- In 1984 (a year of Orwellian significance), activist
and media and social critic Edward Herman wrote one of his many important
books titled "Demonstration Elections." In it, he analyzed the
US-staged elections in the 1960s in the Dominican Republic and Vietnam
and the 1982 one in El Salvador. In the book's Orwellian glossary of terms,
he defined the process as "A circus held in a client state to assure
the population of the home country that their intrusion is well received.
The results are guaranteed by an adequate supply of bullets provided in
advance (and freely used as necessary to achieve the desired outcome)."
- This writer calls this ugly business "democracy-engineering,
American-style" backed by force to win approval of a rigged process
people would never accept another way. Noam Chomsky refers to the notion
of "Keeping the Rabble in Line," the title of one of his many
books. It can be through soft or hard methods to assure the public goes
along with what governments want imposed.
- Herman's main theme was that "elections held under
conditions of military occupation and extensive pre-election 'pacification'
" aren't free at all but aim to get an occupying force's puppet choice
accepted by the people it's installed to rule with influence wielded more
by bullets than ballots to create "stability." Herman defines
that term, too, as "a political arrangement free of open warfare and
satisfactory to our interests." By that he means the "rabble"
is cowed, induced or pummelled into submission.
- Enter the dominant media stepping up to support the effort
as lead cheerleader for a process hard to sell without heavy lifting convincing
that what government is doing is for the common good. Never mind it isn't
and that destroying democracy and the will of the people to resist are
the real aims. Herman's theme works the same way today, and it's in play
now in occupied Palestine. The difference discussed below is that the
US and Israel tried running a "demonstration election" there
in January, 2006, but it failed. The people didn't cooperate and the "wrong"
- Imperial powers never accept defeat and attempted to
subvert and crush the democratically elected Hamas government ever since
because it's too democratic and refuses to be Israel's enforcer. So anti-Hamas
efforts started off by labeling it a "terrorist" organization.
That was followed by political and economic isolation, cutting off all
essential aid, open conflict, and on June 17 brazenly installing an illegitimate
"demonstration government" with Palestinian quisling President
Mahmoud Abbas illegally dismissing the elected government and appointing
an "emergency" one. All this is discussed in detail below.
- Imposed Illegitimate "Demonstration" Government
- The beleaguered Palestinians are one of the world's most
victimized peoples of justice delayed because it's been so long denied
them. Long under the Ottomans, they then had to endure imperial British
mandate rule after WW I until it ended in May, 1948. Ever since, they've
suffered intolerable hardships under brutal Israeli oppression and illegal
occupation with little outside support to end it.
- The Palestinian Liberation Organization (PLO) was founded
in 1964 as a result and Yasser Arafat became its leader in 1969 to try.
At first, it was militantly, then later through negotiation and international
consensus. Nothing worked because a hard line Israeli - US nexus with
Western and Arab state complicity prevented it. The predictable result
was festering anger in the Palestinian Territories. They've been occupied
since June, 1967 after Israel seized them in its long-planned six day war
of aggression. The illegal occupation continues and Palestinian anger
boiled over in two Intifadas, first in 1987, and ever since after Ariel
Sharon's provocative visit to the sacred Al Aqsa Mosque in September, 2000.
- By January 25, 2006, Palestinians had enough of Fatah's
institutionalized corruption and willingness to be Israel's enforcer under
the quisling governments of Yasser Arafat and his successor Mahmoud Abbas.
They elected a dominant majority of Hamas members to Palestinian Legislative
Council (PLC) seats because they promised change and its candidates were
untainted by corruption or willingness to serve as puppets of Israeli interests
at the expense of their own people. They meant what they promised and proved
it once in office, even offering to partner with Fatah at the outset in
a spirit of unity. Under orders not to, Fatah refused. It guaranteed
Israeli and Washington antagonism that erupted immediately once Hamas assumed
- Palestinians endured a life and death survival struggle
before the election and especially ever since, and they've been on their
own doing it. After Hamas' election victory, all desperately needed outside
aid was cut off, and they've been mercilessly persecuted under repressive
Israeli rule. They've also been attacked viciously and relentlessly by
the world's fourth most powerful military IDF forces and enlisted Fatah-led
paramilitary death squads with only light and crude weapons and their spirit
to endure and fight back.
