Michael Lerner on the victory of Hamas

Amidst all of the alarmed reactions to the recent victory of Hamas in the Palestinian parliamentary election, Rabbi Michael Lerner's response struck me as particularly insightful.

Lerner suggests that the recent election "may ultimately make it more likey that a peace agreement entered into by a Hamas dominated government would actually amount to something lasting and substantial."

Lerner acknowledges (and condemns) the terrorist violence perpetrated by Hamas, but points out that "this does not distinguish them, for example, from Ariel Sharon's government or George Bush's government, which have both been responsible for the deaths of more innocent civilians than Hamas (though always excusing themselves because these deaths were 'only collateral damage')." He recognises that the Hamas victory could be very bad, while also recognising the possibility that some good might come of it.

The blame for the election of Hamas falls largely on the shoulders of Ariel Sharon. By marginalising the Fatah party, refusing to negotiate with the Palestinian president, Mahmoud Abbas, and undermining the authority of the Fatah party by unilaterally withdrawing from Gaza ("as opposed to withdrawing in coordination with the Fatah's Palestinian Authority government"), Sharon gave the Palestinians no incentive to vote for Fatah, and the peace-oriented president Abbas. As Lerner points out, if Fatah is too radical for Israel to negotatiate with, what incentive did they have to elect Fatah over Hamas? Fatah hasn't delivered results (thanks largely to Sharon), so why not try something else?

If Hamas continues its violence towards Israel, pressure from the international community for Israel to end its illegal occupation of Palestine will surely be lessened. It might seem cynical to suggest that Sharon was intending to put Israelis at greater risk to avoid making territorial concessions, but how else do explain much of his behaviour as prime minister?

I don't want to misrepresent Lerner's position: he is not suggesting that a Hamas victory was a positive development. At the same time, it is not necessarily the case that this was the worst possible outcome. You won't read that in the mainstream press.

Labels: ,


Post a Comment

<< Home

Creative Commons Licence
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Licence.