be democracy lovers. I guess you only like democracy when it brings to power whom you want, otherwise, the hell with democracy.

    I tell you why they will not left the blockade, because they where too much embarrassed when hamas came to power the first time, they can’t afford having them re-elected, they better fix a corrupt pro-Israel government the best way they know how.

  14. I don’t want to sound unserious, especially since the issues concerning Gaza are of the utmost importance. However, as the crisis in Gaza continues to unfold, an equally important crisis continues to develop in the United States, the crisis of homosexuality.

    Homosexuals in the US claim that they don’t enjoy the full civil rights of citizens there, and they are willing to sacrifice to attain them. Hamas brutally suppresses homosexuals in Gaza. These two are made for each other. A great reckoning could occur.

    The homosexual leadership in the US and progressive western countries should encourage homosexual martyrs to enter Gaza and detonate themselves, either as HIV “bombs” or real ones. Homosexuals would then “earn” their rights. We in the West would acclaim them because they would topple Hamas in Gaza. End of story.

    I hope that you people take this seriously.

  15. Francis, no, I don’t take your suggestion seriously. No.
    SM, your idea has some merit, but I am not sure that it would achieve what you want it to. Are you suggesting that the crossings to Egypt be opened and free movement allowed across the border? Or, are you thinking that the crossings should be opened by both Israel and Egypt?
    Ahmed, democracy is not necessarily good—it is as good as the people in it. I’d like to see goodwill replace hostility in the Middle East. That is my greatest concern.

  16. Can’t agree more SM!
    The way the world has been dealing with Islamic groups lately have never weakened those groups or organizations but have weakened the people that live under their regimes..

  17. SM…

    Hmm…what about starting with Hamas denouncing terrorism as a means of “resistance” and then proving they are not importing rockets etc. Also…you are dealing with a gang of sorts here…a mafia…Has anybody caught the stories of Hamas stealing the UN supplies for their own use and sale?

    I have never found that giving in to a bully works like those assholes will work. So…I still think the Pals got just what they asked for…what about a protest vote for a group that is aggressively peace oriented?

    Your arguement is not without logic…just won’t work. And in terms of pissing off Pals…they are pissed off no matter what…that has been the general rule. Let THEM do something different…let THEM try to come up with a more reasonable solution…

    Start by stopping terrorism…nobody will accept that…they just want to come up with a bunch of smoke and mirror bullshit that won’t change anything…let the Palestinians become responsible for stopping terror and things will quickly change. THAT is the only option.

  18. And take me off the damn spam filter already…put that nut Sand Ape on it or some of the other loonies.

  19. Here in the US, we finally got the clue in the early 1930s that the best way to regain control over something we didn’t have control over was to re-legalize, and then regulate it, tax it, and subject it to government controls.

    In the ealy 1900′s the US went legally dry. No alcohol permitted to be sold, or made. What this did was to push an otherwise legitimate market, underground. Now it was controlled by thugs and mob types.

    By making it legal again, the government regained control, for the most part, over this.

    SM, your argument appeals to this rationale, and I agree, anything that causes Hamas and MB to lose power should be pursued. Blockading Gaza has resulted in significant economic freefall, worse than under the completely corrupt Fatah.

    What I think should be done is not dissimilar to what you say. But I would go further. Declare Gazastan/Hamastan to be a separate country. Have the UN start building the infrastructure of state. Use your suggestion of holding elections in 3 months. Ban Hamas AND Fatah from participating. Next elections 12 months after that. Then every 18 months. Open the airport. Open the seaports. Open all the crossings into Egypt. Create a temporary caretaker government comprised of technocrats from Egypt and Jordan. They are there for a short time, specifically to run a temporary government, then they leave.

    The crossings into Israel are more complicated. Israel has to be 100% assured that no missiles, rockets, mortars, or splodydopes are coming over or through, or under the new international barrier. This is all they need. Like it or not, this must happen. I am sure this is going to rub all the anti-zionists here the wrong way, but tough crap. Make the frontier peaceful or none of this is going to work.

