FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail

A Hamas Coup d’Etat in 2007?

“Eighteen months ago, Hamas took over the Gaza Strip in a coup…” droned President Bush in his weekend radio address. “Hamas has held the people of Gaza hostage ever since their illegal coup against the forces of (Palestinian Authority) President Mahmoud Abbas,” Condoleezza Rice told reporters outside the White House January 2.

The idea is that those who’ve been governing in Gaza (to the extent that anyone can govern a concentration camp to which entry and exit by land air and sea is controlled by hostile forces, and to which almost all commerce is similarly controlled) are illegitimate, having seized power by force.

Bush and Rice, who’ve themselves seized so much by force in the last eight years (two countries’ worth) and sadly, will probably never be held accountable before a court of law for war crimes, have absolutely no shame. But to address this particular allegation of theirs.

The political party Hamas was elected to power in January 2006 with 44% of the vote to Fatah’s 41%, receiving 76 of 132 parliamentary seats, in the first democratic election held in the Palestinian territories. This was not what Washington wanted.

Washington had painted its “war on terror” in its Iraq phase as a war to get rid of Saddam Hussein’s weapons of mass destruction and end his close links with al-Qaeda. When such rationales stopped working, Rice began to depict the war, which we were told  would go on for a long time and involve a lot more countries in the “Greater Middle East” as actually one to spread democracy

In August 2003 as the world recoiled in horror at the images of the carnage in Iraq, she gave an upbeat speech to the National Association of Black Journalists in Dallas about “speaking out on the side of people who are seeking freedom.”

“We must never, ever,” she declared, “indulge in the condescending voices who allege that some people in Africa or in the Middle East are just not interested in freedom, they’re culturally just not ready for freedom or they just aren’t ready for freedom’s responsibilities. We’ve heard that argument before, and we, more than any, as a people, should be ready to reject it. The view was wrong in 1963 in Birmingham, and it is wrong in 2003 in Baghdad and in the rest of the Middle East.” (Thus she sought, rather cynically, to depict the current stage of U.S. imperialist aggression as a kind of Civil Rights Movement, Part II.)

But then, when regimes in the Middle East grudgingly responded to U.S. pressure and allowed freer elections in the next few years, the big winners were the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt, Hizbollah in Lebanon, and Hamas in Palestine. To the extent that the people were able to use their freedom, they used it in ways that U.S. rulers indeed considered irresponsible. (One recalls Henry Kissinger’s comment as Secretary of State, following the election of Salvador Allende in 1970: “Chile shouldn’t be allowed to go Marxist just because its people are irresponsible.” That was before he helped organize the bloody fascist coup of 1973.)

Rule of thumb: “freedom” and “democracy” as used by top Washington officials are always window dressing or code words for something else.

After the poll results came in January 2006, Washington did not warmly congratulate the Palestinian people on their first successful election. Rather, officials plotted how to topple them, as the Nixon administration had once helped topple Allende. Immediately, Deputy National Security Advisor, neocon  and extreme Zionist Elliott Abrams advocated a “hard coup” by Fatah (once vilified as “terrorist” when headed by Yassir Araft but now viewed as a U.S. ally under the leadership of the compliant Mahmoud Abbas) against Hamas. http://conflictsforum.org/2007/elliot-abrams-uncivil-war/

And indeed, in June 2007 Fatah, heading the Palestinian Authority in Gaza, attempted such a coup, but was outmaneuvered by its rivals in the Sunni organization. David Wurmser, former advisor to Dick Cheney on the Middle East, himself a neocon who left the administration in July 2007, admits, “[W]hat happened wasn’t so much a coup by Hamas but an attempted coup by Fatah that was pre-empted before it could happen.” http://www.vanityfair.com/politics/features/2008/04/gaza200804

In other words, Bush and Rice have it precisely backwards. They’re lying, right up to the end of this administration-based-on-lies. Having tried to dismiss the democratically elected Palestinian leadership for two years as “terrorist,” they want to further delegitimatize it by misrepresenting its path to power.

In doing so they of course insult the Palestinian democratic electorate, those who resisted the pre-empted coup to which Wurmser alludes, and those resisting the criminal invasion of the Gaza now underway with the blessing of Bush, Cheney, Rice, Elliott and the whole lame-duck, lying crew.

* * *

Speaking to small business owners in New Jersey June 16, 2003, Bush denounced those denying that “Saddam Hussein was a threat to America and the free world in ’91, in ’98, in 2003” as “revisionist historians.” As a C-average history major at Yale, Bush seems to have picked up that term without understanding what a “revisionist historian” really is. I’m inclined to think his main exposure to it comes from reading about criticism of revisionist accounts of the Holocaust, and so in his mind, historical revisionism is an inherently bad thing, an effort to falsify history. When he attacks his critics as “revisionist historians” he’s basically saying, “I’m right (in this case on the threat Saddam posed throughout the ’90s), you’re wrong, end of discussion.” Such a small, simple mind.

