Unhappy Campers

There were a lot of unhappy campers below the line on CiF on March 4th when Adam Ingram’s largely sensible article appeared. On another forum this piece could have instigated an interesting discussion about the validity of comparisons between the Middle East peace process and that in Northern Ireland and the lessons, if any, to be learned from the latter in relation to the former.

Such a discussion would be of relevance particularly because many British politicians and commentators are fond of invoking the NI peace process as an example of best practice when discussing the Middle East precisely because it represents their primary experience of conflict resolution, although some very interesting studies and articles have been written which suggest that in fact it is not possible to take NI as a template for solving the Israeli/Palestinian conflict. Leaving this aside, there is no doubt that Adam Ingram holds a refreshingly realistic view of the conflict as indicated by his succinct analysis of Hamas.

“First, change in the right direction can only be brought about if we take a realistic view of what Hamas stands for. If it is to be engaged with and be part of the future – and it seems to me that we are a long way from that possibility – it is important that it is not allowed to hide behind a false profile. There are those across the political spectrum who consistently call for diplomatic engagement with Hamas, comparing it to the IRA, the South African ANC or even the Palestinian Fatah movement. However, all those movements had their roots in deep-seated nationalism. Crucially, Hamas has a strong religious and specifically political Islamist dimension, prohibiting it from making deals over the land it regards as holy and tasking it with imposing theocratic rule over the people of that land.”

Such criticism of Hamas, realistic as it is, had some CiF posters in a tizzy, as inevitably happens when their views are challenged. There is something quite childlike and immature in their approach to any suggestion above the line that their accepted wisdoms might not be written in stone, and it is always interesting to see the fingers-in-ears-style defence mechanisms at work in the comments as they react angrily to the suggestion that Hamas may not actually be the cuddly freedom fighter heroes they so admire.

josephnation

4 Mar 2010, 11:25AM

Hamas are fighting for freedom. Israel is an illegal state and so is the North of Ireland. No doubt my comment will be deleted again.

gazagirl

4 Mar 2010, 12:12PM

The glaring difference between Britain and Israel with regards to “terrorists” – is that Britain wanted a peaceful settlement and was fully prepared to negotiate in good faith on this. On the other hand, the State of Israel is much more interested in gaining control of as much land as possible (the more fertile, water aquifers etc, the better) with as few of the indigenous Palestinians living in Palestine as it can get away with!!!

Yes, bad faith and dishonest intentions in abundance. Not to mention the brutal oppression and collective punishment of innocent civilians over a 62 year period…. Israel’s treatment to the Palestinian people is more akin to Oliver Cromwell’s treatment of the Irish.

RepublicanStones

4 Mar 2010, 3:41PM

Hamas still refuses to reconcile with Fatah, recognise Israel, renounce violence, accept previous Israeli-Palestinian peace agreements or release Corporal Gilad Shalit, kidnapped from Israeli soil in June 2006.

Why is it Israel arrests, but the Palestinians kidnap? Surely the fact that they are stateless shouldn’t prevent them from using the same tactics that Israel uses. Also care to explain Israeli Administrative Detention then? Their lawyers rarely get to see the ‘evidence’ Israel has against them, handed 6 months without being able to defend themselves, followed by another 6 months, then another…

Oh and care to explain why many Palestinians whom Israel kidnaps in the OPT end up in jails in Israel proper? (Which contravenes international law) and also care to explain why many do not get to see their loved ones, as their loved ones are incapable of crossing into Israel proper in mny cases, because of the system Israel imposes. And nevermind the ‘municipaltiy citizenship’ which Israel imposes on Arabs in annexed East Jerusalem, which means if they wish to see their loved ones in jail, Israel can prevent them from returning home.