    Once there is peace on the frontier, Israel will open the crossings. Yeah. Really.

    Then go to all the states that whined about Israel opening a can of whup-ass on Hamas, and get them to fork over cold hard cash to put into this new government. You know you can’t trust the kleptocracy of Fatah. You know you can’t trust the thugocracy of Hamas. So money has to be given to the government that neither Fatah nor Hamas have control over, or can gain control over.

    So get the UN to start doing something useful for the Gazastanis. Get them to set up a government for the people, of the people, by the people.

    Put Hamas and Fatah out of business.

    So SM, I agree with you.

    However, I don’t think it will work.

    Something in the arab psyche cannot get over their losses to Israel. Wounded pride, religious fervor, whatever the reason. Arabs have to come to terms with this *before* any of this can have a chance.

    Israel isn’t going to go away, isn’t going to be pushed into the sea, and won’t commit suicide. But Hamas and much of Fatah haven’t quite internalized this yet. So while the government is busy being setup, some of these losers will lob a missile across the border. Or blow up a bomb in a cafe. Sweets will be passed out praising the murderers of dead Israeli children.

    And Israel will be forced … compelled to respond. As they did in Cast Lead.

    Unfortunately this gives Hamas and Fatah power over the government that will be setup. They can blackmail it.

    Salve that wounded arab psyche and kill a few jews. Never mind that it is the worst possible decision to make for the arab people. It is the worst possible decision to make for Gazastanis.

    So, it comes down to this. If people, the UN, arab government commit to helping Gazastan turn into a real country, will the Gazastanis do the worst possible thing, throw it all away, just to salve wounded pride? Or for the joy of killing jews?

    My money is on the latter. Abba Eban was right. Its a shame, I’d love to seem him proven wrong, only once.

    Open the borders, open the ports, start investing in them, and they lob a missile. Israel will be compelled to defend itself. Cast Lead will seem like a schoolyard brawl in comparison.

  20. Ghafari: I highly doubt that Hamas or Fatah would be the clear winners of any next fair elections. I think the palestinians are so sick of them that it would elad to the rise of independent un-affiliated candidates. Having a third political force would be a great thing at this point, and will allow the breaking of the current dichotymy existing currently in Ghaza.

    Leo: Hamas is able to keep the dictatorship because of the people’s dependence on it, and the onclave they have created around the palestinians living in Ghaza, which they justify by saying “look, evil world wants to keep you starved”. If you allow the opening of the gates for the free trade of goods, ine xchnage of a promise for an election in 6 months, Hamas can not reject it without losing their legtitimacy completely amongst the palestinian people, which, let’s face it, they need to survive there.
    Plus, as I have said, if secuirty is an issue, let’s not allow the free movemnet of people till it’s over. Just the goods. The people will get the hint that if they want to regain their free movemnet, they should remove Hamas from power, and they would, or even start a serious opposition movemnet towards them.

    Craig: It’s not a happy ending. Hamas would still exist as a terrorist organization, but they would be constrained by whomever is in government. And if they cheat in the elections and start appearing like the dictators they are: 1) they lose support amongst the pro-paestinian activists the world over and 2) Muslim Brotherhood movemnets would be exposed forever in the eyes of millions of muslims. Not a happy ending..but hey, improvement!

  21. Sandape: In the immortal words of Alaa..I don;t debate sub-humans. Continue eating your own ass or something!

  22. avantcaire: economic betterment will lead to resentment over political leadership. It’s what got Fatah removed in the first place, remember?

    Igni: and prevent israeli companies from profiting fro trade with Ghttp://www.sandmonkey.org/2009/02/08/why-the-ghaza-blockade-should-end/#comment-203038
    Rantings of a Sandmonkey » Why the Ghaza blockade should end!haza? I am sure they too would want a piece of the cake. And you guys have 6 crossings to our poor 1.

