Sunday, May 07, 2006

That's Not Fair! No More Petrol Bombs? 

Palestinians sit at a closed gas station in the West Bank city of Ramallah May 7, 2006. All areas of the Palestinian economy have been hard hit by an Israeli and Western embargo imposed after the Islamic militant group Hamas took over the government. REUTERS/Loay Abu Haykel
As the caption aptly points out, there is indeed a certain embargo in place at the moment. What isn't mentioned in the caption is that the money to pay for petrol bombs will once again flow as soon as the new Hamas government brings itself to a) stops the violence, b) honors previous agreements, and c) recognizes Israel's right to exist. Until then, Hamas will have to pay for its own petrol bombs.

And yes, I'm aware of images like these:

A Palestinian child of a government employee covers her mouth with protest signs during a demonstration demanding the payment of salaries to workers of the Palestinian Authority by the Hamas-led government in the West Bank city of Nablus Saturday May 6, 2006. (AP Photo/Majdi Mohammed)
I am not at all in favor of "starving" Palestinian civilians as a method of conflict resolution. But if this kid is any example -- and I suspect she is -- the hungry, protesting children of Palestinian government workers aren't actually anywhere near starving. In fact, the funding that has been cut off is the aid to the Palestinians' Hamas government, not direct humanitarian assistance to Palestinian people. Hunger need not be a problem, nor should it be.

Of course I am against funding Hamas to pay for petrol bombs to be thrown back at us the very next day, but I hope food and aid shipments will continue to be provided as needed to help affected civilians. But meanwhile, with all this crisis Hamas is creating for itself and its people by maintaining a hardline refusal to negotiate or consider the right to exist of the Jewish state, I can't help being reminded of the scene in Blazing Saddles in which Cleavon Little threatens to blow his own head off unless he is allowed to escape -- of course in Blazing Saddles that technique actually worked because the crowd really was that dumb.

Meanwhile in between the present reality and future threatened humanitarian catastrophes lies a brief interlude for the Hamas government, and the people who elected it, to consider a phrase which has been around long enough in the West to become a bit of a cliche: "Guns, or butter." Hamas threatens Israel at gunpoint and expects Israeli butter to be handed over.

It is apparently human nature to want both guns and butter at the same time, yet human fate to eventually have to choose. Let's all send out strong mental vibes together and in harmony: "Choose butter, choose butter,..."

If you really, really liked this -- or even really, really hated it -- there's lots more: