Monday, November 12, 2007
Arafat? Fatah? Hamas?... Oh my!
So. Fatah holds a memorial gathering for the late Mr. Arafat in Gaza over the weekend. They muster thousands of people to turn up and what happens? You know it.
A full-blown riot erupts, that's what. And no, not instigated by the celebrants. Rather, from Hamas "police" intent on hijacking yet another peaceful move by a relative moderate - one hopes - like Mahmoud Abbas.
Despite what one thinks of Arafat and his legacy - and there's loads to cringe at there - Abbas probably has the right idea trying to rally his Gazan supporters into a moderate, peaceable throng for all the world to see. But will the world now see Hamas for the belligerent, violent and remorseless entity it is? Sadly, the answer is probably no.
It could be argued that Fatah knew that organizing such a rally behind enemy lines, as it were, could only result in positive optics for the party, and hence more world support for Abbas' position in the Middle East.
Peaceful rally = "Look! We can be peaceful in large numbers. See?"
Violent clashes = "Look! Hamas is evil! But we're not. See?"
It's terrific strategy. Except that people keep losing their lives. Six in total this time, if news reports are correct. And another 80-plus wounded after the gunfire had died down.
There's nothing to say that an Iran-backed Hamas will ever stop trying thwart peaceful efforts in the region. And as such, whither peace? Annapolis? Who knows.