An Israeli journalist has called on Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to exploit the readiness of Egyptian President Abdel Fatah Al-Sisi to concede Egyptian land in return for money to solve the conflict with the Palestinians, Arabi21 reported yesterday.
Haggai Segal, the editor of the Israeli newspaper Makor Rishon, wrote: “Al-Sisi’s concession of Tiran and Sanafir islands shows that Arabs do not revere the land. Al-Sisi conceded the two islands for money.”
The journalist, who is very close to Netanyahu, added: “Two years ago, Al-Sisi showed his willingness to accept the establishment of a Palestinian state in Sinai. This makes us expect reaching an agreement with Al-Sisi and the Palestinian Authority (PA) regarding this in return for a respectable sum of money.”
“We have to measure the idea of establishing a Palestinian state in Sinai based on the equation: land for shekels.”
Segal was a member of a terrorist Jewish organisation that planned to destroy Al-Aqsa Mosque in the 1980s. He also carried out a number of explosions that killed and wounded scores of Palestinians, including heads of West Bank municipalities.
Two years ago, Israeli Army Radio revealed that Al-Sisi suggested the creation of a Palestinian state in Sinai in return for Palestinian concession of the West Bank.
Both Egypt and the Palestinian Authority denied the report, however many Israeli officials, including the Education Minister Naftali Bennett, confirmed the proposal had been put forward.
Meanwhile, former Israeli ambassador to Cairo Zvi Mazel said Al-Sisi recognises the size of the economic crisis his regime is currently facing and is therefore “ready to concede Egypt’s respect and dignity and ignore the constitution for financial support.”
A former CIA officer, now residing in Portugal, faces extradition to Italy after her alleged involvement in the kidnapping of an Egyptian cleric, Hassan Mustafa Osama Nasr, otherwise known as Abu Omar, in Milan 13 years ago, The Washington Post reported.
An Italian court convicted Sabrina De Sousa, 60, in absentia along with 26 other Americans, sentencing her to four years in prison. In 2009, De Sousa avoided potential imprisonment by leaving Italy before the trial started.
However, extradition talks began after De Sousa moved to Portugal last spring to be closer to her relatives.
Local police detained the former CIA agent on a European arrest warrant at the Lisbon airport in October.
A key development in the case happened this week, when Portugal’s highest court upheld the lower courts’ ruling that local authorities did not violate the constitution when detaining De Sousa. She is now scheduled to be extradited to Italy on May 4.
One of the conditions of the ruling is that De Sousa be given another trial and a chance to appeal her sentence in Italy since she was sentenced in absentia.
However, De Sousa is not sure that Italian authorities will grant her a new trial, and fears that she will simply be sent straight to jail to start serving her four-year sentence.
“It’s kind of a surreal situation,” De Sousa told The Washington Post. “I’ve spent years wanting to counter the charges against me. Right now, I want to know what happens, step by step, in Italy.”
Former CIA chief historian Benjamin Fischer described De Sousa’s case as “unprecedented,” according to the Post.
De Sousa holds dual Portuguese and American citizenship. She admitted that flying to Europe did leave her more vulnerable to arrest.
“If I was a natural-born US citizen and my entire family lived in Kansas, for example, then maybe I wouldn’t need to worry about going to Europe again,” De Sousa said.
Terror suspect Egyptian cleric Nasr was kidnapped from a Milan street in 2003. He was transported to Egypt by the CIA as part of their extraordinary rendition program, where he was allegedly tortured for seven months and eventually released.
It was only in 2005 when reports of Italian government investigating CIA agents involved in the kidnapping came to light.
Evidence discovered by Italian law enforcement reportedly embarrassed the CIA’s spy craft skills.
Meanwhile, De Sousa was unable to persuade her employer to grant her immunity and ended up resigning from the CIA in 2009.
De Sousa asserts she played only a minor role in the abduction of the cleric, translating for CIA officers in Italy in early 2002 before the kidnapping took place.
“But at that point, rendition was just a concept,” she said, adding that Nasr’s name was not even mentioned during the talks.
Egypt’s press syndicate denounced on Wednesday recent “repeated” attacks against its members while they carried out their journalistic work and called on the interior ministry to investigate the issue.
The syndicate said that attacks on journalists are carried out by “thugs” who are “protected” by security bodies in the state.
The word “thugs” is used in Egypt to describe those who violate the law. Human rights organisations have repeatedly alleged that security forces use “thugs” to disperse protests and arrest suspects. But the interior ministry denies such accusations.
The press syndicate, one of Egypt’s oldest professional syndicates, said on Wednesday in a statement that “thugs, protected by the security [apparatuses] assaulted journalists and photojournalists” outside a court building in the Cairo neighbourhood of Zeinhom on Tuesday as they covered judicial proceedings regarding 25 protesters who were arrested on Friday during the “Friday of Land” protests.
The “Friday of Land” protests were staged by activists in protest against the Egyptian government’s decision to hand over two Red Sea islands to Saudi Arabia.
The press syndicate says in its statement that “thugs” also chased away family members who gathered outside the court in solidarity with the detained protesters.
This attack “is not the first of its kind in recent times”, the press syndicate added in its statement.
WASHINGTON – The US government has sent Special Envoy Amos Hochstein to Kuwait, Qatar, Egypt and Israel to discuss falling oil prices after the failure of the Doha energy talks, the US Department of State announced in a media note on Monday.
“Special Envoy and Coordinator for International Energy Affairs Amos J. Hochstein will be travelling to the region to meet with key interlocutors in Jerusalem, Cairo, Kuwait City and Doha,” the note stated.
As global oil prices remain near record lows, and the United States emerges as a global exporter of liquefied natural gas, Hochstein will be seeking to strengthen US relationships with partners in the region as well as discuss strategies for addressing the market realities of the energy sector, the note explained.
Hochstein will discuss energy security issues in Israel, power generation issues in Egypt and plans to investment in developing new oil fields and build additional oil refineries in Kuwait, the State Department pointed out.
In Qatar, Hochstein will give a speech emphasizing US support for liquefied natural gas development and its role in reducing global carbon emissions, the note said.
The Israeli Defense Minister Moshe Yaalon said that the Zionist entity does not oppose erecting a bridge that links Egypt to Saudi, noting that the project obtained Israel’s prior approval.
Yaalon added that Saudi sent the Zionist entity a document that conveys the former’s commitment to Camp David pact which was concluded between Israel and Egypt in 1979, considering Tiran strait and Aqaba Gulf as international waterways that will keep open to maritime and aerial navigation.
The Israeli official pointed out that an agreement was concluded between KSA, Egypt, US, and Israel to transfer the power on the islands to Saudi as long as it will be included in the military appendix military appendix of Israel-Egypt Camp David Treaty.
Tzachi Hanegbi who heads the Knesset’s Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee also signaled on Tuesday the Zionist entity did not oppose Egypt’s return of two Red Sea islands to Saudi Arabia, viewing it as a chance to draw closer to Riyadh against the axis of resistance in the region.
Black Georgia Congressman Hank Johnson has written a letter that puts him in the cross-hairs of the Israel lobby – and he’s managed to bring eight other members of the House with him, including three colleagues from the Congressional Black Caucus. Johnson teamed up with Vermont Senator Patrick Leahy, a longtime – and usually very lonely – critic of Israel’s treatment of Palestinians. The senator is the author of the Leahy Law, which requires the United States to cut off military aid “to any unit of the security forces of a foreign country if the Secretary of State has credible information” that the unit has “committed a gross violation of human rights.” Congressman Johnson believes this language applies to Israel and to military and police units in Egypt. Together, the two countries account for more than 75 percent of total U.S. military assistance to foreign states: $3.1 billion a year to Israel, and $1.5 billion to Egypt. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is demanding that the U.S. increase its annual gift to the Zionist State’s military to $4.5 billion.
Congressman Johnson’s letter urges Secretary of State John Kerry to do as the Leahy Law requires, and make a determination if Israel and Egypt have engaged in gross violations of human rights. The letter calls Kerry’s attention to specific cases of extrajudicial killings of Palestinians and the use of torture by Israeli security forces, and it cites the Egyptian military regime’s 2013 massacre of as many as a thousand unarmed civilians at Rab’aa Square, which Human Rights Watch describes as “the world’s largest killing of demonstrators in a single day in recent history.”