When asked by Bob Woodward, “How is history likely to judge your Iraq war?” Bush replied: “History, we don’t know. We’ll all be dead.” As an historian I don’t know where to begin to dissect that exchange, or Yale’s manifest failure. What is clear is that here’s a man who, while ignorant and disinterested in history, is totally comfortable with manufacturing a past out of whole cloth, without concern for the consequences.

“The British Government has learned that Saddam Hussein recently sought significant quantities of uranium from Africa.” Not true, but hey, no biggie!

“Eighteen months ago, Hamas took over the Gaza Strip in a coup…” And in Bush’s revision of history, proceeded to provoke a peace-loving Israel to appropriately attack. The result of that attack?  At this point, perhaps 500 Palestinians in no position to judge or know anything, but millions more alive with a sharp sense of the actual history—that will have very real consequences in the future.

GARY LEUPP is Professor of History at Tufts University, and Adjunct Professor of Religion. He is the author of Servants, Shophands and Laborers in in the Cities of Tokugawa Japan; Male Colors: The Construction of Homosexuality in Tokugawa Japan; and Interracial Intimacy in Japan: Western Men and Japanese Women, 1543-1900. He is also a contributor to CounterPunch’s merciless chronicle of the wars on Iraq, Afghanistan and Yugoslavia, Imperial Crusades.

He can be reached at: gleupp@granite.tufts.edu

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

More articles by:

Gary Leupp is Professor of History at Tufts University, and holds a secondary appointment in the Department of Religion. He is the author of Servants, Shophands and Laborers in in the Cities of Tokugawa JapanMale Colors: The Construction of Homosexuality in Tokugawa Japan; and Interracial Intimacy in Japan: Western Men and Japanese Women, 1543-1900. He is a contributor to Hopeless: Barack Obama and the Politics of Illusion, (AK Press). He can be reached at: gleupp@tufts.edu

Weekend Edition
June 22, 2018
Friday - Sunday
Karl Grossman
Star Wars Redux: Trump’s Space Force
Andrew Levine
Strange Bedfellows
Jeffrey St. Clair
Intolerable Opinions in an Intolerant Time
Paul Street
None of Us are Free, One of Us is Chained
Edward Curtin
Slow Suicide and the Abandonment of the World
Celina Stien-della Croce
The ‘Soft Coup’ and the Attack on the Brazilian People 
James Bovard
Pro-War Media Deserve Slamming, Not Sainthood
Louisa Willcox
My Friend Margot Kidder: Sharing a Love of Dogs, the Wild, and Speaking Truth to Power
David Rosen
Trump’s War on Sex
Mir Alikhan
Trump, North Korea, and the Death of IR Theory
Christopher Jones
Neoliberalism, Pipelines, and Canadian Political Economy
Barbara Nimri Aziz
Why is Tariq Ramadan Imprisoned?
Robert Fantina
MAGA, Trump Style
Linn Washington Jr.
Justice System Abuses Mothers with No Apologies
Martha Rosenberg
Questions About a Popular Antibiotic Class
Ida Audeh
A Watershed Moment in Palestinian History: Interview with Jamal Juma’
Edward Hunt
The Afghan War is Killing More People Than Ever
Geoff Dutton
Electrocuting Oral Tradition
Don Fitz
When Cuban Polyclinics Were Born
Ramzy Baroud
End the Wars to Halt the Refugee Crisis
Ralph Nader
The Unsurpassed Power trip by an Insuperable Control Freak
Lara Merling
The Pain of Puerto Ricans is a Profit Source for Creditors
James Jordan
Struggle and Defiance at Colombia’s Feast of Pestilence
Tamara Pearson
Indifference to a Hellish World
Kathy Kelly
Hungering for Nuclear Disarmament
Jessicah Pierre
Celebrating the End of Slavery, With One Big Asterisk
Rohullah Naderi
The Ever-Shrinking Space for Hazara Ethnic Group
Binoy Kampmark
Leaving the UN Human Rights Council
Nomi Prins 
How Trump’s Trade Wars Could Lead to a Great Depression
Robert Fisk
Can Former Lebanese MP Mustafa Alloush Turn Even the Coldest of Middle Eastern Sceptics into an Optimist?
Franklin Lamb
Could “Tough Love” Salvage Lebanon?
George Ochenski
Why Wild Horse Island is Still Wild
Ann Garrison
Nikki Haley: Damn the UNHRC and the Rest of You Too
Jonah Raskin
What’s Hippie Food? A Culinary Quest for the Real Deal
Raouf Halaby
Give It Up, Ya Mahmoud
Brian Wakamo
We Subsidize the Wrong Kind of Agriculture
Patrick Higgins
Children in Cages Create Glimmers of the Moral Reserve
Patrick Bobilin
What Does Optimism Look Like Now?
Don Qaswa
A Reduction of Economic Warfare and Bombing Might Help 
Robin Carver
Why We Still Need Pride Parades
Jill Richardson
Immigrant Kids are Suffering From Trauma That Will Last for Years
Thomas Mountain
USA’s “Soft” Coup in Ethiopia?
Jim Hightower
Big Oil’s Man in Foreign Policy
Louis Proyect
Civilization and Its Absence
David Yearsley
Midsummer Music Even the Nazis Couldn’t Stamp Out
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail