By Mamoon Alabbasi
Once more, as Israel continues its ruthless attacks on the Palestinian population (against both civilians and resistance fighters), mainstream media outlets direct the blame on the victims. This time the villain is none other than the democratically elected Palestinian movement Hamas.
Of course, no one is suggesting that Hamas is a movement comprised of angels that have been inspired by the words of Mother Teresa and had picked up their self-defence strategy from Ghandi. Frankly, I am not aware of any political movement that is. What is put forward, however, and has been missed by ignorant or hypocrite Israel apologists, is the fact that Hamas is least to blame in the plague that had haunted the region for over sixty years – i.e. 40 years before the resistance movement ever came into being.
So what do some have against Hamas? Or, more accurately, why is Hamas singled out?
‘Why doesn’t Hamas join the peace talks and end its armed resistance as a method of liberating the Palestinian territories occupied by Israel?’
Hamas has learned from Israel that, despite it being a good idea, it will not happen. Tel Aviv and its apologists have always maintained that the land Israel took from the Palestinians through war has become somehow legitimately theirs. Any agreement reached between the two sides will not bring back all of the occupied Palestinian territories. What’s more, it certainly won’t bring back all of the Palestinian refugees and their descendants who forced to flee for their lives after the creation of Israel. Of course if the negotiations were between two equals then any compromise reached would be reasonable. But when Israel puts international law aside and tells the Palestinians to face the facts on the ground, it is sending a signal to Hamas that ‘might is right’. The very idea that land could be ‘won’ through war in our modern age, as suggested by Israel, means that we are living in a jungle. Hamas understood that from Israel and decided to play ball. OK, so it’s badly losing, but is that the issue here? Would it be OK if it had been winning? Like Israel, for example?
Hamas also learned from Israel that those who submissively obey Tel Aviv do not get what they are promised, if they get anything at all. OK, so they are being killed in lesser numbers and won’t be starved to the same degree – like what is happening in the West Bank – but will they ever be liberated from Israeli occupation? Well, let’s see, what occupied population was ever freed from Israel by negotiations only? Naught.
In fact, the only population that managed to liberate itself from Israel’s brutal occupation was that of south Lebanon, led by Hezbollah. Now what kind of message is Israel sending Hamas? What type of example is it setting?
One might add, as Hamas claimed credit of, Israel only pulled out its troops from Gaza after resistance attacks against the Israeli military there became too much of a headache for Tel Aviv. Of course Gaza is still under occupation, but Hamas is still following the Israeli roadmap to achieve total liberation; ‘fight to be free, or die trying’.
‘Why doesn’t Hamas recognise Israel’s right to exist?’
The issue of recognising Israel comes in other forms too, with references to the movement’s wish to ‘wipe out Israel off the map’ and its militants who are ‘sworn to the destruction of Israel’. What the statement basically means is that Hamas does not recognise the UN resolution that created the State of Israel. Regardless of how did that resolution came into effect, and the historical events that preceded it and the ones that came later, critics fault Hamas for not moving on and accepting that things have changed now, for better or for worse. Many argue, with justification, that the reality on the ground has changed since sixty years ago and many Israelis know no other land as home other than Israel.
But what is not often mentioned is that the Israel that the UN created and the international community wishes Hamas to recognise is not recognised by Israel itself (Tel Aviv has a much larger Israel in mind). And the Israel that Israel itself recognises (the one that includes land grabbed through war) is not recognised by the international community. So why is Hamas being singled out for not recognising the UN drawn Israel (the one with the pre-1967 Green Line borders)? Couldn’t it mean that Hamas has learnt a thing or two from Israel?
On the same note, Hamas is slammed for wishing to ‘wipe Israel off the map’. Underline the word ‘wishing’ here because Israel had already wiped Palestine off the map. Why is Hamas being criticised for something Israel had done long ago (and still continues doing)? In fact, even the maps which Israeli children are currently studying at school have no reference to the Palestinian territories.
There are two additional points to be noted here. First, Hamas sees that instead of having Israelis and Palestinians living under Israel’s rule, it should be Jews and Arabs living under Palestinian rule in historic Palestine (i.e. a one state solution that includes – not expels – the Jews). Hamas only differs from Israel by ‘saying’ they believe in a one state solution. But in reality both want total control.
The second point is that despite the movement’s original stance, Hamas leaders have on many occasions implicitly showed their willingness to recoginse Israel’s 1967 borders – i.e. the borders recognised by the international community – if Israel ends its occupation. But Tel Aviv has not met them half way. So why is Hamas expected to recognise those who do not recognise them?
‘Isn’t Hamas an Islamist extremist movement?’
It is indeed most Ironic how some critics of Hamas scorn the movement’s religious Islamic roots and move on (sometimes in the same breath) to discuss – favourably – the state of Israel’s existence in biblical terminology. Of course everyone is entitled to his/her own religious beliefs, but since when are countries’ borders decided by disputed and often contradictory religious or mythical texts? Why should Hamas accept the extremists’ views that God somehow promised the holy land to a chosen few? If Hamas is forced to adopt extremists’ ideas, surely it can find views of its own without borrowing distorted biblical ones? So why favour one religious view over another? How can some quote the bible in a political argument related to the Middle East and expect Hamas to leave religion out of its discourse?
With some Christian-Zionists pushing for an Armageddon war that would speed up the second coming of Christ, and some Jewish fanatics (who do not believe that Christ came the first time round) waiting for their Messiah to take vengeance on everyone who does not share their sacred blood, doesn’t Hamas look a bit amateurish on the extremism side?
‘Isn’t Hamas a terrorist movement?’
Without going into the various definitions of terrorism and where resistance against occupation is different, it is important to note that nothing, I mean nothing, excuses the killing of innocent civilians. ‘The use of force or the threat to use force or violence against civilians or civilian property with the intention of intimidating or coercing’ mounts to terrorism. Has Hamas been implicated of such acts in the past? Yes. Is it alone? No, of course not. The founding fathers of Israel are a textbook example of what terrorism is all about. Hamas must have read somewhere that a nation could be built from terrorism. But one needn’t go that far back, Israel’s daily policies are a classical example of sate terrorism.
‘How do we stop the Hamas rockets?’
Simple. Israel has to teach Hamas that the stronger side of the equation (i.e. Israel) can offer a ‘just peace’ without being beaten in war. As long as there is injustice, Palestinians – with or without Hamas – will continue to resist. The recently invented homemade clumsy rockets were never the real issue behind the conflict. Throughout the sixty years of conflict, 40 of which included direct Israeli occupation, Palestinians have learned a lot about the dark side of Israel; isn’t it time that the Jewish State showed some virtuous Jewish values?
-Mamoon Alabbasi is an Iraqi journalist and editor based in London. He contributed this article to PalestineChronicle.com