- Hamas - From Its Charter and How It Governs
- Hamas in Arabic means courage and bravery. It's also
an abbreviation of the Arabic words meaning Islamic Resistance Movement.
It was formed in 1987 during the first Intifada and early on was supported
by Israel to counter Arafat's PLO the Jewish state opposed at the time.
Ever since, it's been an effective resistance movement against repression
and occupation providing essential social services like medical clinics;
education, including centers for women; free meals for children; financial
and technical help to those whose homes Israelis destroyed; aid to refugees
in the camps; and setting up youth and sports clubs.
- It also has the Izz Al-Din Al-Qassam Brigades, an elite
military wing, headed by Abu Abieda and other forces it needs for self-defense
and law enforcement. Included among them is the "special operational
force" known as the Executive Force (Tanfithya) used on the streets
for policing and security.
- Israel, Washington and the West call Hamas' political
and social activities and its legitimate right to self-defense "terrorism"
and tried to isolate and destroy its democratically elected government
from birth. So far, they haven't succeeded, or are likely to, because
Hamas' strongest assets are its will, readiness, and majority support from
- Hamas is a heterogenous democratic Islamic Resistance
Movement allied with all resistance fighters for the purpose of liberating
Palestine from Israeli oppression and occupation. Its method of choice
is through negotiation and international consensus, not war or terrorism
as falsely portrayed through the dominant media. But it states in its
charter it will fight for its rights if they can't be gotten peacefully
and rightfully blames Zionist Israel for its plight. They have plenty
of evidence to prove it.
- In its founding charter, it states it "draws its
guidelines from Islam; derives from it its thinking, interpretations and
views about existence, life and humanity; refers back to it for its conduct....adopts
Islam as its way of life....Its ultimate goal is Islam, the Prophet its
model, the Qur'an its Constitution....In the absence of Islam, conflict
arises, oppression reigns, corruption is rampant and struggles and wars
prevail....(The Movement) will do its utmost to....support....the weak,
(and defend) all the oppressed.
- (It) regards Nationalism (Wataniyya) as part....of the
religious faith." Peace initiatives and international conferences
are rejected if their intention is renunciation of Palestinian land. It
rejects Zionist intentions to destroy Palestinian society, its values and
"wipe out Islam." It describes itself as "a humane movement,
which cares for human rights and is committed to the tolerance inherent
in Islam as regards attitudes towards other religions. It is only hostile
to those who are hostile towards it....(Under Islam) it is possible for
the members of the three religions: Islam, Christianity and Judaism to
coexist in safety and security" as long as other religions "desist
from struggling against Islam over sovereignty in this region."
- It believes "World Zionism and Imperial forces have
been attempting....to push the Arab countries" to end conflict with
Zionism "to isolate the Palestinian people." It states its members
don't seek "fame....nor material gains, or social status....It will
never set out against any Muslims....or non-Muslims who make peace with
it." Overall, Hamas has moderate political and religious views in
contrast to militant hard line ones by ruling Israeli governments and the
current one in Washington and other past ones.
- It wants peace, equity and justice for all Palestinians
while Israel and the Bush administration pursue an agenda of conflict,
imperial domination and firm intention to deny Palestinians all rights
they're entitled to and the UN General Assembly adopted in December, 1948
in its Universal Declaration of Human Rights. This historic (non-binding)
document guarantees them to everyone regardless of "race, colour,
sex, language, religion, political or other opinion, national or social
origin, property, birth or other status (including) the right to life,
liberty and security of person."
- Hamas has always called for peace with Israel and is
willing to negotiate on the basis of "hudnah" or temporary truce.
It's founder, Sheikh Ahmed Yassin, said Hamas was willing to end its struggle
for the legitimate rights of Palestinian people "if the Zionists ended
its occupation of Palestinian territories and stopped killing Palestinian
women, children and innocent civilians." As the elected Palestinian
government, it declared a unilateral cease-fire with Israel, ended all
suicide bombings, wants to negotiate, and is willing to recognize the Jewish
state if Israel accepts and recognizes a Palestinian one. After being
elected, it governed in good faith and agreed to a national unity government
with Fatah to share power it democratically won to have alone. Israel,
the US and West rejected all good faith efforts opting instead for a divide
and conquer strategy.