In addition to Senator Leahy, Hank Johnson convinced eight other House Democrats to sign his letter, including Black Caucus members Andrè Carson, of Indiana, Eddie Bernice Johnson, of Texas, and Eleanor Holmes Norton, the congressional Delegate from Washington, DC.
The crimes of Egypt’s military regime have shocked the world, but Washington has no problem with mass murder, which is why the Egyptian military has been a U.S. client for the past 40 years.
And, there is, of course, not a chance in hell that Secretary of State Kerry will certify that Israel is a gross human rights violator – despite the fact that the entire history of the apartheid Zionist state is an affront to the very notion of civilization. Just two weeks ago, an Israeli soldier was caught on video cold-bloodedly shooting a wounded and helpless Palestinian in the head. A poll showed 66 percent of Israeli Jews have good feelings about the soldier’s behavior, and 57 percent don’t even want the government to investigate the murder. This is the kind of barbaric society that is bred by apartheid – a society that should be recognized as inherently evil by every member of the Congressional Black Caucus. But, only three Black congresspersons joined Hank Johnson in questioning why the U.S. spends billions to arm the last apartheid state on Earth. In 2014, every single Black congressperson, including Hank Johnson, voted in support of Israel even as it was slaughtering more than 2,000 Palestinians in Gaza. Four signatures on a letter will never erase the shame they have brought upon Black America through their support for the most racist regime in the world.
Glen Ford can be contacted at Glen.Ford@BlackAgendaReport.com
Taking the measure on Tuesday, Nilesat alleged that Al-Manar had “violated the contract by broadcasting shows that provoke sectarian strife and sedition.”
The company is also to stop its operations in Lebanon as of Wednesday when its contract expires.
Saudi-based satellite provider Arabsat had stopped broadcasting Al-Manar in December 2015, a month after it took Al Mayadeen TV, another Lebanon-based channel, off air.
Late last week, Saudi-owned Al Arabiya TV shut its offices in the Lebanese capital, Beirut, and dismissed the local staff over “security reasons.”
Saudi Arabia has been adopting a raft of measures against Lebanon in reaction to the latter country’s refusal to side with Riyadh against Iran.
It has been targeting Lebanese resistance movement Hezbollah, which has been fighting Saudi-backed extremism inside both Lebanon and Syria.
Earlier in the year, Lebanese Foreign Minister Gibran Bassil refused to back a motion crafted by Saudi Arabia against the Islamic Republic, prompting Riyadh to retract a $4-billion aid pledge to Lebanon and demand an apology, which Lebanon refused to give.
The motion had sought to condemn Tehran over January attacks on vacant Saudi diplomatic premises. The attacks occurred during otherwise peaceful protests against Saudi Arabia’s execution earlier of prominent Shia cleric Sheikh Nimr al-Nimr.
Saudi Arabia has also ordered its citizens not to travel to Lebanon and imposed sanctions on four Lebanese firms and three individuals it accuses of having links to Hezbollah.
There are also reports that Saudi Arabia may expel the Lebanese nationals working on its territory.
Some local media reports in Lebanon have, meanwhile, said the Saudis may be applying pressure to secure the release of a member of the royal family held in Lebanon since last October on drug charges.
Abdul-Mohsen al-Waleed Al Saud was detained in Beirut after authorities seized two tons of amphetamine Captagon pills before they were loaded onto his private plane.
Eastern Europeans and Arabs are all-too-familiar with the political street hooliganism sponsored by global «provocateur» George Soros and his minions. Lately, middle-class Americans have had a taste of the type of violent protest provocations during the current US presidential campaign that have previously been visited upon governments from Macedonia and Moldova to Syria and Libya.
Recently, Donald Trump campaign rallies have seen highly-coordinated and well-planned political demonstrations in Chicago, Cleveland, St. Louis, Dayton, and other cities. The rallies were disrupted by highly-coordinated and well-planned protesters waving freshly-printed protest signs before awaiting television cameras. Such «rent-a-mob» actions are trademark signs of the involvement of George Soros and the «godfather» of political street violence, Gene Sharp, in disrupting the normal political process.
