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[CounterPunch: Tells the Facts, Names the Names » Does Hamas Hate Peace? ]
Does Hamas Hate Peace?
Ignore Them at Your Peril
Certainly, the consistent message of Western Media seems to suggest that this is the case. HAMAS represents the most popular wing of that Western bogeyman, Political Islam, in Palestine. It has been labeled by Western governments as a terrorist group, and is seen as an organization bent on the destruction of Israel. It is also a pragmatic organization that has captured a small majority of Palestinian support for its public refusal to accept the most heinous proposals offered by the Israeli occupation in the interminable peace process. There are no small numbers of Palestinians who bitterly oppose HAMAS’s policy domestically, but in this bloody summer of 2014, proffer their full support for HAMAS’s acts of resistance against the occupation and the siege in Gaza. Here, I hope to provide a critical analysis of the false pretense reproduced as Western media repeats phrases such as “HAMAS rejects Egypt’s cease fire proposal” and HAMAS “opposes terms for ceasefire”, and to explore the importance of HAMAS in the current political landscape.
I have made the siege of Gaza the focus of my research for the last 5 years, and have had the privilege of entering Gaza multiple times to see, first-hand, the effects of Israeli policy on the civilian population. What I have encountered could be considered nothing other than collective punishment, itself a crime against humanity. The strength of the resolve of HAMAS is that it draws upon the deep frustration Gazans have with Western-oriented FATAH leaders who excuse and accept the continued human rights catastrophe that is the Israeli siege.
It is easy to forget that HAMAS won the Palestinian legislative elections in 2006, largely the result of a protest vote against FATAH leadership who seemed disposed to negotiate Palestine into oblivion. FATAH insisted on using the terms of the 1993 Oslo interim agreement as a starting point with any negotiation with Israel, while Israel regularly violates the terms of these accords. The FATAH Palestinian Authority leadership is ossified, seen by many Gazans as trading the crumbs of VIP checkpoint passes for the politicians in the West Bank and access to international donors’ funds for any possible future peace with justice for the wrongs of the ongoing Israeli occupation of Palestine. The terms of Oslo were themselves an absurd step backwards for Palestinian liberation, splitting the West Bank into 3 zones (Areas A, B, and C) and fragmenting potential areas of a future Palestinian state into isolated Bantustans. Gaza itself was completely isolated by Israel, and though the Oslo accords treat Gaza and the West Bank as inseparable, Israel has done all in its power to subvert this collective identity. In effect, the very notion of “facts on the ground” was reified by the FATAH leadership, further empowering Israeli intransigence and an unwillingness to negotiate in good faith. The extent of this enabling was documented in the Palestine Papers, published by Al Jazeera, wherein PA negotiators allegedly went so far as to ask Israel to reoccupy the Philadelphi corridor along Gaza’s southern border in order to help topple HAMAS.
In contrast, HAMAS, once it came into power in the Gaza Strip followed another tack: HAMAS insisted that Israel honor UN resolution 242 that demands Israel withdraw to its pre-1967 boundaries, Israel must follow the norms of international law, and in return HAMAS would enforce a 99-year truce with Israel. The idea of this proposal is that while the parties to any current agreement are themselves the victims of countless atrocities, if a 99 year truce can be maintained, the progeny of the signatories would have no personal grudges, no personal experience of the pain of occupation, and would be willing to create a permanent solution. HAMAS has made this proposal numerous times, though these proposals are unsurprisingly missing from US media portrayals of the Islamist group.
To begin with the Oslo accords, and to accept further expansion of settlements and the ever greater limitation of Palestinian political aspirations was more than most Palestinians could accept. In the intervening years, Gazans suffered under the brutal regime of the Israeli siege, and many suffered from problematic policies put into place by the HAMAS government itself, which become more professionalized, bureaucratized, and seemed to be unable to settle on a coherent policy of resistance, the very reason they were voted into power in the first place. When I was most recently in Gaza, earlier this summer, I saw a population that was growing tired of HAMAS refusing to support popular positions, and one that spent the majority of its time quashing resistance and democratic movements among the youth and non-affiliated sectors of the population. This was a HAMAS that prevented groups from firing rockets into Israel and enforced the terms of ceasefire agreements with Israel, a far cry from the bastions of armed resistance that had made HAMAS a popular option in the elections. The HAMAS that signed on to the unity government was not in a position of strength, and as the West Bank PA leadership played games with the terms of the agreement, HAMAS struck back by closing the banks across Gaza, a move sure to further alienate it from a people already suffering from the artificial humanitarian crisis of the siege.