    Lisa: Again, not saying people. Just saying trade. And the weapons are being smugeled in anyway without the blockade. And maybe the smuggeling of weapons is a good thing. You can;t get rid of Hamas externally, so why not help other internal groups fight them? And honestly, I would like the debate to once turn into “the palestinains being responsible for themselves, instead of being our or urs responsbility!

    Ahmed: wanna put ur money where ur mouth is. a thousand dollars says if there are free and fair elections today, Hamas would be out on its ass. Cause ideology and resistence is nice and all, but the palestinians bedohom ye3eeshoh fel awel we fel akher, and they are now seeing what living under hamas is like!

  23. Lynne: again. Trade. From both sides. prt of the PR fringe benefits of the idea.

    Howie: ur best bet of stopping terrorism is a strong central palestinian governmnet that isn’t hamas affiliated. You know any other way to have one other than 1) elections or 2) training anti hamas palestinians and letting them through the border to enact another coup and possible dictatorship to replace the current one?

    Kranky: lets try it. what do we have to lose really? If it all fails, we can;t be worse off than we are now, no?

  24. Sandmonkey, ok, I see your logic and I agree. It’s worth a try.

  25. Andrew Brehm says:

    For Israel the issue is not Hamas-vs-Fatah but Hamas-vs-Fatah-vs-Israel.

    Without a CLEAR SIGNAL from Palestinian Arabs (and the Arab worldatlarge) that open borders will and should not mean more violence, Israel cannot win anything by opening the borders. For Israel it doesn’t matter whether Hamas or Fatah direct the war against Israel.

    Hamas murdering Arabs is not a good thing and I would be happy if somebody stopped them. But for Israel Hamas murdering Arabs is not a security problem and not a reason to intervene.

    As for helping other groups fight Hamas… who says those other groups won’t turn those weapons against Israel like the PLO did?

  26. SM, you have pretty much ignored Israel’s position in all this.

    Should Israel allow goods entering and exiting gaza, when there’s a good chance palestinians will try to smuggle weapons?
    Putting its own people at risk is not something “worth trying” for Israel. Even now Hamas is firing rockets constantly at Israeli southern cities. I don’t want to think about what Hamas will do when acquiring weapons would become easier.

  27. easily solved shani. The only crossings that would be opened would be on the israeli side, and israel inspects the shipments for weapons. Israeli security concerns dealt with.

  28. In response to that SM, Hamas would lay around getting some rest, and when the profits started to roll in go around and rob all of those people making money. They would charge for protection. Hamas has the guns, and it really is only a criminal organization.

    Sorry SM, but it won’t work.

  29. Hamas is able to keep the dictatorship because of the people’s dependence on it, and the onclave they have created around the palestinians living in Ghaza, which they justify by saying “look, evil world wants to keep you starved”.

    And they will continue doing so by keeping it closed on their end by saying “Look, evil world wants to subvert us and sell ourselves to Zionist entity for cheap carrots”.

    If you allow the opening of the gates for the free trade of goods, in exchnage of a promise for an election in 6 months, Hamas can not reject it without losing their legtitimacy completely amongst the palestinian people, which, let’s face it, they need to survive there.[/i]

    True, Hamas cannot afford not to hold elections. But it is impossible to stop them from rigging the election. Jimma-friend will come to oversee and to trust.

    Plus, as I have said, if secuirty is an issue, let’s not allow the free movemnet of people till it’s over. Just the goods. The people will get the hint that if they want to regain their free movemnet, they should remove Hamas from power, and they would, or even start a serious opposition movemnet towards them.

    Actually believe you or not this is exactly what is happening right now. People are not allowed (at least overtly) in and out but goods are. Relaxing the conditions will result in exactly what you prefer not happening. It will not work just by wishing so.

    You are correct about one thing, Palestinians must see an alternative to their situation but given their reputation they have only themselves to rely on and therefore will have to find it within their society. I am willing to help but first I must see genuine and very serious effort to become convinced.

  30. I believe that the blockade has been ineffective, as the tunnels have pretty much ensured that guns/weapons are available to Hamas at a very high level.

