The Plaid Avenger

Plaidcast  |  Middle East

Goodbye Gaza Part 4: Fatah Friends; Hamas Haters.

Greetings again Plaid Friends! The Avenger has returned to finish off this four-part blog, with the finale focusing on how Fatah is feeling frisky and free, while its Hamas rivals are hopelessly hammered and hamstrung.  What the fuck am I talking about? If you have read the previous blogs on this subject, you now understand that the Fatah political party in Palestine was run out of the Gaza section and now is concentrated in, and outright controls, the West Bank section. Hamas is the other Palestinian political party, you know, the ones that are labeled as a terrorist group by some, and are in control of the Gaza Strip section of Palestine.  These two political parties now hate each other even more fervently than they did before this open rift physically separated the pseudo-state we call Palestine. 

As the Plaid Avenger now sees it, the idea of a singular state called Palestine which consists of both the Gaza and the West Bank is officially and completely fucking DEAD.  And even if the peace process as a whole isn’t dead, then certainly Hamas and the whole Gaza population is being pushed to the brink of extinction and most of the outside world is helping accelerate this demise.  Don’t believe me? Then check these out:

EU cuts dim Gaza’s power supply

UN warns over Gaza economic woe

Japan resumes direct aid to support Abbas

Abbas issues decree excluding Hamas from elections

Israel to free inmates this week

US in $80m Palestinian aid deal

Israel loves Abbas!So what’s the real deal here Plaid? I’m glad you asked.  Because while it completely sucks for Hamas and all the inhabitants of the Gaza Strip, its quite easy to explain the state of affairs in this Palestinian situation. And here we go: Hamas is screwed. Gaza is screwed. Mahmoud Abbas is the favorite son of “the West” and therefore stands to gain tremendously for both his party but also for the West Bank in its entirety. Fatah will emerge as the triumphant and most powerful political party in Palestine.  Let’s take these one at a time, shall we?

Hamas is screwed.  Why? Because they are the group that is despised by Israel and “the West” because they have a militant wing of their party that condones suicide bombings and calls for the destruction of Israel.  As pointed out in a previous blog, most of Hamas is not that radical, but the small minority that are have gotten the entire political party labeled as such.  This is the primary reason why Israel, the US, the EU and many other international players are completely turning their backs on Hamas and refusing to recognize them as a real and legitimate political party that controls Gaza. [Never mind that Hamas actually won the power in democratic elections]  To compound the outsiders’ hate of Hamas, the fact that Hamas physically and succinctly kicked Fatah out of the Gaza Strip a few months ago has only served to piss off the international players on this stage even more.  So how to punish Hamas, this group that is so despised? Well, that leads to point #2.

Gaza is screwed.  In an effort to destabilize, demoralize, and outright destroy Hamas power, almost all international actors are isolating and punishing the inhabitants of the Gaza Strip.  Check stories above for just a few references.  International aid has been slashed, EU is shutting down its power plant that provides electricity, and Israel has tightened all economic activities across the borders in Gaza to the point that there really is no economy at all.  Essentially, the whole group is being starved out as punishment for first off electing the Hamas leadership, and secondly for supporting the expulsion of Fatah, and thirdly for allowing Hamas to continue to remain in power. Sound fucking harsh? Yeah, it does to me too, but I’m not here to get on a political soapbox and generate sympathy, I just want you to understand what the hell is going on.  However, while the Gaza Strip is getting shattered, not everybody is a loser in this game, consider Abbas and Fatah.The hell with Raymond! Everybody loves Abbas!

Mahmoud Abbas is still the leader of the Fatah political Party, and the leader of the PLO, and now the de facto leader of the West Bank.  And life is looking awfully cheery for him right now.  Look again at the stories linked above.  In just the last month here has what has happened to Abbas and his Fatah party:

  1. Official recognition as the legitimate rulers of Palestine (whatever that means anymore)
  2. US, Israel, and the EU resumed all international aid programs to the West Bank—in effect, directly to Fatah since they control the West Bank (BTW, Gaza is excluded from all this aid)
  3. Israel released a shitload of Fatah political prisoners from its jails as a token of goodwill
  4. US, EU, Israel and even Russia have increased international investment into the West Bank
  5. Abbas has met with pretty much every important world leader in the last month. None have gone to Gaza.

The US loves Abbas!

