Monday, December 18, 2006

Johann Hari needs an editor

His latest article once again, blames Israel for not negotiating with Hamas, declaring that if they don't negotiate now, they will have to deal with an even more violent and religious palestinian leadership in the future. How anybody could be more depraved, barbaric and brutal than Hamas are escapes me, but I will do my best to edit Hari's latest piece of trash that he tries to pass off as journalism.

My comments are in italics :

I am sitting in a poky bedroom somewhere in Gaza City – I’m not allowed to know where – and opposite me is a huge beaming picture of Osama Bin Laden, with the smoke from a burning World Trade Centre forming a black halo around his head. He is surrounded by a gaggle of jihadi-angels: some Chechen fighters, Abu Musba al-Zarqawi, and our own tube-bomber, the Yorkshireman Mohammed Sidiqh Khan. “Would you like to see our weapons?” a masked jihadi says cheerfully, before thrusting a grenade into my hand.

I have come to see what Israel will confront in a generation if – as now looks certain after this weekend – they never, never deal with the democratically elected [genocidal terrorist] Hamas government [sworn to Israel's destruction] but instead resolve to break it.

Coining one of the dullest [*truest*] clichés about the Middle East, Abba Eban, one of Israel’s longest-serving foreign ministers, famously claimed “the Palestinians never miss an opportunity to miss an opportunity”. Precisely the opposite is the case. As the Fatah President Abu Mazen tried desperately this Saturday to dislodge Hamas by calling for early elections, we need to remember a stark truth. Every time the Israeli government rejects a Palestinian leader because he is too hard-line, they do not get a cuddly Gandhian moderate in his place. They get somebody more hard-line still.

Yassir Arafat endorsed [*rejected*] a two-state solution, but couldn’t accept a forever-and-always string of Bantustans [97% of his demands plus land exchanges to compensate] bisected by Israeli settler-only roads as his half of the deal – so they rocketed and shelled the old man’s compound [after 7 years of the Oslo accords and pointless negotiations broken by the Palestinian side] until he died [not in his compound, but in an expensive hospital in Paris from a blood disease]. Many Israelis now look back on Arafat with near-nostalgia. [ You've got to be kidding. Name ten ! I can't think of a single one] Today the Hamas Prime Minister, Ismail Haniyeh says he can never accept Israel’s existence. But he is offering a 40 year-long hudna (ceasfire) – provided Israel withdraws to the internationally recognised [you mean Arab league recognised ?] 1967 borders [you should mention that the Palestinian groups will not offer a ceasefire until Israel is destroyed entirely], as they should anyway under international law[provide evidence, define international law ?]. Haniyeh is offering [only to the English speaking media] to kick all the tough issues down the road until 2046, and build two peacefully co-existing states, with no mutual violence. His track-record of keeping his word on ceasefires is strong: in the current short hudna Hamas has held its fire even as Fatah fires a few Qassam missiles. [over 1000 missiles have been fired at Sderot since Israel withdrew from Gaza]

But the governments of America, Europe and Israel are snubbing this deal too. They say Haniyeh has to recognise Israel totally [is there any other kind of recognition ?], and today. Until he does[until Hamas renounces terrorism against civilians], his people will be “put on a diet”[the previously unconditional international aid has been suspended], in the words of one Israeli government advisor. I have seen what this means: hospitals shut and shuttered across the West Bank, with women left to give birth at home like pre-modern peasants. The yellowish hue of malnutrition on children’s faces. The empty and echoing schools. Tony Blair has been at the forefront of this programme to force Hamas to concede, and is in the Middle East to promote it further. For him, the onus is on the Palestinians living under military occupation to justify why they should be freed – rather than on the people who have been oppressing them [previously giving them jobs, employment, infrastructure and medicine, now simply securing the borders and defending themselves against terrorism] on their own land for 39 years to explain why it should continue.