One of the favored methods proposed by Sharp and embraced by Soros-financed groups is the taunting of individuals. Sharp’s advice to taunt speakers is being played out in the US presidential campaign: «instead of predominantly silent and dignified behavior… people may mock and insult officials, either at a certain place or by following them for a period». Sharp suggests that taunting individuals, such as presidential candidates, be combined with a refusal to disperse when either asked or ordered to do so. Sharp claims that these methods are «non-violent». However, when the US Secret Service, charged with protecting presidential candidates from assassination or bodily harm, order protesters to leave a campaign venue and there is a subsequent refusal to do so, violence is a certainty.
Soros and Sharp honed their street revolution tactics on the streets of Belgrade in the Bulldozer Revolution that overthrew Serbian president Slobodan Milosevic on October 5, 2000. Two Soros-financed and Sharp-inspired groups, OPTOR! and the Center for Applied Nonviolent Action and Strategies (CANVAS), as well as their leader Srdja Popovic, a so-called «pro-democracy» agitator, have all been unmasked as US intelligence assets. Popovic has received funding from the CIA-linked US Institute of Peace, a creation of neo-conservatives to advance the type of undemocratic political street disruptions first seen in Serbia and that soon expanded to Ukraine, Georgia, Egypt, Venezuela, Russia, Macedonia, and other countries. Today, Soros-inspired political violence has targeted Trump rallies across the United States.
Popovic first began to infiltrate American politics by ostensibly supporting the Occupy Wall Street movement. As his ties to the CIA and Goldman Sachs later showed, his intent and that of his financiers were to derail the anti-capitalist popular movement.
Several veteran «agents provocateurs» of the Occupy Wall Street movement who are now part of the Bernie Sanders presidential campaign have been enlisted by groups like Unbound Philanthropy, an immigrant rights group, to disrupt Trump rallies. Together with the Soros-financed group Black Lives Matter, these professional street hooligans have carefully, and in compliance with the Sharp model, staged their demonstrations to achieve maximum media coverage while achieving the maximum level of disruption to the primary election process.
Unbound Philanthropy is funded by Obama’s deep-pocketed friend and frequent vacation host in Hawaii, William Reeves, a former JP Morgan executive who now heads up BlueCrest Capital. In some cases, the political protesters masquerade as Trump supporters by wearing pro-Trump shirts and hats in order to gain access to Trump campaign venues. This methodology of disruption employs another Sharp tactic, that of using false identities. Coupled with the tactic of «non-violent harassment» of individuals, the use of employing false identities to gain admittance to Trump rallies, followed by coordinated protests in the form of placard-waving «stand-ins», are textbook examples of Sharp tactics being employed with the financial support of Soros and his gang, which includes Reeves and pro-immigration Hispanic groups and Black Lives Matter. Many of the anti-Trump street actions are coordinated by MoveOn.org, another group financed principally by Soros and the Hyatt Hotels’ Pritzker family of Chicago. One member of the Pritzker family, Penny Pritzker, serves as the Secretary of Commerce in the Obama administration.
MoveOn.org, which has endorsed Sanders, is actually using its protests at Trump rallies as a fundraising gimmick. It promises to disrupt future Trump campaign rallies and it will use every weapon in the Sharp/Soros handbook.
Another Sharp/Soros tactic employed against Trump is the «speak-in». During a Trump campaign appearance in Dayton, a pro-Bernie Sanders protester jumped a barrier and rushed the stage in an attempt to grab the microphone from Trump. The Secret Service tackled the protester who was arrested by police. The protester previously took part in a 2015 protest at Wright State University in Dayton where he dragged a US flag on the ground. Destruction of property, including US flags, is another hallmark disruption tactic proposed by Sharp.
The Sharp definition of a «speak-in» is a «special form of nonviolent intervention… when actionists interrupt a meeting… or other gathering for the purpose of expressing viewpoints on issues which may or may not be related directly to the occasion». Soros classifies the action as «social intervention», with «psychological and physical aspects». Regardless of Sharp’s definition of such actions as «nonviolent», the Secret Service does not take lightly anyone lunging at a presidential candidate, especially after the assassination of candidate Robert F. Kennedy in Los Angeles in 1968 and the shooting and attempted assassination of candidate George Wallace in 1972. Soros’s operatives are dangerously playing with fire by bringing such violence-tinged street protest tactics to the American presidential political scene.
