Permit Sharon a Comatose Smile…

You don’t hear much about Ariel Sharon, these days, quietly passing his days on a life-support machine with no indication of when or how his coma will end. But were Sharon capable of comprehending and appreciating his legacy, right now he’d be laughing his head off. When everyone else was talking of peace with the Palestinian leadership, Sharon was doing his best to sabotage it, arguing instead that Israel needed to come to mutually beneficial arrangements with Palestinian warlords in discreet fiefdoms. And the source of his delight, today, would be the willingness of Mahmoud Abbas to accept the role of Marshal Petain in a Palestinian Vichy regime. Today, Abbas dines in Jericho with the leader of the occupation, while personally insisting on the maintenance of a blockade on Gaza to starve its people (his people) into rejecting Hamas.

While everyone outside of the paid spokespeople of the Bush Administration concurs that nothing will come of the Administration’s vaunted efforts to revive a peace process by “bolstering” Abbas against Hamas and holding idle conversations with the Palestinian president about hypothetical statehood, Abbas seems determined to go through the motions. In an excellent commentary in the Financial Times (which will be unavailable by the time you read this), Gideon Rachman makes clear the paucity of the “peace” that is on offer to Abbas:

Even some members of Fatah and the Palestinian Authority argue that Mr Abbas is likely to be offered a deal that he can only refuse. One prominent Fatah member predicts gloomily: “We will be offered a state within the borders of the Israeli security wall, which will mean losing huge parts even of the West Bank. The Israeli settlements will stay. Our borders will be controlled by Israel. We won’t be allowed an army. There will be no right of return and the Israelis will effectively take over Jerusalem. This will be presented as a temporary arrangement. But the temporary would become permanent.” Mr Abbas’s allies say that it would be political suicide for him and for Fatah to accept a deal like that. Hamas would take over the Palestinian cause by default.

When I put this scenario to a senior Israeli official in Jerusalem last week, he replied: “The Palestinians are being over-optimistic. They are not going to be offered even that.”

Rachman explains that the Israeli military, backed by a political consensus, has concluded that for security reasons, it cannot risk handing control of the West Ban back to the Palestinians, or even removing the hundreds of checkpoints that make daily life for Palestinians intolerable.

He writes:

The mood in Israel now seems to mix fear and complacency in a way that is probably fatal to the chances of a peace deal. The fear is a legacy of the Palestinian terror campaign that killed almost 1,000 Israelis. Memories of the suicide bombings – added to the rise of Hamas – have hugely undermined public willingness to take risks with security.

But the suicide bombings have stopped. And just at the moment, life is good. The nightlife of west Jerusalem – which was dead in 2002 – is now vibrant again. Last week, I went to the Jerusalem wine festival, where affluent Israelis sampled the latest Cabernets and Rieslings from the country’s boutique wineries. Palestinian towns such as Ramallah and Bethlehem were just a few miles away. But being behind the wall, they are out of sight and out of mind for the average Israeli. Gaza is sealed off even more effectively. As a result, for all the hand-wringing about Iran and Hamas, Israelis have rarely felt more secure. They feel little need to take risks for peace.

Which means that Mahmoud Abbas is lying to his people and to himself if he believes anything good will come of the ghastly charade in which he has joined Bush and Olmert. Abbas will either be forced to swallow his pride and rejoin a unity government with Hamas at the behest of Egypt and Saudi Arabia (one he realizes how little Washington will really offer him), or else he’ll simply be sidelined. But the last laugh may yet be on Sharon, and those who have bought into his fantasy of peace-through-strength and iron walls. Even in Gaza, bottle-rocketeers are able to construct devices that can sling explosives as far as Ashkelon. Israel still fantasizes about missile shields, but the likelihood of the collapsing Arab regimes around Israel being able to stop Palestinians acquiring weapons that can reach deeper and deeper into Israel is dim.

