I knew that the polls had closed and the votes had all been counted because I heard honking in the streets, though my apartment is too far away to make out the flags on the cars (even all the taxis and services had political party flags all over their cars today). The polls closed at 3 PM today and then there was an enormous party on campus with something like 10,000 students in attendance. But no I don’t mean elections in in the U.S. obviously. There were elections here in Palestine, too. At An Najah University. Student elections here, like in Jordan and in Lebanon, are important and closely followed because the students’ political parties are the same as those in the country at large. And following elections here in Palestine, whether in the national elections or in universities, is a far greater lesson in democracy than anything the U.S. tries to claim as democracy. For instance, for a university election today, classes were canceled so that students could vote. Imagine if the U.S. did this so that workers could vote? Or consider the fact that there are numerous political parties here: Arab Liberation Front, Democratic Front for the Liberation of Palestine (DFLP), Fateh, Hamas, Islamic Jihad, Al Mubaddara, Palestine Arab Front, Palestine Democratic Union (FIDA), Palestine Liberation Front (PLF), Palestinian People’s Party (PPP), Palestinian Popular Struggle Front (PPSF), Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP), Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine General Command (PFLP GC), and Sa’iqa. Imagine so many political parties in the U.S. What would that look like?
Some of the students collected themselves into political blocks–as in the leftist students–so that they could win more seats. And another, Hamas, boycotted the election because of PA/Fateh arrests of Hamas affiliated students (it is important to recall how closely tied Fateh is to the Americans–this helps to make sense of everything in terms of attempts to disrupt democracy and in terms of why Fateh people in the PA want Obama to be elected). In the end, Fateh won the most seats in the student council:
The Fatah bloc’s win brought 58 senate seats, followed by a bloc of leftist Palestinian parties’ 10. The Leftist bloc represented both the Popular and Democratic Fronts for the Liberation of Palestine, as well as the People’s Party.
Islamic Jihad gained eight seats, the Palestinian National Initiative took three and the FIDA bloc gained two. Hamas’s student bloc boycotted the election in response to an alleged Palestinian Authority (PA) arrest campaign, which the PA denies.
Members of the university’s election committee expressed surprise at the relatively high turnout for the vote. Despite the Hamas bloc’s boycott, nearly 60 percent of students participated.
University President Rami Al-Hamdallah congratulated students for their “fair and democratic elections.”
Palestinian democracy should be compared to the lack of democracy in the Zionist state. In its universities and elsewhere in the state contrary to Americans who think that it is the “only democracy in the Middle East.” Here is an example from their so-called democracy:
Ali Bahar, chairperson of the Palestinian Student Union at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, was detained for three hours by university and presidential security officials yesterday (2 November) after refusing to shake the hand of visiting President Shimon Peres, calling him “responsible for the murderer of children.” Bahar’s student card was confiscated and a university disciplinary committee will be convened to decide on disciplinary measures, if any, against Bahar.
Indeed, Palestinian democracy and the desire for democracy–as witnessed in an Al Jazeera report today of a Palestinian American trapped in Gaza who really wanted to vote, but since mail is rendered illegal by the Israeli Terrorist Forces (ITF), he cannot vote. He is not allowed to leave, even to go to the American Consulate in Al Quds. But Americans love democracy too, don’t you know that? Or is it just the rhetoric of democracy that they love? The illusion of it. Or the excuse of it as in using it to bomb their way to democracy in Iraq and Afghanistan. In spite of all this some Palestinians still seem to be under the delusion that Obama is their savior (witness the mug image above). They’ve caught the American disease of Obamamania. Or should I say Obamination?
It seems that only Hamas is connected to some version of reality as they commented on either outcome of the election (because in America we don’t have democracy; in spite of five candidates being on the ballot we hear nothing of the other three candidates or parties).
Spokesperson Fawzi Barhoum described the choice between Republican John McCain and Democrat Barack Obama as a choice “between two awful options.”
Hamas’s leader in exile, Khaled Mash’al, said that the movement would “welcome any change in US policy,” especially if the future president corrected what he called America’s “bias toward Israel.”