- A New Stage of Occupation for Palestinians
- Israel, Washington and the West, pursued an aggressive
agenda for months through armed conflict causing many deaths. From the
start, Washington's point man has been Iran-Contra criminal and now deputy
national security adviser, Elliot Abrams. Documents have surfaced in Middle
East capitals with evidence of Abrams' role in an anti-Hamas "hard
coup" strategy of violence and armed insurrection. They call for
"maintain(ing) President Abbas and Fatah as the centre of (Palestinian)
gravity....avoid accommodating (Hamas), undermine Hamas' political status
(and) strengthen the Palestinian president's authority to be able to call
and conduct early elections by autumn 2007."
- The document also called for Mahmoud Abbas to reject
Saudi Arabia's Mecca agreement leaving Hamas in charge. It further indicated
$1.27 billion would be allocated to Abbas to add seven special battalions
of 4700 new security forces to his 15,000 in place for "safeguard(ing)
decisions such as dismissing the cabinet and forming an emergency government."
- This all played out violently on Gaza streets leading
up to Hamas' defeating opposition insurgent forces and seizing control
of the Territory to establish law and order. As planned in Washington
and Jerusalem, Palestinian Authority (PA) President Abbas then conspiratorially
declared a "state of emergency." He dismissed Hamas prime minister
Ismail Haniyeh and his national unity government replacing it with his
own illegitimate "emergency" one.
- It's illegally headed by newly appointed prime minister
Salam Fayyad whose electoral list posted a 2.4% showing in the January,
2006 PLC elections Hamas won overwhelmingly. Fayyad's a pro-Western former
IMF and World Bank official chosen by Washington and Jerusalem. His job
is to do their bidding the way he served capital interests during his tenure
at the international lending agencies. There he did it by forcing borrowers
into debt slavery and their people into extreme poverty and deprivation
for the sake of profit. That made him a western darling now promoted to
enforce imperial domination on his people who want freedom and won't likely
tolerate his portfolio to deny it to them.
- Abbas, Fayyad and others in the "emergency"
government are shamelessly partnered with Israel and Washington as their
coup d'etat-installed puppets working against the interests of their own
people. They control the West Bank alone with Hamas firmly in charge of
Gaza unless or until Israel intervenes which now seems likely. It suggests
a repeat of last summer's mass assault on the Territory and its sure to
follow dreadful consequences for its near-defenseless people.
- Plans to weaken and oust Hamas have been in place for
months with Washington supplying the Abbas leadership tens of millions
of dollars in aid and weapons. It's gone to paramilitary militia death
squad groups like Gaza-based Fatah warlord and another Israeli-Western
darling Mohammed Dahlan (Fatah's security chief now in the West Bank) and
his "Preventative Security Force." It's part of a conspiratorial
coup d'etat effort headed by traitorous Palestinians on the take for their
own gain. Abbas is their nominal leader. Dahlan has the muscle and real
power as it chief enforcer. All newly appointed members of Abbas' sham
"emergency government" share equal guilt. They're junior quislings
serving their puppet-masters in Jerusalem and Washington, but events are
just beginning, the struggle is far from over, and its outcome very much
- Money and weapons will continue flowing into the West
Bank, and from what Hamas already seized in a Gaza stash it found, it should
be plenty. Unncovered were huge amounts of mounted machine guns, assault
rifles, ammunition, armored personnel carriers, jeeps, armored cars and
trucks, military-sized bulldozers, water cannon-dispersing trucks, large
quantities of munitions including rocket-propelled grenades and launchers,
explosives and various other supplies and equipment.
- In total, it appears enough to equip a small army of
fighters and may be worth as much as $400 million. It's sure to be replaced
so Fatah traitors are heavily armed to continue fighting Israel's proxy
war and acting as its West Bank enforcer against their own people. They
almost certainly will resist with Hamas leading them courageously. It
means Fatah's hold on power is tenuous at best and Abbas' fate equally
shaky. His shameless act may in the end cost him all credibility, his
job, and eventually make him liable to be held to account for his open
betrayal of his own people.