So Israel ‘arrests’ palestinian peace activists from their bed in the dead of night, yet the palestinians ‘kidnap’ a soldier manning a siege fence which is not only in contravention of international law, but also an act of war. It seems that israel whilst denying the palestinians their own state also think they can dictate the lexicon of the debate by demanding any israeli held by palestinians is kidnapped, after all, the Palestinians don’t have a state legal to try him with, so its ‘kidnapping’. One person who most defintely is not kidnapped, is a soldier who is manning a siege fence, and who is thentaken by the very people he has under siege. Prisoner of war would be more apt.

We are, of course, used to the fact that actual personal knowledge of the situation in the Middle East makes little or no impression on most CiF posters and Mr. Ingram’s experience of the NI peace process and his obvious in depth study of the Israeli/Palestinian conflict were similarly dismissed.

paneer

4 Mar 2010, 11:17AM

Israel isn’t recognised by 19 countries. Hamas’s non-recognition is clearly a negotiating point – so why would they give that away before going to the negotiating table ? Israel has to get serious about peace first before anyone’s going to care about the contents of these opinion pieces.

orwellwasright

4 Mar 2010, 11:18AM

More drivel – how about a patronising article on how to “handle” the Israeli government, perhaps with degrading terminology about “keeping them on a leash” to impede their lust for “barbaric massacring of civilians”?

Oh wait, that’s right – as far as we’re concerned they don’t need handling – our governments don’t have a problem with their slaughters…

This article should stand as a textbook example of pro-Israeli distortions and lies.

ElDahshan

4 Mar 2010, 11:50AM

Contributor

By far the worst, most ignorant and horribly biased analysis I’ve read here in a long time. I want my five minutes back!

But I’ll waste another five to point out the most egregious points.. 🙂

Israel, like Egypt, continues to restrict the type of goods entering Gaza in an effort to prevent Hamas’ manufacture of rockets and mortars

Yes. Pasta, tea, and crayons – all are or have been on the Israeli block lists – are used to manufacture rockets. Obviously.

Hamas has a strong religious and specifically political Islamist dimension, prohibiting it from making deals over the land it regards as holy

Save for the word ‘Islamist’, that could very much be a description of Israel, with its ideas of God-given land. Hamas has been, quite explicitly at times, hinting at its willingness to accept deals based on the 1967 borders (themselves, for that matter, arbitrary borders).

Fatah has proved itself a partner for peace

Right. Because ‘peace’ is obviously what we have in the West Bank today!
How many Israeli military checkpoints are there in the West Bank, 500, 600? Sounds like peace indeed.

and, as such, has been able to deliver concrete economic and security benefits for its people, as well as for Israel.

Now he’s showing his true colours. Mr. Ingram, as most pro-Israel extremists do, measures the value of Palestinian factions by how valuable they are in protecting Israeli interests. Which is, well, a yardstick like any other; but it is ludicrous to assume that delivering security to Israel will be the measuring scale in Palestinian eyes as well. That’s just silly.

As for the concrete economic benefits – they are far from concrete, but rather a common Israeli claim which the PA is only happy to piggyback on – after all, it makes it seem they’ve done something right. The Palestinian industry is still terribly weak, unemployment is soaring, many businesses depend largely on Israeli good graces (remember the frequencies of the Wataniya mobile network which Israel wouldn’t give for years?), and foreign investment will still not enter, despite the fancy investment conferences held here and there, with the terribly stringent restrictions on the movements of goods and people.

The challenge we now face is to open the territory in a way that benefits ordinary Palestinians

Simple. Open the damn territory, that will benefit ordinary Palestinians.
Mr. Ingram can throw in the words “humanitarian” or “ordinary Palestinians”, the fact that he considers weakening Hamas a good enough reason for the blockade – or, worse, for last year’s full-on assault on the Palestinian civilian population, Operation Cast Lead which he whitewashes rapidly at the beginning of the article – and puts that in front of humanitarian considerations, makes him an accomplice in the crime that is the Israeli occupation.

