Wednesday, June 07, 2006

Democracy but no democrats!

One of the sayings of Azmi Bishara that stuck with me (I am not a Bishara fan usually) is that you cannot create a true democracy in the Arab World without democrats, i.e. a political class that believes in and practices democratic values, most importantly the concept that the power resides with the people.

That is especially true in Palestine today, with the simmering crisis over the referendum to be called by President Abbas, for the life of me I cannot understand how Hamas can explain their opposition to it. A party elected to government by the people should not fear consulting them about a major decision, especially when it can serve as a face-saving way to make a compromise that is anathema to the dogmatic bunch in Hamas leadership.

An absolute majority of the Palestinian people inside the West Bank and Gaza support a recognition of Israel within the Green line in return for a Palestinian in the whole of the West Bank and Gaza and a just solution to the refugee issue. A Palestinian in Tul Karem does not need much imagination to recognize that Israel exist, he can see it with his own eyes.
While the counter argument that the Palestinians outside Palestine are the majority and they should have a vote is valid as well, the politics of dispossession inside the camps and the realities of the 'host" states makes consulting the whole population impossible, besides, the people under the occupation are for better or worse, the last standing presence on historical Palestine, and hence, they are its custodian, almost by default.

Mahomud Darwish once commented on the difference between "Al-haq" what is right, and "Al-haqiqa" the reality, the reality is, through a great historical inequity, our land was taken from us unjustly, but in order for us to continue to exist as a nation, we must recognize the current realities, and realize that Israel cannot be "wiped off the map", once we do that, we have a frame of reference of a compromise with our "neighbors". This does not imply that we have accepted their historical right to what is our land, but we have accepted the fact that they are there right now, and we have to live next to them, rather than to die under their fire.

In this light, the Hamas dogmatic stance stands hollow, they refuse to acknowledge the majority acceptance of the realities, and are fiercely against a referendum that will formalize the public will and turn it into a de facto national policy. They cannot claim public mandate without listening to the people.

I am afraid that this argument will be settled with guns rather than by compromise, which is why the referendum is a good idea, and that is exactly what scares Hamas.

One thing that you can say about Palestine is that there are never dull moments.


At 10:36 AM, Blogger secretdubai said...

Hello - I added you to the blogroll at UAE community blog - if you would like a member invitation there, just email me at [my username here] at gmail.

At 10:22 PM, Blogger Desert Pundit said...


I am an avid reader by the way, nothing better than abstract black humor, which you excel at.


At 4:53 AM, Blogger Asad Ramallah said...

Dear Qais,
I saw your blog and liked it very much.
I opened a new blog
I live in Ramallah - Palestine, and I am interested in films, arts and sports.
Please visit my blog and add it to your links.
Asad al nimr.


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