The stench of Popovic and Soros in the street operations against Trump, who has railed against Wall Street’s «free trade agreements» and neo-conservative «wars of choice», can be seen in the links between the street protest groups and corporate giants like Goldman Sachs.
Popovic and his CANVAS non-governmental organization (NGO) has received funding from a former Goldman Sachs executive named Muneer Satter.
Satter happened to work at Goldman Sachs with fellow corporate executive Heidi Cruz, the wife of Trump’s opponent for the Republican presidential nomination, Senator Ted Cruz of Texas. Although Satter retired from Goldman Sachs in 2012 he continues to serve as vice chairman of the Goldman Sachs Foundation. In 2012, the year that Satter retired from Goldman Sachs, the firm loaned more than $1 million to Cruz’s Texas US Senate campaign.
Satter also happens to be close to both President Barack Obama and anti-Trump GOP operative Karl Rove. Satter has donated to both Obama and Rove’s Crossroads political action committee. Satter was also the national finance co-chair of Mitt Romney’s 2008 and 2012 presidential campaigns.
This year, Satter joined the Senator Marco Rubio campaign as Illinois Finance Committee co-chairman. Such background players, Heidi Cruz and her Goldman Sachs friend Satter, as well as Rove, Romney, Reeves, Soros, the Pritzkers, and Popovic – a Central Intelligence Agency-linked foreign interloper in the United States political system – are the actual movers and shakers behind America’s presidential election. Their jobs and those of other deep-pocketed political financiers like Paul Singer, Haim Saban, Sheldon Adelson, Michael Bloomberg, Sam Zell, and Norman Braman, are to ensure that no «unfiltered outsiders» ever become the President of the United States. These and other wealthy backroom political maestros owe their undemocratic but massive political influence to insider politicians residing at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue in Washington. They will do everything in their power to prevent an «unfiltered» candidate from becoming the next American president.
The Texas Senator expressed his admiration for the Egyptian President, Abdel Fattah el-Sisi, who has imprisoned thousands of journalists and protesters and has unleashed a brutal police force, as an “example” of a Muslim ally.
“Let me give you an example of a Muslim, for example, we ought to be standing with,” Think Progress reports Cruz said at a campaign rally in Miami. “President el-Sisi of Egypt, a president of a Muslim country who is targeting radical Islamic terrorists,” he added.
But Cruz is no fair-weather friend to the blood-stained Egyptian president, he mentioned his admiration for el-Sisi last year.
“Why don’t we see the president of the United States demonstrating that same courage [as el-Sisi] just to speak the truth about the face of evil we’re facing right now?” Cruz asked during the first Republican presidential debate last year.
In February, charges were dropped against a four-year-old in Egypt. He had been sentenced to life for four counts of murder, eight counts of attempted murder, vandalizing state property during protests in January 2014, when the boy was 16-months-old.
Activists have denounced a Home Office sponsored security fair, warning that Britain is selling tear gas and other crowd control tools to some of the world’s most oppressive regimes.
Among the governments invited to take part in the fair in Farnborough, Hampshire, 30 miles southwest of London, are Bahrain, Saudi Arabia, Israel, United Arab Emirates (UAE), Egypt and Turkey, the Guardian reported on Saturday.
Police and security officials from 79 countries are expected to participate in the fair later this week, according to the list, which was released under a Freedom of Information request.
Since Prime Minister David Cameron took office in 2010, the UK has approved 126 licenses connected with the sale of tear gas and other irritants, according to the Campaign Against the Arms Trade (CAAT).
Also approved were 75 licenses for crowd control ammunition such as rubber bullets, 79 for “acoustic” crowd control – known as sound grenades – and 259 licenses for riot shields.
CAAT spokesman Andrew Smith told the paper: “There are serious questions to be asked about the impact of the so-called ‘non-lethal’ arms industry. These risks become even more important when these weapons are being sold to human rights abusers and dictatorships.”
