February 23, 2006

Blind spots and black holes

Great op/ed piece by David Hirst, the Guardian reporter from the Middle East for like, a gazillion years, about how the Hamas victory exposed a giant blind spot in U.S. foreign policy.
It has long been said that in so far as Arabs and Palestinians ever formally accommodated themselves to Israel it was Arab despotism, not democracy, that made it possible. To be sure, Arab public opinion might have been moving away, if only in the weariness of repeated defeat, from the all-pervading "rejectionism" of the conflict's earlier stages, but never far enough for those rulers who did make peace with Israel to do so with anything seriously resembling a popular mandate. "Israel," said Aluf Benn in the Israeli newspaper Ha'aretz, "could always do business with Arab dictators, a barrier protecting it from the rage of the 'Arab street'. That was the basis of the peace agreements with Egypt and Jordan, Yasser Arafat and his heirs and the rules vis-a-vis Syria and Lebanon. But those days are over. Henceforth Israel will have to factor into its foreign policy something it has always ignored - Arab public opinion."

...If there is a chance of checking the resurgence of Palestinian and Arab rejectionism, it is by checking the persistent rejectionism of the other side and getting Israel to accept what in practice it never has: that very partial restitution of Palestinian national rights embodied in the Oslo accords and their two-state formula..."
I think a return to Oslo is fi mismish, as they'd say in Eygpt -- so not gonna happen. But Hirst's point that the US and Israel are going to have to stop their own rejectionism of Arab public will is well taken. Hamas may eventually get around to recognizing Israel, but not until they know they're going to get some real recognition in return.

And then there's a scary piece from Alternet about a new Army Corps of Engineers contract with Halliburton via KBR for the construction of detention centers in the U.S. in the event of "an emergency influx of immigrants into the U.S., or to support the rapid development of new programs."

New programs? Dare I even ask? ::shiver::