"I disapprove of what you say, but I will defend to the death your right to say it"
Our Arab leaders would do well to learn from Turkey’s Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan, who in a stance full of pride, he stormed out of the debate on the Middle East at the World Economic Forum last week, telling Shimon Peres what he already knew, that "You are killing people", and "When it comes to killing you know very well how to kill. I know very well how you killed children on the beaches."
And following his return, he reminded Israel and the world of the forgotten commandment.
We all salute Erdogan for his brave stance, and his conscientious attitude.
The recent attack on Gaza was, we are told, an attack targeted on eliminating the Hamas movement. It was an attack triggered by self-defence.
And as everyone knows it is a lie. Even if it were true, anyone with an atom’s weight of humanity will know that disagreeing with one’s philosophy does not give one the right to kills its members. Hamas is not a human being. Its followers are. This is an idea that the Zionists simply do not seem to grasp.
The ultimate proof of course, of the wishes of the true intentions of Israel, is that, after over 1300 deaths and 5000 injured, Hamas, survives, and remains as popular as ever, perhaps even more so.
For a less obvious proof, one would do well to listen to the great Noam Chomsky, who opens his latest account of events in Gaza, ‘Exterminating All Brutes – Gaza 2009‘ as follows:
"On Saturday December 27, the latest US-Israeli attack on helpless Palestinians was launched. The attack had been meticulously planned, for over 6 months according to the Israeli press. The planning had two components: military and propaganda. It was based on the lessons of Israel’s 2006 invasion of Lebanon, which was considered to be poorly planned and badly advertised. We may, therefore, be fairly confident that most of what has been done and said was pre-planned and intended."
Or the less well known, Professor Henry Siegmann director of the US Middle East Project in New York, and former national director of the American Jewish Congress and of the Synagogue Council of America, writing in an article, ‘Israel’s Lies’ in the ‘London Review of Books’:
"Middle East peacemaking has been smothered in deceptive euphemisms, so let me state bluntly that each of these claims is a lie. Israel, not Hamas, violated the truce: Hamas undertook to stop firing rockets into Israel; in return, Israel was to ease its throttlehold on Gaza. In fact, during the truce, it tightened it further"
For many of us, who have come to be used to the attacks of this most disgusting, most disgraceful, most brutal, most inhumane, most morally bankrupt nation on earth, it is a fact that needs no introduction that the ultimate aim of Israel is to exterminate the Palestinian people.
It is not Hamas that is the enemy. It is the Palestinian identity.
Israel knows it is beyond law and accountability, and furthermore knows that it is blessed with the support of the American military, not to say that it is blessed with one of the most powerful armies in the world.
So why couldn’t it just go into Gaza, into Damascus, into Amman, and every other place where Hamas leaders exist, and get rid of them as it wishes to?
It knows there will be no Arab public outcry – for no one is more cowardly than the Arab governments.
It knows the Arab leaders would be more than delighted to hear of their end, for they fear nothing more than the ‘Muslim Brotherhood’, of which Hamas is an extension.
It is simply because, Israel is using Hamas, this group it had previously funded and supported (something it presumably learnt from its American friend, who supported the Taliban in their war against Russia, and Saddam in his war against Iran) as an excuse for battering the Palestinian people.
Let us not be fooled that this is a war against Hamas. The truth of the matter is, Israel loves Hamas.
One can almost define Hamas as the excuse the Zionist bandits use to repeatedly batter the Palestinian people.
Unfortunately, the corporate media is further contributing to this picture of Gaza, as being synonymous with Hamas; that all Gazans are Hamas militants.
And unfortunately, with good intentions, many of the supporters of the Palestinian cause are inadvertently reinforcing this notion, by repeatedly stating a current cliché, that Hamas are "the democratically elected government of the Palestinian people".
Let us not confuse our sympathy for the plight of Gazans and indeed the Hamas party, with support for the latter.
I shall tackle this second point about ‘democratically elected’ later, but for now – let us make the first point clear.
The majority of intelligent, thoughtful Palestinians, who speak sense for the Palestinian cause, do not support the Hamas.
While they sympathise with them, they cannot, and do not endorse their ideology.
Perhaps the ultimate expression of a genuine Palestinian, well thought out view over Hamas must be that of the great Edward Said, who I have long regarded as the greatest man to come out of Palestine since Jesus Christ – sharp, honest, clear, and the epitome of Palestinian intelligence, free from dogmatic allegiance to any political party, but always loyal to the Palestinian people – the true victims.