    Anyway, if the purpose of lifting the blockade is to vote in Fatah, why should I be elated at such a possibility? Fatah is hardly better than Hamas; both are engaging in a jihad against Israel.

    Overall, there is no easy answer. You allow trade in, and it will further fund Hamas. You don’t allow trade in, and the people are dependent upon Hamas. However, critical points that SM left out are as follows:

    a) Hamas and Fatah are both jihadist terror groups. Fatah are ‘moderate terrorists,’ but are hardly to be supported in and of themselves.

    b) Israel allowed in trade/economic activity from 1967-2005 in Gaza, and that did nothing to stop the radicalism and terrorism of the local population. Gazan Palestinians are not to be compared to Iranians/Sudanese/etc. These are people whose leaders have openly been engaged in a jihad since the foundation of the state of Israel, and even before, under the Grand Mufti of Jerusalem. These are not ‘recently radicalized’ people, they have always been radical. They voted in Hamas in part because they were seen as ‘less corrupt,’ but also because they were seen as more properly jihadist against Israel. Israel put in the plumbing system in Gaza – and this plumbing has been torn up and used as Qassam rockets. The Palestinian leadership, as openly supported by most of the people, will swim in a river of crap rather than not engage in jihad against Israel.

    c) Lifting the blockade will be seen as a victory for Hamas and itself could actually cause people to support Hamas.

    Overall, there are no easy answers, only least worst scenarios. I see the merits of lifting the *extremely* ineffective blockade, and I see the merits of keeping the blockade.

    SM’s problem is somehow he believes ‘peace’ is possible, when plainly it is certainly impossible for at least a generation, if not more. I believe the only answer is to manage the conflict as best as is possible.

  31. Sorry for the mess. Here is somewhat better formatted version.

    Hamas is able to keep the dictatorship because of the people’s dependence on it, and the onclave they have created around the palestinians living in Ghaza, which they justify by saying “look, evil world wants to keep you starved”.

    And they will continue doing so by keeping it closed on their end by saying “Look, evil world wants to subvert us and sell ourselves to Zionist entity for cheap carrots”.

    If you allow the opening of the gates for the free trade of goods, in exchnage of a promise for an election in 6 months, Hamas can not reject it without losing their legtitimacy completely amongst the palestinian people, which, let’s face it, they need to survive there.

    True, Hamas cannot afford not to hold elections. But it is impossible to stop them from rigging the election. Jimma-friend will come to oversee and to trust.

    Plus, as I have said, if secuirty is an issue, let’s not allow the free movemnet of people till it’s over. Just the goods. The people will get the hint that if they want to regain their free movemnet, they should remove Hamas from power, and they would, or even start a serious opposition movemnet towards them.

    Actually believe you or not this is exactly what is happening right now. People are not allowed (at least overtly) in and out but goods are. Relaxing the conditions will result in exactly what you prefer not happening. It will not work just by wishing so.

    You are correct about one thing, Palestinians must see an alternative to their situation but given their reputation they have only themselves to rely on and therefore will have to find it within their society. I am willing to help but first I must see genuine and very serious effort to become convinced.

  32. Kranky…

    “Something in the arab psyche cannot get over their losses to Israel. Wounded pride, religious fervor, whatever the reason. Arabs have to come to terms with this *before* any of this can have a chance.”

    I think people missed the most important point here, this one that you made…

    The Arabs cannot defeat Israel…yet this is still the dream, the obsession. Not that they would be any better off or happier after it happened, except they would have to find somebody new to blame for their self-imposed misery (USA is always handy, and if not…maybe Colonization or something).

    The fact that the Arabs cannot beat Israel creates a type of madness…truly an obsession. The best case they could hope for is bringing Israel to the point were she would unless about 300 nukes and turn the ME into useless molten glass. Funny…and if the Arabs nuke Israel…they kill gazillions of the Palestinians they weep over daily. LOVELY!

    It takes a new mindset here. It is about accepting the fact that you have to be a decent neighbor and win the trust of an enormously paranoid people. The “resistance” has only strengthened Israeli resolve. Again…Israel is bigger and stronger after 100 years of resistance. It doesn’t work…it won’t work. Try a new angle guys.

