What do the kidnapping of a pro-Palestinian British activist and her family; the assault on the Rafah border crossing by disgruntled policemen and firing on the Gaza residence of Palestinian Authority Chairman Mahmoud Abbas have in common? My guess: Palestinian politics. Probably the most atmospheric of these three pieces is the description of the kidnapping of Kate Burton and her parents, which not so coincidentally, involved the Rafah crossing that was subsequently seized in the course of Palestinian in-fighting. From the Independent:
The party got into the taxi and headed for the Rafah crossing which reopened after the Israeli pullout from Gaza in a deal brokered by the US Secretary of State, Condoleezza Rice, and is monitored by the European Union to allow Palestinians from Gaza to travel in and out of Egypt. Mr Khulab said: "They wanted to see the suffering of the Palestinian people and the destruction of the border but also to see how the crossing was working."
They got to see something else: the muzzle end of a "militant" gun.
Mr Mansour said: "It all happened so quickly no one had time to say much. I said, 'What are you doing' to one of the men but he pointed the gun in my face. Kate told her father to get in the [kidnappers'] car. She was calm. No one was screaming or anything. If there was anything I could have done to stop it I would have done, believe me." Neither he nor Mr Khulab had a weapon. Mr Khulab tried to call for help on his mobile phone but the network was busy so they drove to the Rafah police station, five minutes away, and told officers what had happened. The two men stayed in Rafah until midnight desperately hoping for news. Two of Ms Burton's friends, Celine Gagne, 25, and Roberto Vila, 33, have arrived in Gaza from Ramallah hoping for news. Like her, they work for an non-governmental organisation passionately devoted to helping Palestinians under occupation.
Burton was just incidental, a way of sending a message to Abbas that there were other players in town. And whether she was conscious of it or not, probably did the right thing by calmly going along with the kidnappers as if it were the most normal thing in the world. Just another day in Gaza, which of course it was. The Mad Zionist chortles at the precipitate flight of European Union monitors from the Rafah border when it was rushed by gunmen, who turned out to be cops.
The assigned troops from the Effeminate Union, who are stationed at the Rafah border to monitor any terrorist infiltration since Sharon unconditionally surrendered Gaza, fled in a crying panic from the Gaza/Egypt border today after moslems from the PA scared them off with intimidating threats, very mean looks, and frightening hand gestures.
But in fairness, the EU monitors probably understood they were props put there for appearances; nobody actually expected them to do something, so there was no sense getting killed over the incident. They lit out for the Israeli side of the border at the first sign of trouble and waited until things settled down and they could get back to monitoring the crossing. Which of course raises the question: who's jerking around whom? Armed political movements around the world have made an art of turning instruments of Western intervention -- whether from Left wing NGOs or international peacekeeping bodies -- against themselves. For example, in the case of the Ethiopia-Eritrea border dispute the UN Peacekeeping force -- the very force meant to keep the warring parties apart -- has become the hostage to the parties. CNN reported on December 8, 2005:
ADDIS ABABA, Ethiopia (AP) -- Eritrea's expulsion order for some U.N. staff threatens the entire peacekeeping mission along the country's border with Ethiopia as concerns deepen that the two nations could return to war, a senior U.N. official said Thursday. Eritrea has given the U.N. mission's North American and European staff 10 days to leave, a demand the U.N. has rejected. Eritrea has offered no explanation for the order. A preliminary assessment of the order's effect on the U.N. mission showed it would threaten supplies, transport and communications, said Joel Adechi, the mission's deputy head, via video link from the Eritrean capital, Asmara.
Readers will recall that after the UN "imposed" a regime of sanctions on Saddam Hussein after the Gulf War which included weapons inspections, he regularly threatened to cancel the inspections unless he was given concessions. North Korea routinely threatens to starve its citizens to death unless it is given what it wants. And the EU is practically begging the Iranian President to diplomatically humiliate them just one more time. Sanctions, food aid, inducements: there's apparently no foreign policy lever that can't be turned around to hit its wielder over the head with. It's an absurdity seemingly apparent to no one, least of all those whose careers are invested in keeping these farces going. But it's been argued that "jaw-jaw is better than war-war" so that no matter how apparently futile a "process" or "engagement" is, it ultimately serves the cause of peace if prolonged for a sufficient number of decades. Yet if diplomacy were judged by its fruits it's amazing how unfailingly these processes have yielded nothing but misery and fighting. Maybe the Gaza politicians have a better idea: "jaw-jaw while you do war-war".