Once the Israeli attacks on Gaza began, it became clear that HAMAS was now in a struggle for its own existence, in addition to being the voice of the armed resistance in Gaza. Their popularity has skyrocketed since the invasion began, and they are seen once again as an alternative to the avarice and cowardice of Mahmoud Abbas’s leadership in the West Bank. All of this is in the context of the failure of Arab leaders across the Middle East to take meaningful stands against the occupation. Egypt, after the fall of Morsi, continues to actively aid the Israeli and international community’s enforcement of the siege, and to spread propaganda about the threat Gaza poses to the Egyptian homeland.
Israel has emphatically denied the targeting of civilians, and insists on the humanitarian nature of its operation. This claim, however, comes from the same military and civil organizations that for 2 years denied Gazans access to chickpeas for hummus, bath sponges, and unfertilized chicken eggs (GISHA). Instead, Israel has repeatedly targeted civilians and fundamental civilian infrastructure. This same infrastructure has been made all the more vulnerable by repeated Israeli invasions since 2000 and punitive siege measures that prevent the entry of materials that would allow vital repairs to keep the water flowing and the electricity running.
Many observers fail to understand the importance of this infrastructure. Gaza, as many have pointed out, includes refugee camps which are the most densely populated areas on earth. A lack of electricity is not an inconvenience, it is a calamity. All aspects of clean water provision require uninterrupted electric service, throughout the water chain. This includes the pumps at the wells, the reverse osmosis filters in the desalination plants, the distribution pumps, and even the small electrical pumps in the multistory apartment buildings in the camps, where water and electricity must be present at the same time in order to fill the rooftop tanks. The electricity supplies the refrigerators and the fans in the overcrowded rooms in the camps, often housing 15 people in two 3 by 3 meter rooms, in an area of high humidity and summer temperatures of up to 100 degrees. This same electric supply is all that keeps the lights and incubators on at the hospitals.
This is to say nothing of the sewage systems, again repeatedly targeted in this and all other Israeli bombing campaigns, which create sewage tsunamis, floods, and destruction of the marine ecosystem. This ecosystem sustains the few brave fishermen that return to the seas to face the violence of .50 caliber guns on the Israeli navy ships that patrol the ever decreasing fishing boundaries to augment the protein intake of Gazans and to promote the rich fish-based culinary culture.
Gazans are a resourceful group, by necessity. In the face of the international siege, Gazans moved underground, and created a tunnel economy that by some accounts included as many as 3000 tunnels. These tunnels were regulated by HAMAS, and the goods from the tunnels populated the markets, the convenience stores, and the home goods stores for the entire strip. These tunnels were dug by hand in the sandy soil along the Southern border, using hand-drawn maps. They represented a challenge to the international boundary, and were built in open defiance of the siege. Along with the products smuggled through the tunnels came the expected distortions of Gazan and Egyptian economies. Tunnel owners became relatively wealthy, while the workers were paid less and less as the tunnels became more common. Soon electrical goods flooded the market, from televisions to refrigerators to air conditioners, but what good were these items with no electricity to run them? In the end, this warren of tunnels under the border were ended by the US-supported Sisi regime, and flooded with sewage. The tunnels, for the most part, came to an end, and the largest source of employment disappeared. The economic impacts of the destruction of the tunnels were significant, as more and more Gazans became dependent on international food aid, reaching 80 percent of the population. Population densities in the camps actually increased, as young Gazan families were unable to afford rents on apartments, and moved back in with their extended families. This contributed to an increase in diseases such as scabies and lice, and a resurgence of mumps in the confined spaces of the camps.
Why is HAMAS so reluctant to accept a ceasefire? Because life before the invasion was intolerable. With the ascendence of Sisi to power in Egypt, Gazans are completely dependent on Israel, a hostile occupier, for all goods entering the strip, for electricity, for water, for safe passage. All the while, Israel denies its responsibilities under international law to maintain the wellbeing of the occupied population, and engages in wholesale transfer of populations, another violation of human rights. All the while, the world turns a blind eye to these violations, and Israel becomes ever more blatant in its disregard for common human decency. This is a scenario no country would accept.