    Sand Ape…what happened…you are saying some things that make sense. Are you back on your medication or just getting laid on a regular basis?
    ;)

  33. This is my attempt to repost what I wrote earlier…

    I believe that the blockade has been ineffective, as the tunnels have
    pretty much ensured that guns/weapons are available to Hamas at a very
    high level.

    Anyway, if the purpose of lifting the blockade is to vote in Fatah,
    why should I be elated at such a possibility? Fatah is hardly better
    than Hamas; both are engaging in a jihad against Israel.

    Overall, there is no easy answer. You allow trade in, and it will
    further fund Hamas. You don’t allow trade in, and the people are
    dependent upon Hamas. However, critical points that SM left out are
    as follows:

    a) Hamas and Fatah are both jihadist terror groups. Fatah are
    ‘moderate terrorists,’ but are hardly to be supported in and of
    themselves.

    b) Israel allowed in trade/economic activity from 1967-2005 in Gaza,
    and that did nothing to stop the radicalism and terrorism of the local
    population. Gazan Palestinians are not to be compared to
    Iranians/Sudanese/etc. These are people whose leaders have openly
    been engaged in a jihad since the foundation of the state of Israel,
    and even before, under the Grand Mufti of Jerusalem. These are not
    ‘recently radicalized’ people, they have always been radical. They
    voted in Hamas in part because they were seen as ‘less corrupt,’ but
    also because they were seen as more properly jihadist against Israel.
    Israel put in the plumbing system in Gaza – and this plumbing has been
    torn up and used as Qassam rockets. The Palestinian leadership, as
    openly supported by most of the people, will swim in a river of crap
    rather than not engage in jihad against Israel.

    c) Lifting the blockade will be seen as a victory for Hamas and itself
    could actually cause people to support Hamas.

    Overall, there are no easy answers, only least worst scenarios. I see
    the merits of lifting the *extremely* ineffective blockade, and I see
    the merits of keeping the blockade.

    SM’s problem is somehow he believes ‘peace’ is possible, when plainly
    it is certainly impossible for at least a generation, if not more. I
    believe the only answer is to manage the conflict as best as is
    possible.

  34. Leo, I agree with your concerns. I am thinking though that SM’s idea of allowing the goods to move across the border more freely, in trade, is an excellent idea.
    Trading may improve the situation, finding markets for each other’s goods… would that help?

  35. This is my last attempt to try to post a reply, which has been blocked in spam filters! (this is Red Tulips)

    I believe that the blockade has been ineffective, as the tunnels have
    pretty much ensured that guns/weapons are available to Hamas at a very
    high level.

    Anyway, if the purpose of lifting the blockade is to vote in Fatah,
    why should I be elated at such a possibility? Fatah is hardly better
    than Hamas; both are engaging in a jihad against Israel.

    Overall, there is no easy answer. You allow trade in, and it will
    further fund Hamas. You don’t allow trade in, and the people are
    dependent upon Hamas. However, critical points that SM left out are
    as follows:

    a) Hamas and Fatah are both jihadist terror groups. Fatah are
    ‘moderate terrorists,’ but are hardly to be supported in and of
    themselves.

    b) Israel allowed in trade/economic activity from 1967-2005 in Gaza,
    and that did nothing to stop the radicalism and terrorism of the local
    population. Gazan Palestinians are not to be compared to
    Iranians/Sudanese/etc. These are people whose leaders have openly
    been engaged in a jihad since the foundation of the state of Israel,
    and even before, under the Grand Mufti of Jerusalem. These are not
    ‘recently radicalized’ people, they have always been radical. They
    voted in Hamas in part because they were seen as ‘less corrupt,’ but
    also because they were seen as more properly jihadist against Israel.
    Israel put in the plumbing system in Gaza – and this plumbing has been
    torn up and used as Qassam rockets. The Palestinian leadership, as
    openly supported by most of the people, will swim in a river of crap
    rather than not engage in jihad against Israel.

    c) Lifting the blockade will be seen as a victory for Hamas and itself
    could actually cause people to support Hamas.

