The Hamas Factor
Intensification of a Struggle
The democratic election of Hamas to lead the Palestinians in 2006 did not change the determinants of the Middle East crisis. Peace remained deflected by focusing on words and not responding to causes.
- A militarily futile Hamas, which has mainly terrorist type tools, the usual weapons of a resistance movement, is accused of wanting to destroy Israel, but a militarily mighty Israel, which has advanced weapons, is actually destroying the Palestinians.
- Hamas is asked to disarm, but the Israeli military daily pulverizes the life of the Palestinians that Hamas has pledged to defend.
- Hamas is asked to recognize Israel, which means validating Israel's occupation and seizure of Palestinian lands, but Israel labors to prevent a viable Palestinian state.
If Hamas agreed to all the requests, would Israel modify its illegal actions; would the Middle East conflict be resolved? Probably not.
If Israel agreed to retreat from the settlements and stop the occupation, would Hamas change its posture and would the Middle East conflict advance towards resolution? Definitely.
Israel and Hamas Charters
Israel does not have a written constitution or charter that describes its objectives. Nevertheless, the Israeli governments and leaders in comments and actions have identified their intentions. Hamas has a written charter and a political platform that clarify its objectives. Israel's actions and Hamas' charter indicate each one wants the subjugation of the other.
Israel's intentions, as seen by the Palestinians, were described at the Paris Peace Conference, February 3, 1919, where the principal faction of the Zionist mission requested it be awarded the land of the British Mandate to Sidon, Lebanon and almost to Amman, Jordan (shown in shaded area on map.
The King-Crane Commission, appointed by President Wilson in 1919 concluded:
...a national home for the Jewish people is not equivalent to making Palestine into a Jewish State; nor can the erection of such a Jewish State be accomplished without the gravest trespass upon the "civil and religious rights of existing non-Jewish communities in Palestine." The fact came out repeatedly in the Commission's conference with Jewish representatives, that the Zionists looked forward to a practically complete dispossession of the present non-Jewish inhabitants of Palestine, by various forms of purchase.
The initial Zionist position has been partly repeated by Israeli officials:
There is no other way than to transfer the Arabs from here to the neighboring countries, to transfer all of them; not one village, not one tribe, should be left. Joseph Weitz, the Jewish National Fund administrator for Zionist colonization (1967), My Diary and Letters to the Children, Chapter III, p. 293.
It is forbidden to be merciful to them, you must give them missiles, with relish - annihilate them. Evil ones, damnable ones. May the Holy Name visit retribution on the Arabs' heads, and cause their seed to be lost, and annihilate them, and cause them to be vanquished and cause them to be cast from the world. Rabbi Ovadia Yosef, founder and spiritual leader of the Shas party, Ma'ariv, April, 9, 2001.
It is the duty of Israeli leaders to explain to public opinion, clearly and courageously, a certain number of facts that are forgotten with time. The first of these is that there is no Zionism, colonialization, or Jewish State without the eviction of the Arabs and the expropriation of their lands. Ariel Sharon, Israeli Foreign Minister, addressing a meeting of militants from the extreme right-wing Tsomet Party, Agence France Presse, November 15, 1998.
Hamas' Covenant is equally explicit:
The Islamic Resistance Movement is a distinguished Palestinian movement, whose allegiance is to Allah, and whose way of life is Islam. It strives to raise the banner of Allah over every inch of Palestine, for under the wing of Islam followers of all religions can coexist in security and safety where their lives, possessions and rights are concerned. In the absence of Islam, strife will be rife, oppression spreads, evil prevails and schisms and wars will break out.
The Islamic spirit is what should prevail in every Moslem society. The society that confronts a vicious enemy which acts in a way similar to Nazism, making no differentiation between man and woman, between children and old people - such a society is entitled to this Islamic spirit. Our enemy relies on the methods of collective punishment. He has deprived people of their homeland and properties, pursued them in their places of exile and gathering, breaking bones, shooting at women, children and old people, with or without a reason. The enemy has opened detention camps where thousands and thousands of people are thrown and kept under sub-human conditions. Added to this, are the demolition of houses, rendering children orphans, meting cruel sentences against thousands of young people, and causing them to spend the best years of their lives in the dungeons of prisons.