If only more people would at least admit to that. I had to get offline earlier from chatting with a friend because I was so disgusted by friends of mine who were promoting Obama via their online status. It’s one thing to admit you’re voting for the lesser of two evils. Or that you admit there are deep-rooted flaws in the system. It’s another to actively promote a candidate like Obama (and did I mention one of these friends is from Pakistan? His support of Obama is mind boggling given Obama’s stated vow to continue the spread of war into Pakistan).
In contradistinction to Hamas, we have the Palestinian Authority continuing their slow march to suicide in their support of Obama:
Palestinian Authority (PA) leaders are pulling for US Senator Barack Obama on Tuesday, a departure from the PA’s semi-official line that the presidential election in the United States is “an internal American issue.”
On Tuesday, which is Election Day in the United States, PA sources confirmed that both the Palestinian president and prime minister hope Obama wins, according to a report published by a Lebanese newspaper.
Sources in Ramallah told Al-Akhbar that “despite [Obama’s] leanings toward Israel,” the highest-level officials in the PA have supported the Democrat’s candidacy. PA officials also said that Obama’s apparently pro-Israel stance is political, “aimed at gaining the support of the Israel and Jewish lobby in the United States,” an Israeli newspaper reported.
The same sources said that after meeting with Obama, Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas and Prime Minister Salam Fayyad considered the senator’s position the best “they have ever heard from an American president.”
Are you kidding me? The best position? These people need to read Ralph Nader’s letter to Obama that I posted last night. Or else they are aware and insane. Or high. Or both. Who knows. But perhaps another reminder would do readers well. Did they not hear Obama say–in the midst of the financial upheaval in the U.S. and the congressional bailout–that he would increase foreign (read: military) aid to the Zionist state? Of course, George Bush is no different as Ehud Olmert reminds us today:
Outgoing Prime Minister Ehud Olmert praised US President George W. Bush on Tuesday, just hours before his country finishes electing his replacement. “His name will be engraved in golden letters on the heart of the State of Israel,” Olmert told Ynet.
“It is unreasonable to speak of what we have received from the Bush administration,” he continued. “There are many things we cannot discuss – the $30 billion we received over 10 years are only the very tip of the iceberg of the things Bush has given us.”
Maybe a photograph of Obama would help refresh people’s memories. This photograph is one of Obama’s trip to the Zionist state when he not only barely spent any time in Palestine or with Palestinians, but he chose to go to the Israeli colony of Sderot, built on the Palestinian village land of Najd; meanwhile the residents of Najd have being living under siege in Palestinian refugee camps in Gaza for the past few years. But Obama somehow thought he didn’t need to go there. If this isn’t enough just think about what it would mean to have Obama’s adviser, Dennis Ross, back in the picture: it would be an utter disaster for Palestinians.
There are some Palestinians and Palestinian Americans who have a more complicated view of things, but these are not people in power, in the PA. Still there are some who feel support for Obama would lead to something better because how could anyone possibly be worse than Bush (refer to “aid” comment above). Then there are the Arab Americans who are in the U.S. and who are trying to vote today. Hopefully they will be allowed to cast their ballots, whatever those ballots may be. But it is rather naive to think that racism won’t keep them from the polls. Indeed, there is great reason to think that racism will play a role in that process and indeed it already has. Not just for Arab Americans but lots of people of color. And lots of people in general will and already have had problems. Because the U.S. is not a democracy despite its rhetoric to the contrary. Even Oprah Winfrey had problems voting as a result of the deeply flawed electronic voting system:
Oprah Winfrey: “When I voted yesterday electronically, the first vote that you vote for on the ballot is the presidential candidate. And so, I hadn’t—you know, it was my first time doing electronic, so I didn’t obviously mark the X strong enough, or I held down too long, because then when I went back to check it, it had not recorded my presidential vote. And I was like, ohhOhhOh. And so the woman is walking around. And she says, why are you going back, why are you going back? I go, because it…didn’t…record…my presidential vote! So I went back and double-checked. So that’s why they have the, you know—check. Make sure you double check.”