He attacked the movement in many places, such as in, ‘Peace and Its Discontents‘, in his 2003 book, ‘The Politics of Dispossession’, where he stated:
"In 1992 when I was there (in the Occupied Territories), I briefly met a few of the student leaders who represent Hamas: I was impressed by their sense of political commitment but not at all by their ideas. In 1993 I arranged to spend some more hours with them and with their rivals for political sway, Islamic Jihad. I found them quite moderate when it came to accepting the truths of modern science, for instance (interestingly the four young men I spoke to were students with outstanding records: all of them were scientists or engineers); hopelessly reductive in their views of the West; and irrefragably opposed to the existence of Israel. "The Jews have to leave," one of them said categorically, "except for the ones who were here before 1948." … In the main, their ideas are protests against Israeli occupation, their leaders neither especially visible nor impressive, their writings rehashes of old nationalist tracts, now couched in an "Islamic" idiom".
And in several interviews, such as this one with Tariq Ali, the British leftist journalist, where he said:
"In my opinion, their ideas about an Islamic state are completely inchoate, unconvincing to anybody who lives there. Nobody takes that aspect of their programme seriously. When you question them, as I have, both on the West Bank and elsewhere: ‘What are your economic policies? What are your ideas about power stations, or housing?’, they reply: ‘Oh, we’re thinking about that.’ There is no social programme that could be labelled ‘Islamic’. I see them as creatures of the moment, for whom Islam is an opportunity to protest against the current stalemate, the mediocrity and bankruptcy of the ruling party. The Palestinian Authority is now hopelessly damaged and lacking in credibility—like the Saudis and Egyptians."
In his book ‘Culture and Resistance’, he stated:
"They don’t have a message about the future. You can’t simply say Islam is the only solution. You have to deal with problems of electricity, water, the environment, transportation. Those can’t be Islamic. So they’ve failed on that level".
They lack the deeper philosophical outlook that characterises great political movements.
In another, ‘Power, Politics, and Culture’, he remarked:
"Unfortunately, it is not to my taste…Look at some of the Islamic movements, Hamas on the West Bank, the Islamic Jihad, etc. They are violent and primitive forms of resistance. You know, what Hobsbawn calls pre-capital, trying to get back to communal forms, to regulate personal conduct with simpler and simpler reductive ideas."
In one of his last works, ‘From Oslo to Iraq and the Road Map’, Said repeated his argument:
"He [Arafat] never really reined in Hamas and Islamic Jihad, which suited Israel perfectly so that it would have a ready-made excuse to use the so-called martyrs’ (mindless) suicide bombings to further diminish and punish the whole people. If there is one thing that has done us more harm as a cause than Arafat’s ruinous regime, it is this calamitous policy of killing Israeli civilians, which further proves to the world that we are indeed terrorists and an immoral movement. For what gain, no one has been able to say."
Apart from all these things, which I largely agree with, there are other reasons why a sensible Palestinian would not support the Hamas. And I hasten to add, that disagreeing with them does not mean the Israelis’ have a right to go and attack them. I repeat, as everyone knows, that Hamas are not to blame for the current crisis:
- They use the Islamic dialogue, which they know will not work as Islam is not the common denominator of the Palestinian people. The Palestinians belong to all beliefs, and are not just Muslim.
- Their aim to establish an Islamic state in Palestine is like putting the cart before the horse – it ignores the fact that Muslims need an immense reformation before they can achieve a self sustaining civilisation worthy of that name – a nation submitting to God, comprising Muslims, Christians, Jews and all other faiths.
- I believe that any political movement that stems from something ‘wrong’ will inevitably collapse and fail, no matter how wonderful their political philosophy is. I do not agree with the Macchiavellian doctrine that "the ends justifes the means". And no matter what wonderful end products that Hamas have given the Palestinian people, such as the schools, hospitals, charities, political and media bureaus established by it social wing, we cannot deny the fact that they are a Zionist interest if not creation. This is a shocking fact that took me by great surprise when I first came across it in my youth upon reading the Palestinian journalist Said K. Aburish brilliant work, ‘A Brutal Friendship’, where he stated:
"And Israel, forever inclined to back divisive movements, surfaced as another supporter of Islam and began to fund the Muslim Brotherhood and the Palestinian Islamic movement Hamas" (p.62).
