Monday, December 26, 2005

How democracy moderates even the most hardened terrorists

I realise some will try to paint me as a terror sympathiser for saying this. But I honestly think the Israelis should allow a Palestinian government to be formed. Even if it involves candidates linked to HAMAS.

Presumably most of those accusing me of being a terror sympathiser will come from the usual sectors for whom it is impossible for the Palestinians to ever get in right.

These same unconditionally anti-Palestinian people complained when Palestinians living under areas ruled by the Palestinian Authority democratically elected Nobel Prize winner Yasser Arafat.

When the first democratically elected Palestinian government appointed a Christian woman to the sensitive portfolio of education, these people accused Dr Hanan Ashrawi of being a terrorist sympathiser. Their allegations followed her all the way to Sydney in 2003, when she was awarded the Sydney Peace Prize.

Now Palestinian election officials are allowing HAMAS candidates to contest in the election, and already we hear murmurs of threats of sanctions and withdrawal of aid pledges.

Yet the presence of HAMAS candidates will not be the first time terrorists have taken part in an election. Israeli critics of HAMAS should remember the numerous members of notorious terrorist groups responsible for many deaths (including the Stern Gang) who have been elected to the Knesset. At least two Stern Gang members have even been elected Prime Minister.

Former Israeli Prime Minister Yitzak Shamir never dared to set foot in England as an outstanding warrant was current for his arrest over his involvement in the bombing of the King David Hotel that left scores of civilians dead.

Shamir was also believed to be responsible for the assassination of the Swedish peace negotiator Count Folke Bernadotte, shot at close range in Jerusalem in September 1948 whilst working under the auspices of the United Nations. Bernadotte hoped to secure a compromise peace plan which would create separate Jewish and Palestinian states.

Other former terrorists included Nobel Prize winning Menachem Begin and even current Israeli PM Ariel Sharon.

For this part of the world, involvement by HAMAS will not be the first time a violent terrorist group will have been welcomed into the peaceful democratic process. Yesterdays terrorists have often become today’s and tomorrow’s statesmen.

Including HAMAS in government will give the organisation a much-needed injection of the harsh realities of administration and government. It is hoped that in government, HAMAS will recognise the need to compromise, to aim for the possible rather than the rhetorically popular but unachievable. Carping and sending other people’s children to their deaths is easy. Balancing competing interests and making tough decisions that can even hurt your supporters is very hard.

No one can deny the murderous record of the armed wing of HAMAS and their co-option of suicide bombing from Sri Lanka’s Liberation Tigers of Tamil Elam (also known as the Tamil Tigers). Hundreds of Israeli civilians have died at the hands of HAMAS suicide bombers, and Israelis have every right to be anxious about sharing a border with a government incorporating a group advocating the destruction of Israel.

The 2005 film Paradise Now directed by Hany Abu-Assaad seems to accurately portray the reality of organisations happy to send the depressed and frustrated children of others to their deaths in the name of a sick and demented theology with little relation to mainstream Islam.

HAMAS is a proscribed terrorist organisation under Australian, EU and United States law. Its past actions have certainly earned this proscription. Nothing in this article should be construed as constituting support for the organisation and its murderous activities.

But what is perhaps often forgotten is the role groups linked to HAMAS play in providing essential services to ordinary Palestinians. HAMAS is not a terror monolith. In December 2001, exactly 3 months following the September 11 attacks, TIME Magazine reporter Tony Karon wrote about the “large scale welfare arm” of the organisation.

“Hamas provides educational, medical and other desperately needed welfare services in impoverished West Bank and Gaza towns and refugee camps, creating a marked contrast with the image of corruption and cronyism most Palestinians have of Arafat's administration.”

Karon also writes of how the Israelis themselves encouraged HAMAS to openly operate from 1987 until HAMAS commenced armed action in 1989. Israel hoped HAMAS would provide an alternative indigenous Palestinian leadership to Yasser Arafat, then viewed in Israel as an enemy.

The record of HAMAS in the organised, efficient and effective provision of essential services may make its involvement in a future Palestinian government a plus for a future Palestinian administration. Gaza remains one of the poorest population centres on earth. It is also one of the most densely populated.

