Hope in Sight

The people of Palestine have spoken, and Hamas seems to have been their choice for leadership. I spent election day in the town of Hebron in the West Bank. The town has been in the news recently because a group of Jewish settlers has decided to claim an empty Palestinian marketplace. The Israeli government is supposed to evict them by the end of the month.
The feeling one gets when reading the news and looking at the fragile political structure of Palestine is that it’s easy to see instability and conflict of opinions among Palestinians. But being among the people feels much different.
Hamas supporters would joke with their friends who supported Fateh and take the green hat they were wearing and run off with it or replace it with a black and white checkered Fateh hat. They would argue jokingly about who was better in the way two people in a less hostile part of the world would joke about two sports teams, but in the end they would agree on both loving the sport.
Palestinians see this election as a sign of hope, whether Hamas or Fateh wins. It’s as if a group of people, long stranded on a deserted island, has just seen a boat in the distance.

Posted January 26th, 2006 in Uncategorized.


  1. Lau:

    Glad you are showing us something else than we hear in the news all the time. No stories in our newspapers about guys joking around. Happy you have a different point of view;must have been fascinating being out there at election time.

  2. Bekah from VT:

    Jim–great to see pics of you and Annah, finally! How about some more? It’s neat to hear your point of view about the recent elections. Help me understand electing a terrorist organization into power. I don’t get it, but I want to. We are hearing here two sides–those that feel baffled and those that say the Palestinians took the lesser of two evils. Hope you are doing well. Give love to Annah for me!

  3. Girish:

    Jim … this is Kara’s husband, Girish. Great to see your photos in the middle-east, and palestine in particular. It’s so refreshing to hear a first-hand, non-media opinion from that part of the world. I want to make 3 points, and would love you to hear your opinion on them:

    1. Interestingly, as you may know, the western media is more occupied with reporting internal clashes between Hamas and Fateh supporters, and you give us so much more of a positive outlook on the political tension in the region. So, do the reported clashes occur, or are they just part of the western propaganda machine? If the prevailing mood in Palestine is as you have suggested in your blog, and the clashes are just stray incidents, then it is so sad to see the picture painted by the media.

    2. I’m really curious to know what the Palestenians think of Sharon and his coma? After the Gaza pull-out, how do they view him?

    3. Yeah, I had also read the Wash-post stories about the US government financing the Fateh campaign with ridiculous pet projects to boost its image. I was imagining that this sort of thing would have in fact reduced Fateh’s popularity, as they were apt to be seen as a crony of the west. Do you think that had a negative impact on Fateh?

    Would love to hear your opinion on these. Cheers, and waiting to read your next blog …

  4. pops:

    Jim it is great to see you and Annah had a little time off for a get away! It is also nice to here another side of the news as we back here, only see and hear the worst part of it.Keep up the Great work!! Our Love goes out to you both.

  5. garyoke_in_nh:

    I have to take exception to the posts implying that “we only get the bad news here”. Make no mistake – this election is equivalent to Berlin July 1932.

    An entire people, tired of corruption, stagnation, and the disinterest western world, have turned to a militant fundamentalist organization in an attempt get their needs met, and to regain their self respect.

    It’s easy to blame this result on the myopic idiocy of the Bush administration. Yet it’s naive not to think that the results have not sent equal tremors through Biet Al-Urdon in Amman and the House of Saud. This is not a team sporting event.

    With Hezbollah prominant in Lebanon, and the Muslim Brotherhood rising in Egypt, and the threat of a nuclear Iran, Israel is not alone in facing the spectre of destruction. This is a movement that declares the Koran to be its constitution. This is a militancy that is threatening the lives of Christian peace activists.

    We are living in an age where reason is being supplanted, rather than complementedm by faith – both in our country as well as the middle east. This does not bode well for diplomacy. Compromise is not possible when both sides believe that their actions reflect God’s will.

    This post may have been a little long – sorry – but for the first time, I am scared.

  6. Lau:

    To start with I hope I am clear enough not writing in my native language. It is hard putting yourself in other people’s shoes, but to react against the western -not only American- world by turning to more conservative and traditional beliefs and seek shelter in a group seems to be an understandable reaction when you have the justly fear that your beliefs, habits, customs and traditions are threatened. The same thing happens when you move to a society where you dont feel welcome. History has proven this. The Dutch in the Northern US are still far more religious and traditional than we out here and they still stick to values that are long gone in The Netherlands. The same thing is happening all over Europe where muslims feel threatened, are spoken about as a group and are accused as a group of people (much generalizing is done) for being the cause of many problems. They start acting as a group again and turn to more traditional ways of living. Once put aside by society, you will turn yourself against this same society. Unfortunately but understandable.

    I was happy JIm showed us the joy people felt when using their democratic rights, for the first time having the possibility to really make your own choices. Why not respect and try to understand why people would vote for a group that from a maybe preoccupied western point of view has a bad reputation? I sometimes feel the western newspapers have a stake in showing the people in the occupied territories are not capable of ruling this very small piece of land themselves; only stories about violence, attacks, and terrorist activities seem to make it to the front pages. Why did it take so much time to ever read a story about the enlightened actively concerned in social matters new mayor of Ramallah, who happens to be a Hamas member?

    I agree that compromises are not easy when politics are led by religion. The two of them should never interfere, but unfortunately this happens a lot. Both in the Middle East and the United States, where the Bush administration is enforcing laws and putting people in high positions (Supreme Court f.i) based on his own personal conservative Christian beliefs. Religion is private, not public.

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