What is currently transpiring in the Occupied Territories is
by far a worst-case scenario, ironically one made possible with the direct help
of many Palestinians themselves. The democratically elected Palestinian
government is now officially isolated, as many Palestinians cannot see beyond
their own narrow -- and frankly irrelevant -- ideological differences and
Others cannot resist their total reliance on foreign, mostly
European funds to run their mostly self-exalting NGOs, whose tangible
contribution to Palestinian life is still disputed.
The final outcome is that turning Palestine into another
Nicaragua is working. That was the intent from the moment Hamas was declared
victorious in the parliamentary elections last January. US corporate media
conveyed the overall feeling that an utter miscalculation in US foreign policy
took place. US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice charged back, leading a
campaign of defamation and coercion aimed at politically and financially
isolating the democratically elected Palestinian legislators, further
solidifying the US with the former corrupt political elite.
Similarly, Nicaragua of the 1960s and 70s seemed of little
concern as long as our formidable man, Somoza, ruled with an iron fist. His
elites robbed the country senseless until the Sandinistas vigorously emerged,
toppling him and eventually his US-armed National Guard. Predictably, the US
took on the new Sandinista government, which was described then by the
international development organization, Oxfam, as �exceptional..(in its)
commitment to improve the conditions of the people and encourage their active
participation in the development process.� On the other hand, it was obvious
that Somoza had fled with his country�s entire movable assets.
For obvious reasons that have more to do with US strategic
reasons than the welfare of the people of Nicaragua, the Sandinistas were
labeled a �cancer� that had to be extracted. To do so, Nicaragua was completely
cut off, denied any form of aid and was forced to squander its resources to
fight off Somoza�s former National Guard, renamed the Contras. The rest, of
course, is history. Bullied, isolated and terrified, the people of Nicaragua
couldn�t withstand the US-led multifaceted pressures, and were forced into
submission, ditching the Sandinista government in a rare democratic election,
orchestrated by the Sandinistas themselves. The human cost for such American
adventurism was of course unbearable to ordinary Nicaraguans, though it
constituted a mere continuation of US foreign policy in Central America and all
over the world.
The Palestinian case is, more or less, being handled the
same way: the multi-faceted internal and external pressures, the unreasonable
demands, the boycott and the collective punishment. All elements are indeed
falling into place to remanufacture that same nightmarish scenario which is
hoped to eventually lead to diplomatic deadlock, regional and international
isolation and further deterioration in the already unstable (read non-existing)
Palestinian economy. On the external front, the new Palestinian government was
met almost immediately with unfair demands of unilateral renunciation of
violence and the unconditional recognition of Israel. The fact that Israel was
not urged to reciprocate was an obvious indication of the objective of such
demands. The intent was of course discrediting the new Palestinian government,
knowing fully that it was unlikely to succumb to such pressure.
Similarly, a regional isolation campaign was underway, one
that resulted in denying the Palestinian government an invitation to the Sudan
Arab League Summit, a sign that Arabs are too adhering to the assigned task.
The real mockery is that various Palestinian factions too have opted to steer
away from what they sense might be a challenging and perhaps costly period in
their history. Rather than solidifying in the face of danger, Fatah
intentionally impeded Hamas� attempt to join the new government and the
socialists failed to see through their ideological constrictions.
Unfortunately, Hamas was forced to form a government and to
seek its legislative approval alone. The ground is now prepared for the US to
unabashedly cement its international boycott of the �terrorist,� democratically
elected Palestinian government, and for Israel, to finish off demarcating its
border as it pleases, turning the scattered leftovers of the Occupied Territories
into South African-style Bantustans.
In fact, the escalation of the US-Israeli war is already
underway as US State Department spokesman Sean McCormack told reporters on
March 27 that his government rejects Hamas� call for dialogue, once again outlining
Washington�s incongruous conditions as a stipulation to precede any talks.
Israel on the other hand, according to the Sunday Times, is preparing a massive
military campaign in the West Bank that would continue �until the last of the
terrorists are dead or under arrest.� Considering that Hamas has unilaterally
refrained from counter violence for over a year, Israel�s anticipated campaign,
which will reportedly see the reoccupation of most population centers, is an
act of collective punishment against the Palestinian people for electing a
parliament that refuses to unconditionally concede to Israel�s egotistical
definition of peace.
The bottom line is that the stage is set for Palestinians to
pay, for Israel�s illegal settlements policy to be officiated as part of the
country�s permanent borders and for the US to prolong its international
campaign of economic and political suffocation. Even if Palestinians stubbornly
resist the pressure, as they most certainly will, Israel will be allowed to
dictate its own �solution� to the conflict unhindered, for reprimanding Israel
is now equal to siding with a terrorist group.
For some Palestinian groups to completely succumb to the
role of abetting such a scenario is most troubling. It�s this thoughtlessness
that has indeed continued to expose the vulnerability of Palestinians before
Israeli and American schemes. While, in my opinion, a religious ideology is not
the most helpful formula for any Palestinian polity and that suicide bombings
were the single most tainting act employed by Palestinians in recent years, I
believe that all Palestinians must recognize that the impending fight is of
greater consequence than the dialectics of religion and politics. Israel is
clearly reaching the final stretch in its fight to deny Palestinians every
single legitimate demand for freedom, sovereignty and true peace and justice.
Failing to see that is tantamount to partaking in the Israeli plot to deny
Palestinians any say in the shaping of their future, which is sadly growing dimmer
by the day.
Arab American journalist Ramzy Baroud teaches mass communication at Australia�s
Curtin University of Technology, Malaysia Campus. His most recent book is
"Writings on the Second Palestinian Intifada: A Chronicle of a People�s
Struggle" (Pluto Press, London.) He is also the editor-in-chief of the
Palestine Chronicle online newspaper.