Wednesday, June 08, 2005

This is a worrying but hardly surprising development. As I have written before, religions think in centuries and millennia, not in decades, years, months or weeks, and those whose political views and actions are inspired by extremist religious views are patient, since they know that the democracies that they face cannot afford such patience. Most analysts say that the recent attacks by Hamas are meant to show that the Hamasniks are the ones who caused Israel to leave Gaza, or that the attacks are part of a tug-of-war between the different factions within Palestinian society. I think that one other possibility should be taken into account: the Hamas prefers the Israeli occupation to continue, because that occupation is the raison d'etre for the organization, its struggle against Israel provides it with a lot of prestige ( and money ) among Palestinians and others in the Arab world, and it is not sure whether it will find an attractive niche in a post-occupation Palestine. If this assumption is true, then the same goes for what I ( and others, of course ) wrote long before Ariel Sharon saw the 'light' that lead him to the disengagement plan: the settlers and most of the different Palestinian factions that oppose negotiations and any kind of peace deal with Israel have at least one thing in common, i.e. a strategic preference for a continued Israeli presence in the territories ( which explains why periodical escalations are in their interest ).
With the settlers and their active supporters as dedicated as they are, with a government that is not exactly convinced of the rightfulness of its actions ( and that is too divided and busy with political infighting to dedicate itself to one politically tricky goal ), the disengagement plan has turned into a war of attrition and footdragging. There is no organization on the Left that can match what the opponents of disengagement have to offer in terms of funds, man-, woman- and childpower, spare time and religious and/or political convictions, so the Israeli public at large remains lethargic, and it is always easier to convince a lethargic public of something positive ( remain in Gaza ) rather than of something negative ( get the hell out of there, disengage ). You do not have to be a prophet or an expert to understand that a hot, annoying and violent summer is awaiting us.

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