Greg Palast has documented at length the problems with voter fraud and what people should do about it. He notes many issues one of them affecting new citizens and new voters in particular. You can watch Palast’s film or read his book if you want to know more. You can also watch this two-part documentary about voter fraud in this current 2008 election:
Why is it that when there is a national election in Palestine there are American observers here and Americans have none? It’s a very strange phenomenon. I mean, obviously the hegemonic power gets to observe elections of those it dominates–whether as an NGO or a government delegation. But still I really do think it should be the other way around. Already today there are stories of voter problems with electronic voting machines making Palast’s predictions come true. This vote flipping seems to work generally in one direction (flipping towards McCain).
All of this should cause outrage among Americans. It should at the very least cause some disillusionment, but it doesn’t seem to. It reminds me of Malcolm X’s famous speech “The Ballot or the Bullet.” His speech may not be precisely relevant today, but in some ways I wish it were:
And in 1964 this seems to be the year, because what can the white man use now to fool us after he put down that march on Washington? And you see all through that now. He tricked you, had you marching down to Washington. Yes, had you marching back and forth between the feet of a dead man named Lincoln and another dead man named George Washington singing “We Shall Overcome.” He made a chump out of you. He made a fool out of you. He made you think you were going somewhere and you end up going nowhere but between Lincoln and Washington.
So today, our people are disillusioned. They’ve become disenchanted. They’ve become dissatisfied, and in their frustrations they want action.
And in 1964 you’ll see this young black man, this new generation asking for the ballot or the bullet. That old Uncle Tom action is outdated. The young generation don’t want to hear anything about the odds are against us. What do we care about odds?…
I’m no politician. I’m not even a student of politics. I’m not a Republican, nor a Democrat, nor an American, and got sense enough to know it. I’m one of the 22 million black victims of the Democrats, one of the 22 million black victims of the Republicans, and one of the 22 million black victims of Americanism. And when I speak, I don’t speak as a Democrat, or a Republican, *nor an American.* I speak as a victim of America’s so-called democracy. You and I have never seen democracy; all we’ve seen is hypocrisy. When we open our eyes today and look around America, we see America not through the eyes of someone who have — who has enjoyed the fruits of Americanism, we see America through the eyes of someone who has been the victim of Americanism. We don’t see any American dream; we’ve experienced only the American nightmare. We haven’t benefited from America’s democracy; we’ve only suffered from America’s hypocrisy. And the generation that’s coming up now can see it and are not afraid to say it.
If you — If you go to jail, so what? If you black, you were born in jail. If you black, you were born in jail, in the North as well as the South. Stop talking about the South. Long as you south of the — Long as you south of the Canadian border, you’re south. Don’t call Governor Wallace a Dixie governor; Romney is a Dixie governor.
Twenty-two million black victims of Americanism are waking up and they’re gaining a new political consciousness, becoming politically mature. And as they become — develop this political maturity, they’re able to see the recent trends in these political elections. They see that the whites are so evenly divided that every time they vote the race is so close they have to go back and count the votes all over again. And that…which means that any block, any minority that has a block of votes that stick together is in a strategic position. Either way you go, that’s who gets it. You’re — You’re in a position to determine who will go to the White House and who will stay in the dog house. You’re the one who has that power. You can keep Johnson in Washington D.C., or you can send him back to his Texas cotton patch. You’re the one who sent Kennedy to Washington. You’re the one who put the present Democratic Administration in Washington D.C. The whites were evenly divided. It was the fact that you threw 80 percent of your votes behind the Democrats that put the Democrats in the White House.
If only his words would cause American people to see how dangerous the two-party choices they make can be. Or even participating in the system at all. If only Americans could see the hypocrisy today. But I think Americans’ viewpoint has become rather cloudy merely because one candidate is African American. Obama’s race does not prevent him from being a part of this hypocritical system. Witness the taring and feathering of Bill Ayers and Rashid Khalidi and Obama’s complete silence on the subject. He is complicit in increasing division and racism in the country. This is not change and hope. It is not democracy. It is hypocrisy and deception. It is the same old American story and system.