Israel’s social and political elite, entrepreneurs well integrated into the global economy whose lifestyles are more Californian and than Kibbutznik, will look at the reality unfolding in Israel and wonder why they bother to live there. The world is not a hostile place for Jews, these days, and if your economic and cultural life is so integrated with that of the West, then why bother to risk living at the heart of an increasingly messy and violent Middle East? An Israel that fails to reach peace with its neighbors will likely survive, but it will increasingly start to look like a collection of fiefdoms of religious and nationalist extremism presided over by cynical Russian mobsters. Frankly, I’d say the transition is well underway…

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48 Responses to Permit Sharon a Comatose Smile…

  1. Dick Fitzgerald says:

    Kolko has argued that there is already underway a serious net emigration from Israel of skilled workers. Others estimate that %30-40 of college graduates now leave Israel for Europe or the US, and never return..

  2. Tony says:

    Yes, the official figure for Israeli Jews living abroad two or three years ago was 750,000 — that’s 15% of Israel’s Jewish population.

  3. peter says:

    “An Israel that fails to reach peace with its neighbors will likely survive” – sorry Tony, but demographic and geographical reality is likely to overwhelm the Israeli’s unless they can arrange a peace with the Palestinians. Uri Avnery touch upon this in a recent article. The 350 million Arabs surrounding Israel will be 700 million in 15 years. Without peace sometime in the future, maybe it will take a while, maybe sooner, but being surrounded by hostility will bury Israel.

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  5. Tony says:

    Peter — I wouldn’t be too sure. Those sorts of numbers are misleading, like when Israel claimed in 1948 that it fought off 20 million Arabs. Which was nonsense, of course, because Israel’s armed forces back then were about equal in size to the actual armies they faced, and far better armed and organized. Today, Israel has the world’s fourth- or fifth strongest army, and it has nuclear weapons. I don’t doubt that it can survive, at least as an armed encampment, but it would probably start to feel a lot like Baghdad’s “Green Zone” — and who’d want to live there?

  6. Shlomo says:

    Sharon’s walls also made the front page of the NY Times today:

    http://www.nytimes.com/2007/08/11/world/middleeast/11road.html

    It’s almost like the autobahn to West Berlin…

  7. lolaone says:

    Not really, Shlomo. lolaone

  8. Matthew says:

    This is the problem with annointing a “collaborator” as your “partner for peace.” You pretty much get what you pay for. Israel will pay a very heavy price for its profound bad faith. Good. It couldn’t happen to nicer group of people.

  9. Spyguy says:

    Basically Israel is toast.

    It can not give back most the land and water it has stolen without starting a civil war. The US and Israel do not have the financial resources to pay compensation for the land that Israel may keep and for the pain and suffering of the Arabs for over 60 years. So Israel has no choice but to stall the inevitable holocaust-2 as long as possible hoping god (whoever she is) will grant a miracle. I see no indication that anyone in Israel realizes just how bad things are for Israel, therefore no political will to humble itself and get the best deal it can today.

    The scenario I expect is …

    – Over the next few years, Israel’s enemies reach weapons parity with Israel courtesy of globalization (design and manufacturing expertise) and the internet (tactics).

    – The effects of the huge US debt, the fallout from the Iraq war, the health care crisis and the retirement crisis compounded by Peak oil will cripple the US and eliminate its desire and ability to help Israel. Israel will be on its own.

    – At that point it will only be a matter of time before Israel is invaded and the Jews are shoved into the Mediterranean Sea while the world watches with a jaded eye. No country will step up to help Israel even if the Arabs don’t play the Oil Embargo Card.

    So basically the worst mistake of the 20th century (Israel) will be fixed. Unfortunately a lot of Jews will die in the process for the dubious claim of being promised the land by some mythical god.

    No matter how I run the scenarios, I do not see Israel existing much past 2035 in any form. The Arabs will get their revenge on the UK for lying to them and giving away land they couldn’t give away, on the US for supporting Israel and the Jews for invading the ME when they were told repeated since the early 1800s not to do it.

    There will be some that complain that I am wrong, but I have just barely documented all the scenarios I have run about Israel’s (lack of) future.