    Overall, there are no easy answers, only least worst scenarios. I see
    the merits of lifting the *extremely* ineffective blockade, and I see
    the merits of keeping the blockade.

    SM’s problem is somehow he believes ‘peace’ is possible, when plainly
    it is certainly impossible for at least a generation, if not more. I
    believe the only answer is to manage the conflict as best as is
    possible.

  36. The crossings into Israel are more complicated. Israel has to be 100% assured that no missiles, rockets, mortars, or splodydopes are coming over or through, or under the new international barrier. This is all they need.

    They can’t ever have that, Kranky. Not on the Egyptian border. Unless somebody is suggesting that IDF will help with border inspections there? lol. I can really see that happening. I simply can’t believe that Egyptian security is unaware of the smuggling tunnels. That border is only a few miles long. Are they blind and deaf, or did somebody tell them to be blind and deaf? And if Israel doesn’t trust Egypt on the tunnels (which I’m sure they do not) then how can Israel trust them to do proper inspections of goods crossing the border?

    SM,

    Craig: It’s not a happy ending. Hamas would still exist as a terrorist organization, but they would be constrained by whomever is in government. And if they cheat in the elections and start appearing like the dictators they are: 1) they lose support amongst the pro-paestinian activists the world over and 2) Muslim Brotherhood movemnets would be exposed forever in the eyes of millions of muslims. Not a happy ending..but hey, improvement!

    You may be right. And things could hardly get worse, anyway. I’m not so optimistic about the “legitimate aspirations” of Palestinians as you are. There’s a lot of double talk going around, and there has been for a very long time. It seems to me the leadership (if not the Palestinians as a whole) never misses a chance to exploit any weakness shown and turn it to their advantage in the service of extremism. Every time the “world” gets sold a bill of goods in the name of humanitarianism and furthering the “peace process”, the situation seems to get worse.

    That’s why I say there is no happy ending.

  37. The only crossings that would be opened would be on the israeli side, and israel inspects the shipments for weapons. Israeli security concerns dealt with.

    SM, I think if the borders are to be “opened” for trade, it should be on the Egyptian side. There’s no point in putting the burden on the Israelis to play kissy-face with an enemy. That’s bound to backfire. Would the complaints of “war crimes” and “collective punishment” due to Israel attempting to secure it’s border with a hostile neighbor stop? I suspect they’d just get louder, as the tactic would then be interpreted as being effective. See my above post for reasons why I think that is what would happen.

    Furthermore, I’d like to see Egypt start supplying Gaza with electricity and water, as well. For the same reasons. Gazans should not be reliant on an enemy to provide basic necessities to them.

  38. Marie Claude says:

    SNK

    These were men who did not even become nationalists until the war with France was won

    I don’t what is written in your school books, though there were no “war winners”, cuz a referendum when 70% of the French voted “yes” made that Algeria became independant.

    what I wrote elsewhere, but can fit my dire :

    “the problem that Israel faces in this conflict is the same that France faced within the Algeria war, military, she was superior and won each battle fieds she chose to fight, though not in the minds, this would have been a never endless conflict, de Gaulle understood it and preferred to reverse the “mind winning” into a France’s decision, thus he decided to give the population the arbiter tool with a referendum (also to cut down the grass under the OAS feet, that was a parallel fashist power) , that gave the FNL the appearance of having “gainned” its dignity, and thus transforming the enemy into a future “collaborator”, that’s what Algeria has become for us, we are making tradings together. Yes, there is the Islamist threat, Algeria has to face the most of it, and we help her with our renseignments, with the international renseignments agencies too, we have to collaborate , because the people prefer to live in security wherever they live.”

  39. Got a question for everybody…

    How many upset groups in the world deserve their own freaking country?

