Archive for March 2008
I’ve written a great deal about Israel’s crimes. Here I’ll write about what Hamas should do. I won’t criticise its choice to resist, which I see as entirely legitimate so long as there is no real peace process, and I won’t discuss its evolving methods of resistance, because I don’t think that’s my business or area of expertise. I won’t criticise the so-called ‘coup’ in which it took sole power in Gaza, because it is now common knowledge that it did this to pre-empt an American-Israeli-Dahlan coup against its democratically-elected government, and to restore some kind of order in the territory. And I’m not writing this in an attempt to be ‘objective’ or ‘balanced’; when faced by obvious injustice I see no point in equating the occupier and ethnic cleanser with the occupied and the refugees. I offer the following criticisms as advice, in the hope that it will help the resistance meet its goals.
Firstly, Hamas’s treatment of protesting Fatah supporters and of PLO-allied and other trade unions has not been ideal. Even if Fatah is the party unwilling to respect the people’s democratic choice, tactics of beatings and intimidation do not elevate Hamas to a much higher moral plane. I have heard that the Palestinian General Federation of Trade Unions building, which was recently bombed by Israel, had previously been taken over by Hamas and turned into a welfare office. Moves like this are counterproductive and will alienate a great deal of natural support for the resistance.
Next, Hamas needs to confront its misconceptions about Jews. Article 32 of the Hamas charter states: “The zionist plan is limitless. After Palestine, the Zionists aspire to expand from the Nile to the Euphrates. When they have digested the region they have conquered, they will aspire to further expansion, and so on. Their plan is embodied in the “Protocols of the Elders of Zion”, and their present conduct is the best proof of what we are saying.”
Abdel-Wahhab el-Messiri, author of the eight-part encyclopedia ‘Jews, Judaism and Zionism’ and a scholar of undoubted anti-zionist credentials, has written that use of the Protocols “is unethical since it cannot be validated by any historical research, Arab or otherwise.” It is now accepted by the vast majority of scholars that the Protocols, supposedly a secret Jewish document calling for world domination, was in fact plagiarised by the Russian secret service from earlier French books which accused not the Jews of conspiracy but Napoleon III and Jesuit priests. It is interesting to note that many of the accusations made against Jews in the Protocols have been made against Arabs and Muslims, particularly Palestinians, elsewhere.
Here’s my third post in a row on Israel-Palestine, and there may be another to come. I don’t intend to narrow the focus of the blog to one area, however important; but bear with me a little as I comment on the hypocrisy (briefly – several volumes could be filled on the subject) of Western responses to recent events.
Following the killing of 130 Palestinians in a week, more than half of them non-combatants, a Palestinian has shot dead eight young Israelis in the Mercaz Harav yeshiva in West Jerusalem, the part of the city which was occupied in 1948. Not only has most of the Western media given this attack more coverage than the deaths of the 130 Gazans (there are many days on which the death toll in Gaza reaches seven or eight and the Western media doesn’t even notice), it has also described the attack as an ‘escalation.’ I won’t discuss whether or not the attack was justified or wise, but I will say that it was an entirely predictable and understandable response to the suffering of Gaza, and that to call it an ‘escalation’ – when the occupying Zionist army perpetrates such crimes against the occupied on an average day – is simply grotesque.
At least 76 Palestinians have been killed by the Zionist occupation in the last three days, 17 of them children. Three Israelis have been killed. Before I go any further I’d like to explain something which shouldn’t need explaining. A scorecard like 76 to three will not make the Palestinians surrender. On the contrary, it will make them fight with more commitment and devotion. For decades Israeli Jews have been working on the assumption that the more disproportionate the casualties, the more massacres they perpetrate, the more terror they strike into the hearts of the defeated, the closer their ultimate victory comes. The murder-them-into-submission theory has of course been proved wrong again and again. Their invasion of South Lebanon in 1978 and their blitzkrieg of 1982 created Hizbullah, the most effective and intelligent fighting force in the Arab world’s modern history. As for the Palestinians, through the long decades of their dispossession they have grown in resilience, toughening until, by the outbreak of the Second Intifada, they had lost their fear. Occupied Palestine is certainly exhausted. Unsurprisingly, given the murderous international campaign directed against it, the political leadership is splintered. But this fact remains: Palestinian fearlessness and will to resist is now an unchangeable reality.