- Hamas prime minister, Ismail Haniyeh, has no intention
stepping down and responded at length live on Al-Jazeera rejecting Abbas'
"hasty" moves saying 96% of Palestinians support a unity government
as the best chance for peace and security. He affirmed his democratically
elected government would continue functioning and maintain law and order.
He also called for an end to conflict and a general amnesty. He stressed
his fight is not with Fatah, but only with rogue traitorous elements in
it like the dominant one headed by warlord Dahlan firmly doing Israel and
- He explained Hamas' takeover was no coup and only a last
resort attempt to end lawlessness, conflict and a Dahlan-led conspiracy
against all Palestinians. He spoke of conciliation, unity, and conflict
resolution to heal divisions in contrast to Abbas' traitorous behavior
as Israel and Washington's pawn. He followed Israeli and Washington-dictated
orders responding by denouncing Hamas as terrorists, refusing to negotiate,
and saying he'll (illegally as explained below) order new elections that
will exclude Hamas.
- At this stage, Hamas' task is daunting as Haaretz reports
Israeli Labor Party Chairman, former prime minister, and new Olmert government
defense minister Ehud Barak, plans to launch a large-scale military operation
on Gaza in weeks. It will include 20,000 troops and an air assault aimed
at destroying Hamas' military capabilities quickly. Haaretz cited a close
Barak aide saying Israel won't allow a "Hamastan" in the Occupied
Palestinian Territories (OPT) and an attack on it is certain. Air attacks
are now ongoing daily, border crossings are closed, and Israel cancelled
Gaza's commercial customs code. That cuts off essential supplies like
food and medicines from entering the territory. Israel is now increasing
its collective punishment against 1.4 million Palestinians already enduring
unbearable hardships in what's considered the world's largest open-air
prison with a population density three times that of Manhattan.
- Israeli-Washington-Directed Fatah Declared Coup Illegal
Under Palestinian Law
- Virginia Tilley is a South African-based political science
professor. On June 18, her article appeared on The Electronic Intifada
titled "Whose Coup, Exactly?" It documented in detail that according
to the Basic Law of Palestine, serving as the PA's constitution, "Abbas
has violated a whole stream of Articles as well as the spirit of its checks
and balances" limiting the power of the presidency. He "badly
trashed numerous provisions" in it "with full US and Israeli
support." The Basic Law states:
- -- Under Article 45, the President can remove a Prime
Minister but can only appoint a new one from the majority party - Hamas.
- -- Under Article 83, if the Prime Minister is removed,
the serving (Hamas-led) Cabinet is to govern until the (Hamas-led) Palestinian
Legislative Council (PLC) appoints a new one.
- -- Only the PLC has authority to confirm a new Prime
Minister and Cabinet.
- -- Under Article 43, in emergencies, the President can
rule by decree subject to all decrees approved by the PLC.
- -- Under Article 113, in emergencies, the President cannot
suspend the PLC.
- -- The Basic Law gives the President no power to call
for early elections.
- -- No provision in the Basic Law authorizes an "emergency
- Conclusion: Abbas' actions constitute a lawless coup
d'etat usurpation of power, or as Tilley puts it: "The (Fatah) Fayyad
government is the step-child of an extra-legal process with no democratic
mandate. The whole manoeuvre is not precisely a palace coup," but
enough like one, in fact, to be one. She also notes "the diplomatic
landscape is now in utter disarray" with the extra-legal Fayyad government
only a "facsimile" of the real thing.
- So far, its illegitimate creation hardly seems to matter
to Israel, the US and European Union shamelessly flouting Palestinian and
international law. They're ending their political and economic PA West
Bank (only) embargo to bolster Fatah and Abbas while continuing to isolate
Hamas in Gaza. It's an outrageous effort rewarding lawlessness and continuing
to crush democratic movements when they become too democratic as Hamas
did. Hamas spokesperson Sami Abu Zuhri denounced it accusing the West
of hypocrisy. He noted Hamas was democratically elected and added "This
confirms the falseness of the international community's support for democracy."
- From Dublin, Ireland at a human rights conference, former
President Jimmy Carter denounced it as well. He accused the US, EU and
Israel of harming and seeking to divide the Palestinian people by aiding
Abbas in the West Bank while withholding similar help to Hamas in Gaza.