Starting to get the picture here?  The long and short of it is that the outside world is legitimizing Abbas and Fatah in an effort to further isolate Hamas.  Why? Go back to Fatah blog again and check it out.  Under Arafat, Fatah denounced terrorism and suicide bombings, and recognized the right of Israel to exist. While not all folks in Fatah may actually believe in those pledges, it is precisely the reason that Israel, the US, and the EU are currently supporting them over their political rivals Hamas, which of course has not done any of those things.

And quite frankly, I think that’s probably all you need to know right now to understand exactly what is happening, and what the very likely outcome will be.  Now you understand why Gaza is being isolated and starved, don’t you?  Now you understand why Abbas is the West’s best friend, don’t you?  And perhaps you now understand why the idea of a single Palestinian state comprised of both Gaza and the West Bank together is completely fucked, don’t you? 

The future is not hard to predict either: as millions in aid and international recognition flows to Abbas and Fatah in the West Bank, they will thrive and become richer.  More importantly, they will be recognized internationally as the true voice of the Palestinian state, whatever that means.  For instance, if there is to be a Palestinian seat at the UN, it will definitely be filled with a guy from Fatah. No doubts.  Israel and the US in particular will make it their mission to pull the West Bank from squalor to make sure that the world sees a state that has denounced terrorism become a success story in the Middle East. Will it actually happen? Hell if I know, but I bet you will increasingly see lots of “success stories” reported out of the West Bank.

And Gaza? Well, grinding poverty produces two things: 1)lots of suffering and death and 2)further radicalization of radical people.  Surprise, surprise!  Things are going to suck even worse for those folks, and some of those folks will get even more extreme. What a shocker.  To be fair, Israel, the US and the EU are probably hoping that their tough stance towards Hamas will effect some sort of softening of Hamas’ stance, or perhaps that the locals will overthrow Hamas and then beg “the West” for forgiveness, but the Avenger does not see that happening anytime soon.  One thing is for certain: Palestine is now two distinct entities, and the West Bank will certainly soon achieve state status, but Gaza is likely to flounder into nothingness…

What do you think? Your comments and questions are welcome. Hope this Palestinian tutorial helped you understand this mess a little better.  Time for a drink!.

Goodbye Gaza Part 3: What the freak is Fatah?

Greetings again Plaid Friends! The Avenger has returned to this tumultuous topic of tremendous trepidation and tribulations—the troubles in Palestine, or what is left of Palestine depending upon your view.  We’ve talked about the territories, I’ve harangued you about Hamas, so let’s now get our freak on with Fatah! 

Fatah likes yellow flags, Hamas digs the green. Color code your conflict for clarity!So what the fuck is a Fatah? Fatah is all at once several things:

Confusing enough for you?  Let’s take these one at a time…but a couple definitions to start:

The Palestinian National Authority/Palestinian Authority is the interim government of the Palestinian territories, first headed by headed by Yasser Arafat and now led by Mahmoud Abbas.  Basically, it’s the ‘government’ of Palestine, but since Palestine is not an officially recognized sovereign state in the eyes of the world, it’s still an ‘interim’ government.  The basic assumption here is that Palestine is in the process of becoming a state eventually, but it’s not yet there.  Israelis who do not recognize a Palestinian state, always drop the word ‘National’ and refer to it as the Palestinian Authority.  You will see it used both ways in lots of different places.

Yasser Arafat: forever leader of Fatah, of the PLO, of the Palestinian Authority….

Meanwhile back at the Bat-cave, the Palestinian Liberation Organization aka the PLO is an umbrella group of a shitload of different political and militant groups originially headed by Yasser Arafat.    The PLO started in Egypt in 1964 as a political movement uniting Palestinian Arabs in an effort to create an independent state of Palestine—their main objective has always been an independent Palestine, although in the past it also touted a need for the destruction of the state of Israel for this to happen.  For a good portion of its history, the PLO was considered a terrorist organization, and an extremely rich one at that ($8-10 billion in assets).  In 1968 Arafat became chairman; received recognition by the United Nations and by Arab states in 1974 as a government in exile; and thus has played a largely political role since the creation of the Palestine National Authority. The Palestine Liberation Organization is considered by the Arab League and by the United Nations to be the legitimate representative of the Palestinian people and it holds a permanent observer seat in the United Nations General Assembly. Now, the story of the PLO is much more fact-packed and complicated than I’m explaining here, but there is one more specific tidbit that you must know about Arafat and the PLO to understand today’s Gaza debacle:

***This is critical: Yasser Arafat signed the ‘Declaration of Principles’ with Israel in 1993 and exchanged mutual renunciations of terrorism with Israel and a mutual recognition between the PLO and Israel, and was allowed to return to the Palestinian territories from exile in Tunisia. What’s so important about that? In this letter, Arafat is basically saying that his group will not officially condone any more terrorism, and most importantly recognizes Israel‘s right to exist. Kind of. Perhaps more factually, he says that the destruction of Israel is no longer a goal or demand of the PLO and by default the Palestinian National Authority.  This is why he was allowed to return and head the interim government, and why he became ‘legitimate’ spokesman for the Palestinians and a ‘legitimate’ player in the peace process. Why is this so crucial for our story? Because Hamas has not made a similar denouncement of terrorism and recognition of Israel—that’s why they are not ‘legitimate’ players in this game in the eyes of the West.

But wait Plaid Avenger! I thought you were just talking about the PLO! How can you compare the PLO legitimacy with Hamas illegitimacy? I thought this blog was about Fatah! I’m confused!

Mahmoud Abbas: current leader of Fatah, of the PLO, of the Palestinian Authority..I know, I know, my friends.  I’ve intentionally led you down a blind alley talking about the PLO so that I wouldn’t have to muddle terms.  I’ve left out one big component that you should now be ready to handle: Fatah is indeed a separate political party in Palestine, but it is also the most powerful political party in the PLO! Confused more or less now? Fatah has always been the major stakeholder of power in the PLO, Fatah has more or less controlled the action of the PLO, and what’s more, Yasser Arafat was simultaneously the head of the PLO, the head of the Fatah political party, and the head of the Palestinian National Authority (PNA)!  Damn, let’s make it more confusing: Mahmoud Abbas, the current President is the PNA took all of Arafat’s titles too! He is head of Fatah, head of the PLO, and head of the PNA. Got it yet? Shit! Good! Someone explain it back to me!

The Avenger is usually pretty astute with analogies, but I’m not sure one exists to compare to this situation.  But I’ll try.  It would be something like this: pretend for a minute that George Bush Jr. is the head of the Republican Party.  Now pretend that he is simultaneously President of the US. Oops, I keep forgetting that he kind of is….kind of. Finally, pretend that he also is the head of an international coalition of Republicans from across the world who are bound be a single mission…. I don’t know, maybe the elimination of all corporate taxes, or perhaps a world-wide country club membership that included a free-golf-for-life clause. Whatever. Hopefully you get my point. Arafat, and now Abbas, have always worn these three hats at the same time: 1)head of the political party (Fatah), 2)head of an international organization in which their political party is the major player (PLO), and 3)head of the government in which their political party controls (Palestine).

So now back to our Fatah story. The Fatah movement—promoting an independent Palestine which would be liberated by the actions of Palestinian Arabs—was founded in 1958 by members of the Palestinian diaspora (mostly professionals working in the Gulf States who had been refugees in Gaza and had gone on to study in Cairo). This is when Arafat became involved and quickly rose to leadership.  As referenced above, Arafat and his Fatah party became the foundation stone of the PLO in 1964.  For the following decades, Fatah/PLO provided training to a wide range of militant and insurgent groups, and carried out numerous attacks against Israeli targets in the Middle East and abroad—thus their ‘terrorist’ status. Fatah became the dominant force in Palestinian politics after the 1967 Six-Day War dealt seriously dismembered the already fractured Palestinian territory. 

Since then, Fatah has been the primary voice of the Palestinian plight, both internally but also on the international stage.  And I mean THE primary voice.  Like 90% of the politicians in Palestine were Fatah folks. However, like I alluded to in the Hamas blog, it is at its core a political party made up of lots of different folks with lots of different views.  Some are more worried about social issues, others more militant and concerned only with the intractable Israeli dispute, and yet others who want to seek political solutions to the whole debacle.  As time has wore on, many Palestinians have come to view Fatah as largely corrupt internally (it is), and largely incompetent and useless internationally (since there have been virtually no positive movements towards the territorial dispute). Yeah….these guys got troubles. 