It is arguable that in Lebanon, the political, media and welfare wings of Hizbollah (whose armed wing is also proscribed in Australia) have led to the scaling down of military attacks on Israel. Democratic political processes in Lebanon have also seen the withdrawal of Syrian troops, seen as prime sponsors of Hizbollah. The organisation has little choice but to abstain from violence.

Peace cannot be achieved without compromise. Further, even those known for their extremist tendencies are known to moderate their positions when the trappings of government are at stake. Politics is a dirty game, but its utility lies in its ability to sap the militancy of even the most players on the terror chessboard. Parliamentary hawks are generally less dangerous than militants locked out of a political process.

I am no fan of HAMAS, just as I am no fan of the Stern Gang. But as Israel’s own history of electing former terrorists to Parliament has shown, democracy has the power to moderate the radical and clip the wings of the fiercest hawks. If organisations linked to HAMAS do have the popularity inherently anti-Palestinian commentators claim they have, surely this is even more reason to expose them to the mainstream political activity.

© Irfan Yusuf 2005


Anonymous said...

Spot on Irfan. Also, Palestine should have complete access to East Jerusalem as their capital. It really is ironic, how Israel is on the world atlas today and Palestine's nowhere to be found. In 50 years Israel has managed to eradicate Palestine. Sad really.

Anonymous said...

Very true big man! Its sad that Palestine just can not get a look in! Perhaps its all that zionist money around the world!

Anonymous said...

What happened to Irfans suicide fantasy. Did he chicken-out? Or has he delayed his suicide so as not to jepordise the Roadmap to Peace. Just do it you fat brown coward.

Roisin said...

Perhaps the absentee landlords and mullahs from the palestinian lands under the UN mandate should be required to provide assistance to the palestinian refugees? Perhaps even their arab brethren?

Perhaps the Israelis should just turnoff the water supply to the west bank and not employ anybody that is not from within israel? Perhaps the egyptians should provide a strip for the Palestinians to use to travel from the west bank to gaza (after all, they contributed significantly to the invasion of gaza?)

However, I do agree that HAMAS has done more for the inhabitants of gaza than the PLO / Palestinian authority. Perhaps they will be the one to turn around the situation, blaming israel is not the solution, and remember, gaza is now part of an auonomous state - if the attacks on israel continue - they will invade, inshallah (it is easy to see why moses was told not to suffer teh canaanites to live).

Anonymous said...

Perhaps if the Palestinians didnt have to pay and get punished for the sins of Europeans, then perhaps the world wouldve been a much better place without muslim terrorism and all (as israel is in the centre of the extremeist ideology).
Perhaps, if western leaders acknowledge that the establishment of the Zionist State of Israel in Palestinian land is the root to the great majority of Middle Eastern problems and dilemmas then perhaps, these apologies can lead to reconciliation?
Perhaps its about time that Israel treats its Arab residents who have been there thousands of years as equal citizens not second class?
Perhaps, its about time the world is told that the approach to establishing Israel was full of flaws and mishief and couldve been attained in a better way?
Perhaps chesterrocks should revise his year 11 and 1st year uni history notes? Perhaps?

Anonymous said...

You keep on bringing the West into it. The West HAD no business in the middle east. Hence what concern should the West have about Gaza or anything else?.

The muslims world has the unreasonable attitude that the West should give a damn and then launches terrorist attacks on the West and wonders why they then get bombed or invaded. It is just a complete failure of logic in the muslim countries because they think like children and demonstrably have a lower IQ. The mindset of the arab and muslim 'street'is so deluded with rehashed propaganda about colonialism this, Europeans that, America this, people take muslim oil blah blah.

Listen muslims. We don't give a damn about your shithole countries. We didn't care about Israel or anything else until you attacked us for no reason. Now you deserve to have your countries invaded, your leaders killed and if you don't convert to Christianity you will be just another garbage bag on the garbage-tip of history.

The population in Western countries has nothing to fear from when their government changes at democratic elections. Hence we don't really care who wins. If we don't care about who wins in Australia or the USA or England why would we care which brand of political scum wins an election in Palestine, a place that most people wouldn't be able to find on a map.

If a Civil War breaks out between HAMAS and Fatah guess what? The West won't care. Despite what you think the West didn't create the Middle East problem. The problem could have been solved in 1948 except muslim countries failed to destroy Israel. Why do you blame the West for your own repeated failures?

