Solving the Hamas Question

Few events are as badly misunderstood as the 2006 election that brought a stunning victory for Hamas.

The factors that led to that electoral victory were:

  • The perception that Fatah had failed utterly to make any significant gains for the Palestinian people
  • The widespread corruption that was the norm for Fatah at that time
  • The in-fighting in Fatah which caused not only disillusionment, but also led to more than one Fatah candidate in numerous districts, splitting the vote
  • Only the smallest factor was a moderate rise in religious nationalism among Palestinians

Hamas enjoyed a certain temporary popularity, more as an alternative than anything else. Much of the current dilemma involving Hamas arises not from their electoral victory but from the coup that the US and Israel attempted to engineer, backing Fatah in Gaza, which was thwarted by Hamas’ pre-emptive strike and led to Hamas ejecting much of

Hamas PM Ismail Haniyeh and PA President Mahmoud Abbas

Fatah completely from Gaza and taking unilateral control.

I bring this up because a friend asked me how Hamas might be undermined today. The answer is both pragmatic and involves no devious tricks or the use of force.

The first step is easing the Gaza siege so that the people can rebuild destroyed homes and business, and resuscitate their economy. Already, even Israel has conceded this can be done without compromising security measures. And that it can be done while largely bypassing Hamas.

From there, Fatah and Hamas must be pushed toward forming a unity government that would have only one purpose—facilitating new elections for the Palestinian Authority. Polls have consistently shown that Fatah would emerge the winner, while Hamas would be a significant minority party. The most recent poll shows that the gap between the two is widening as Salam Fayyad’s popularity is increasing significantly. Continue reading

What Israelis Can Do

In my latest piece for Zeek Magazine, I look at the prospects in the medium term, several years, and what the US, Israel and the Palestinians can do to come back from the brink. Europe is often overlooked in this equation, and I try to bring it in.

A Most Unlikely Source of Hope

An article I really can’t believe I could write. But my latest at Zeek describes a report from one of the most hardcore right-wing people in the DC scene and how it reflects a real opportunity to turn things around in the impasse between Israel and the Palestinians.

A new and really important book

Dan Fleshler is a veteran of the mainstream Jewish community and the pro-Israel, pro-peace world as well. He has written a book that everyone concerned about US Middle East policy and how to change it should read. It’s called Transforming America’s Israel Lobby: The Limits of Its Power and the Potential For Change.

I review it here for Zeek Magazine.

This is one of the most important books out there. Not only because it is a much fuller and more sober exposition of the “Israel Lobby” than anything else out there, but also because it is not merely academic–it also suggests how a peace lobby might be built.

I hope you’ll read mu review, but even more, I hope you’ll buy this book. I rarely act as a salesman for anyone, but this time, it’s really worth it.