As such, Fatah has been losing support from the Palestinian masses for years. And the final hammer just dropped: In 2005, Hamas won landslide victories in nearly all the municipalities it contested, and in the January 25, 2006 parliamentary election, Fatah lost its majority in the Palestinian parliament to Hamas, and resigned all cabinet positions, instead assuming the role as the main opposition party.

So where does that leave us? Is it over for Fatah? Not hardly! The turn of events of last month witnessed Hamas literally kicking the Fatah folks out of Gaza—but don’t count them out yet! Fatah retaliated by firing all the Hamas officials and taking over sole control of the West Bank.  And all this controversy has resulted in widespread international support for Fatah, to the exclusion of Hamas….And you’ll have to tune in tomorrow for the wrap-up to see the Plaid predictions of how this will all turn out…

Goodbye Gaza Part 2: Who the hell is Hamas?

Damn! Check out the sweet threads on that kid–and he gets to play with mortars! No fair! All I got was lawn darts!Do-gooders? Politicians? Extremists? Rebels? Terrorists?  The answer is: All the Above.  Depending on who you ask of course.  Hello Plaid Friends.  My Hamas-inspired hiatus was due to me working deep deep deep undercover in the Gaza Strip helping secure the release of that reporter-dude named Alan Johnston—whose release was secured by the ruling Hamas government.  And after the free-hostage-celebration ended (and man, those freed hostages seriously know how to party) I remembered that I am way past due on my blog deadline to describe a little about these Hamas cats and their changing role in Gaza.  So read this:

Hamas hopeful after Alan’s release

U.S.: Johnston release will not change world opinion of Hamas

MPs urging engagement with Hamas

The new Hamas spring fashions are in! So sexy!

SO what the hell is a Hamas? Founded in 1987, Hamas was the Gaza Strip branch of the Islamist Muslim Brotherhood movement founded in Egypt. Hamas is opposed to the existence of Israel (that’s kind of extreme), and the Hamas charter calls for the eventual creation of an Islamic Republic in place of Israel (extreme, part deux). It is best known outside the West Bank and Gaza Strip for its suicide bombings and other attacks directed against civilians and Israeli military and security forces targets.  It is just such attacks that have earned it the official label as a ‘terrorist organization’ by the US, the EU, Israel, Canada, the UK, and Australia.  So to the US and its staunch lapdogs…um, I mean allies…Hamas is bad, bad, bad oh so fucking bad!  And those countries won’t deal with Hamas, talk to Hamas, or even write a letter to Hamas to tell them how much they fucking hate Hamas. Now that is hate my friends!

Unfortunately for ‘the West’ and its allies, Hamas is something else to a lot of Palestinians and Middle Easterners in general.  It is a political party in the Palestinian territories, and one that has gained popularity in the last few years.  Hamas is the only other real political party option besides Fatah.  Fatah is the main political party in Palestine (see Fatah blog tomorrow) and has been the stronghold of Palestinian political power for years.  Yassir Arrafat was at the helm for decades, and now Mahmoud Abbas is the current leader of the Fatah party, and these guys have essentially been ‘the voice’ for Palestinians forever.  Think of Fatah and Hamas as the Democratic and Republican political parties in the US—except of course that the Republicans don’t have a militant wing of their party that goes out and blows up people and shit….oops…um…my mistake again…bad analogy.

But let’s be real Plaid! They can’t possibly be a real political party! Who the hell would vote for a political party that advocates open violence? Why would anyone in Palestine really want to screw themselves by voting for a terrorist political party? Here’s why: the Fatah movement has increasingly been viewed as ineffective, inefficient, and downright corrupt by a lot of Palestinians.  Lots of people are hungry, unemployed, and desperate.   Many are interested in a change from the Fatah era, which has accomplished little.  On top of that, Hamas actually does a lot of ‘good deeds’ on the ground.  They build and staff hospitals and schools and soup kitchens and a host of other do-gooder stuff that folks on the ground see and benefit from.  That’s the Hamas social wing. Meanwhile, the Hamas political wing advocates a much more hard-core approach to solving the Palestinian/Israel dispute, but is also viewed as much less corrupt and as a real voice for the people.  As such, the Hamas political party has been gaining popularity in the masses, even among those that do not advocate terrorist violence….dammit, that’s what makes them so confusing!…….

