Hamas & the path to peace – Updated

By the look of the letters pages in the papers, and the comments of many politicians globally, the success of Hamas in the Palestinian elections is engaging the thoughts of many people.

The first thought that entered my head when I heard of this victory was ‘maybe only Nixon could have gone to China‘, so maybe only Hamas can produce the path to genuine peace in the region. The second thought was that I’m probably just engaging in wishful thinking.

If there was one problem I would not want to be tasked with explaining the best way to deal with, it would be the Israel-Palestine situation and that of the wider Middle East, so I don’t profess to have any magic solutions to bring to this.

While it’s interesting to see the views of Australians, I’m not sure many of us here in Australia can provide uniquely valuable insights for the Palestinians and Israelis.

Here are two articles from the region which I found interesting (both sourced through The Daily Briefing):

by Rami Khouri from the Daily Star in Beirut

and by Gideon Levy in the Israeli daily Haaretz

UPDATES: The response from the USA government to the election result is reportedly to “press governments around the world – including in Europe, Asia and the Middle East – to sever economic ties and freeze most aid to the Palestinian territories until Hamas rejects violence and accepts Israel’s right to exist.” Interestingly, the same article also quotes Condaleeza Rice saying “I have asked why nobody saw it coming.” This does call into question just how much finger is on the pulse in the region, notwithstanding it being so central to many global political dilemmas. Mind you, before I get accused of having cheap shot at the USA, it should be noted that reportedly even Hamas were fairly surprised by the size of their win, if not the victory itself.

Not withstanding what I wrote in the 4th paragraph of this post, here are some comments by writers on other Australian blogs:

* William Burroughs’ Babboon
* Sea of Sands
* Antony Loewenstein
* Tim Blair

10th MARCH ADDITION: A piece from Online Opinion by Taya Fabijanic.

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  1. While it’s interesting to see the views of Australians, I’m not sure many of us here in Australia can provide uniquely valuable insights for the Palestinians and Israelis.

    Couldn’t agree more.

  2. it is already instructive to see them come up against the difference between being a specific protest group with a narrow, defined focus and one that theoretically represents the interests of the all the citizens in Palestine. These are 2 quite different authority strucutres. It will be difficult for them to manage broader economic issues and continue to push only one line – especially if, as demonstrated, some of the electorate want their say regardless of membership.

  3. The “talk” page on the wikipedia “Hamas” article is just fascinating.

    I think it shows:
    – how paralysed the world is over Israel/Palestine.
    – how rankerous the debate can be.
    – how good wikipedia is at mitigating problems arising from articles on difficult topics.
    – how lucky we are in Australia

    On a side note, the “Talk” pages on wikipedia are often more interesting than the articles themselves!

  4. In response to Phillip’s comment:

    Sounds rather like when the Greens were part of government – twice – down in Tasmania. They didn’t manage it either times ….

  5. Andrew.

    This is completely off topic. I just received your purple, pink, peuce? Fridge magnet. Your face in that colour is not a pretty sight.

    That said when I get Alex Somalay’s full colour fridge magnet, it reminds me he is still alive!!

    I see plenty of Labor politicians here on holiday but I am yet to receive a fridge magnet from any of them.

    If you are going to spend your meagre funds on magnetic calendars make them “keepable” yours is in the bin because the single colour is repulsive.

  6. Speaking of ‘keepable’ political propaganda (Steve), I still have a 1997 democrats condom with ‘Keep the Bastards Out’ on it. It’s hilarious, and was by far the most popular item we ever gave away when the uni dems were going. Of course, I wouldn’t want to use it after all that time, so it’s a keeper. :)

    As for Palestine, well … all I know is that one day the walls have to come down. Can I just recommend to anyone who hasn’t seen it, the documentary Promises. It really brings it home, the human consequences of this conflict.

  7. Steve

    Yes, my fridge calendar is not a lot to do with the Middle East, but thanks for the feedback.

    It was meant to be a deeper shade of purple, but my face is not a pretty sight, no matter what the colour, so I doubt it would have improved things much.

  8. The election result raises another dilemma.

    If one believes in ‘democracy’ and if the election was fair, should we accept the result of the democratic process?

    Is not ‘installing democracy’ one of the reasons of the “Coalition of the willing” are now using to justify being in Iraq?

  9. Sorry to post about this again, but I was reflecting on why the film ‘Promises’ was so good – I think it’s because the children it follows (Israeli and Palestinian) could all get along so well, and you see that, but the whole infrastructure in which they are forced to opperate drives them apart, is one of war.

    The filmaker comes in and breaks through that temporarily, but when he leaves, it’s still there. Human nature I think is to live in peace, but human inertia also means that under certain circumstances you just go along with war when the whole system is geared towards that.

    On a separate note, I think there’s a little lesson about different cultures living together here too – I note an article in the Age recently was comparing Melbourne’s success in terms of multiculturalism and integration with Sydney in terms of the mere geography of the cities. Sydney’s hills and valleys tend towards compartmentalisation, while Melbourne is flat and more free flowing. On a level it’s trivial, but maybe there’s something to it.

  10. i suport fays post completely.
    i have my own theory as to why there will NEVER be pease in israel.
    wouldnt it be nice to hear from the Palestinians
    point as to why they are like they are.
    i once spoke in deph with an ira member and was given a history lesson witch i i was unawear of.mabe someone from hamas needs to do the same now they have the forum of govt.

    p.s. thanks andrew for the forum and the oppitunity to be able to have a say .

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