    Payback will be a bitch.

  10. Shlomo says:

    Laloane–care to elaborate?

    Meanwhile, Spyguy said: “No matter how I run the scenarios, I do not see Israel existing much past 2035 in any form.”

    I think I can help you with that. Here are a few ideas:

    1. Israel decides that it can talk to Hamas, Hamas decides that it can talk to Fatah, and a 50-year hudna is arranged as Israel withdraws nearly completely from the West Bank and Gaza.
    2. Israel makes peace with Abbas, then keeps strangling Gaza.
    3. Israel reoccupies the West Bank and Gaza, and strangles the Palestinians for the next few centuries.
    4. Special edition–in light of the Hamas crackdown that is ongoing as I type–the cohesion of the Palestinian people implode, and they are too busy fighting each other to even worry about Israel. IDF sits with its arms folded while Palestinians kill each other.

    Finally, there is zero chance of anyone in the Mideast reaching “weapons parity” with Israel “over the next few years.” Israel is one of the most technologically advanced nations on this Earth, a trait that has been enhanced and not inhibited by globalization. While the Arab world might catch up eventually, there is no chance even of China equalling the U.S. “within the next few years”. Although working on innovative technology instead of innovative methods of death would help out a certain Gazan government a bit…

  11. Shlomo says:

    Oh, and Tony, if you delete my above post also I might understand, but please tell me why.

  12. saus says:

    Israel’s armies were matched in organization & size to the Arab armies in the war of independence!? This being the state that was 24 hrs old? You should check those numbers they are laughable. Iraq, Jordan, Syria, Palestinians the list goes on.. I take it you mean because every man woman & child was at risk for slaughter in Israel (civilians) that the number are matched so I guess Israel had a 500,000 man woman & child army.

    Israel will soon be like a green zone & who would want to live there? You can’t walk 10 feet in Israel without seeing 4-5 massive construction cranes building on every corner, you can’t find an apt in Tel Aviv for rent, they go within 15 seconds. These delusions are amusing, your prognosis for Israel reflects daydreams much more than reality – You readers commenting that 40% of graduates leave Israel permanently, are you guys on crack?

    Israel’s skilled workers are dynamic & amongst the most in demand on the planet in a free economy that is supremely interlinked with the US & other similar path blazers in technology, science etc. If Skilled workers move around it is because there are MASSIVE opportunities for them, not because of the Palestinians!? Skilled workers move around to bread & butter economies across the planet. Half the technology you use daily was invented in Israel, that’s why its skilled workers are begged for in NA & elsewhere.

    “Israelis have rarely felt more secure. They feel little need to take risks for peace.” doesn’t this contradict everything posted down here? These comments are absurd, keep dreaming guys.

  13. Tony says:

    Shlomo, it wasn’t me, I found it in “comments awaiting moderation”, somehow you triggered the spam-blocker!

  14. Spyguy says:

    The myth of the great Jewish brain.

    Shlomo seems to buy into the myth when he says … “there is zero chance of anyone in the Mideast reaching “weapons parity” with Israel “over the next few years.” Israel is one of the most technologically advanced nations on this Earth, a trait that has been enhanced and not inhibited by globalization. While the Arab world might catch up eventually, there is no chance even of China equaling the U.S. “within the next few years”.

    The fun thing about globalization and the Internet is technology no longer stays in one place for more than a few days. As soon as it appears in one place it is copied and improved on throughout the world. The Chinese are the masters at reverse engineering stuff then making it better. This is why I laugh every time someone talks about the great relationship between Israel and China. China will bleed the Israeli brains dry and turn around and sell everything they have learned within weeks.

    As a technologist, I will GUARANTEE that Israel’s enemies will have weapons parity within a few year, especially since they already have weapons parity in some areas. This is the basic reality Israel has to face, it will probably lose the next war, badly. No matter how much money Israel spends, no matter how many Israeli brains are devoted to war making, they can NOT stay ahead of their enemies.