Senior Hamas official Abdel-Aziz al-Rantissi:

A political party or faction, much like any other party or faction worldwide, Hamas contains a shitload of different viewpoints amongst its members—again, not unlike the Republican or Democratic parties in the US.  There are folks in Hamas who are staunch advocates of solving the Palestinian issue thru the use of force, while other folks in Hamas seek to use only diplomatic political means to solve the problem…there are also members of Hamas who focus only on the social issues of the Palestinian peoples, and others who are just about the grassroots movement on the street to build hospitals and schools.  Are you starting to see the diversity of opinions here?

Dammit I hope so, because that is the only way you can understand their current dilemma.  What has happened over the course of the last decade is that the political and social and militant wings of the Hamas party have kind of parted ways on what to do and how to act.  There has been no singular front; no singular voice of Hamas that speaks for all.  As the social movement in Hamas has struggled to keep up with charitable deeds in an increasingly desperate situation, and the political wing of Hamas has essentially been ignored and shut out of the political process, the militant wing has gained strength within the movement.  In other words, as other options have floundered for the party, the militant guys have gained ground thru their deeds and actions—since no one else can seemingly get anything done, or be taken seriously by ‘the West’. 

Am I defending them for blowing shit up?  Hell no I’m not defending their actions! I’m just trying to explain why the more violent factions within the Hamas party have come to power. Fuck man, they tried the political route—they put up candidates, campaigned for change, got lots of people to vote for them, won the election…and then were politely told to go away and shut the fuck up.  Is it some sort of surprise to other world leaders that Hamas has taken a more violent approach to change, since its other options have been totally shut down?  Oh wait a minute…I’m assuming western leaders know their asses from a hole in the ground. My mistake again.  Let’s move on…

Now you know enough to get to the meat and potatos of the current shit-storm: Since the death of Yasser Arafat, the Fatah movement has lost steam–and the Hamas movement has gained it.  Hamas’s political wing had been entering local/state elections and winning a lot of them, mostly in Gaza, but also the West Bank.  Infighting between these two political factions has gotten nasty in the last few years, resulting in lots more death and destruction—as if this place needed some more.  But now the real shit:

In January 2006, Hamas won a surprise victory in the Palestinian parliamentary elections, taking 76 of the 132 seats in the chamber, while the ruling Fatah party took 43.  What’s the big deal about that?  Well, in a parliamentary system, the ruling party of parliament gets to pick the Prime Minister, as well as form the ruling government. (The President is elected by a separate popular vote, like in US) That meant that, quite legally, Hamas was in control and would pick the Prime Minister and be in control of the workings of the Palestinian territory.  Oops!  The Palestinian government was going to be run by a political party labeled as terrorist by Israel and ‘the West’! Oh shit!

When this happened, Israel and all of ‘the West’ refused to recognize any government led by Hamas.  They also pulled all funding from the Palestinian government, in effect immediately bankrupting an already impoverished government (Palestine relies heavily on foreign aid to operate). Dammit! I hate when those pesky democracies vote for people we don’t like! Democracy can be such a pain in the ass for ‘the West’ sometimes!  Why won’t people around the world elect the leaders WE want them to?  Why can’t they understand that WE know what’s best for them?  (Can you sense the smart-ass-ness jumping off the page at you here?) What a fucking joke.

Long story short, the Palestinian parliament was Hamas-controlled but since the world was going to shut them out entirely, Mahmoud Abbas (remember, he is a Fatah guy) kept power until some sort of power-sharing deal could be worked out.  Well, that was 6 months ago and they never worked the shit out.  Hamas got fed up with the process and all hell broke out a few weeks back—Hamas literally, physically and militarily took control of the entire Gaza Strip, their political stronghold from the start.   On June 18, 2007, Palestinian President Abbas issued a decree outlawing the Hamas militia and executive force, and two days later called the group “murderous terrorists.” The Hamas forces that were in real control of Gaza just kind of laughed that decree off. Abbas and the rest of the Fatah government were already safely secure in the West Bank when that mostly meaningless decree was made.

So what we have now is Hamas controlling the Gaza part of Palestine, Fatah controlling the West Bank of Palestine, and the possible end of any future singular state of ‘Palestine’ which contains both these geographic entities.  Mahmoud Abbas of Fatah is still acting head of the West Bank division of Palestine; upon these Gaza events unfolding, every western power recognized him as the rightful ruler of ‘Palestine’ (whatever the fuck that means now.) As such, all diplomatic channels are back open between Abbas and the US, the EU, Israel and others.  All western entities have also promised to give all the previously withheld financial aid to the Abbas governemnt. And only to the Abbas government.

