Saturday, January 28, 2006

A question

One of the problems of having a blog is the temptation to write about things you don't know that much about. For me Israel and Palestine is certainly one of those issues. While my belief in self-determination gives me a starting point for my analysis, I've never felt like I had a very firm grip on the facts, which makes my analysis not that important (for instance I didn't figure out till really recently that the West Bank was in the East, and the west referred to the bank of the river - feel entitled to ignore everything else I say, because that is pretty monumentally stupid).

So instead of a big comment on the results of the Palestinian elections, I'm just going to ask a question: I've heard lots of Is there a logical argument for the claim that a party with a armed wing, which operates outside the country, can't participate in government/parliament?

If you think representative democracy is the greatest thing since sliced bread, then I can understand the logic behind the argument that a party that is participating in armed struggle within the country should not be part of parliament. You should choose between the two different ways of trying to get power.

But there are lots of parliaments/governments that are all about armed struggle in other countries. Hamas is directing its armed goal at Israel not at Palestine. If, by voting for Hamas, the people of Palestine are endorsing that armed struggle. How is that different that the re-election of George Bush endorsing the Iraq invasion?

8 comments:

  1. Anonymous4:24 pm

    Or indeed, how is it different from the Israeli government. Deaths by viokence from each side vary between 3:1 and 4:1 in favour (sic) of the Palestinians.

    From September 2000 to January 2006, total palestinians killed 3,392 total Israelis killed 992. (http://www.btselem.org/English/Statistics/Casualties.asp) Presumably now that Hamas is the elected government the Palestinian terrorism is no different from the Israeli terrorism. Lets hope we get to see an end to the hopeless murders from both sides.

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  2. tenor horn8:40 pm

    "If you think representative democracy is the greatest thing since sliced bread, then I can understand the logic behind the argument that a party that is participating in armed struggle within the country should not be part of parliament. You should choose between the two different ways of trying to get power."

    There are two unrealistic assumptions here.

    One is the parliament equates with "representative democracy"
    There is not enough space to enter a detailed critique of bourgeoise democracy. Suffice to say that "our" parliament is representative of yuppies rather than 15 year old Domino workers even though it would claim, against all the evidence, to stand up for both.

    The other assumption is that oppressed people should choose a form of struggle for political power.
    Why the fuck should they choose?
    Struggle from below is not some sort of expedition down the Pack& Save catfood selection.
    Palestinian people - or Dominos workers or whoever else have the right and duty to hit back against injustice with every stick that's handy.
    Thats what the sufferagettes did. They would not have won the vote otherwise.

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  3. Oh I think the idea that people should choose how to fight is ridiculous (although I think they're generally better off not to choose parliament), for pretty much the reasons you state. But if a someone's starting point was that parliamentary democracy is fantastic, then I can see why they would believe that you would have to choose between using parliamentary or military means to get your ends within the country, and I think that argument could be internally consistent (although I disagree with it).

    But the wittering about Hamas is just ridiculous. "Hamas can't be in government because they have a military wing." - as if military wings and governments didn't normally have anything to do with each other.

    Not that I expect internally consistent from those guys, but still.

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  4. One thing to have an armed struggle, another one to be an organisation bent on the destruction of another state and expulsion of all of its citizens.

    There is NO moral equivalency between that and invading another state to change its government, which itself invaded two neighbouring countries, used chemical weapons against its own population and was highly oppressive.

    Yes Palestine is complicated, yes there should be a Palestinian state on the West Bank, Gaza and sharing Jerusalem - but the ends do not justify the means.

    I find it remarkable that liberal Western socialists can possibly defend dark ages Islamic fundamentalists who would happily bomb a bus you travel in, because all infidels are legitimate targets. Of course Palestinians get killed more often, Hamas quite happily attack targets with Palestinian civilians and Israeli Arab citizens "in the way".

    Israel razes its own settlements in Gaza and leaves it to the Palestinians, and they vote to destroy Israel - what do they expect Israelis to do, vote to give them the freedom to carry out that task?

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  5. tenor horn7:31 am

    "I find it remarkable that liberal Western socialists can possibly defend dark ages Islamic fundamentalists who would happily bomb a bus you travel in, because all infidels are legitimate targets"

    It would be remarkable if that's where liberal western socialists were actually at, but it isn't.

    Israel is the only state on earth that refuses to define its borders, and Israel takes that stand for a particualr reason. Since 1948 Israel has agressively expanded into other peoples territory and insists on maintaining that "right"
    One byproduct of this behaviour has been the on going forcible displacement of of Palestinians into foul refugee camps. Generations of Palestinians have been condemned to endure that indignity and inhumanity. Israel is the expert in "expulsion of citizens"; they will reap as they sowed.

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  6. Tenor, the creation of Israel was one of the first acts of the UN - and was endorsed by it. Other UN members declared war on it when it was created, and boundaries were set which are internationally recognised. In 1967 Israel hardly "aggressively expanded" when there were troops and tanks lining up to invade - it was an act of self defence against three countries dedicated to its destruction. What else do you expect it to do? Sit back and say "ok take us over, destroy the only democracy in the Middle East".

    Yes - the Palestinian refugees are an issue from 1948 and 1967, but this was a UN creation - ideally there should be a secular state of Palestine, but the Palestinians wont do this anymore than Israel will. Until the end of the Cold War, Israel faced enemies that were hellbent on its destruction - it made peace with those who pulled back from that. With Egypt, it withdrew from the Sinai entirely once it recognised Israel's right to exist - the peace treaty with Jordan and the PLO's renunciation of its policy to destroy Israel set the stage for the establishment of the Palestinian Authority, and now the withdrawal from Gaza.

    Israel will negotiate to withdraw from most of the West Bank and the Golan Heights if, respectively, there is an end to Palestinian terrorism and Syria recognises it and signs a peace treaty.

    Hamas only knows violence, and Syria is a brutal one-party state.

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  7. tenor horn8:29 am

    Right, I forgot, good old UN. The same UN that systematically killed thousands of Iraqi children with its sanctions.
    If you took the UN as a yardstick of what's fair and just in this world you'd likely finish up seeing the forcible displacement, degrodation (and then, demonisation) of a people as "an issue"

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  8. Well I'm no friend of the UN - but the sanctions against Iraq had something to do with Iraq invading another country (Kuwait), being defeated and refusing to abide by the terms and conditions of its surrender.

    Iraq was the aggressor, and the Iraqi people suffered because its government, led and directed by Saddam Hussein, did not care one bit about the damage caused to Iraqi citizens as he played with them as pawns, executing or starving them as he wished. The sanctions would have been lifted had he abided by all of the conditions of his surrender - he refused, unsurprisingly, given he gassed villages and executed them at will.

    Israel exists, and Israelis have the right to live in peace - Palestinians have a similar right. They lose that right when they enter Israeli territory and bomb civilians.

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