That article is but cyber-pollution

OldLeftyLabour

4 Mar 2010, 4:30PM

What kind of a total idiot is Adam Ingram???
1. Hamas have publicly and repeatedly recognised the right of Israel to continue to exist many many many times – it is a simple LIE to suggest they have not
2. They have publicly and repeatedly accepted a two state solution based on the UN recognisxed pre 1967 borders.
3. Hamas have been MORE successful than the PLO ever were in reigning in rocket launches and armed attacks and suicide bombs.
4. The pre Operation Cast Lead ceasefire negotiated with Hamas was the MOST successful and most enduring ceasefire in the last 20 years!

5. The violence (premediated and UNPROVOKED violence) comes from ISRAEL

OldLeftyLabour

4 Mar 2010, 4:43PM

Sadly, Ingram has repeated factual inaccuracies and lies – paragraph two is a complete tissue of lies and half-truths.

Darker minds looked for conspiracy theories to explain away what they perceived as Mr. Ingram’s pro-Israeli bias, as though he couldn’t possibly have thought up these ideas for himself without being ‘got at’.

Hornstein

4 Mar 2010, 1:58PM

I have spent the last six months chairing a Labour Friends of Israel project

Read no further. This is the point where you lose all your credibility Mr. Ingram. Care to tell us how much the Labour party is going to receive this year in campaign funding from these friends of yours? Or is this piece just a ploy to deflect our attention away from the fact that Mr. Brown today is announcing that he will be changing the rules so that judges in this country cannot issue arrest warrants for Israeli war criminals. How much is the Labour party receiving for this from your “friends”?

I guess friends of Ejup Ganic, the former Vice president of Bosnia, arrested recently on a Serbian warrant on charges of which he has already been cleared of by the International Criminal Court, cannot come up with similar donations.

gazagirl

4 Mar 2010, 2:10PM

I must just point out to anyone who doubts that Labour MP Adam Ingram’s has biased intentions with this article, that Labour Feinds of Israel is not some innocuous parliamentary lobby group.

Labour Friends of Israel (LFI) is a Westminster based pro-Israel lobby group working within the British Labour party which exercises significant influence over British Middle East policy. It is considered one of the most prestigious groupings in the party and is seen as a stepping stone to ministerial ranks by Labour MPs. LFI boasts some of the wealthiest supporters of the party, and some of its most generous donors

LFI currently has a burgeoning membership in the Commons and it is seen as a certain ladder for success by aspiring politicians. Receptions hosted by the lobby usually boast a huge turnout, with such powerful guests as Tony Blair, Gordon Brown, the Israeli ambassador and the Israeli Deputy Minister of Defence. [16] LFI has found staunch allies in the current Labour government in the shape of Blair, Brown and Straw. The influence of this committee is quite evident in Blair’s frequent comments in support of Israel, particularly at a time, when its actions have been widely condemned. Addressing a meeting of the body, Blair urged the British public not to forget the suicide attacks to which Israel has been subjected when criticizing Israeli aggression towards the Palestinians.[17] That is indeed a remarkable observation given that – as is well known – the Israeli Human Rights Centre, B’Tselem, reports that the overwhelming majority of the victims, even in the current phase of the conflict, have been Palestinian civilians.[18]

http://www.spinwatch.org/-articles-by-category-mainmenu-8/70-british-politics/5000-labour-friends-of-israel

— Ma’a salamah

Namokel

4 Mar 2010, 11:47AM

An excellent article, yes excellent, from the Israeli point of view. A good Hasbara piece showing Israel as the poor innocent victim.

These unreasonable Palestinians just won’t give up their demand for a fair settlement. They should be more grateful and thank Israel for its kindness and generosity in allowing them to continue to exist.

We were also treated to some not in the least unexpected insights as to the sources of the wisdoms of the Guardianistas: a veritable list of the CiF chief druids.

JonDess

4 Mar 2010, 11:56AM

Some interesting comments from Adam Ingram!

