Palestinian Elections

Palestinian Elections

Europe has never been a very good judge of character (remember appeasement in the ’30s) and the situation in Iraq is a good example, but the best modern example, naturally, is Europe’s relationship with the Palestinian Authority and Yassir Arafat.
We should separate Europe’s feelings for Arafat from their feelings for Israel–the two are connected, needless to say, but in this case we should look at them as individual relationships in order for us to understand the depth of their self-delusion.
The cases of undue respect and trust are too numerous to name–although Terje Roed-Larsen’s account of Jenin comes to mind–but the latest and greatest is the belief that the Palestinian Authority is a Democracy.
Reuters’ recent publication that “Palestinians Call Off January Election” shows the utter dream-world in which the Western world lives: they actually believed that there would be elections. One would think that the years of Arafat’s brutal reign would have hinted toward the thought that, just maybe, he doesn’t even intend on stepping down, or giving his people the democratic right for self-representation.
When I worked on a peace-project in Israel/Palestine in 1998 I had a partner named Basel Abu-Said from Gaza. Those were the days of Oslo, and he was a student in Kturah, a kibbutz in Israel’s south, so he would go in and out of the Gaza Strip. He told me once that as he entered he was detained by Arafat’s police and questions for hours about his contacts with me and other Israelis. His story made it clear to me then, in the middle of the Oslo process, that Arafat has no desire to allow peace to exist, since peace, and the democracy that would follow, would undermine his authority.
Back to the Reuters story, the most remarkable thing is the excuses they give. “Palestinians decided on Sunday to postpone indefinitely a general election scheduled for January, saying it was difficult to hold a vote while Israeli forces continued to occupy West Bank cities. ‘Due to the Israeli reoccupation, obstruction and closures, it is impossible to convene the election on January 20,’ cabinet minister Saeb Erekat told Reuters after a Palestinian government meeting on the vote.”
Right–as if there was really a meeting during which the ministers decided. Reuters does not mention that Arafat’s cabinet resigned only two months ago, while Arafat restocked his cabinet with rubber-stamp cronies. Also, why wouldn’t Reuters mention that Israel is holding its elections during a brutal campaign of terrorist attacks–a danger made apparent during the attack carried out on the day of the Likud primaries.
The most incredulous thing is that Reuters reports that “Ordinary Palestinians welcomed the postponement of the vote. ‘This is the right decision because how can people move while tanks are in towns? How can candidates move freely,’ asked Nael Arar, a teacher from the West Bank city of Ramallah.'” Please. That’s like Reuters asking the people of Iraq whether Saddam should be president for another six years.
When will Europe wake up? In the end, their dream-world only perpetuates the persecution of the Palestinian people.


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