“A number of the countries in attendance routinely practice torture, arbitrary detention and other appalling acts of violence. The UK should not be arming these regimes and selling them the means to oppress and kill.”
“[The event] undermines the UK’s claims to be promoting human rights while strengthening the position of repressive regimes.”
Defending the trade show, the Home Office said: “A thriving security industry is vital to help cut crime and protect the public and so it is important these products and services can be showcased and expertise shared.”
Described by organizers as “the perfect place to see the latest security equipment and technology in a secure environment,” the Security and Policy fair will be held behind closed doors, with all visitors “pre vetted to strict Home Office criteria.”
Hamas Prime Minister in Gaza, Ismail Haniyeh
By Belal Shobaki – Al-Shabaka: The Palestinian Policy Network – February 22, 2016
While Israel’s efforts to link Palestinian resistance to its military occupation to global terrorism are not new, it has expanded its propaganda to address Arab as well as Western audiences. By so doing, it is clearly seeking to exploit the global aversion to movements that have drifted towards extremism and terrorism while claiming to represent Islam. “Hamas is ISIS and ISIS is Hamas,” Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu declared at the United Nations in 2014. Yet better than anyone else, Netanyahu and the Israeli political establishment know that Hamas and Daesh are not related, as do those Arab regimes that also tar all Islamic movements with the same brush to serve their own ends. 1
Not only are Hamas and Daesh unrelated, they are bitter enemies, and Daesh has denounced Hamas as an apostate movement. Al-Shabaka Policy Analyst Belal Shobaki discusses the major ways in which Hamas differs from Daesh including its approach to jurisprudence; the position vis-a-vis the nature of the state; and relations with other religions. He makes the case that it is especially important for the Palestinian national movement to rebut the attempts to conflate Hamas with Daesh and points out the dangers of not doing so.
Serving Short-Term Political Gain
The conflation of Hamas with Daesh ignores reality on the ground. The political environment in Palestine is defined by the occupation, whereas the political environment in the Arab countries where Daesh emerged is defined by authoritarianism and repression as well as sectarian and religious conflicts, an ideal environment for the emergence of a radical ideology motivated by indiscriminate violence.
For Israel, however, the attempt to link the two may pay off regionally and internationally. Many Arabic media outlets have no qualms about referring to this terrorist organization as an “Islamic” State although it is anything but, while many Western media outlets embrace the Israeli conflation of Hamas and Daesh without scrutiny. Arab regimes are uninterested in defending the image of Hamas. Even the Palestinian Liberation Organization (PLO) does not seem concerned with defending Hamas’s international image given the political division between Fatah and Hamas.
Hamas is considered part of the Muslim Brotherhood, which is seen as a threat to authoritarian Arab regimes, particularly in the Arab Mashreq. Thus one way for Arab regimes to fight the Muslim Brotherhood is by claiming it shares common ground or is even synonymous with Daesh, as claimed by the Egyptian regime, and then using this as a justification for excluding the Muslim Brotherhood from participating in political life.
The rapid developments of the past five years in Egypt, the country that provides the only outlet for the Palestinian Gaza Strip, has pushed Hamas into its informal tunnels economy. The official Egyptian stance after Abdel Fattah Sisi’s coup against elected president Mohammad Morsi became tougher against the Gaza Strip, with claims that Hamas was cooperating with Jihadist groups in the Sinai, the same narrative promoted by Israel and its media. However, this narrative is flawed. It is too risky for Hamas to maintain a close relationship with Sinai jihadists, on the one hand, while cracking down on individuals embracing the same ideology in Gaza, on the other. Any links Hamas has established with those groups is limited to securing the needs of the enclave besieged by Israel and Egypt. This interaction is not motivated by a shared ideological identity or shared enmity towards the Egyptian regime. Indeed, Hamas has been eager to keep communication lines open with the Egyptian regime even when accusations conflating Hamas with Sinai’s Salafi Jihadi groups were made in the media. Hamas has also repeatedly said that it is keen on rebuilding the relationship with Egypt in order to ensure the legal flow of goods, services and individuals into Gaza.
