The Cancellation of Palestinian Elections Poses Many Dangers

April 30 2021

Yesterday, the Palestinian Authority (PA) president Mahmoud Abbas announced that he will postpone indefinitely the parliamentary elections that had been scheduled for May 22. Writing on the eve of the decision, Ghaith al-Omari explains that the elections would have likely created a highly volatile situation. But their cancellation brings dangers of its own. He begins with the situation on the West Bank, where Abbas’s Fatah party rules, but Hamas nonetheless has a presence:

Hamas, whose terror infrastructure [in the West Bank] is severely degraded, will . . . likely seek to escalate. Fatah factions that will once again feel marginalized by Abbas may also resort to protests. Whether developments in the West Bank will mobilize the public and turn into mass confrontations is unknowable. If that happens, it is also impossible to predict whether such protests will start against Israel or the PA (though if protests do occur, they will likely end up targeting both). The ingredients for an explosive mix are there, but recent years have shown limited public appetite for a return to widespread unrest. Moreover, PA security forces—separately and in cooperation with Israeli security forces—have proved effective. But the bottom line is this: the days following the cancellation announcement will be extremely tense.

Politically, Hamas will emerge as the winner in the short term. Having vocally rejected cancellation of the elections, the group is well-positioned to claim that it represents the will of both the 76 percent of Palestinians who demand elections and the 61 percent who expect them to be held. Yet after an initial spike in popularity, Hamas will find itself where it started: regionally isolated, partially blamed for the Palestinian split, and at the strategic dead end of controlling Gaza without a clear path to improving the conditions there significantly.

At the national level, a failure to hold elections highlights the difficulty—even impossibility—of achieving intra-Palestinian reconciliation. Various approaches—including attempts to reach comprehensive reconciliation, attempts at limited reconciliation via the formation of a unity government, and now elections—have failed. Although the failure of each approach can be explained by its specific circumstances, it is hard to escape the conclusion that national unity is not a likely option in the foreseeable future.

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Read more at Washington Institute for Near East Policy

More about: Hamas, Mahmoud Abbas, Palestinian Authority

 

Salman Rushdie and the Western Apologists for Those Who Wish Him Dead

Aug. 17 2022

Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini, the founder and supreme leader of the Islamic Republic of Iran, issued a fatwa (religious ruling) in 1989 calling for believers to murder the novelist Salman Rushdie due to the content of his novel, The Satanic Verses. Over the years, two of the book’s translators have been stabbed—one fatally—and numerous others have been injured or killed in attempts to follow the ayatollah’s writ. Last week, an American Shiite Muslim came closer than his many predecessors to killing Rushdie, stabbing him multiple times and leaving him in critical condition. Graeme Wood comments on those intellectuals in the West who have exuded sympathy for the stabbers:

In 1989, the reaction to the fatwa was split three ways: some supported it; some opposed it; and some opposed it, to be sure, but still wanted everyone to know how bad Rushdie and his novel were. This last faction, Team To Be Sure, took the West to task for elevating this troublesome man and his insulting book, whose devilry could have been averted had others been more attuned to the sensibilities of the offended.

The fumes are still rising off of this last group. The former president Jimmy Carter was, at the time of the original fatwa, the most prominent American to suggest that the crime of murder should be balanced against Rushdie’s crime of blasphemy. The ayatollah’s death sentence “caused writers and public officials in Western nations to become almost exclusively preoccupied with the author’s rights,” Carter wrote in an op-ed for the New York Times. Well, yes. Carter did not only say that many Muslims were offended and wished violence on Rushdie; that was simply a matter of fact, reported frequently in the news pages. He took to the op-ed page to add his view that these fanatics had a point. “While Rushdie’s First Amendment freedoms are important,” he wrote, “we have tended to promote him and his book with little acknowledgment that it is a direct insult to those millions of Moslems whose sacred beliefs have been violated.” Never mind that millions of Muslims take no offense at all, and are insulted by the implication that they should.

Over the past two decades, our culture has been Carterized. We have conceded moral authority to howling mobs, and the louder the howls, the more we have agreed that the howls were worth heeding. The novelist Hanif Kureishi has said that “nobody would have the [courage]” to write The Satanic Verses today. More precisely, nobody would publish it, because sensitivity readers would notice the theological delicacy of the book’s title and plot. The ayatollahs have trained them well, and social-media disasters of recent years have reinforced the lesson: don’t publish books that get you criticized, either by semiliterate fanatics on the other side of the world or by semiliterate fanatics on this one.

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Read more at Atlantic

More about: Ayatollah Khomeini, Freedom of Speech, Iran, Islamism, Jimmy Carter