It’s been a while because I’ve been in a bad place. The World Cup is on and everyone feels that way more important than what is happening in Palestine. The new strategy of the colonists is made visible in a place like this, where the money flows in and where the foreigners walk with heads held high. Police – four to six on street corners – play the new occupiers, hosting flying checkpoints and shaking down motorists for money and studying IDs with the same sort of sickening scrutiny you’d see at an Israeli checkpoint. The case is made when Israel feels comfortable enough with their trained PASF to pull out checkpoints and soldiers from the West Bank to work in Gaza. The case is made when Israel considers allowing the Palestinian Authority to have control over Gazan checkpoints, allowing Palestinian to continue to crush Palestinian.
Thomas Friedman wrote a disgusting article about the new elite in Ramallah a few days ago. Entitled “The Real Palestinian Revolution”, he makes the case that
The Abbas-Fayyad state-building effort is still fragile, and it rests on a small team of technocrats, Palestinian business elites and a new professional security force. The stronger this team grows, the more it challenges and will be challenged by some of the old-line Fatah Palestinian cadres in the West Bank, not to mention Hamas in Gaza. It is the only hope left, though, for a two-state solution, so it needs to be quietly supported.
What he means by fragile is what every autocratic regime in the region faces. The Abbas-Fayyad government is not elected. It is not popular with the people. Outside of Ramallah – in the camps, in the villages – it can barely claim sovereignty. My professor wistfully recalls the days when Abu Amar would come out and mix with the people. Mahmoud Abbas, on the other hand, must mix with the citizens of Palestine in much the same way Thomas Friedman does — infrequently, in the dead of night, and under armed guard. This is a problem with any dictator in the Middle East. Recall Saddam Hussein of Iraq and his many doubles, the mysterious absence of Hosni Mubarak in public for the last twenty years, or perhaps the Jordanian Royal Family as it appears in TV and on Youtube but never under any circumstances among the people. The worst thing that could happen to Palestine is what is happening to it right now. The last bastion of actual democracy in the Middle East – Gaza – continues to be under siege and it is not just in Israel and America’s interest to starve them out, but the Palestinian Authority as well. The Palestinian Authority, as Mr. Friedman points out, is becoming a business class elite that eats up USAID money with one hand and sells out the kids in the camps with the other.
The most important thing President Obama can do when he meets Israel’s prime minister, Bibi Netanyahu, on July 6 is to nudge him to begin gradually ceding control of major West Bank Palestinian cities to the Palestinian Authority so that Fayyad can show his people, as he puts it, that what he is building is an independent state “not an exercise in adapting to the permanence of occupation” — and so that Israel can test if the new Palestinian security forces really can keep the peace without Israel making nighttime raids. Nothing would strengthen Fayyadism more than that.
Now that the Palestinian Authority is run by old guard corrupt PLO, American-educated hyper-capitalist technocrats, and an American-trained police force, Mr. Friedman finally feels comfortable outsourcing the occupation of the Palestinian people to the Palestinians themselves. This will be accomplished by two means: hard and soft pressure. The police will continue the nighttime raids for the Israelis and will gladly torture and imprison their own countrymen for the Israelis. Meanwhile, imported goods and cultural lifestyles (will write more on this later) will lull the Palestinians of Ramallah to sleep long enough for the foxes to make off with the chickens. One day the Palestinians of Ramallah will shake off their hangovers, wake up, and realize their birthright has been sold for a handful of shekels and false-peace talks. I mean really, what is a securities exchange that runs on foreign currency or a peace talk that can claim with a straight face that East Jerusalem will ever belong to Palestine? After they wake up, that’s when the blood will come again, but this time the Israelis and their American masters will be pleased to note it is Palestinian killing Palestinian, Palestinian imprisoning Palestinian. Just like 2006. Unity is smashed through capital and pressure. The American-Israelis can continue their beach-side siestas in Tel Aviv without worrying about someone coming for their privilege… no, the creation of such a successfully fragile “state-building effort”, one that will constantly depend on their masters for continued existence, will ensure their security for years to come.