    Israelis may think they have more “great brains” per capita, but given the miniscule size of the Jewish population world-wide, all those “great brains” are a mere drop in the bucket compared to the shear number of brains in China, Russia and elsewhere.

    As for Abbas bowing to Israeli pressure, if he does he is dead, period. And the people that replace him (probably Hamas) will be even less inclined to treat Israel as anything other than a place to kill lots of people. Israel can not seem to learn the painful lesson that ALL oppressors eventually learn, oppressed people eventually turn the tables and exact a deadly revenge.

    Today the Gazans can’t kill very many Israelis, but there is a good chance they will be able to kill as many as they want within a few years, and when they have the opportunity, they will treat the Israelis the same way they have been treated, with contempt and death.

    Israel’s days are numbered. Hopefully most of the “great brains” will figure this out and leave to enrich other countries, leaving the stupid to be culled.

  15. Spyguy says:

    The Israeli technology “untruth.”

    Since I have been very involved with bringing a lot of technology to market, I can guarantee that Israelis did NOT invent very much of the technology being used around the world today, contrary to the myth that saus attempts to keep alive.

    Sure there are some pretty smart Israelis, but Israel has no lock on brain power, which is actually spread fairly evenly around the globe. In fact, based on the people I have worked with around the world, I think the Chinese have far more brain power, both to invent new things and to produce them.

    As for Israelis feeling “secure” it is a false security coming more from the myth that they are better than everyone else than from real security. When the governments in Saudi Arabia, Egypt and Jordan are replaced by governments that are more in line with the wishes of the populations, it will be easy for the Arabs to over run Israel. Sure Israel may start throwing nukes, but it will be a last suicidal gasp as Israel will disappear in a cloud of radioactive dust.

    Geo-political power is shifting away from the US and Israel to other countries like China that are more interested in oil than if Israel continues to exist. The reality is soon the US will abandon Israel and Israel does not have the resources (money, people, etc.) to prevent its enemies from eventually destroying it.

  16. saus says:

    OK, since you bring technology to market you’ll understand perfectly what I’m talking about, excellent! I hate to do these nit pick posts but you accused me basically in not so many words of lying, or spreading myths so I’ll fact you up a bit.

    Try the Centrino (almost 3/4 of portables), Core, Core2, etc basically every Intel PC brain sold today was invented in Israel. Voice Mail? Instant Messaging? Both invented here. That’s just in 15 seconds looking at my desktop. Send an SMS or text message.. Also from Israel.

    Proportionally, Israel has more university graduates, publishes more academic papers and patents more products than any nation in the world.

    In proportion to its population, Israel has the largest
    number of startup companies in the world. In absolute terms, Israel has more startup companies than any other country in the world, except the US (3,500+ hi-tech companies).

    Outside the United States and Canada, Israel has the largest number of NASDAQ listed companies

  17. Matthew says:

    Spyguy and Saus: I guess I would be more impressed by Israeli ingenuity if it didn’t require American help smashing up the Arab world. It is hard to swim with an anvil tied around your neck. And America and Israel have been giving Arabs anvils for generations.

    What we have seen certainly during the Bush adminstration is an attempt to strangle Arab investments and economic growth. Only when Arabs sell cede control of their resources (Saudi, Qatar, Iraq) or are completely dependent on America for protection (Qatar & UAE), do we allow them to develop.

    The most interesting thing happening in the ME is the changes that increased Chinese influence are having in the region. And American policy makers are “concerned” (read: scared “sh%tless”). China will permit the Arabs access to technology, manufacturing, and markets. They will increasingly draw the Arabs into their orbit and this will inevitably lead to economic development and technological advancements. As Spyguy wisely notes, the Chinese sell their techonology; and as Jordan’s Crown Prince Hassan wryly remarked, Arabs do know how to use computers.

    America’s knee-jerk Zionism has disabled Arab development for decades. One only has to look at what Israel–with full American support–did to ALL of Lebanon last summer to realize that the Arabs are figuring out their political and economic and technological future lies to the East. Who seriously mentions American involvement in the ME and “morality” or “justice” or “progress” in the same sentences?

    Finally, the Smark Jew phenomona is also a product of propaganda. There are many smart Jews and many stupid ones. The current PM, for example. Saus’s stats are like using Nobel Prizes to rate genius. It works until you find out how people LOBBY for those prizes…..hardly objective.

  18. Gracie_fr says:

    As noted by Lola, Erlanger’s 11/08/07 the NYT entitled, “A Segregated Road in an Already Divided Land” was an honest attempt to give an alternative view to a terrible situation. However, one comes away with the feeling that Elanger, is in the end commending Israel for building a road that would enable Palestinian cars to pass unimpeded through Israel-controlled territory while protecting Jewish security. The importance if mentioning “E1”, a block of Palestinian land east of Jerusalem that Martin Indyk says, is a critical in order to maintain the territorial integrity and contiguity of the West Bank with East Jerusalem makes little sense to all who have never seen an honest map or the facts on the ground. May I recommend Henry Siegman’s article in the London Review of Books (http://www.lrb.co.uk/v29/n16/sieg01_.html). In it Siegman says as plain as day, ‘the Middle East peace process may well be the most spectacular deception in modern diplomatic history. Since the failed Camp David summit of 2000, and actually well before it, Israel’s interest in a peace process – other than for the purpose of obtaining Palestinian and international acceptance of the status quo – has been a fiction that has served primarily to provide cover for its systematic confiscation of Palestinian land and an occupation whose goal, according to the former IDF chief of staff Moshe Ya’alon, is ‘to sear deep into the consciousness of Palestinians that they are a defeated people . May I also recommend Eyal Weizman’s fascinating “Hollow Land: Israel’s Architecture of Occupation” (also reviewed in the LRB but sadly unavailable on the web). In it Weizman shows how Israel has utilized # dimensional space as an instrument of war in ways that would put von Clausewitz and Sun Tzu to shame.

  19. Tony says:

    The point I was making, actually, is that the social and political trends at work in Israel now actually preclude a serious peace process, and those are unlikely to change. It doesn’t really matter how many technologies the Tel Aviv dot-com industry is exporting, they’re not running the country. Last week’s Hebron excercise was illustrative — not only of the fact that it took 3,000 soldiers and police to evict two squatter families, but the mutiny this caused in an elite Israeli combat unit where eight soldiers refused to obey orders despite being thrown in the brig (and initially the number was much higher). The messianic nationalists of the settlements are now a growing segment of hte military ranks and officer corps — about one third of the cadets at officer training school now are religious Zionists. They’re taking over from the Kibbutzniks as the selfless, disciplined core of the military, because they’re still driven by an ideology. The Tel Aviv globalizers aversion to military service is well known — evasion rates are up, and a number of people go abroad before they’re due to enlist. So the military is increasingly reliant on religious Zionists and Russian and Ethiopian immigrants. And I think that’s the way the political center is shifting, too. Everyone knows Olmert is way too weak to try and evict West Bank settlers, and frankly, I don’t foresee a successor being any more capable of doing so than he is. In other words, I don’t think Israel is politically capable of moving beyond the current status quo, except to modify it slightly. So, unless it was frogmarched by the U.S. into a peace deal unacceptable to large number of Israelis (unlikely, frankly), it’s going to remain mired in the present. For the Israelis, as our correspondent above noted, this doesn’t feel “mired.” But it’s obvious that the collapse of Palestinian society and Arab regimes around Israel that is currently underway will simply raise the threat level. Israel won’t be eliminated (don’t believe the hype about Iran, the idea that Iran would risk obliteration to get rid of Israel flies in the face of everything the Islamic Republic has done since its creation — it’s a very pragmatic power, despite the rhetoric — just as the Israeli leaders who’ve been dealing with it for years… Why do you think the Reagan adminsitration went through Israel when it wanted to supply arms to Iran?)

    But it will increasingly become a place that the Tel Aviv creators of instant messaging software and the like wouldn’t really want to live and raise their children — who will, after all, have to go to the army…

  20. Doug Kellam says:

    Further to what Tony wrote – the frightening thing is that those who will be doing a lot of the soldiering for the israelis are the most fanatical and racist element of israeli society. As for technology, I say shmechnology! – defeating the israeli army (like hezbollah in lebanon) or any modern army (see the US in Iraq) is more about low tech devices such as I.E.D.’s, guerilla tactics, improvisation and the willingness to increasingly up the ante in a war of attrition. What is amazing is that people, no matter how much you shock and awe them or try to impress upon them that they are defeated, continue to fight back in the face of overwhelming odds. This will is what the hawks in Israel and the U.S. don’t understand and consistently get wrong in their war plans. Furthermore, on a subconscious level they fear that if the tables were turned that the opressed people would exact a terrible revenge by using the same techniques. But maybe they’re wrong about that too – maybe it is possible for the Palestinians to forgive the Israelis for what they have done to them. I’ll admit that it would be a long and arduous process with many setbacks but that prospect offers something more hopeful than the genocidal destruction of either people in Israel/Palestine.

  21. Matthew says:

    Doug: Black South Africans never exacted the kind of revenge that Apartheid dead-enders claimed would follow the end of white rule. My sense is that the Zionist “fear factory” needs to convince Americans and Jewish citizens of Israel that “The Light Unto the Nations” lwill face a new Holocaust if it provides the Palestinians with self-determination. (I think the psychologists call this “projection.”)

    But, then, look at the world we live in. Americans decry the meaningless British academic boycott of Israel, yet overwhelming support the economic boycott of the ENTIRE population of Gaza. Who knew that college professors were so important. Man truly does not live on bread alone…which is fortunate, particularly, if you are child in Gaza.

  22. Earl Divoky says:

    Israel is trying to entice Israeli citizens living abroad to return to attend university, both for the money and the nationalist indoctrination. But in order to draw them they have to address the conscription issue, which is definitely a disincentive. So they’ve pulled a King Solomon–Israelis born abroad and those who emigrated before the age of 10 will be draft-exempt, while the others won’t. In other words, all Jewish citizens of Israel are equal, but some are more equal than others.

    Before the Six Day War they had the same emigration problem with the slogan, “Last one to leave, turn out the lights.”

  23. Doug Kellam says:

    Thanks Matthew. “Projection” is exactly the word that I was looking for.

  24. Shlomo says:

    Hmm lots of interesting comments here…

    Spyguy and Matthew both claimed, in essence, that Israel has a technological advantage only because of imperialism. They think that once nations across the Arab World have governments “more in line with the wishes of the populations”, and once China’s rising power lifts the “anvils” from Arab necks, technological catch-up will quickly occur.

    Imperialism has certainly been a hindrance on the Arabs, and all the “third world”. It has taken away resources and talent, and prevented native populations from charting their own paths. Even though the Western powers have ostensibly left the Arab World, I view the current dictatorships as an extension or “leftover” of imperialism that, as Spyguy said, are reviled by their populations for denying them freedom. So we agree on this.

    But I am not sure that the dictators’ replacements will be any better. For example, Fatah has been accused of “collaborations” and democracy subversion by Hamas, which viewed the Gaza takeover in part as an eradication of imperialism. So now that Gaza is run by the democratically elected Hamas, a government more in line with the “will of the people”, why is it that Hamas is in the process of establishing an Islamo-totalitarian state? Somehow, recent events do not suggest to me that Hamas is on the fast track to economic growth. I also do not think Iraq will be on the fast track once the U.S. leaves, even though they will have both the U.S. and Saddam out of their hair.. In Southern Lebanon as well, the radical Islamists of Hezbollah are extremely popular. While they have used some of their power for development, their main claim to fame now is having provoked Israel into trashing the country. Also, S. Lebanon has still not been rebuilt, and not for lack of funds; Arab-on-Arab rivalry between the various Lebanese sects has made rebuilding impossible.

