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Tariq Ali: 'Why the West wants to destroy Hamas'

The writer and activist Tariq Ali spoke at a Stop the War 'Israel out of Gaza' rally in London on Thursday of last week. Here are edited extracts of his speech.

Issue No. 2134

Tariq Ali speaking at the rally

Tariq Ali speaking at the rally

Let us remember what colonisers and occupiers have done throughout the past 150 years. They divide in order to rule.

They have done it everywhere – south east Asia, the Maghreb, India, Africa, Ireland, Cyprus. And they have done it in Palestine. This has to be the starting point.

Our Palestinian brother referred to the unity of the Palestinian people and their cause. I say very bluntly that those who broke this unity are also partially responsible for what is happening in Gaza today.

We know how that unity was broken. It started with the 1993 Oslo Accords. The late Edward Said – a Palestinian intellectual who we miss in these times – said that treaty was the Palestinian Versailles. It was a surrender.

The leaders who negotiated that treaty bent over backwards to appease the Israeli regime. They bent so far that their spine broke. The logic of that was to capitulate, to collaborate, to accommodate.

There was no such thing as the Palestinian Authority, if the truth be told. The Israeli army determined what happened even in the lands that were not occupied. There was never meaningful independence or sovereignty for the Palestinians.

So what did those leaders do? They lined their own pockets. They grew rich. That’s all they could do. Little was done for the Palestinian people. And when the first chance came for the Palestinian people to vote, in January 2006, they got rid of the leaders who had collaborated and elected those who had not.


We know now, because of an article by David Rose published in the magazine Vanity Fair, of the systematic collaboration between the security apparatuses of Fatah and the US.

The whole plan to try to defeat an elected government by carrying out military actions against it was organised by Washington and Cairo in league with Mohammed Dahlan, one of Fatah’s leaders, who met George Bush three times.

This was a decision taken by people who could not accept being defeated democratically. In one interview Dahlan tells the journalist that he pleaded with the Americans to delay the elections indefinitely because Fatah would lose.

The Americans were convinced they were going to win because they thought a few PR actions like they carried out in Ukraine and elsewhere would bring them a victory.

They thought the Israelis would kill off enough Hamas leaders in the meantime. They thought money could be used. They thought the Egyptians would have more influence than they did. And they failed.

That failure haunted them. So they tried a military coup in Gaza – organised by Dahlan, backed by the Egyptians, Mossad and the US – to try to kick Hamas out.

That coup failed because the people supported the organisation they had elected. They knew they had elected this group because it didn’t behave like those they had electorally defeated.

The entire strategy of the so called Quartet – the US, the European Union (EU), Russia and the United Nations – was to try to impose sanctions until Hamas agreed to do what they wanted.

They treated the Palestinian electorate and its elected leadership as if it were some third rate NGO totally dependent on Western money. Well Hamas showed that they weren’t.


And this assault on Gaza is part and parcel of the campaign to get rid of Hamas. That is what they are trying to do. That is why the Israelis informed the US and got the backing of the US.

That is why the EU has been unable to do anything about Gaza – because they knew about it. What is the point of calling for a “ceasefire”? The demand is very clear – you don’t need a ceasefire, you have to ask the Israelis to get out of Gaza.

But the Israelis’ problem is not just the Hamas leadership – it is the people who elected them. And it is not easy to dissolve the people and elect a new one.

So what is to be done? What will happen after the Israelis withdraw, as sooner or later they will have to? The Palestinian people have hard choices to make. But one choice, in my personal opinion, is no longer there – a two state solution.

We have seen since Oslo that the only Palestinian state that the Israeli regime will tolerate is a puppet state, a protectorate. The only meaningful two state solution would be if the Palestinians got a share of the land proportional to their population, if it was contiguous land, if it was a state whose sovereignty wasn’t dependent on Israel, the West or anyone else.

I do not believe the Israelis will accept that. So for me the only serious alternative is what many of us socialists have long called for – a single state solution.

That means one Israel-Palestine in which Jews, Christians, Muslims and anyone else live together as equal citizens. The argument against this from the Zionist establishment is that it would no longer be a Jewish state. The answer to that is that it would be state of all its citizens including the Jews.

In the long term this would benefit everyone in that region, regardless of who is in a numerical majority.

The other course is a dangerous one – not just for the Palestinians but also for Israel. The great historian Isaac Deutscher was initially in favour of Israel. But in his last interview, after the 1967 Six Day War, he gave them a very severe warning.

He said, “You have become the Prussians of the Middle East. Be careful, because you may triumph yourselves to death.”

See a video of the full speech »

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Tue 13 Jan 2009, 18:37 GMT
Issue No. 2134
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