It is important to refute this narrative concerning one of the largest Palestinian political movements: Excluding moderate Islamists from political life carries the danger of pushing Palestinian society towards radicalism, in which case both Fatah and Hamas will find themselves fighting takfiri groups. The ensuing discussion will demonstrate the real differences between Hamas and Daesh as well as the very real enmity between them.
Differences in Doctrine
Hamas positions itself as a centrist Islamic movement and an extension of the Muslim Brotherhood, with a rational jurisprudential authority, whereas Daesh adopts a text-based approach that deals with Islamic texts in isolation from their historical context and refuses to interpret them in line with current developments. Hence, for Daesh and other takfiri groups in general, movements like Hamas are secular and un-Islamic, since Hamas is primarily a resistance movement against the Israeli occupation and believes in a moderate Islamic authority. Moreover, Hamas does not take Islamic texts literally; it allows for ijtihad – interpretation and use of discretion. Some scholars have categorized these movements along a horizontal line with the right representing advocates of the text and the left representing advocates of reason. 2 Using this classification, the Muslim Brotherhood can be found a good way down the left of the line, while Daesh is on the far right.
Daesh characterizes Hamas and its discourse as deviant. Hamas for its part has condemned Daesh’s threats and considered these part of a smear campaign that extends beyond Palestine. When threats from Daesh and other takfiri groups materialized into action, Hamas no longer stopped at condemnations. Mahmoud al-Zahar, a prominent Hamas leader, declared “Daesh’s threats can be felt on the ground, and we are handling the situation from a security standpoint. Whoever commits a security offense shall be dealt with in accordance with the law, and whoever wants to debate intellectually shall be debated intellectually; we take this matter seriously”.
Hamas had in fact dealt decisively with a Daesh-like group. In August 2009, Abdul Latif Musa, leader of the “Jund Ansar Allah” (Soldiers of God’s Supporters) armed group, announced the creation of the Islamic Emirate in Gaza at the Ibn Taymiyyah Mosque. The group had previously been accused of destroying cafes and other venues in the Gaza Strip, pushing the Hamas government into a confrontation. Security forces, reinforced by the al-Qassam Brigades (Hamas’ military wing), encircled the Ibn Taymiyyah Mosque and, when Musa’s group refused to surrender, Hamas ended the emirate project in its infancy by killing the members of the group. Hamas was criticized for its use of violence but justified its actions by arguing that the violence that could have been perpetrated by such groups would have been much worse than that used to eradicate extremism in the Gaza Strip.
Daesh’s supporters in Gaza are far fewer than Hamas’s, mainly due to the fact that these groups have not historically contributed to resisting the occupation. Some polls suggest that 24% of Palestinians think positively of jihadist movements, but this percentage is exaggerated. When some Palestinians cheer for the jihadist groups’ hostility towards the US, it is not because they believe in these groups but rather because they see the US, with its infinite support for Israel, as being playing a destructive role.
Different Stances on Statehood
Hamas and Daesh differ in their view of the modern state, in both theory and practice. As noted above, Hamas has always allowed for ijtihad or discretion, evolving its thoughts and opinions. It is thus unfair to assess Hamas’s stance on the civil state and democracy based on the early literature of the mother movement, the Muslim Brotherhood. Hamas maintains that it has embraced new convictions in this regard and has come to fully accept democracy and the concept of the civil state. Indeed, the Muslim Brotherhood itself has evolved. Qatar-based Sheikh Yusuf al-Qaradawi, the jurisprudential authority of the Muslim Brotherhood at large, has stated on multiple occasions, including in his book “The State in Islam”, that the concept of the religious state does not exist in Islam. According to al-Qaradawi, Islam advocates for a civil state founded on respect for the people’s Islam-based opinion, and also founded on the principle of accountability and political pluralism. Although the discussion about the relationship between Islam and democracy predates the Muslim Brotherhood, it gained clarity after the 1950s, when numerous Islamic thinkers, including al-Qaradawi, the Tunisian leader and Ennahda co-founder Rached Ghannouchi and the Algerian philosopher Malek Bennabi, affirmed that Islam and democracy were not in contradiction with each other.