But it is a fact that cannot be denied. It has been pointed out by many authors in recent years, most notably by Justin Raimondo, an American political analyst writing for the ‘Anti War’ website in January 2006 in an article entitled, ‘Hamas, Son of Israel’, which I would wholeheartedly recommend everyone reading, and the wonderful pro-Palestinian award-winning journalist John Pilger, who writing in the ‘New Statesman‘ in January 2007, noted:
"According to documents obtained by United Press International, the Israelis once secretly funded Hamas as "a direct attempt to divide and dilute support for a strong, secular PLO (Palestine Liberation Organisation) by using a competing religious alter native", in the words of a former CIA official"
4. Their nationalism, which is embedded in their charter as "part of the religious creed", goes against a fundamental point about the Palestinian problem – that it is a humanitarian crisis. I believe that nationalism is a disease that only serves to build barriers between us and other cultures, something we learn from Schopenhauer, Nietzsche and Russell, as well as others (including Islam). Einstein was not wrong in describing nationalism as "an infantile sickness… the measles of the human race," nor George Orwell in calling it "power hunger tempered by self-deception." We, the Palestinians should listen deeply to Edward Said’s philosophy of emphasising the humanitarian nature of the Palestinian problem, that it is not a nationalist problem:
"In all my works I remained fundamentally critical of a gloating and uncritical nationalism…. My view of Palestine … remains the same today: I expressed all sorts of reservations about the insouciant nativism and militant militarism of the nationalist consensus; I suggested instead a critical look at the Arab environment, Palestinian history, and the Israeli realities, with the explicit conclusion that only a negotiated settlement between the two communities of suffering, Arab and Jewish, would provide respite from the unending war."
5. Hamas believe, as stated clearly in their official policy, ‘The Hamas charter’, that, "There is no solution for the Palestinian question except through Jihad," a belief also shared by the other main Muslim group involved in the conflict, the ‘Islamic Jihad’. That is the most ridiculous of all suggested proposals to help solve the Palestinian problem – there is no need to outline why this is the case.
6. The Hamas obviously has no objection to ‘suicide bombings’ (not that any have happened recently). This is a central idea which it can share with the atheist Kamikazes, but not with those who believe in God. Suicide is objectionable by all humane ideologies. I hasten to add that, as Siegman reminds us, "Everyone seems to have forgotten that Hamas declared an end to suicide bombings and rocket fire when it decided to join the Palestinian political process, and largely stuck to it for more than a year."
However, one must sympathise with those who support Hamas and similar parties, for they are an optimistic religious movement that promises all Palestinians (the Muslims at least) happiness and success, if not in this life than in the hereafter. The Hamas supporter therefore cannot lose. It provides a substitute to the optimistic view of history that the Marxist wave of Nasser and the Arab socialist movements implanted in the Palestinian mind in the 1950s and 1960s. They provide a glimmer of hope to the Palestinian people, who have been abandoned by virtually everyone.
In addition, one must admit, that they do, as we saw above, some good for the Palestinian community, and, to quote Siegman again:
"For all its failings, Hamas brought to Gaza a level of law and order unknown in recent years, and did so without the large sums of money that donors showered on the Fatah-led Palestinian Authority. It eliminated the violent gangs and warlords who terrorised Gaza under Fatah’s rule. Non-observant Muslims, Christians and other minorities have more religious freedom under Hamas rule than they would have in Saudi Arabia, for example, or under many other Arab regimes".
We may even be led, on purely pragmatic or utilitarian grounds, to come to support their ideology, since clearly they are ‘happier‘ than the secularist PLO. The Hamas officials are nearly always smiling on television interviews, or if not, then the viewer gets the impression that they are all at least content. They never give an angry face except in the very acute scenario, if many Palestinians have been killed or any of their leaders are assassinated. Even their martyrdom operations are celebrated by their supporters, with Hamas martyrs’ mothers saying things like, "My son’s martyrdom was as a wedding, a time of joy". It seems you really cannot lose with an ideology like this.
It is these things, in addition to the corruption of the PLO, and the nauseating faces leading that party, that have led the Palestinians to choose them in what is regarded as "the only democratic vote in the Middle East".
A‘choice’ made in the deepest despair. Let us remind the reader that the support for Hamas in Gaza is not the outcome of an intelligently made choice; far from it. Together with a tide of support for traditional Islamic movements that are spreading their wings all over the Islamic world, comes the support for Hamas. I would even go as far as say that, the choice of Hamas as a political leader goes against all that is well known about Palestinian society – a society that has never subscribed to religion-driven politics. As Hanan Ashrawi explains, the choice of Hamas:
"…is a serious transformation politically, but more than that socially. Palestinian society has always been much more open, tolerant, pluralistic, not a religion-based society. Palestinians were religious in many ways, but they did not subscribe to political Islam, historically.
That is why many people are still reeling from the shock; in many ways people are confused, and do not know what to expect.
For decades, since the mid-twentieth century, the nationalist movement, and Fatah in particular, has dominated the political scene…Now, suddenly we are seeing the election of a religious party with extreme political ideologies and with a social agenda that seems inconsistent with the cultural heritage of the Palestinian people".
