Monday, May 24, 2004

 

Why not?

In today's Washington Post, Jackson Diehl asks "Why Not Palestinian Elections?" And why not? There is a strong movement among Palestinians to work towards holding local elections in Palestine. Diehl mentions Nabil Amr and Khalil Shikaki, but also high profile Palestinians like Dr. Hanan Ashrawi and Dr. Mustafa Bargouthi have spoken in support of having elections. Seemingly, supporting Palestinian elections and moving towards bringing elections about would play into the hands of the US. It would give them something positive to talk about in terms of the broader Middle East democracy initiative. It would give the US a chance to initiate and rejuvenate negotiations between Israel and the Palestinians. It would allow the US to try to rebuild some bridges with Palestinian leaders, especially those who would benefit from elections (pro-Democracy groups, groups that have been stifled by Arafat, etc). And finally, a US or UN presence to establish an environment in which elections could take place would help facilitate at least a bit of a pause from the unceasing violence that otherwise seems to have no end in site. Serious support for Palestinian elections would be a fantastic move for all parties involved (Israelis, Palestinians, and the US). Hell, Bush might even get his Palestinian state by 2005. Although maybe I'm over-optimistic about the impact of Palestinian elections, I'm not overly optimistic about the chances of it happening. Still, Jackson Diehl asks a good question: Why not?

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More importantly, what would be the Israeli response to an elected Palestinian government that is openly hostile to Israeli Occupation? If Hamas and Islamic Jihad take a majority in the hypothetical elections, would the IDF fire rockets into their parliament??

The Israeli and American attempts at rearing Middle Eastern democracy are somewhat akin to the scene from Of Mice and Men where Lenny's affections for little puppies only result in lots of dead puppies. Dead puppies in Central and South America, dead puppies in Russia, China, Southeast Asia, Central Asia, and an Iraqi puppy now in critical condition. Maybe its A.D.D.? This story from the Onion suggests as much:

Killing Wheelchair-Bound People With Missiles Is Awesome*
 
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