Whats more the muslim world aligned itself with the Soviet Union. You muslims (with the exception of the late Shah and a few Indonesian Generals) showed a complete lack of any principle. You pretend to uphold human rights for Palestinians but couldn't give a damn for the victims of Communism. You were happy to side with a Communist Bloc that was pointing nuclear weapons at us. You muslims are a disgrace to the human race.

Anonymous said...

Anonymous of 12.41pm: you assert "Why do you blame the West for your own repeated failures?" and that the West had nothing to do with the problem. Wrong mate. All problems in Palsetine (and Israel) are due to its British management of 1918 onwards. It was the British who gave excessive land to the zionists without full permission of the sherifate of palestine. It was America who was first to recognise israel. Its america who has a mysterious relationship with israel which costs it billions of its taxpayers
dollars to maintain. it was america who fed israel with armaments till the teeth. and you claim the west had nothing to do with the problem when it relentlessly invests in one side of the conflict?

Furthermore you claim "You muslims are a disgrace to the human race". Well guess what mate? The West was the most primitive and disgraceful civilisation in the dark ages, it was the MUSLIMS who showered mercy upon the west and lent them some technological and scientific enlightment. So, ALL western medical and scientific advancement would've not been in existence had it not been for MUSLIM powers being kind to their fellow human western christians. Sometimes i do think wether the muslims shouldve showned mercy to the west or let shouldve let them rot in their ancientness.

Anonymous 12.41pm, by the way of your argument, all i can see is a reborn christian school drop out behind a computer screen wanting to sound big. Stop wasting your time and get an education.

Irf said...

Each of you anonymous people are missing the point of the entire article. If you want to carry on some useless civilisational mass-debate, please do so elsewhere.

Anonymous said...

Why don't you take your fat black smelly carcass and your vile religion and leave our nation now.

Anonymous said...

2:56 says..."The West was the most primitive and disgraceful civilisation in the dark ages, it was the MUSLIMS who showered mercy upon the west and lent them some technological and scientific enlightment. So, ALL western medical and scientific advancement would've not been in existence had it not been for MUSLIM powers being kind to their fellow human western christians...."

An absolute lie. "Muslims showered mercy on the West". Time and time again the West held off muslim invasion. The last one being the Venetians versus the Turks at Lepanto. Muslim mercy was invading as far as Austria and crucifying and raping as they went.

The West has not 'been lent' a single "technological or scientific enlightenment" by the muslims for 600 years. The only thing muslims have done to enrich our lives is bring us rape 'leb-style'.

Amazing how we are surrounded by so many technological miracles and not one of them is thanks to muslims. The Muslim world has only one Nobel Prize winner in Science.

The Stern Gang did not moderate its ideal of a Zionist homeland even after democracy came to Israel. Menachim Begin was the closest to moderate. Why then would you expect a terrorist organisation dedicated to destroying Israel and getting off the 'road-map' to peace to ever become more moderate. HAMAS will stay the violent suicidal choice which hundreds of thousands of Palestinians will vote for because they want violence and suicide. HAMAS makes the PLO look reasonable. The worst case is that Fatah will go more hardline in an attempt to win hardline votes back from HAMAS. HAMAS is a disaster for the Palestinian people. By voting for HAMAS the Palestinians will prolong the same war they have been losing since 1948.

"It was the British who gave excessive land to the zionists without full permission of the sherifate of palestine"
This comment is an insult to all the British soldiers and policeman who died fulfilling their duty which was in line with British policy of arresting Zionists and curbing jewish settlement in Palestine. The King David Hotel bombing and the many other attrocities against the British were done by Jewish terrorist groups. You attack the British when their response to terrorism was as humane and as civilised as possible. Should the British of used the same tactics that Israelis use against Palestians? It is better that Britain left with comparitively clean hands. Would you of prefered the British to fight the jews the same way the French fought the Algerians? The arab world is supposedly so against anti-colonialism yet when the British decide they weren't going to stay as colonialists you attack them. This is the typical thought of people who have not learned to think merely to memorise the Koran and parrot the propaganda they hear from other stupid, pig-ignorant muslims.

Anonymous said...

Every Christmas Christian families should be allowed to buy a large ham and use it to bash lebs and pakis to death. Then the ham should be buried with the carcasses of the filthy lebs.

Anonymous said...

interesting...we shall see