And Hamas? Well, it appears that they may be more fucked than ever.  As all western powers are only recognizing their Fatah rivals in the West Bank, their government in Gaza will remain isolated and poor. But they are quickly moving to change their image in order to be accepted as a legitimate government to the eyes of the world.  Thus, the stories above allude to the Hamas government helping secure the release of the British reporter.  That might help.  But then again it might not.  ‘The West’ is seemingly in no mood to deal with Hamas at all until they change their stance towards the right of Israel to exist, as well as an official renouncement of the use of suicide bombers and other ‘terrorist’ tactics.  Even if Hamas did all that….who knows even then if they would be accepted as a legitimate government in Gaza that the world would talk to and deal with?

I don’t know the answer to that my friends, but I do know a little about how all this will positively affect Fatah, our next topic…

Goodbye Gaza! Part 1: Let’s Talk Territory


So what in the living hell has been happening this month in the area referred to as Palestine, and why is it so important to the future of this region?  I thought originally that I would start this story with Hamas and Fatah, the two political parties involved in this struggle for leadership, but now I think its best if we start with geography to set the place and space up for your understanding. So let’s take a quick tour of the area and name some names…

Gaza Strip + West Bank = Palestine = 'the Occupied Territories'Introduction to Palestine/Israel geography a.k.a. long story short: Currently, the area we refer to as Palestine is a political entity comprised of 2 separate geographic spaces, the West Bank and the Gaza Strip. See map at right. Notice I call it a ‘political entity’ as opposed to a state/country.  Cause it’s not.  Yet.  There has been movement towards Palestine becoming a full sovereign state for the last decade or so, but this has not been accomplished—and the current events of June 2007 have radically complicated the process.  But I am getting ahead of myself…


The Mandate from HellAfter the dismemberment of the Ottoman Empire at the conclusion if WWI, many territories that are now states in the Middle East were controlled by European powers under a system known as mandates. Of most interest to our particular story, the British had the mandate over what is now Palestine, Israel, and Jordan (see map).  During Brit control thousands of Jews were allowed to migrate to the area, fulfilling a desire to re-obtain their ancient homeland in a movement referred to as Zionism.  This went on at a slow pace for decades, but became radically accelerated after WWII, as the Nazi-sponsored Jewish Holocaust energized the Zionist movement to really formalize the whole Jewish homeland/state concept.

The UN Plan that started it allBut there was one small problem for the incoming Jews—there were already other people living there! Shitloads of people! The people we call Palestinians!  Arab/Muslim Palestinians that were living there weren’t too keen on this process, and friction between the groups developed.  The Brits saw the impending shit-storm that was brewing, so they bailed out and handed over the entire area to the UN to let them sort it out.  Subsequently, a majority of the United Nations Special Committee on Palestine recommended the creation of independent Arab and Jewish states, with Jerusalem to be placed under international administration, and on November 29, 1947 the UN General Assembly voted 33 to 13 in favor of the 1947 UN Partition Plan. (see map) The partition plan was rejected out of hand by the leadership of the Palestinian Arabs, by the Arab League, and by most of the Arab population.

This led Jewish leaders to declare the independent State of Israel the day prior to official British withdrawal, on 14 May 1948. All the surrounding Arab countries immediately attacked it, and the ensuing 1948 Arab-Israeli War ended with the former mandate territory controlled by the State of Israel, the Kingdom of Jordan, and the Kingdom of Egypt.  Israel had successfully defended itself from the Arab attack and the US, the Europeans, and the UN recognized its sovereignty.  But the fun had just begun…

I won’t go into detail here, but you should probably at least know this: since 1948 there have been multiple wars between Israel and the neighboring Arab states over control of the territories, but the most critical one was the 1967 6-Day War. Try and figure out how the war got its name. After that, try and figure out who is buried in Grant’s tomb.  Anyway by this war’s end, Israel had gained control of eastern Jerusalem, the Gaza Strip, the Sinai Peninsula, the West Bank, and the Golan Heights. (see map)

Oh what a difference 6 days can make!