    I would love to see a list

  40. Craig,

    I generally agree with you, except to say that if Gaza/Egypt have full ‘free trade,’ it will mean the back-and-forth transfer of Muslim Brotherhood/Hamas members. This will destabilize Egypt. There is no easy answer here.

    The bottom line is SM has incorrectly recounted the history of Gaza and the Palestinians. He forgets that the majority of Palestinians were radical well before Israel taking over, and well before the ‘blockade.’ He forgets that Hamas and Fatah are both genocidal, only one (Hamas) is simply more honest about their intentions. He further forgets that there is literally no alternative within mainstream Palestinian society to either Hamas or Fatah which is non-jihadist in character.

    This is not a new development. The mainstream leaders of the local Arab population was radical before the creation of the State of Israel, and remained even more so afterwards. There simply is no civil society to support an actually true-blue ‘moderate’ leadership. There is none, and never has been, at least not in modern memory.

    This radicalism is not about the ‘blockade,’ ‘occupation,’ or any other item that we can point to which is Israel’s fault. It comes down to hate education. Yes, the people are now dependent upon Hamas. But when there was no dependency, they still supported terrorism and jihad. So the dependency upon Hamas is not what itself breeds radicalism. The bottom line is that until the hate education stops, peace is utterly impossible.

  41. SM, I agree. Lets give it a shot. Because the alternative sucks as bad.

    In this event, you want Netanyahu in office. The Israeli right are the ones to do pragmatic deals with.

    The question is, can this be done? I think we could push Israel to agree to it.

    Would the Gazastani’s agree? Could they without losing face and honor?

    Frankly I don’t give a damn about either face or honor for them, I think it is nothing but dishonorable that their leaders do not have the cajones to do the right thing by their people. Attacking civilians on purpose for political ends is not honorable. It is a shameful act of cowardice.

    Will the UN go along? I doubt it.

    Will Gaza go along? I doubt it.

    Would Israel go along? Show them someone serious about doing a good deal, and they would.

    Gazastan and the rest of the arab population have suffered quite enough from corrupt, inept, and terrorist leaders. Why not give reasonable and pragmatic technocrats a chance?

    But this is wishful thinking, as neither you nor I have the ability to influence either side.

  42. Why didn’t Israel take out that freakin Hamas TV station with the Bunnies etc. inciting rage by children? If it were up to me, I would have blasted them first.

  43. Why try an open market when the people in power get so many millions from the suffering of their bretherens?
    The leaders of the Palestinians would do anything to stop an open trade arrangement. Their power and money would deminish.
    Why allow an open market when the current market skims millions, neigh billions off the tiny population. Why would anyone of this mindset allow people to freely trade when they have taken a major cut for so long?
    I am sorry to say that although SM’s proposal is rational, it would not happen in real life. Hamas would be holding up shipments at gunpoint and taking them for their own, just as they have the UNWSR relief shipments of the last several days.
    Although SM puts a compelling argument to us, I think the Palestinian people are screwed because so many of them are criminals. It could be a 1′ X 1′ plot but, by God they are going to hold it and take as many as they can to defend it. No matter if they are little children or the derranged. They own this 1X 1 strip and they will wreck anyone trying to eek a life out upon it.
    It is very hard to bring free trade to someone like that…

  44. “Why didn’t Israel take out that freakin Hamas TV station with the Bunnies etc. inciting rage by children? If it were up to me, I would have blasted them first.”

    Currently Hamas is trying to arrange broadcasts from Lebanon.

  45. Israel should simply impose a total and permanent blockade from its side. Nothing coming in to Gaza from the Israeli side including electrical power and nothing or no one coming out from Gaza on its side. Let the Egyptians deal with Gaza or seal of their border as well. When they get hungry enough to kill all of the Hamas members and their supporters then Israel can reconsider its positions. As for the rocket attacks, the Israeli’s ought to let their local villagers fire off rockets at random into Gaza as well. The Palestinians are not going to quit until they conclude the price of accepting and living with Israel in peace is cheaper than the cost of warring with Israel.