“If Israel, the Palestinians and the Arab world are to find a way to resolve the Middle East conflict, it must be on the basis of politics, diplomacy and a respect for human life.” but only apparently from the Palestinian side, no mention here of assassinations, collective punishment, blockade of essential supplies, targeting of infrastructure such as hospitals and schools (and UN compounds), imposition of hundreds of check points that travel almost impossible in the West Bank, casual shooting of Palestinian children by Israeli snipers, murdering of western media and protesters by the Israeli military and their contractors.

“Hamas still refuses to reconcile with Fatah, recognise Israel, renounce violence, accept previous Israeli-Palestinian peace agreements or release Corporal Gilad Shalit, kidnapped from Israeli soil in June 2006”. How many Palestinians are in Israeli custody after being snatched from “Palestinian” land? Since Israel continued to murder Hamas members during the ceasefire of 2 years ago why should Hamas do any of these?

“how Hamas’s hold over the Gaza Strip can be loosened; how the humanitarian situation can be improved in the territory in a way that protects Israeli security” Interesting that Adam is suggesting the overthrow of a democratically elected government. And the way he ties improving the humanitarian situation inside Gaza with Israelis security – doesn’t he realise that the best way to improve Israel’s security would be to stop the collective punishment and starvation of the Gazan community which is bound to radicalise the population?

“Hamas has a strong religious and specifically political Islamist dimension” Unlike Israel of course where there are no strong religious parties with political Zionist views?

“Finally, we need to prevent Hamas using terrorism to disrupt peace process negotiations” I don’t think we need worry about Hamas doing that – the Israelis have been doing it for far more years and are far better at it – continuing to murder Hamas members (and plenty of innocent bystanders) during the ceasefire that was being almost completely observed by Palestinians before the Israeli invasion and killing of civilians in “Cast Lead” last year.

Give a more balanced view before spouting forth Adam. You come across as an apologist for Zionist radical Israeli politics that have got the Middle East into the mess it is currently in.

PS try reading “The Ethnic Cleansing of Palestine” by Ilan Pappe, for a better understanding of the lies and falsehoods that underpin the Israeli myth of founding their nation.

Principled

4 Mar 2010, 1:38PM

Ingram completely misses the point.

Israel clearly has no intention of settling with Hamas, Palestine or any other semblance of lawful ownership of the lands they occupy illegally. Read Israeli Ilan Pappe’s “The Ethnic Cleansing of Palestine” and through your tears you will begin to understand that Zionists controlling the fate of every Jew and Semite, will never be satisfied until all the land they have desired since long before WWII falls under their control. Pappe describes how they would dress as Palestinians to initiate “false flag” incidents, a ruse they allegedly aquired from our own Orde Wingate, then use propaganda born of that deceitful practice to attack, slaughter, and drive even further from their rightful homelands the Palestinians who stood in their way.

The WWII holocaust cannot be used as a torch by which the Israelis light their way to the commission of further atrocities against the Palestinians; blaming Hamas for their pathetic attempts to defend Palestinian rights, when it was Israel that struck the first blow perversely to justify Op. Cast Lead via the, according to Pappe, not unfamiliar “false flag” route, and perhaps indicates how out of touch with reality is Ingram.

Ironically, associating the Irish troubles with Palestine is not too far off the mark, since our political forefathers were responsible for both situations.

OldLeftyLabour

4 Mar 2010, 4:53PM

@ shiran
4 Mar 2010, 4:44PM

Yes they HAVE accepted the right of Israel to exist.
And yes they HAVE accepted the UN-proposed two-state solution based on the pre-67 borders.
Yes they HAVE implemented the MOST successful cease-fires in 20 years, and yes they HAVE been the victims of unprovoked violence from Israel.

Go read Norman Finkelstein dot com and you’ll learn something – from the mouth of a Jewish sone of Holocaust Survivors.

Or read anything on the IP conflict by Seamus Milne in the Guardian.

Things then took a rather interesting turn when the question of CiF’s editor’s loyalties was raised.

orwellwasright

4 Mar 2010, 1:11PM

TheFinkelsteinLobby: “Seriously, who at CIF commissioned this article?!”

