• Monthly
  • $25
  • $50
  • $100
  • $other
  • use PayPal

SPRING FUNDRAISER

Is it time for our Spring fundraiser already? If you enjoy what we offer, and have the means, please consider donating. The sooner we reach our modest goal, the faster we can get back to business as (un)usual. Please, stay safe and we’ll see you down the road.
FacebookTwitterRedditEmail

Turning the Page, Again

The pages of the Palestinian political history book turn very slowly, incredibly slowly. By the time you read these words, Palestinians will have headed to the voting booths to elect municipal and village councils in what has become a saga of multiple waves of local elections with a continuous series of postponements. Furthermore, the Palestinian Legislative Council (PLC) elections are set to take place on the 25th of January, more than half a decade late.

As in most societies, elections in Palestine ought to be the virtual fingers that turn political pages, usually closing a chapter and starting anew. Yet this has not always been the case here. Under a traditional leadership, with a stagnated political environment of internal hegemony and external military occupation, elections have been used over the years to entrench the already entrenched polity. Add to this the multi-pronged foreign interventions into Palestinian society politically, economically, and socially and elections have become watered down to the point where they are no longer enough of a force to turn the pages of history.

All of that is about to change, at least we hope so. More importantly, we hope that such a change will move our political life forward and not create a multiplicity of participation while paralyzing society at all levels. The fear of paralysis is real. Few countries, including countries-in-the-making like ours, renew every level of government in a short 12-month timeframe. Add to this the still evident lack of legal and legislative recourse, and the jitteriness in the Palestinian streets starts to make sense.

A new President was elected on January 9th, 2005. The election was boycotted by Hamas and the Islamic Jihad and even so, President Mahmoud Abbas faced serious competition for the first time ever, taking 62% of the votes. Three waves of municipal and village council elections were orchestrated throughout 2005. Hamas and the Islamic Jihad participated and won significant seats across the Palestinian areas. More than a political systemic shift, in my opinion, this was a result of several factors: Palestinian despair after being battered by Israel for five years, following 38 years of occupation and 57 years of dispossession; the failure of the appointed municipal and village councils to be held accountable; and a loud and clear message to FATAH that it can no longer claim a monopoly on Palestinian politics. This message will be brought unequivocally home during the PLC elections.

The PLC elections of January 2006 will reshuffle the internal balances of power. Even before the elections, the process has shaken the very foundation that is supposed to carry the process forward. The election law was dealt with, by an expired PLC body, as if it were a t-shirt to be ripped apart with the winner getting the largest piece. All of this while Israel systematically moves ahead with destroying any remnants of a political horizon while daily ripping through what little remains of historic Palestine by continuing, unfazed, in building its illegal Separation Wall on Palestinian lands.

As lacking as the electoral process is, it does begin a historic process of elections in a multi-party environment. Elections do wonders in and of themselves; that is, if the political system itself has an acceptable level of confidence. Such a level of confidence has been nearly lost in Palestine and, in consequence, regrettably, we will not realize the full power of elections this time around. Instead of expecting wonders, we should be positively looking at this one-year election season as concrete that has now been poured. What remains to be seen is whether it will actually dry in time and remain in place to hold the Palestinian political house together.

Regardless, we should remember the insightful words of the renowned Israeli journalist living in Ramallah, Amira Hass, when she suggested that Palestinians would be better off to start acting like a serious national liberation movement rather than fall for the trappings of statehood without a state. She said: “The Palestinian people [are] capable of withstanding terrible trials and tribulations: physical, psychological and economic. It can certainly face those trials if they become a means within the context of planned, coordinated and deliberately led strategic action meant to break the rules of the game that faked peace and statehood, rules that were set down in the days of Oslo and are coming back to deceive us now once again.”1

Hass boldly went on to say that, “In impersonating an ordinary ‘government’ to the world and to its people, at best it [the Palestinian Authority] is perceived as a corrupt and failing organization and at worst, as a sub-contractor for the bureaucracy of the occupation.”2

Dr. Ali Jarbawi, a professor of political science at Birzeit University, recently said it point blank: “these [results of both Palestinian and Israeli] elections will set the stage for a third, ‘springtime’ intifada.”3

Our future can only be shaped by our own hands. Are we ready, not only to turn the page, but to rip out and then rewrite the last chapter of the chronicle that has imprisoned us in occupation like never before?!