It is important to ask at this time, why would HAMAS increase in popularity so dramatically, if, as Israeli and numerous US media pundits would have us believe, that they themselves are to blame for the massive civilian deaths throughout the Gaza Strip since the beginning of Operation “Protective Edge”? Herein lies the contradiction of collective punishment. Gaza’s siege has created unbearable hardship for Gazans throughout the strip, and across class, politics and geography. Gazans that I have met have been harsh critics of the HAMAS regime. Those critiques, by and large, have largely been focused on domestic policy, perceived local mismanagement and the lack of progress in bringing the siege to an end and softening the occupation. HAMAS’s support before the current invasion was far greater in the West Bank, where Palestinians suffer under Israeli colonialism and FATAH collaboration with the Israelis. In the end, this is the explanation for the significant expansion of public support for HAMAS in Gaza. They have come to represent resistance. Resistance in the context of the siege, of periodic invasions, the day to day humiliations and injustices, the lack of clean water, electricity, housing, and medical care, the constant firing on fishermen, farmers and rubble gatherers, is the embodiment for many of sumoud, the spirit of steadfastness that permeates popular Palestinian society. As one Gazan blogger recently posted, “People find it hard to understand, the youth, we hate Gaza, we only want to leave, but we love it and will fight for it. We will not be refugees again, it is our home.”
It is Israel that drops 1-ton bombs into overcrowded housing. It is Israel that attacks UN schools that it acknowledges are shelters. It is Israel that shuts off power and water supplies, and limits the entry of food through the Karm Abu Salem terminal. It is Israel that has killed 1900 Gazans, the overwhelming majority civilians. To blame Gazans or even HAMAS for this is unconscionable, and nonsensical. This was a war of choice, based on false premises. Ostensibly the original justification was the abduction of three teenagers on the West Bank, which all, even Israel, now acknowledges, was not the act of HAMAS. Israel has created and taken advantage of an opportunity to attempt to destroy HAMAS and to try to crush Palestinian resistance through bombs, bullets, and missiles. It will fail, but at an unacceptable human cost. With each Gazan child killed, the pain of international culpability in the siege and the invasion is further exacerbated.
HAMAS’s rocket fire and tunnel strategy, as impotent as it may very well appear, may be the only thing preventing a shift to genuine terrorism. The repeated calls in the US congress to denounce HAMAS activities as human rights violations are intolerable hypocrisy in the face of one of the most advanced militaries on the planet deliberately targeting civilians, their homes, and their infrastructure. Israel does this knowing that unless its siege is lifted, it will be almost impossible to rebuild. HAMAS is not the ideal, neither for Gazans, the West or for Israel. They are, however, a group which carries the support of large sectors of the population, and the democratically-elected leaders of Palestine. This is something Israelis, and the West need to fully comprehend: HAMAS is your partner for peace and for negotiations. Ignore them, or attempt to destroy them at your own peril. It is the very violations of international humanitarian law, the wanton destruction of civilians and UN hospitals, clinics, and schools, and the unwillingness of the world powers to condemn these actions, that makes violent armed resistance, including that aimed at civilian targets, an attractive option to a population that has been deserted by the world. Peace is not a ceasefire. For these reasons, alternatives to violence must be pursued. The most promising of these non-violent forms of resistance is the global grassroots solidarity movement encapsulated in Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions. BDS is not only practicable, it is also gaining more and more traction in light of the intransigence and complicity of the West in the violations of decency, humanity, and human rights law.
This article originally appeared in Logos.
“The PA recognized Israel’s existence in 1993, and now Israel needs to recognize the Palestinian state in line with the 1967 borders.”
Mutual recognition and acceptance, represented in the simple handshake, is the first prerequisite for peace. Israel’s unilateral demand for Palestinian recognition as a legitimate Jewish state – “declare its recognition of Israel as a national home for the Jewish people” – is a demand for surrender and submission.
The New York Times lays out Michael B. Oren’s Israeli position. He is Israel’s ambassador to the United States.
By MICHAEL B. OREN Published: October 13, 2010
NEARLY 63 years after the United Nations recognized the right of the Jewish people to independence in their homeland — and more than 62 years since Israel’s creation — the Palestinians are still denying the Jewish nature of the state.
