Might there be any point in comparing and contrasting yesterday's Palestinian election with the upcoming Iraqi one? Yes, indeed there might.

The first thing I would want to notice is this. The Palestinian people have a much more justifiable grievance against Israel than even the most alienated Sunni slum-dweller has against the Coalition in Iraq. The Arab citizens of former mandate Palestine live, at best, as second-class citizens in Israel. At worst, they live in vile refugee camps in other states. In the middle, in Jerusalem and Gaza and the West Bank, they experience occupation and colonization and annexation. More than that, they have been told that their very presence is an inconvenience, since the land was awarded by God to the Jews. President Bush in his most devout moments has not claimed Mesopotamia as holy to Americans. It's often said rather glibly that the Palestinians have missed numerous chances for peace (and I couldn't agree more--see my obituary for Arafat), but it should not be forgotten that for years the leading politicians of Israel refused to deal at all with the PLO, and that some of them refused even to recognize the existence of a Palestinian people in the first place.

Two Elections - Why Iraq's vote is not like Palestine's. By Christopher Hitchens


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