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news & opinion with no titillating non-news from the major non-news channels.


I am: progressive, not a wild-eyed Progressive; liberal, but shun liberals and Liberals; conservative, but some Conservatives worry me; absolutely NOT a libertarian. I am: an idealist, but no utopian; a pragmatist, but no Machiavellian. I am a realist who dreams.


I welcome all opinions.

Wednesday, May 03, 2006

Aiding and abetting Palestinian financial interests:
   Captain Ed objects

At the Captain's Quarters, Captain Ed objects to statements made by James Wolfensohn, the Quartet's international envoy to the Middle East, who resigned "on Sunday because of restrictions in dealing with the Islamic militant group Hamas, which dominates the Palestinian Government." The Quartet is the UN, the US, the EU and Russia.

Ben Fishman, researcher and special assistant at The Washington Institute, wrote a piece at the Institute yesterday on this same issue. As I posted at the Captain's Quarters,

A couple nuggets [from Fishman's article],

Assisting the development of such a peaceful and democratic alternative -- as distinct from an immediate overthrow of Hamas -- will require the United States to support programs driven internally by Palestinians that can foster a broad-based political movement. Bolstering a centralized Fatah-like organization run by elites will only lead to further corruption and the continued alienation of the Palestinian public.
Even though some Fatah figures may ultimately return to power as a pragmatic political leadership, the United States should not disburse funds to Fatah until the movement, or some element of it, begins the comprehensive political reform and internal housecleaning it continues to avoid three months after suffering a humiliating defeat at the polls.
Before the United States begins large-scale funding of potential alternatives to Hamas, it is important to survey more concretely what organizations and individuals are currently undertaking projects focused on secular education, women's empowerment, advocacy of peace and nonviolence, or other objectives that counter those of Hamas.
Concurrent with the work of the survey team, the United States should begin to develop the infrastructure for creating an independent, Palestinian-led body that can function as a vehicle for delivering grants and actively monitoring the activities of grantees.
Free media and communications is an area that requires substantial investment to enhance the ability of moderate organizations to affect the Palestinian public discourse. For organizations advocating nonviolence, democracy, and reform to gain traction, they must have avenues to express their opinions openly and to challenge Hamas's policies and expose its failures through investigative reporting. Whether the most effective medium for engaging the public will be widely distributed listservs, blogs, text messaging networks, or more traditional outlets in print or radio, invigorating the internal Palestinian debate will be an essential component of any assistance package.

My take on this is, if we dump the money at Fatah's feet simply because they are currently the "best" option, we have learned nothing from the sterile strategies of geopolitical realists since Metternich (as if WWI wasn't a big enough lesson).

Our support in Palestine should be based on democratic principles and ideology, and not what the current geopolitical realists and pundits say is expedient.


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