Getting it Wrong in Gaza Pt. 1: Terry Gross, Ignoramus

Posted on June 27, 2007


I have never been supportive of Hamas politically–while there are some Hamas folks out there who sought to use their cache with the people of Palestine to lead a moderate path out of the Oslo cul de sac, the organization is just too fragmented and its brand too laden with baggage in the west. This obviously does not mean Fatah is the only way out, of course. There are other mobilizations going on in Palestine today, though the media would like to ignore them. Just the other day I was listening to Terry Gross interview Dennis Ross–the previous administrations bs artist on the Palestine case–on Fresh Air.

Ross would have us believe that there are only two options in Palestine–Hamas and Fatah. He said so point blank and Ms. Gross, apparently having not bothered to do any homework on the issue, did not follow up. The reality that Ross’s boss, Clinton, and our current President would like to ignore is that there have been for years, alternate parties and there is a solid foundation of civil society in both Gaza and the West Bank.

The civil society organizations, in fact, are much more stable than either Hamas or Fatah. They have stood the test of time through the various permutiations of the occupation and enjoy large amounts of credibility in the region and they are secular. Mustafa Bhargouti, for example, garnered 20% of the vote in the Palestinian presidential election in 2005, running a campaign with literally no financing. Bhargouti’s organization, the Union of Palestinian Medical Relief Committees, has for years monitored the state of health care and health in the Occupied Territories, and has kept a sobering record of Israeli and Fatah brutality in the West Bank and Gaza. Bhargouti came in second in the polls and it should be noted that Abbas had large amounts of USAID funding and even commanded his Fatah forces to hold the polling places open at gunpoint so that Fatah could bring in extra voters.

Ross and others want us to believe that the only option against Hamas is the same old wine in the same dirty glass called Fatah, but its just not true. But that is not for Terry Gross to question, apparently.