The reason, as history so clearly proves is that the Jewish people’s so-called “independence in their homeland” is illegitimate. The are simply thieves and plunderers and a mob’s acceptance justifies only anarchy, chaos and war. The proof is the Jew’s abject refusal to recognize the Palestinians as a legitimate people for 63 years. As long as the Arabs, in particular the Palestinian people, reject the legitimacy of a Jewish State regardless of what the United Nations or other exterior countries do, the Jews are without standing and will not hold that land.
What I’ve learned the 6 decades is that if you want peace then you must first be peaceable. Living in a constant state of self-defense is the same as living in a constant state of war. Israel’s history from the beginning is war. War for the singular purpose of getting all nation states to agree with them, the Zionist Jew, that they have the legitimate right to exist. Whereas everyone that refuses to yield to them does not. If the Jews want recognition as a prerequisite, the they can recognize the Palestinians legitimate right to exist with the same rights and duties and Israel claims. Israel treats the Palestinian people, primarily, as illegitimate, sewer-scum dogs (bastards and bitches) then embargoes them like a legitimate state. The land the Jews occupy belongs to another people. It’s time those people laid claim to that land and enforce their rightful, legal ownership – start acting like the legitimate people they are.
It is also about time the Jews recognize this reality and do what they can to seek peace with these people and stop using the Hamas and Hezbollah as excuses to continue trying to justify their criminal existence. That is while they still can.
The latest from Israel is consistent with their war face. Here’s the latest from Haaretz:
“Lebanon aid ship Miriam to set sail to Gaza Sunday; Israel’s UN ambassador says ships linked to Hezbollah, Israel reserves the right to defend itself.”
Why is it that ONLY Israel has “the right to defend itself”? What makes them so special?
Just in from The Jerusalem Post:
By JPOST.COM STAFF
“Israel tells the UN Lebanese flotilla will not be allowed into Gaza.”
Just posted – Israel’s whores fall right in line:
By HERB KEINON
“Israel approves of UK’s move.” The article concludes:
“One Israeli Foreign Ministry official said that statements such as these were significant because they make it clear that the governments that issue the advisories view the attempt to break the blockade as negative, and hint that those who insist on taking part in the flotillas should not later come to their home governments looking for support.”
Here is where the Jews demeaning, judgmental attitude blinds them. People that participate in these flotillas are doing so exactly BECAUSE their governments DO NOT support them. Without a government to fight the Jews don’t know what to do. So they look for terrorists out of terrorist eyes.
Commentary from an objective Israeli perspective is always interesting. Their ‘objective’ in the very beginning has never changed. Only how they hoped to achieve that objective. The Jews and for that matter their American benefactors will never recognize the legitimacy of the Palestinian people and their thousands of years claim to all of that land. Anyone that knows anything about Christianity should realize Jesus Christ revoked God’s promise to Abraham’s seed over two thousand years ago. The quality, character and value of the Jew as manifest by their nation-state Israel, is solid, lawful proof of that truth and reality.
Conclusion: A two-state solution is someone’s wild dream.
Beware the rampant propaganda defending the indefensible!
This is the latest developments from Reuters: “Turkey calls for punishment of Israel for killings”
For over 60 years the Jews have murdered the Palestinian people with impunity. Why? Because sick American religious fundamentalist are their primary complicit backers and supporters. The United States government decided the Jews had a legal right to grab and take by force of arms land that did not belong to them and justify their actions, supported and protected by America and other complicit state governments, by trying to get everyone to agree that they had the legitimate right. Their conduct within these past decades proves that the nation of Israel is nothing more than a mob of thugs and wanton, butchering bullies; a rogue illegitimate people.
By their own words they are condemned as reported in The Christian Science Monitor: “Condemnation across Europe after Israel raid on Freedom Flotilla”
Mr. Moisi says the attacks play into a campaign to delegitimize Israel, but adds that “the main actor in the campaign is the Israeli government itself …. Israelis need to rethink dramatically what they are doing, but the problem is that what they are doing is very much who they are. The killings yesterday at sea didn’t make sense in international terms. But in Israel, in political terms, it did make sense.” [Emphasis added]
Why does it make sense to murder unarmed civilian people? Because that is exactly the kind of sick animals these people admittedly demonstrate themselves to be.