With their money, they took control of the world media, news agencies, the press, publishing houses, broadcasting stations, and others. With their money they stirred revolutions in various parts of the world with the purpose of achieving their interests and reaping the fruit therein. They were behind the French Revolution, the Communist revolution and most of the revolutions we heard and hear about, here and there. With their money they formed secret societies, such as Freemasons, Rotary Clubs, the Lions and others in different parts of the world for the purpose of sabotaging societies and achieving Zionist interests. With their money they were able to control imperialistic countries and instigate them to colonize many countries in order to enable them to exploit their resources and spread corruption there.
Hamas has the benefit of noting: (1) Israel has performed actions considered illegal by the United Nations, which have brought the Zionists' message to near fruition and (2) that its own aggressive charter came after Israel's aggressive words and deeds. Hamas can portray itself as a result of Israel's actions.
The Silence of the Lambs
Rebellions in the world mostly arise from persecution and inequality. The Middle East strife emerges from occupation, usurpation of another people's lands and a military assault that prevents the people from adequately defending themselves.
Israel and its antagonist declared a cease-fire in February 2005. Although the truce was interrupted by rocket attacks before Israel's withdrawal from Gaza, during the year 2005, The Islamic Resistance did not engage in any suicide bombings within Israel. Nevertheless its leaders were targeted. Ben-Gurion University professor Lev Greenberg characterized the earlier 2004 assassination of Hamas spiritual leader, Sheikh Ahmad Yassin, in an article published in the Belgian daily 'La Libre Belgique:' "The murder of Sheikh Yassin is part of an Israeli policy that can be described as symbolic genocide."
The Islamic Resistance prepared its covenant to differentiate itself from other Palestinian movements, and cannot easily comply with demands to refute its charter without being Hamas and without causing internecine warfare between extremists in its party. If Hamas is serious about accomplishing its objectives, the new Palestinian Authority will continue to try to force Israel from West Bank territory, including East Jerusalem and the "Old City," and try to gain command of all air, land and sea corridors that give it total sovereignty in Gaza. The only compromise Hamas might be willing to make is one of words: "Israel can exist if it becomes a natural state of equally shared expressions and not an artificial state as a Jewish Nation." A shared state that allows return of Palestinian refugees (of which there won't be many) is within Hamas' agenda because Hamas realizes that within time the Muslim community will become a majority and Muslims will re-gain a dominant position throughout historic Palestine; maybe not economically and socially but in numbers.
Hamas feels its words are only a result of Israel's actions and changing its words won't change Israel's occupation, which to Hamas is a more meaningful cause of the conflict. Nor is it fair to demonize its appearance as "terrorist;" unfortunately almost all resistance movements to oppression have had no recourse but to use, at times, terrorizing weapons. The election of Hamas in 2006 to Parliament power indicated that the Palestinians did not want to follow Fatah's negotiating strategy, which has been fruitless. It is doubtful that any new Palestinian Authority will conduct direct discussions prior to the end of occupation and before the return of occupied West Bank lands to the Palestinians; events that are not likely to occur without intensive world pressure on Israel.
Agreeing to legality is rightful obedience to law and not considered a negotiated compromise. Therefore, Israel will not be compromising if it complies with UN Resolutions and halts the occupation of West Bank lands and Palestinian Jerusalem. Nevertheless, Israel has no inclination to cease its aggressive tactics of consolidating the capture of West Bank territory and Jerusalem when its objectives are close to completion, and where there is no visible power to impede the thrust. If the Israeli political establishment did not agree to the illegalities during all the years from 1967 to 2005 and continued aggressively in its occupation, why would it suddenly change its program in any year?
The rhetoric indicates that on the road to peace, nothing has changed. On the road to war, much has changed.
Nothing has Changed but Much has Changed
Two Headlines in 2006 told a significant story.
Annan urges Hamas to shun violence
Tuesday 31 January 2006
Israeli troops kill two Palestinians
Tuesday 31 January 2006
By having the world focus on the first headline and ignore the second headline, Israel has been able to gain world support for isolating Hamas and take advantage of the portrayal of The Islamic Resistance as a one-sided Radical Islamic Fundamentalist group dedicated to the destruction of Israel and detrimental to western interests in the Middle East. As Israel gained that support, it also gained a license to complete its objectives of incorporating most, if not all, of the West Bank and Jerusalem into its national boundaries. Before, two words, security measures, were used to justify occupation and oppression. Now, one word, Hamas, is used for more of the same, much more of the same.