Carter stressed Hamas is entitled to be the ruling Palestinian government
because it was democratically elected. Representatives from his Carter
Center observed the election and judged it free, open and fair. He urged
the international community to work toward reconciliation of Hamas and
Fatah but sees nothing being done to do it.
- He condemned US, EU and Israeli efforts to undermine
Hamas as "criminal." He continued saying "The United States
and Israel decided to punish all the people of Palestine and did everything
they could to deter a compromise between Hamas and Fatah." He then
added Washington and others supplied Fatah security forces with superior
weapons aimed at "conquer(ing) Hamas in Gaza, but the plan failed
because of Hamas' "superior skills and discipline."
- A Hopeful Look Ahead
- Everything happening in the Middle East in Iraq, Palestine,
Lebanon and Afghanistan in Central Asia is interconnected. In all of it,
Washington is partnered with Israel and the EU aiming to subdue the people
in both regions, control their resources, and rule over this vast area
in colonial-occupier fashion directly on the ground or ideally with puppet-installed
governments. Washington leads the effort and intends taking the lion share
of what it can plunder provided things go as planned. The EU is tagging
along led by Britain and Israel in key roles with the Jewish state getting
huge amounts of funding to do it. According to a James Tucker American
Free Press May, 2003 report it was at a level of $10 billion a year then
with Israel wanting it upped to $12 billion.
- This figure came from a Library of Congress "briefing
paper" titled "Israel: US Foreign Assistance." It listed
categories including direct funding aid, huge amounts in loans and loan
guarantees, military aid, R & D help, and considerably more that noted
academic and author James Petras documented in his important 2006 book
"The Power of Israel in the United States." In total, Israel,
with 5.2 million people in 2005, about the size of a large US or other
city, receives more in total aid in all forms than all other nations in
the world combined. It uses it to seize Palestinian lands for Jewish resettlement,
build separation/apartheid walls, and wage illegal wars of aggression in
pursuit of its own imperial agenda for regional dominance as an adjunct
to its US partner and very generous funder.
- Despite considerable effort and huge amounts of financial
and other resources employed, US and Israeli imperial adventurism hasn't
fared too well giving reason to hope more of it will turn out as badly
for both nations. Palestinians have endured everything Israel's thrown
at it for six repressive decades. In spite of it, they're still holding
up maintaining their courageous struggle for equity, justice and a free
and independent state they intend one day to have and likely will regardless
of Israel's determination to prevent it. History is on their side.
- In just the last century, nations around the world struggled
for the same rights and prevailed, though for many it took decades or longer
and what was gained was far from perfect or even unacceptable too often
like in South Africa. The end of apartheid there was replaced by neoliberal
"Thatcherism" resulting in greater poverty and hardship for the
poor majority than in the earlier era. However, progress usually comes
slowly and rarely without setbacks or disappointments. The point is it
can come when people seeking it never stop believing it will or working
for it until it does. Palestinians have been doing it since 1948, and
one day they'll have what they and all others deserve everywhere, their
own state in which to live free from foreign occupation secure at last
on their own land.
- An early hopeful sign was reported in Haaretz by correspondent
Shlomo Shamir June 22. He noted in spite of US, British and French pressure
(with new UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon's shameless backing) for a Security
Council declaration of confidence in the Abbas government, it was withdrawn
before its drafting stage because of strong protests against it by Russia,
South Africa, Indonesia and Qatar. These countries objected to anti-Hamas
policies and attempts to characterize it as a terror organization and isolate
it. In addition, Russia and South Africa questioned the emergency government's
legitimacy arguing instead for a unity government as the solution to the
conflict in occupied Palestine.
- It's a small, maybe temporary victory, but important
one nonetheless. It shows mighty America, Israel and the EU can be challenged
and forced to back down giving Palestinian people hope more victories will
follow and in time the one they want above all others. With faith, courage,
patience and redoubtable will, one day they'll prevail, their Nakba will
have ended, and their right to live freely on their own land will be affirmed
- Stephen Lendman lives in Chicago and can be reached at
- Also visit his blog site at sjlendman.blogspot.com and
listen to The Steve Lendman News and Information Hour on TheMicroEffect.com
Saturdays at noon US central time.