It’s time to stop supporting all illegitimate thug bully governments. When you cooperate with their existence you become responsible for their actions. I, personally, may not be able to directly do anything Israel’s criminal actions, but I certainly can do something about those that I know support and enable them. They define themselves as illegitimate without any right to enforce their criminal behavior on others and must be treated accordingly. It starts with enforcing your own personal boycott.
America’s sickness: “We’re the only one’s that believe them” – Probably because Obama and his thug government were complicit.
Rep. Anthony Weiner: “No matter what, “the U.S. should stand up for Israel” – Maybe Weiner and the U.S. should stand up for the truth and enforce the law.
More examples of the poison and sickness: “Navy raid clear act of self-defense”
When all else fails, point the finger, call someone a terrorist and then murder him or her. The latest from the Jerusalem Post: IDF: Global Jihad on flotilla :: Israel concerned next flotilla will be accompanied by Turkish Navy
I watched this exchange on MSNBC with Eliot Spitzer: “Talking about Israel with Eliot Spitzer on MSNBC” – Spitzer and his guests were spewing pure Israeli propaganda uninterrupted and unchallenged. It’s time to STOP cooperating with these liars. Note who their advertisers are and send them an email. Time to give these thug bums a dose of their own medicine.
[UPDATE :: Wednesday, June 2, 2010]
Israel has put all the Palestinians into a prison – in modern times it’s called a concentration camp. Take a look for yourself: Line of Separation
In 2002, Israel began constructing a 456-mile barrier to separate it from nearly all the Palestinian population of the West Bank. Click on the map below for a detailed look at the barrier system.
In my lifetime I was often told: “Talk is cheap.” It’s what you do that tells the truth. For whatever reasons, American’s bought into that cheap suit, “Hope.” Tariq Ali lays out a rather stark assessment of President Obama’s agenda.
If there was ever something to put on this blog worth reading, it is this:
PRESIDENT OF CANT by tariq ali
A year since the White House changed hands, how has the American empire altered? Under the Bush Administration it was widely believed, in both mainstream opinion and much of the amnesiac section of the left, that the United States had fallen under an aberrant regime, the product of a virtual coup d’état by a coterie of right-wing fanatics—alternatively, ultra-reactionary corporations—who had hijacked American democracy for policies of unprecedented aggression in the Middle East. In reaction, the election to the Presidency of a mixed-race Democrat, vowing to heal America’s wounds at home and restore its reputation abroad, was greeted with a wave of ideological euphoria not seen since the days of Kennedy. Once again, America could show its true face—purposeful but peaceful, firm but generous; humane, respectful, multi-cultural—to the world. Naturally, with the makings of a Lincoln or a Roosevelt for our time in him, the country’s new young ruler would have to make compromises, as any statesman must. But at least the shameful interlude of Republican swagger and criminality was over. Bush and Cheney had broken the continuity of a multilateral American leadership that had served the country well throughout the Cold War and after. Obama would now restore it.
Rarely has self-interested mythology—or well-meaning gullibility—been more quickly exposed. There was no fundamental break in foreign policy, as opposed to diplomatic mood music, between the Bush 1, Clinton and Bush 2 Administrations; there has been none between the Bush and Obama regimes. The strategic goals and imperatives of the us imperium remain the same, as do its principal theatres and means of operation. Since the collapse of the ussr, the Carter Doctrine—the construction of another democratic pillar of human rights—has defined the greater Middle East as the central battlefield for the imposition of American power around the world. It is enough to look at each of its sectors to see that Obama is the offspring of Bush, as Bush was of Clinton and Clinton of Bush the father, as so many appropriately biblical begettings. Read the rest of this entry »
Anyone know why this?
President Obama, Joe Biden and Hillary Clinton including the majority in Congress support Israel and the Jews without question while Obama has done nothing but pay lip-service to the manufactured foreclosure crisis that is making millions homeless. Anyone know why?
Do you know why American tax payer’s are subsidizing these people? There seems to be a real contradiction in this country. It seems we have all the money in the world for phony wars, the Jews, Pentagon, banks and big corporations, but no money for meaningful healthcare, Social Security or Medicare.
By DAVE LINDORFF – April 13, 2010
[Picture Source] Click the picture and tell me if you’d like to live in a place like that?