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Current Topic: Israeli/Palestinian

Making Peace With Pieces
Topic: Israeli/Palestinian 4:28 pm EST, Dec  9, 2007

Tom Friedman:

Don’t get me wrong, I think Annapolis was useful.

But when you toil for a year to throw a party and some of your worst enemies R.S.V.P., but the two people whose lives you’ve once saved don’t show up, it’s beyond rude. It’s interesting.

Making Peace With Pieces

The Right Way to Pressure Hamas
Topic: Israeli/Palestinian 7:24 am EST, Feb 15, 2006

Is it really possible to expect that more punishment from the Israelis and the Americans, this time for not voting the way we wanted them to, would lead them to abandon Hamas?

A far wiser course for the United States to pursue would be to step back and desist from deliberately provoking the Palestinians, and give Hamas a chance to reconsider its own options.

The Right Way to Pressure Hamas

US and Israel Deny Plans to Drive Hamas From Power
Topic: Israeli/Palestinian 7:22 am EST, Feb 15, 2006

"The bottom line is that there is no US-Israeli plan, project, plot, conspiracy to destabilize or undermine a future Palestinian government," said Sean McCormack, a State Department spokesman.

What there was, Mr. McClellan and Mr. McCormack said, was a threat to cut off aid to the Palestinians if Hamas does not renounce violence, recognize Israel and accept previous agreements.

In other words, "we will bring you down, but it will be your own fault."

US and Israel Deny Plans to Drive Hamas From Power

US and Israelis Are Said to Talk of Hamas Ouster
Topic: Israeli/Palestinian 6:58 am EST, Feb 14, 2006

Do you think NYT's opinion of this approach comes through clearly? This piece isn't even labeled as "news analysis."

The strategy has many risks, especially given that Hamas will try to secure needed support from the larger Islamic world, including its allies Syria and Iran, as well as from private donors.

It will blame Israel and the United States for its troubles, appeal to the world not to punish the Palestinian people for their free democratic choice, point to the real hardship that a lack of cash will produce and may very well resort to an open military confrontation with Israel, in a sense beginning a third intifada.

Farhat Asaad, a Hamas spokesman, laughed and added: "First, I thank the United States that they have given us this weapon of democracy. But there is no way to retreat now. It's not possible for the US and the world to turn its back on an elected democracy."

Care to make a wager on that?

US and Israelis Are Said to Talk of Hamas Ouster

The Hamas Conundrum
Topic: Israeli/Palestinian 7:39 am EST, Feb  1, 2006

George Friedman refers to the perennial optimism of the free-elections crowd as "the universal self-delusion of the West." He claims to be unsurprised by the Hamas victory; he sees it as part of a trend toward Islamists taking power across the Arab world. With regard to the peace process, he predicts much near-term drama but ultimately little serious change.

Friedman points out that Fatah is far from "over"; they will continue to apply pressure, forcing Hamas to take prompt action. There is a theory, widely held among Israelis, that Hamas will collapse under its own inexperience with the processes of governance. But in the meantime, the West finds itself in a conundrum:

Should we give aid to terrorists? Or should we reject the outcome of free and fair democratic elections?

With two bedrock principles of the Bush Doctrine now in conflict, which one will win out?

p.s. Did you know that the Google Spider has a premium subscription to Stratfor, and that it caches the results? [1,2]

Hamas and the PNA Face Difficult Times Ahead | PINR
Topic: Israeli/Palestinian 6:42 pm EST, Jan 31, 2006

An Indian professor of Israeli politics explains why Hamas won and offers an analysis of the near future for the Palestinians.

At least in the short run, the Hamas-led PNA will be tied down to reinventing itself as a responsible political force that is both willing and capable of reaching a political settlement with Israel. The task is rather Herculean, and Hamas is a novice when it comes to negotiated politics. The Palestinians have spoken. It is now up for Hamas to transform itself from a militant organization into a political force that is capable of reaching peace. The transition from militancy to governance will be hard and painful.