Well when you read Matt Seaton’s comments on I/P threads it becomes quickly apparent that his position on the issue leans more towards Ingram’s side than it does to sympathy for the Palestinians – certainly, there’s little room for criticism of Israel in his analysis. And if you count up the number of articles from apologists for Operation Cast Lead published in the Guardian it’s fair to assume a pro-Israeli bias at the editorial level.

Which would make sense, since the Guardian was also pro-Afghanistan/Iraq invasion and is at the forefront of the propaganda campaign for war with Iran.

gazagirl

4 Mar 2010, 1:38PM

To orwellwasright and the FinkelsteinLobby

Well when you read Matt Seaton’s comments on I/P threads it becomes quickly apparent that his position on the issue leans more towards Ingram’s side than it does to sympathy for the Palestinians – certainly, there’s little room for criticism of Israel in his analysis. And if you count up the number of articles from apologists for Operation Cast Lead published in the Guardian it’s fair to assume a pro-Israeli bias at the editorial level.

Yes, I have been puzzled by editor Matt Seaton’s intervention on pro-Israel threads to support the author’s point of view – and particularly by his obvious praise for some comments by pro-Israel supporters, who themselves are often combative and unpleasant in the way they present their posts. I have been observing the flak coming in to the Guardian from some quarters, and I think that this guy is trying (without being too subtle, I have to say) to diffuse this.

KrustytheKlown

4 Mar 2010, 1:45PM

it’s fair to assume a pro-Israeli bias at the editorial level.

The moderation policy on I/P threads – certainly in recent weeks – would also seem to support your theory.

Namokel

4 Mar 2010, 3:26PM

Someone above said:

That article is but cyber-pollution.

I wholly agree.

And Mattseaton said:

Don’t you think that’s become a historical irrelevancy now. Hamas consolidated its position in Gaza after armed conflict with Fatah/the PA in 2006/7?

Good Grief, this from the Cif editor!

gazagirl

4 Mar 2010, 4:07PM

WindyTrench to MattSeaton

“Don’t you think that’s become a historical irrelevancy now. Hamas consolidated its position in Gaza after armed conflict with Fatah/the PA in 2006/7? We’d be deluding ourselves now to describe it as in any way a democratic force or to expect further elections in Gaza (or even toleration of opposition movements) any time soon. There were certainly Gazans who did not vote for Hamas in 2006; perhaps we should ask them now how they feel about living in a one-party theocratic statelet?”

Matt. I’m speechless. (Well, ‘fingerless’).

Yes, he’s doing a grand job as editor-in-chief of CiF with his pro-Israel thread interventions, isn’t he? Glad you are so pleased – Mr. Seaton has obviously achieved his intended objective… What he singularly fails to mention, is what led up to the democratically elected Hamas government finding themselves isolated in a corner like a dangerous snake – and responding thus when an attempted US and Israel-backed coup was instigated by the arch collaborator, Mohammed Dahlan and his henchmen with the complicit backing of Abbas.

Let us try and see the whole forest, rather than just a few of the outlying trees…

Oh dear! The punters appear to believe that the all powerful Zionist lobby has got its evil talons into the Guardian as well as Adam Ingram and the rest of the British establishment. Could this be the beginning of the end of a beautiful friendship? They certainly appear to feel that they have been betrayed by Matt Seaton; how could he possibly have the audacity to actually have an opinion of his own which might contradict their party line?

It will be interesting to see if Seaton will have the backbone to stick to and continue to express his own opinions or revert to playing to the gallery. But seeing as the following comment, which could equally have been addressed to him as well as to Adam Ingram, was deleted by Seaton’s moderators, perhaps he is not quite so much his own man as the above comments may imply.

MindTheCrap

4 Mar 2010, 12:06PM

Mr Ingram – you dont get the point. The consensus on these page is not a desire for peace and compromise, but rather a desire to punish Israel. I support your efforts and wish you luck but you are wasting your time with this crowd.

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