  46. SM

    In the three polls produced by Palestinian Center for Policy and Research before election of 2006 majority of Palestinians supported Fatah. Supposedly Fatah support (at that time) ranged from 44 to 55 percent. All other polls stated the same.
    Hamas won. Overwhelmingly.
    And you still believe polls conducted in Palestine?

  47. Sandmonkey, you said:
    and prevent israeli companies from profiting fro trade with Ghaza? I am sure they too would want a piece of the cake. And you guys have 6 crossings to our poor 1.

    See how generous the Israelis are? Although as keen on another piece of that cake, they leave it all to Egypt.

    Seriously: If the international isolation of Gaza were meant to be a punishment, would aid relief money have doubled in 2006 and kept that level ever since? The isolation is a reaction to the government party ‘s declared aim to annihilate another country. Just like the Gazans have the right to elect and cheer such a government, other countries have the right to not fund it.

    Anyway. The borders are closed for security concerns. Do you believe the Gazans would prevent terrorist attacks on neighbour countries if the borders were opened? Because if they do not, no one can do the job for them. Neither Israel nor Egypt nor the European clowns who used to hang around at Rafah crossing. How could they, if intrinsically innocuous goods like fertilizer, sugar and tubes can be and are used to manufacture rockets.

    Preventing terrorism from within Gaza is up to the Gazans. If they should ever choose to do so, the borders would most likely open again, for trade as well as for people. If they should order their domestic affairs, they might well find investors, produce lucrative export goods and finally become independent from foreign dole. But preventing terrorism is a precondition. Are there any signs for such a development in Gaza? If so, I would be glad to learn about. (No irony or malice involved; I have tried to find such indications for years.)

  48. Igni

    Preventing terrorism from within Gaza is up to the Gazans. If they should ever choose to do so, the borders would most likely open again, for trade as well as for people. If they should order their domestic affairs, they might well find investors, produce lucrative export goods and finally become independent from foreign dole. But preventing terrorism is a precondition. Are there any signs for such a development in Gaza? If so, I would be glad to learn about. (No irony or malice involved; I have tried to find such indications for years.)

    Yup…yup…and yup again…

    But no…the whole fucking world has to get together and figure out how to solve the Palestinian problem…nobody will say; “the solution is and has been in your hands, but your prefer violence and macho slogans”.

  49. Babs, I just read on Stratfor that Iran is funding a new TV station to host Khaleed Meshal from his Syrian exile in a complicated move to try to control Hamas and use them for their own purposes of destabilizing the region. Yet another hate – inciting media source. Peachy.

  50. I think you make a valid point about the siege, it’s counterproductive and causes more suffering than any possible good. The question is what our goal should be with Gaza. I understood that you want free elections. The problem is that the alternative to Hamas is the corrupt Fatah. If you support the creation of a Palestinian democratic state, like I do, we need to encourage reform in Fatah and bolster other moderates before we push for elections. The Palestinian people deserve better than the current leadership they have in Gaza and the West Bank.

  51. I don’t what is written in your school books, though there were no “war winners”, cuz a referendum when 70% of the French voted “yes” made that Algeria became independant.

    The French did not win in Algeria. There was a war winner and it was the FLN and its cadres. The French lost the war in Algeria like the Americans lost the war in Vietnam (and the French, too). The French won militarily, but you cannot call this “victory” when they lost their colony and the colonialist population fled back to France. The point of a guerrila was is not to win militarily but to win politically and that is what the Algerians did. The Generals to whom I refer joined in 1959, 1960ish, after having been French officers and having faught against the Algerians, and when their political will was breaking. These were the “future collaborators” and they are the people who have sucked Algeria dry and then fled to France with their loot. These are the undercover harkis who talk about deomcracy in French while they murder villages full of people for voting for some one other than their FLN apes. Khaled Nezzar, Moh Mediene, the Lamaris, Belkheir and the like. These are the murderers France gave Algeria (as opposed to the murderers the Algerians made and assemlbled in Romania and the USSR and religious date brains they “educated” in Saudi and Egypt). The product of French “civilization” in Africa. Merci beaucoup.