The results of the war affect the geopolitics of the region to this day.  The Sinai Peninsula eventually reverted back to Egypt and the Golan Heights will probably soon revert back to Syria, but the West Bank and the Gaza Strip have been under Israeli occupation and control since 1967…and continuing to this day.  Which brings us to the end of this chapter…

The West Bank and Gaza Strip are sometimes referred to as ‘the Occupied Territories’, as in occupied by Israel forces. The areas, and specifically the borders, are patrolled and controlled by the Israeli military–complete with check points and road blocks and high security throughout.  Some in Israel would argue that the areas were won in a war, so they should just claim them outright as part of Israel.  But many more folks (including most other countries in the world) think that perhaps those territories should be controlled by the Palestinians, and even made into a separate sovereign state…which of course was the plan that the UN had put forth back in 1947. This idea is referred to as ‘the 2-state solution’ and we’ll talk more about it later.

Look for the blue dots = Jewish settlements

All this mess has been further complicated by Israel‘s off-and-on support of the movement of Jewish settlers into these contested territories. So there are lots of Jewish settlements/towns/people throughout the West Bank, although there are not anymore in the Gaza Strip since the Israeli government forcibly removed them a few years back as a diplomatic gesture to promote the peace process. You may have also heard lately about a big-ass wall that Israel has been building around parts of the West Bank to improve security between the West Bank and Israel proper, but also protecting Jewish settlement areas within the West Bank itself. 


This shit is so confusing.  I hope this has helped. At least know what these geographic terms mean: the West Bank, the Gaza Strip, Israel, ‘the Occupied Territories’, and Palestine.  Now that you have the geo-vocab, we can get into the nuts and bolts of the politics. This one last map may help you understand the changing geography of what/where ‘Palestine’ is:




Watch the incredible, amazing shrinking state!

‘2-State Solution’ Totally Tanked. And so am I: an intro.

What is happening my Party Plaid People?  Sorry for the incredible incorrigible inconvenient incognito that I have indulged in for several weeks, but what can I say? Sometimes when you fall in cahoots with a couple of Asian hotties while working undercover to infiltrate a top-secret lingerie factory outside Rangoon…well, let’s just say that you lose track of time.

But now I’m back! And lo and behold! All hell has broken loose in the Strip! Now typically when I hear the word ‘strip’ it has nothing but positive connotations in my experience abroad.  But when the strip in question is the Gaza Strip, we’re talking about a whole different type of being fucked.  I have the distinct feeling that most Americans don’t have an utter clue about the importance of the events in Palestine in the last two weeks, and we need to change that. 

Soon you will understand why this map is a historic artifact.

Some serious shit has gone done there—and I mean history-altering type of shit. Everything in the Arab-Israeli dispute, the ‘two-state solution’, and peace in the Middle East is going to be different from here on out. Would you like to know more? Would you like to be among the 1% of Americans that actually know what the hell is going on in this situation? Then tune in for the next several days my friends and I’ll do my best to clue you in.  Let’s do a Plaid Avenger first: a multi-day blog on a single subject. How about a line-up that looks like this:

Day 1: Who the hell is Hamas?

Day 2: What the fuck is Fatah?

Day 3: When did all this shit go down: a timeline

Day 4: Where the hell are these places we’re talking about? Territory matters!

Day 5: Why is the ‘2-state solution’ now totally tanked?

Day 6: Wrap-up; likely scenarios and what outside forces will do.

Damn!  The who-what-when-where-and why of current events in Palestine.  That is too damn good!  Now I hope I can deliver the goods.  Sound good to you folks? Drop me a line in the comments section—seriously.  In fact, I think from now on this blog should only be written to answer specific questions or approach specific current events posed in the comments or emailed directly to me. 

If you build it, they will come.  If you ask it, it shall be written. That is my inebriated pledge to you, my friends.

Shit, now I’ve got to sleep off this hangover and figure out Hamas. I must be out of my mind. Check this out while you wait:

Mid-East leaders gather at summit

Haniya rejects Israel-Arab summit

Israel and U.S. agree on Palestinian approach

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Issue 2: Battle For Burma

Well, the battle for the heart and soul of this country is on, but no one outside Burma seems to be able to do a damn thing about it! Why not?

click to profile Moon Jae-in Moon Jae-in President
click to profile Emmanuel Macron Emmanuel Macron President
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