Tuesday, January 31, 2006

In the Dutch daily Reformatorisch Dagblad Hans Jansen, an Arabist at Leiden University, writes about the positive consequences of Hamas having won the Palestinian elections. What he tells us is surely interesting. According to Jansen, there are two possible outcomes of the election results. One could be that Hamas adapts its ideology to international demands and to reality, by accepting the existence of Israel. That would be wonderful, but it is not a very realistic scenario. If, on the other hand, Hamas continues its ideological and terrorist war, the flow of money from abroad will eventually run dry. Dr. Jansen says that in that case chaos will break loose, but in the end the Palestinians will be forced to adapt to reality. He makes a comparison with students: only students who have enough financial means can afford to demonstrate, those who have to work for their money are too busy working and studying. He claims - and his claims are not baseless - that the Palestinians have depended too much on international aid since 1948, which allowed many of them to spend their days blaming Israel, the Jews and the rest of the world for their misery, and which led thousands of them to choose a life dedicated to terror rather than to building better lives for themselves and their families. What makes Jansen's claims even more interesting is the comparison he makes between two divisions of land that took place in 1948 ( I would say 1947-8 ). One, which according to Jansen involved tens of thousands of Palestinians ( if I am not mistaken it involved many more; Benny Morris mentions the number of 700.000; still, for the comparison it does not matter ), happened in Palestine-Israel. The other took place in India-Pakistan, and involved millions of people, who became refugees and without UN help had to settle elsewhere. Like the hundreds of thousands of Jews who fled from their homelands to Israel, the Pakistani-Indian refugees of the late 1940s are no refugees anymore, they moved on. The Palestinians, who according to Jansen received more refugee aid than any other people, are still utterly helpless. Since this is a historical comparison ( such comparisons are always problematic ), and I do not know too many details about the division of and conflicts in the Indian subcontinent, I am not sure if Jansen is right and whether or not I agree with him on all accounts. Yet, what he says about the international aid on one hand and Palestinian dependency and terror on the other makes some sense. Who knows, the victory of Hamas could be a blessing in disguise.
PS: Chapati Mystery's Sepoy, who definitely is an expert on the history of "the indian and pakistani cosmologies", makes clear in a comment to this posting that Jansen's comparison with India-Pakistan is not suitable at all: the refugees had a country where they could settle. He also "disputes that these refugees ' moved on' since".

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