The result of breaking the democratic will of the Palestinian people will not be greater softness on their part. No. It will create more men like Abu Ahmad (a nom de guerre), who last week I sat with in the shadow of Bin Laden in a corner of Gaza.

“I want to kill and kill and kill again. I want to be a killing machine until, inshallah [God willing], I become a martyr,” he said, staring at me intensely. He is 27 – my age – and murderous. He has just described how he slashed the throats of four female Israeli soldiers in an illegal settlement in 2002, and he chuckled as he described how they cried for their mothers. “All the Jews have to be killed,” he says. The children? The women? “I prefer to kill soldiers, but they must all be killed in time. Soldiers first.” The Holocaust did not happen, he says, “but it should have.” [Why doesn't your beloved moderate democratic Hamas government arrest these people ?]

These crazed young men – the ‘troops’ of Islamic Jihad – are the children of the first Intifadah. They saw their parents peacefully protest, and the Israeli troops be ordered to “break their bones” [provide evidence. Very few Palestinians injured during 1st intifada] as punishment. Abu Hamza, a sober, severe 26 year old, explains he first joined Islamic Jihad when he was ten – a year after he took his first Israeli bullet in the skull. He had been throwing stones and setting fire to old tires in the street when it happened, and he became a local celebrity as the first child victim of the violence. “I was so proud,” he says. He invites me to feel the scar on the back of his head. “Yes,” he says with a smile, “we have been growing in popularity over the past few years. Very much.” [would he ever say anything else?]

All over Gaza and the West Bank, the assault on Hamas is creating groups like this to their right [how are these groups any different, let alone more extreme than Hamas ?], deranged little pockets that will only swell if Hamas is totally humiliated. [what happens if Hamas ideology - terrorism, genocide, racism - is totally humiliated ?] At the moment they are small, speaking – as Hamas did a generation ago – for only a small fraction of Palestinians. But for how long? Last week I tried to trace the footsteps of a new streak of Islamist fanaticism that has jutted suddenly into Gaza over the past month. A group calling itself ‘Swords of Islam’ has started blowing up internet cafés – a symbol of extra-Koranic knowledge and cosmpolitan connection to the world [They also burnt churches down in response to the Pope's comments, shouldn't you be attacking the pope as well ?]. They have issued Talibanist threats warning that women who do not wear the hijab will be “burned”, and that the internet is a “Zionist plot” to keep people away from “their religious duties.”

In a bombed-out café named Montada Donajoun in the Jaballiya refugee camp [also functions as a terrorist base], I spoke to the terrified owner. Basa Abu-Jased, 29, said, “Of course women are frightened now. [Even as a man] I am really frightened! I used to sit on the street and talk to women. Now I won’t do it. You don’t know what’s going to happen.” Almost everybody on the street was too frightened to speculate about who these people are; one woman suggested they were “maniacs who had returned from fighting in Iraq”, but then hurried away.

It took a very long time to rouse the Palestinians to violence and produce these pathologies. Between 1967 and 1982 – as 200,000 Palestinians were expelled and more than a third of their remaining land was stolen by fanatical settlers – just 282 Israelis were killed by Palestinians. But Israeli policies have virtually guaranteed a tip towards great violence and forms of madness. Every time the Palestinians have peacefully protested [by my count, thats 0 times] or negotiated, they have been choked further.

There is still – still – a majority in Palestine for peaceful coexistence with Israel, with 67 percent supporting the Hamas proposal [In 2002, a poll showed 66% also supported suicide bombings] for a 40-year hudna [perhaps stop using the Arabic word hudna, as it has a religious context and only means a temporary ceasefire used to gain a strategic advantage over an enemy]. But if their democratic will is treated with contempt by humiliating Hamas, this historical window will close. Every year the occupation goes on, more deranged people like Abu Ahmad are smelted. “I love Osama Bin Laden,” he said to me as we parted, slapping me on the back. “I love killing.” [Well, Hamas would gladly accept him as a member too]