RUTHIE BLUM: PALESTINIAN “DEMOCRACY’ IN ACTION
Palestinian ‘democracy’ in action
As Americans begin the countdown to Nov. 6, and Israelis prepare to vote for the next Knesset on Jan. 22, the Palestinians are heading to the polls on Saturday to cast their ballots in the first municipal elections since 2005.
These elections, for local leadership in Judea and Samaria (the West Bank), will not be determined by the entire Palestinian population, however. This is because Hamas is boycotting the whole business, preventing voting from taking place in its own stronghold in the Gaza Strip, and warning its members in the rest of the Palestinian Authority not to participate.
According to a Reuters story published in Haaretz, this leaves “the field largely clear for the mainstream Fatah party in the race to take charge of 94 West Bank towns and villages.” However, the report says, because of a lack of unity between Hamas and Fatah and within Fatah itself, and as other independent lists are running as well, the outcome is unpredictable.
One factor that remains to be seen in this context is voter turnout. But, says the piece, “Whatever the turnout, pro-Western Fatah could still lose what should have been an easy victory.”
Oh dear. Does this mean that the Palestinian Authority could fall into less “mainstream” or “pro-Western” hands?
Not to worry. Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas and his candidates for city council have done a fine job of supporting terrorism without the help of their Hamas rivals or other forces vying for power within Fatah. So Palestinian voters need not fear the outcome on Oct. 20. Whatever it may be, they can count on having equally poor garbage collection and lack of funds to pay public-sector salaries, and just as rich a curriculum of incitement against Israel as they have always had.
One particularly poignant case in point — as reported by Palestinian Media Watch — is the granting of a posthumous award to Hanadi Jaradat by the Palestine Committee of the Arab Lawyers Union. Jaradat was a 28-year-old Palestinian woman from the West Bank town of Jenin, in the process of completing her clerkship at a law firm. The young beauty was a mere few weeks away from becoming a full-fledged attorney. But she opted, instead, to blow herself up. The date was Oct. 5, 2003. The venue was Maxim’s restaurant in Haifa.
That suicide bombing killed 21 people, among them young children and Arabs, and dozens more were seriously wounded. All that remained recognizable of Jaradat in the blood-and-guts-stained eatery was her head.
Upon learning of what she had done, her father was proud. “My daughter’s action reflected the anger that every Palestinian feels at the occupation,” he announced to the press. “I will accept only congratulations for what she did. This was a gift she gave me, the homeland and the Palestinian people. Therefore, I am not crying for her …”
To commemorate what it referred to as the “sweet anniversary of her martyrdom,” the Arab Lawyers Union sent a delegation to her family to present them with the “Martyr Hanadi Jaradat plaque of honor.”
According to the PA daily paper, Al-Ayyam, “The delegation conveyed to the family of Martyr Jaradat the good wishes of the head of the Union … and also emphasized the pride of the Arab Lawyers Union for what their daughter had done in defense of Palestine and the nation.”
This is not the first time that the Fatah-run PA has honored Jaradat, by the way. Nor, one dares say, is it likely to be the last.
In 2005, the PA Ministry of Culture produced and distributed a book of poems called “What Hanadi Said.” The following excerpt is very telling: “Oh Hanadi! Shake the earth under the feet of the enemies! Blow it up! Hanadi said: ‘This is my wedding.’ It’s Hanadi’s wedding, the day when death as a Martyr for Allah becomes the highest goal, that redeems my land.”
If this is the behavior of what many media outlets still refer to as the “pro-Western mainstream” in Palestinian society, then the results of Saturday’s elections will make as little difference to the lot of the people in the PA as they do to the rest of us.
It’s one race in which I’m glad to have no horse.
Ruthie Blum is the author of “To Hell in a Handbasket: Carter, Obama, and the ‘Arab Spring,’” available on Amazon and in bookstores in Europe and North America – and now on sale at Pomeranz Bookseller in Jerusalem.
Comments are closed.