Respect Democracy? Engage Hamas

by Richard Falk | published March 11, 2006

The Bush administration is caught in a trap of its own making. Having championed democratic elections in the Middle East, Washington now confronts a politically unpalatable outcome—a Palestinian Authority led by Hamas, the radical Islamic group.

The choices for the US are stark, but clear. President Bush can either accept Israel’s logic of unilaterally imposing a solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict or he can show some leadership and insist that Israel finally end the occupation.

The Conflict After Israel's Elections

by Joel Beinin | published March 27, 2006

No matter how Israelis vote tomorrow, they will likely be voting for a future of insecurity and conflict. The three major political parties—the right-wing Likud, the “centrist” Kadima and the so-called left-wing Labor—have not offered them a genuine peace option.

Despite the talk of possible Israeli withdrawals from parts of the West Bank, a new consensus has emerged among these parties that East Jerusalem and Israeli settlement blocs in the West Bank should be annexed to Israel. This would violate international law, destroy the possibility of a viable Palestinian state and condemn the Middle East to ongoing strife.

Hurting Peace, Not Hamas

by Michelle Woodward | published April 14, 2006

As President George W. Bush said in his second inaugural address, and as Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice said last summer at the American University in Cairo: “America will not impose our style of government on the unwilling. Our goal instead is to help others find their own voice, to attain their own freedom and to make their own way.”

Contradicting their lofty rhetoric, the Bush administration, along with the European Union, is undermining democracy and U.S. credibility in the Middle East by sabotaging the result of the January 25 Palestinian elections. In completely rejecting the outcome they are also effectively giving up the biggest “carrot” in their arsenals for influencing Palestinian Authority policy.

Israel's Occupation Remains Poisonous

by Lori Allen | published July 26, 2007

There is an oft-told Palestinian allegory about a family who complained their house was small and cramped. In response, the father brought the farm animals inside -- the goat, the sheep and the chickens all crowded into the house.

Then, one by one, he moved the animals back outside. By the time the last chicken left, the family felt such relief they never complained of the lack of elbow room again.

No doubt, the recent release of Palestinian tax receipts by Israel, some of which will be used to pay Palestinian civil servants who received only partial wages for the last 16 months, felt like the last chicken leaving.

Out of the Rubble

by Mouin Rabbani | published January 23, 2009

Speaking to his people on January 18, hours after Hamas responded to Israel’s unilateral suspension of hostilities with a conditional ceasefire of its own, the deposed Palestinian Authority prime minister Ismail Haniyeh devoted several passages of his prepared text to the subject of Palestinian national reconciliation. For perhaps the first time since Hamas’s June 2007 seizure of power in the Gaza Strip, an Islamist leader broached the topic of healing the Palestinian divide without mentioning Mahmoud Abbas by name.

Interventions

Interventions is a feature in Middle East Report Online offering critical reviews of important Middle East-related books, films and other cultural production. Click here for past Interventions articles.

Rachel Corrie in Palestine…and in San Francisco

by Joel Beinin | published August 2009

The San Francisco Jewish Film Festival, the oldest such festival in the United States, was founded in rebellion against received wisdom. Since 1980, the festival has promoted independent Jewish films that contest the conventional Hollywood depiction of Jewish life, particularly its lachrymose over-concentration on Jewish victimhood, and regularly presented “alternatives to the often uncritical view of life and politics in Israel available in the established American Jewish community.” The festival’s audience, mostly Jewish, has reacted positively to this policy, even in 2005, when the organizers decided to show Palestinian filmmaker Hany Abu-Assad’s Paradise Now, the theme of which is suicide bombing.

In Annapolis, Conflict by Other Means

by Robert Blecher , Mouin Rabbani | published November 26, 2007

At an intersection in front of Nablus city hall, a pair of women threaded a knot of waiting pedestrians, glanced left, then dashed across the street. “What’s this?” an onlooker chastised them. “Can’t you see the red light?” Not long after, his patience exhausted, the self-appointed traffic cop himself stepped off the curb and made his way to the other side of the boulevard. Such is life in the West Bank on the eve of the meeting in Annapolis, Maryland, where the Bush administration intends to create the semblance of a “peace process” between Israel and the Palestinians for the first time since it assumed office.

Forty Years of Occupation

A Forum

by Lori Allen , Yoav Peled , Samera Esmeir , Robert Blecher , Mouin Rabbani | published June 6, 2007

An outpouring of retrospectives—good, bad and indifferent—has marked the fortieth anniversary of the June 1967 Arab-Israeli war. Predictably, and perhaps appropriately, most looks backward have also attempted to peer forward, and consequently most have focused on the impasse between Israel and the Palestinians. This question, though predating 1967 and not the only one left unresolved by the war, is nearly synonymous with “the Middle East” in the global media. Plentiful as the 1967 commentary has been, the relative silences have also spoken volumes. Middle East Report asked six critically minded scholars and analysts for their reflections on what has been missing from the conversation about Israel-Palestine occasioned by the passage of 40 years since that fateful June.

There Are Many Reasons Why

Suicide Bombers and Martyrs in Palestine

by Lori Allen
published in MER223

Izz al-Din al-Masri, 23, was considered to be an ordinary fellow, until he went to Jerusalem on August 9, 2001, and blew himself up inside a pizzeria, killing 15 Israelis and injuring scores of others. The montage photo produced for his martyr poster shows him in his early twenties, a bit somber, wearing wireless glasses and a neatly trimmed beard.

“He was a completely average young man,” his father insisted. “He worked at my restaurant, was religiously devoted, not too much time for friends.”

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Grave Breaches

A View from Jenin and Nablus

by Kathleen Cavanaugh , Jamil Dakwar
published in MER223

There are several things that strike you when first entering Jenin refugee camp: images of the Star of David spray-painted on the walls, the exposed fronts of houses which had been bulldozed, half-set tables, children’s toys scattered and then, as you approach Hawashin, a strong sweet odor. The Hawashin area of the camp, some 400 by 500 square meters in size, and comprised of about 140 homes and several hundred families, has been erased. An elderly man stands near the remains of a house at the area’s western edge; his daughter’s body lies underneath.

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