    Don’t get me wrong, Israel and the West shoulder much of the blame for the problems in these conflict areas. But so do the Arabs themselves, and in many cases specifically the radical Islamists. The rising Jihadist trend is very worrying to me because it can Islamic civilization from the inside out. If this trend is not reversed, Arabs will never catch up.

  25. Matthew says:

    Shlomo: words like “Islamo-totalitarian” and “Islamo-fascism” only betray the ignorance of their user. Whatever Hamas is, “totalitarian” or “fascist” it is not. Fascism is based on corporatism, hyper-nationalism, and pervasive propaganda. Look at fascist Italy and Germany for examples. The irony is that the word “fascist” is more applicable to Hamas’s oppoents than to the organization.

  26. Shlomo says:

    Matthew,

    Reading helps. I never once said the word “fascism”, and I am aware of the distinction you point out. But Hamas is still engaging in totalitarian practices, such as monopolizing the news media and cracking down on political opposition.

    Now, please answer the main thrust of my post instead of manufacturing another straw-man argument.

  27. Matthew says:

    Shlomo: How can I not “staw man” your argument? You obviously are confusing Egypt and Syria for Hamas because the Islamist movement is not “totalitarian” at all. It is religious and probably will be repressive. I find most religious parties to be so, and absolutely, positively favor secular parties. However, just annointing someone “totalitarian” is an act of labeling, not explaining. I you would like to explain how Hamas is similar to Soviet Communism or Nazism, I’m happy to listen (read).

    The irony is that Israel just arrested dozens of young men in Gaza (over the age of 16) for “interrogation.” Now arresting a town is the act of a totalitarian society…..

  28. Shlomo says:

    Matthew,

    The “Islamo-totalitarian” comment responding to spyguy’s statement that repressive, secular dictators like Egypt’s and Syria’s will inevitably be replaced with those “more in line with the wishes of the populations”. To the extent the new religious governments are repressive, they are not in line with their populations. That’s all I was saying with the “Islamo-totalitarian” comment, and I have no interest arguing over these semantics. We both agree that Hamas is repressive. Fine.

    If Hamas’ top priority is “instilling Islam” in the population, even if this means attacking peaceful protesters, this suggests to me that economic growth is not their top priority. It suggests to me that when Hamas has a choice between “promoting Islam” and helping the economy, Islam will always win. So the people will always lose. The best-case scenario for the future in Gaza is probably Iran Junior: political repression in the name of Islam, and a warped economy dependant on oil. Oh wait, Gaza has no oil. So it will just be very poor.

    In conclusion, even if Israel completely leaves the Palestinians alone, there’s no guarantee that any technological “catch-up” will occur. As this past summer has shown perhaps more than any other, Palestinians are as capable as Israelis of wrecking the future. The same is true in Lebanon and Iraq. If you disagree, I would like to hear how yesterday’s quadruple car bombings will bolster economic growth in NW Iraq…

  29. Shlomo says:

    For the record, I also agree with you about the Israeli arrests in Gaza, so we can put that sideshow to rest also.

  30. Matthew says:

    Thanks, Shlomo. At the risk of boring the other posters, I have some quick thoughts: (1) I thought Abbas signed a deal with BP to produce natural gas that lies offshore the coast of Gaza. I also think BP estimated this would produce about $1 billion a year in revenues. (2) I’d like to see if Hamas could build a state. Frankly, they will do a better job than Fatah, which had decades and are utterly corrupt. As stated above, I have no love or illusions for religious parties or religious-based governments. However, since Hamas won a fair election, they have been subject to strangulation–not for leading a subsequent wholesale assault on Israel–but for winning an election. If you want to see democracy thrive in the Muslim world–and I suspect you do–Hamas should be given a chance to govern. Obviously, if they start terror bombing Israel, Israel will crush them. And they wouldn’t be the government for long. Instead, we strengthen Islamists by placing an embargo, an unfair collective punishment. It also makes the USA look afraid of democracy. As the French would say, it’s not just wrong; it’s stupid.

  31. Shlomo says:

    Agreed; Israel should accept the hudna.

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