SAM BAHOUR is a Palestinian-American businessman living in the Israeli-occupied Palestinian city of Al-Bireh. He is co-author of HOMELAND: Oral Histories of Palestine and Palestinians (1994). He can be reached at sbahour@palnet.com

1 https://www.counterpunch.org/hass03032005.html

2 http://www.haaretzdaily.com/hasen/pages/ShArt.jhtml?itemNo=640518

3 Published on 5 December 2005 in bitterlemons.org

This essay originally appeared in This Week in Palestine.

 

More articles by:

Sam Bahour is managing partner of Applied Information Management (AIM), a policy analyst with Al-Shabaka: The Palestinian Policy Network, a secretariat member of the Palestine Strategy Group, and chairman of Americans for a Vibrant Palestinian Economy. He blogs at www.epalestine.com. Twitter: @SamBahour

May 27, 2020
Ipek S. Burnett
The Irony of American Freedom 
Paul Street
Life in Hell: Online Teaching
Vijay Prashad
Why Iran’s Fuel Tankers for Venezuela Are Sending Shudders Through Washington
Lawrence Davidson
National Values: Reality or Propaganda?
Ramzy Baroud
Why Does Israel Celebrate Its Terrorists: Ben Uliel and the Murder of the Dawabsheh Family
Sam Pizzigati
The Inefficient and Incredibly Lucrative Coronavirus Vaccine Race
Mark Ashwill
Vietnam Criticized for Its First-Round Victory Over COVID-19
David Rovics
A Note from the Ministry of Staple Guns
Binoy Kampmark
One Rule for Me and Another for Everyone Else: The Cummings Coronavirus Factor
Nino Pagliccia
Canada’s Seat at the UN Security Council May be Coveted But is Far From a Sure Bet
Erik Molvar
Should Federal Public Lands be Prioritized for Renewable Energy Development?
R. G. Davis
Fascism: Is it Too Extreme a Label?
Gene Glickman
A Comradely Letter: What’s a Progressive to Do?
Jonathan Power
The Attacks on China Must Stop
John Kendall Hawkins
The Asian Pivot
May 26, 2020
Melvin Goodman
Trump Administration and the Washington Post: Picking Fights Together
John Kendall Hawkins
The Gods of Small Things
Patrick Cockburn
Governments are Using COVID-19 Crisis to Crush Free Speech
George Wuerthner
Greatest Good is to Preserve Forest Carbon
Thomas Klikauer – Nadine Campbell
The Covid-19 Conspiracies of German Neo-Nazis
Henry Giroux
Criminogenic Politics as a Form of Psychosis in the Age of Trump
John G. Russell
TRUMP-20: The Other Pandemic
John Feffer
Trump’s “Uncreative Destruction” of the US/China Relationship
John Laforge
First US Citizen Convicted for Protests at Nuclear Weapons Base in Germany
Ralph Nader
Donald Trump, Resign Now for America’s Sake: This is No Time for a Dangerous, Law-breaking, Bungling, Ignorant Ship Captain
James Fortin – Jeff Mackler
Killer Capitalism’s COVID-19 Back-to-Work Imperative
Binoy Kampmark
Patterns of Compromise: The EasyJet Data Breach
Howard Lisnoff
If a Covid-19 Vaccine is Discovered, It Will be a Boon to Military Recruiters
David Mattson
Grizzly Bears are Dying and That’s a Fact
Thomas Knapp
The Banality of Evil, COVID-19 Edition
May 25, 2020
Marshall Auerback
If the Federal Government Won’t Fund the States’ Emergency Needs, There is Another Solution
Michael Uhl
A Memory Fragment of the Vietnam War
Anthony Pahnke – Jim Goodman
Make a Resilient, Localized Food System Part of the Next Stimulus
Barrie Gilbert
The Mismanagement of Wildlife in Utah Continues to be Irrational and a National Embarrassment.
Dean Baker
The Sure Way to End Concerns About China’s “Theft” of a Vaccine: Make it Open
Thom Hartmann
The Next Death Wave from Coronavirus Will Be the Poor, Rural and White
Phil Knight
Killer Impact
Paul Cantor
Memorial Day 2020 and the Coronavirus
Laura Flanders
A Memorial Day For Lies?
Gary Macfarlane – Mike Garrity
Grizzlies, Lynx, Bull Trout and Elk on the Chopping Block for Trump’s Idaho Clearcuts
Cesar Chelala
Challenges of the Evolving Coronavirus Pandemic
Luciana Tellez-Chavez
This Year’s Forest Fire Season Could Be Even Deadlier
Thomas Hon Wing Polin
Beijing Acts on Hong Kong
George Wuerthner
Saving the Lionhead Wilderness
Elliot Sperber
Holy Beaver
FacebookTwitterRedditEmail