August 1, 2008 Special Dispatch No. 1952

Arab Liberal Dr. Mamoun Fandy: The Palestinians Have Chosen the Model Of Tora Bora Over That of Singapore

August 1, 2008
Palestine | Special Dispatch No. 1952

In an article published April 21, 2008 in the London daily Al-Sharq Al-Awsat, well-known researcher, writer, author, and columnist Dr. Mamoun Fandy wrote that the Palestinians must proceed from revolution to state-building, demonstrating that they are capable of building a prosperous state which will contribute to the stability of the region.[1]

The following are excerpts from the article:

"When Will the Palestinians Advance From the 'Adolescence' of Revolution to the 'Maturity' of Statehood?... [Will the] Palestinian State... Strengthen, Rather Than Weaken, Regional Security?"

"Sixty years have passed since the Palestinian Nakba [catastrophe]… and I would like to pose two questions to the divided Palestinian leadership, [i.e.] to the Palestinian Authority, represented by President Mahmoud 'Abbas, and to the Hamas leadership, represented by Ismail Haniyya and Khaled Mash'al.

"The first question is: When will the Palestinians advance from the 'adolescence' of revolution to the 'maturity' of statehood? The second question is: Given that there is an intent to establish a Palestinian state in the region, can the Palestinians assure the international community, and in particular their neighbors, that the Palestinian state will strengthen, rather than weaken, regional security?...

"The object of the first question is to give the international community an idea to what extent the Palestinians are capable of managing their affairs independently; to what extent the Palestinian leadership is committed to its people, their aspirations and demands; and whether, like most governments around the world, it can ensure that its people live in dignity.

"Gaza Is a Seaport of Diminutive Proportions, Akin to Singapore Or Bahrain... Yet the Palestinians Have Chosen the Model of Tora Bora!"

Today, the international community has great doubts regarding the Palestinians' ability to advance from the 'adolescence' of revolution to the 'maturity' of state. The most clear-cut example of this is Gaza, which has presented a complicated and steadily growing problem. I am not speaking of the Hamas's coup or even of the futile killing, but only of the appalling mismanagement of its affairs.

"Gaza is a seaport of diminutive proportions, akin to Singapore or Bahrain. Small though it is, Singapore has become one of the most important [states] in Asia – owing to a wise government, which runs its affairs with perspicacity. Similarly, Bahrain has ties and alliances with the most prominent world powers…

"Yet, instead of adopting Singapore as a model, the Palestinians have chosen the model of Tora Bora! They have transformed Gaza into part of Afghanistan, with its extremist Islamists, weapons, and missiles.

"The main reason that the Palestinian leadership in Gaza has failed is that it is still in the 'adolescent' revolutionary stage, and is not acting as someone faced with the task of [establishing] a state capable of managing its people's affairs. It is this adolescence [of revolution] that accounts for [Hamas's] attempt to breach the Egyptian border and drives it to fire rockets [at Israel] every now and then. [And] it is the ordinary people who are paying the price – [i.e.] Gaza residents, who are fed up with the siege and with hunger.

"Israel should be condemned for imposing a siege on Gaza. [To be sure,] no one thinks of absolving Israel of responsibility. But considering that Israel has a well-equipped army – did Hamas really anticipate that Israel would send it flowers in return for rockets?

"Egypt must be condemned for closing its borders, as is the custom of all other countries. However, Hamas leadership expects to avoid all condemnation; the important thing [in their eyes] is that Ismail Haniyya remain the leader in Gaza, even if all its residents are exterminated…"

In the Arab World, "Human Life is Not Important; What Counts Is That the Leaders Survive"

"As long as Haniyya is in charge – Gaza is on a winning streak. [Indeed,] presenting defeat as victory is not unique to the Palestinians. In this way, the June 1967 fiasco was not conceived of as defeat, since Gamal 'Abd Al-Nasser remained president [of Egypt] after the war; Saddam [Hussein's] setbacks were not regarded as defeat either, since Saddam remained president of Iraq; nor was Lebanon's downfall regarded as defeat – [despite] the complete destruction of its infrastructure – since Hassan Nasrallah continued as leader of the uprising. [It seems that] human life is not important; what counts is that the leaders survive.

"The second question is whether the new Palestinian state is capable of strengthening regional security or whether it will become a source of threat and disrupt the security equilibrium. This is another criterion for assessing the Palestinian leadership's ability to assure its Arab and non-Arab neighbors that the new state will be the basis for reconstruction rather than destruction, stability rather than [disruption], economic welfare rather than poverty.

"One could say that, from 1996 until the beginning of the 2000 intifada, the PA had begun acting as a state, although it did make a few mistakes. Those in Fatah who made the revolutionary step of moving towards the 'maturity' of the Palestinian Authority have made an important qualitative leap, which history will count in their favor. [Indeed,] they initiated the PA into the rites of maturity, and took part in the negotiations in Oslo, Washington, Taba etc."

In 2000, "Instead Of Declaring A State, [The Palestinian Leadership] Decided to Declare A Revolution... the Palestinian Security Apparatuses Joined the Resistance as Factions... [Thus]... Relinquish[ing] Their Role in Building the State [And] Undermining the Trust of the International Community"

"The Palestinian leadership committed a major error in the beginning of 2000, when it refused to accept the outcome of the negotiations with U.S. President Bill Clinton, who nearly gave them a state in return for certain concessions. At the time, the Palestinian leadership refused to agree to these concessions out of fear that, otherwise, it might find itself up against the [Palestinian] people.

"Instead of declaring a state, it decided to declare a revolution. The Palestinian security apparatuses joined the resistance as factions – in other words, they reverted to the 'adolescence' of revolution. By joining the resistance, the security apparatuses relinquished their role in building the state, thereby undermining the trust of the international community, and the trust of its patron countries. Never again would the Egyptians, Americans, Europeans, and Israelis believe that the Palestinian leadership was truly capable of advancing from the 'adolescence' of revolution to the 'maturity' of state…

"The only solution left to the Palestinians, including Hamas, is to rebuild their institutions in accordance with the maturity of state rather than with the adolescence of revolution, thereby contributing to the stability of the region, rather than to its destruction.

"This is [how they should proceed]:

"First – [they must] search for new leaders, who are trusted both inside and outside the country, and in doing so they must apply as criteria, not the ideology of revolution, but that of statehood. [Moreover,] Hamas must come to terms with the fact that it is a political party, and act accordingly. [So far] Hamas's radical conduct has indicated that it is incapable of acting as a party – rather, it has been behaving like a militia...

"Fatah [C]ould Be Like the U.S. Democrats, and Hamas Like the Republicans; Alternatively, Fatah and Hamas [C]ould Be Like the Conservatives and Labor in Great Britain"

"If Hamas is incapable of acting maturely, as befits a [ruling] political party, the Palestinian political process could be modeled after the veteran democracies. Thus, Fatah would be like the U.S. Democrats, and Hamas like the Republicans; alternatively, Fatah and Hamas would be like the Conservatives and Labor in Great Britain. Furthermore, the Palestinians should hold new elections in order to form a new leadership. These elections must be free and unhampered by fear – since freedom of choice is the foundation of a free society.

"If the Palestinians cannot elect new leaders who can demonstrate to the international community that they believe in the maturity of state rather than in the adolescence of revolution, and, moreover, [that they believe] in a Palestinian state that can strengthen the stability of the region instead of contributing to its decline and destruction… if the Palestinians cannot rise up to this great challenge, we may be facing another 60 years of Nakba."


[1] Al-Sharq Al-Awsat (London), April 21, 2008.

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