From The Ashes of Gaza

In the face of Israel's latest onslaught, the only option for Palestinian nationalism is to embrace a one-state solution

The assault on Gaza, planned over six months and executed with perfect timing, was designed largely, as Neve Gordon has rightly observed,
to help the incumbent parties triumph in the forthcoming Israeli
elections. The dead Palestinians are little more than election fodder
in a cynical contest between the right and the far right in Israel.
Washington and its EU allies, perfectly aware that Gaza was about to be
assaulted, as in the case of Lebanon in 2006, sit back and watch.

as is its wont, blames the pro-Hamas Palestinians, with Obama and Bush
singing from the same AIPAC hymn sheet. The EU politicians, having
observed the build-up, the siege, the collective punishment inflicted
on Gaza, the targeting of civilians etc (for all the gory detail, see
Harvard scholar Sara Roy's chilling essay in the London Review of Books)
were convinced that it was the rocket attacks that had "provoked"
Israel but called on both sides to end the violence, with nil effect.
The moth-eaten Mubarak dictatorship in Egypt and Nato's favourite
Islamists in Ankara failed to register even a symbolic protest by
recalling their ambassadors from Israel. China and Russia did not
convene a meeting of the UN security council to discuss the crisis.

result of official apathy, one outcome of this latest attack will be to
inflame Muslim communities throughout the world and swell the ranks of
those very organisations that the west claims it is combating in the
"war against terror".

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.

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."

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 of the party it had 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.

is this response to everyday needs that has won Hamas the broad base of
its support, not daily recitation of verses from the Koran. How far its
conduct in the second Intifada has given it an additional degree of
credibility is less clear. Its armed attacks on Israel, like those of
Fatah's Al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigade or Islamic Jihad, have been
retaliations against an occupation far more deadly than any actions it
has ever undertaken. Measured on the scale of IDF killings, Palestinian
strikes have been few and far between. The asymmetry was starkly
exposed during Hamas's unilateral ceasefire, begun in June 2003, and
maintained throughout the summer, despite the Israeli campaign of raids
and mass arrests that followed, in which some 300 Hamas cadres were
seized from the West Bank.

On August 19 2003, a self-proclaimed "Hamas" cell from Hebron, disowned and denounced by the official leadership, blew up a bus in west Jerusalem, upon which Israel promptly assassinated
the Hamas ceasefire's negotiator, Ismail Abu Shanab. Hamas, in turn,
responded. In return, the Palestinian Authority and Arab states cut
funding to its charities and, in September 2003, the EU declared the
whole Hamas movement to be a terrorist organization - a longstanding
demand of Tel Aviv.

What has actually distinguished Hamas in a
hopelessly unequal combat is not dispatch of suicide bombers, to which
a range of competing groups resorted, but its superior discipline -
demonstrated by its ability to enforce a self-declared ceasefire
against Israel over the past year. All civilian deaths are to be
condemned, but since Israel is their principal practitioner,
Euro-American cant serves only to expose those who utter it.
Overwhelmingly, the boot of murder is on the other foot, ruthlessly
stamped into Palestine by a modern army equipped with jets, tanks and
missiles in the longest-armed oppression of modern history.

can reject or condemn the revolt of a people that has been suffering
under military occupation for 45 years against occupation force," said General Shlomo Gazit,
former chief of Israeli military intelligence, in 1993. The real
grievance of the EU and US against Hamas is that it refused to accept
the capitulation of the Oslo Accords, and has rejected every subsequent
effort, from Taba to Geneva, to pass off their calamities on the
Palestinians. The west's priority ever since was to break this
resistance. Cutting off funding to the Palestinian Authority is an
obvious weapon with which to bludgeon Hamas into submission. Boosting
the presidential powers of Abbas - as publicly picked for his post by
Washington, as was Karzai in Kabul - at the expense of the legislative
council is another.

No serious efforts were made to negotiate
with the elected Palestinian leadership. I doubt if Hamas could have
been rapidly suborned to western and Israeli interests, but it would
not have been unprecedented. Hamas' programmatic heritage remains
mortgaged to the most fatal weakness of Palestinian nationalism: the
belief that the political choices before it are either rejection of the
existence of Israel altogether or acceptance of the dismembered
remnants of a fifth of the country. From the fantasy maximalism of the
first to the pathetic minimalism of the second, the path is all too
short, as the history of Fatah has shown.

The test for Hamas is
not whether it can be house-trained to the satisfaction of western
opinion, but whether it can break with this crippling tradition. Soon
after the Hamas election victory in Gaza, I was asked in public by a
Palestinian what I would do in their place. "Dissolve the Palestinian
Authority" was my response and end the make-believe. To do so would
situate the Palestinian national cause on its proper basis, with the
demand that the country and its resources be divided equitably, in
proportion to two populations that are equal in size - not 80% to one
and 20% to the other, a dispossession of such iniquity that no
self-respecting people will ever submit to it in the long run. The only
acceptable alternative is a single state for Jews and Palestinians
alike, in which the exactions of Zionism are repaired. There is no
other way.

And Israeli citizens might ponder the following
words from Shakespeare (in The Merchant of Venice), which I have
slightly altered:

"I am a Palestinian. Hath not a
Palestinian eyes? Hath not a Palestinian hands, organs, dimensions,
senses, affections, passions? Fed with the same food, hurt with the
same weapons, subject to the same diseases, healed by the same means,
warmed and cooled by the same winter and summer, as a Jew is? If you
prick us, do we not bleed? If you tickle us, do we not laugh? If you
poison us do we not die? And if you wrong us, shall we not revenge? If
we are like you in the rest, we will resemble you in that ... the
villainy you teach me, I will execute; and it shall go hard but I will
better the instruction."

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