Hamas can show that it is not allied with any international terrorist groups, such as Al-Queda and is nit a Radical Fundamentalist group. Some of its Islamic fundamentalist cohorts have attempted to impose rigid Islamic laws, but Hamas' pragmatic side has not permitted that to happen. Since the Palestinians are greatly secular and welcome western contacts, Hamas realizes it cannot legislate a religious program in Palestine. It soothes rhetoric and explains past actions as being the only measures it had to counter Israel's actions against its people. Nevertheless, it cannot retreat from its basic premise, which is to re-gain Muslim dominance in all Palestine.
Hamas never had supporters in any western governments and cannot suddenly acquire trust from governments that regard it suspiciously and will consider its peace overtures as temporary expedients. The consideration that western governments will remain hostile to Hamas doesn't doom the new Palestinian Authority. Increased support for Palestinians might still engage the multitude of Muslim nations and its 1.2 billion populations. If this occurs, the conflict will shift from an Israel/Palestine conflict to a Western/Eastern conflict. The Palestinian struggle has not taken that direction but is taking a predictable trajectory of increased intensification in other parts of the Arab world. The shift to extensive violence in Syria and Iraq, with illegitimate demands by Radical Islamic extremists shadow the struggle in Palestine with legitimate demands by oppressed people. Not having resolved the later has led to the former.
The Intensification of the Struggle
Israel had no impediment to its mission of constructing a wall to consolidate the West Bank settlements and to acquire all of twenty-first century Jerusalem. Hamas' 2006 victory was interpreted as an increased threat and Israel moved quickly and forcibly to combat Hamas and complete its objectives. Hamas understood that would happen but also realized that creation of an economically and socially secure Palestinian state was its major priority. As Hamas pursued that goal, it was forced to improvise a new military strategy --rockets and tunnels -- for restricting Israel excursions into Palestinian territory and life.
Contrary to the secular Fatah Party, Islamic Hamas advocates the re-emergence of a dominant Muslim authority in all of historic Palestine. This approach might appeal to the national and religious zeal in Moslem nations and Hamas' call might still receive strong economic and military support from several Muslim nations that occupy lands from the Straits of Bosphorus to the Celebes and from the Horn of Africa to the Mediterranean Sea. However, confusions in the Arab Awakening and the failure of Egypt's Muslim Brotherhood have derailed the appeal.
Many Islamic nations and Muslim peoples are fearful that a successful presence of a western oriented nation in a traditional Muslim land, and one that declares itself a Jewish state rather than a state for Jews, is only the beginning of a direct western invasion into all of Islam. The hard-fought liberation from western imperialism is being reversed as natural geographic boundaries are being abridged. Because Muslim nations do not regard secular and corrupt Fatah as a sufficient liberating force, their attitudes towards Hamas should be more agreeable. A well-organized Hamas, that efficiently directs external contributions to the needs of the Palestinian people and will carry the banner of Islamic traditions into the conflict should appeal to those who worship the Koran and fear subjugation to western ideologies and interests. This has not happened, just the contrary -- except for Qatar and Turkey, Hamas is isolated from the Muslim world. The Islamic Resistance Movement has arrived at a precarious military position and is unable to solicit support from the world's Moslems.
The world will soon face the possibilities of:
(1) Israel's complete domination of the Palestine area with subsequent destruction of the Palestinian people.
(2) A more violent and inclusive war that includes the determination of Muslim nations to prevent the total loss of Palestine and Jerusalem to Israel.
(3) A continuous war of retaliation, which will become an extensive East-West conflict.
Considering the alternatives, it seems that only a bi-national state, in which Jews, Christians and Muslims have equal rights in the land, can satisfy those who have wanted a re-establishment of Jewish presence in the Holy land and those who desire a mode of Islamic control in Palestine. The Middle East struggle will intensify until the western world realizes it must force an equitable solution to the crisis. Otherwise, the violence will only escalate and become as damaging as a world war.
slightly updated to include later events in august, 2014
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