Let us not be fooled into believing that Hamas was ‘democratically’ elected; for democracy entails that we can choose. They say beggars cannot be choosers. It is obvious to everyone that people who are not allowed to live, let alone beg, will not be able to choose.
In addition, inherent in the concept of democracy are two principles, "The first principle is that all members of the society have equal access to power and the second that all members enjoy universally recognized freedoms and liberties". The Palestinian people have neither – and by default therefore – cannot have a democracy.
When there is hardly any choice (and movements led by idiots like the PLO and Fateh can hardly be regarded as an option) then obviously Hamas would be the ‘democratically elected choice’.
As remarked by the wonderful Hanan Ashrawi, our most eloquent female voice:
"The elections, technically, were free and fair, yes. But if you look at the substance they were not. They took place under occupation, so the results were tainted by the practices and measures of the occupation.
When you have a nation that is suffering collectively from a situation of injustice—of violence, of imprisonment and closure and checkpoints, from a sense of vulnerability and of hopelessness—attitudes are going to be affected by these measures".
And as also noted by Osama Husseini:
"Many have noted that Hamas was democratically elected, and in a sense that was true. But about the same time as the elections which Hamas won, there were elections in Iraq. Some in the U.S. noted that you couldn’t have free election in Iraq while the country was occupied by the United States. Interestingly, virtually no American noted that the Palestinian election was under occupation. It’s one of the few instances where the home country is viewed more critically than another. So Hamas was not really democratically elected — which in no way justifies Israeli attacks or Fatah coup attempts. Quite the contrary, it highlights the need for a complete end to decades of Israeli occupation so that Palestinians can begin having serious elections and meaningful self-determination."
Let us not be fooled by all this media hype about our ‘democracy’.
While I greatly sympathise with Hamas, I do not believe they can lead us out of this deep darkness. I am sure the Palestinian people would be better off seeking refuge in God, intellectual and practical excellence and political anarchism instead. Let us learn from the great leaders and prophets of the past, who aimed at individual and societal excellence first, grounded in a strong faith in God, rather than political interests.
God would rather see one hundred Palestines wiped off the map rather than a single Palestinian lose himself.
 Listen to Tim Butcher, writing in the Telegraph on the 17th of January 2009, "In Geneva the normally silent International Committee of the Red Cross goes public to condemn the Jewish state. And in Kensington barriers have to be erected by police to stop protesters reaching the embassy of Israel. By contrast, the reaction in the Arab world seems almost mute. There are a few rallies in countries such as Syria and Yemen where Israeli flags are burned but that happens after Friday prayers on high days and holidays anyway. The Arab League splinters over which member state should host an emergency summit on Gaza. Even in the West Bank, just 40 miles from Gaza and home to 2.5 million fellow Palestinians, a call by militants for mass protest rallies dubbed "days of wrath" passes largely unheeded. Why is it that, as Israel prepared to announce a cessation of offensive operations in Gaza, the Arab Street remained so apparently unmoved by its assault on the tiny territory? The answer lies in the way many Arab regimes view militant Islam, as represented by Hamas. The West has come to view Muslim militancy as one of its biggest threats in the 21st century but for many Arab countries including Egypt, Jordan, Syria and Saudi Arabia the same threat has existed for much longer."
 Perhaps I am driven to this belief by a hadith reported on the Prophet, "Kulu ma nabata min haram, fal nar awla bih" – "Anything that stems from something prohibited, the hellfire has the greatest right over".
 To quote the Hamas Charter as it stands today, "Nationalism, from the point of view of the Islamic Resistance Movement, is part of the religious creed. Nothing in nationalism is more significant or deeper than in the case when an enemy should tread Moslem land. Resisting and quelling the enemy become the individual duty of every Moslem, male or female. A woman can go out to fight the enemy without her husband’s permission, and so does the slave: without his master’s permission. Nothing of the sort is to be found in any other regime. This is an undisputed fact. If other nationalist movements are connected with materialistic, human or regional causes, nationalism of the Islamic Resistance Movement has all these elements as well as the more important elements that give it soul and life. It is connected to the source of spirit and the granter of life, hoisting in the sky of the homeland the heavenly banner that joins earth and heaven with a strong bond."
 Marx, as we saw above, although an atheist, "retained a cosmic optimism which only theism could justify" (Russell, p.754). One Palestinian book keeper, was talking to Richard Ben Cramer, and told him, "In the old days…I’d stand there and I’d watch Palestinian kids coming in for books by Marx and Engels, Lenin or Stalin. Now they all want Islamic books. But it’s the same kids, and the same fight. It’s still all about the land – what’s changed is only the perception of who is leading the fight" (Cramer, p.231). In place, the Islam of Hamas gave Palestinians that ‘cosmic optimism’.