Hamas and the PNA Face Difficult Times Ahead | PINR

What Hamas Is Seeking
Topic: Israeli/Palestinian 11:05 am EST, Jan 31, 2006

In an op-ed in today's Washington Post, Mousa Abu Marzook, a political spokesman for Hamas, explains their victory in the recent elections.

Alleviating the debilitative conditions of occupation, and not an Islamic state, is at the heart of our mandate (with reform and change as its lifeblood).

A new breed of Islamic leadership is ready to put into practice faith-based principles in a setting of tolerance and unity.

We do desire dialogue.

The Post describes the author thusly:

The writer is deputy political bureau chief of the Islamic Resistance Movement (Hamas). He has a U.S. doctorate in engineering and was indicted in the United States in 2004 as a co-conspirator on racketeering and money-laundering charges in connection with activities on behalf of Hamas dating to the early 1990s, before the organization was placed on the list of terrorist groups. He was deported to Jordan in 1997.

Note, as well, that "Paradise Now" has been nominated for the Oscar for Best Foreign Film.

What Hamas Is Seeking

Bush Defends His Goal of Spreading Democracy to the Mideast
Topic: Israeli/Palestinian 8:07 am EST, Jan 27, 2006

Of the Hamas victory, President Bush said: "Obviously people were not happy with the status quo. The people are demanding honest government. The people want services."

Obviously. Obviously it was the services that brought victory for Hamas. I'm sure it had nothing to do with corruption in Fatah.

Now all they need is a Hamas Book Club.

The Hamas victory was the fifth case recently of militants' winning significant gains through elections. They included the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt, Hezbollah in Lebanon, a radical president in Iran, and Shiites backed by militias in Iraq.

Do they have book clubs yet? I see a growth opportunity!

"The Hamas victory is a disillusioning result showing that democracy and American interests don't always coincide," said the editor of The National Interest.

A senior State Department official said recently that the Bush administration, five years ago, inherited what he called the old model. "But that's a story that we can no longer accept," he said, speaking on condition of anonymity because of rules prohibiting him from publicly explaining administration policy.

Ha! That's a good one.

I have a suggestion for the first month of the new Hamas Book Club: The Failure of Democratic Nation Building.

Bush Defends His Goal of Spreading Democracy to the Mideast

Victory Ends 40 Years of Political Domination
Topic: Israeli/Palestinian 6:33 pm EST, Jan 26, 2006

This could be the start of something big.

The radical Islamic party Hamas scored an overwhelming victory in Wednesday's Palestinian legislative elections, taking 76 out of 132 seats, deposing the former ruling party, Fatah, which won only 43.

The preliminary results, announced tonight by the Central Election Committee, were likened by Palestinians to an earthquake or a tsunami, ending more than 40 years of political domination by Fatah, the main political faction built by the late Yasir Arafat.

The surprising results put Hamas — considered to be a terrorist group by Israel, the United States and the European Union — in charge of the Palestinian political future and brought a to efforts to restart peace talks.

In Gaza City, a waitress said she was in shock. "I'm worried about the way this victory will affect how I can dress in public, and even if it will affect where I can work," she said.

Speaking of waiting tables, you might be interested in My Week As A Waiter:

I usually spend my nights on the other side of the table, not only asking the questions and making the demands but also judging and, I concede, taking caustic little mental notes. And it's been 20 years since I walked in a waiter's shoes, something I did for only six months.

But last week I traded places and swapped perspectives, a critic joining the criticized, to get a taste of what servers go through and what we put them through, of how they see and survive us.

If they put in a full schedule of four prime shifts a week, they might make $45,000 a year before taxes. Almost all of it is from tips. They wonder if diners realize that.

"Campers" are people who linger forever at tables. "Verbal tippers" are people who offer extravagant praise in lieu of 20 percent.

"It's amazing how unadventurous people are."

"Some people are interested in having the experience of being disappointed."

Washington Post coverage is here.

"We're telling people Islam is the solution," said Radi Johar, 29, who was passing out Hamas candidate pamphlets in the dirt street outside a crowded polling station.

Victory Ends 40 Years of Political Domination

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