At the opposite end, the movement that Daesh represents rejects democracy in its entirety and considers it an apostate system of governance. Although some jihadist groups do not denounce Islamists who take part in the democratic process as apostates, they do consider their discretion flawed. Daesh views any expression of democracy such as elections as a manifestation of apostasy and any movement or individual taking part in elections as apostates. By contrast, the Muslim Brotherhood participated in elections from its earliest days, when its founder Hassan al-Banna decided to run in the Egyptian parliamentary elections that El-Wafd Party Government sought to hold in 1942. Although al-Banna could not run because the government rejected his candidacy, the Muslim Brotherhood has served in Arab parliaments and sometimes in the executive branch.
When Hamas decided not to participate in 1996 Palestinian Authority elections its position was based on a political and ideological stance towards the Oslo Accords. However, Hamas allowed its members to run in the elections as independents. When the circumstances changed and the 2005 Cairo Agreement became the governing framework for the PA elections instead of the Oslo Accords, Hamas decided to participate. It nominated many members in the movement and some independents to a Change and Reform list to run for the Legislative Council, winning the majority of votes.
By participating in the elections, Hamas has offered evidence that it is willing to function in a modern state and a democratic system. It has called for coalition governments inclusive of leftist and secular parties. Its government as well as its parliamentary list included women and its first government included Muslim and Christian ministers.
Daesh, on the other hand, has turned against all modern institutions in the areas under its control, refusing to recognize borders or national identity. It rules through chaotic and individual decisions. Although Daesh has been eager to use administrative terms derived from the Islamic tradition such as caliphate and shura (consultation), the essence of its governance contradicts the majority of unquestionable texts in the sources of Islamic legislation in many ways. For example, it does not abide by the conditions established in the Quran and sunna (the Prophet Mohammad’s teachings) to declare war or the protection of civilians and treatment of prisoners in wartime. Another example is its imposition of jizya (a tax that was levied on non-Muslim subjects), which is not supposed to be applied to the indigenous inhabitants even if they are non-Muslim. Moreover, it has attacked places of worship and assaulted the faithful in their homes, in clear violation of the Quran and sunna.
Daesh, to some extent, resembles hybrid regimes in the Third World that use modern and democratic vocabulary to describe their political process, even though they remain authoritarian in essence.
Polar Opposites in Treating the Other
The most significant difference between Hamas and Daesh is their position towards followers of other religions. During its formation, Hamas published a charter that used religious vocabulary to describe the conflict. Following severe criticism, Hamas effectively sidelined this Charter and no longer considers it an authoritative reference as some of its leaders have confirmed.
In his interview with The Jewish Daily Forward deputy head of the Hamas politburo Moussa Abu Marzouk confirmed that the Charter was marginal to the movement and not a source for its policies. He added that many members were talking about modifying it because several of Hamas’ present policies contradict it. Hamas’ politburo leaders abroad were not the only ones to disclaim the charter. Gaza-based Hamas leader Ghazi Hamad went even further in an interview with the Saudi Okaz newspaper in which he said the charter was subject to discussion and evaluation in opening up to the world. Sami Abu Zuhri, a young Hamas leader who was the movement’s spokesperson during the Second Intifada, urged in an interview with The Financial Times that focus be shifted away from the 1988 charter, and that Hamas be judged on the statements of its leaders.
Today, Hamas adopts the Quranic verse that reads: “Allah does not forbid you from those who do not fight you because of religion and do not expel you from your homes – from being righteous toward them and acting justly toward them. Indeed, Allah loves those who act justly.” This verse urges kindness and justice when dealing with people of other religions. Unlike Daesh, Hamas has applied this in practice. In addition to appointing Christian ministers to its cabinet, it has celebrated Christmas with Palestinian Christians by sending official delegations to visit during the feast. Meanwhile, Daesh has threatened the lives of those who celebrate Christmas across the world.
Some may argue that these steps are ways in which Hamas tries to beautify its authoritarian rule. However, there is little difference between Hamas’ rule and Fatah’s. The human rights violations committed by Gaza’s government cannot be considered an indication of Hamas’ resemblance to Daesh, but rather an indication of misgovernment. The political leadership of Hamas has spoken out against such practices on occasion, for example as those committed by the Ministry of the Interior under Fathi Hammad.
When some individuals were attacked by extremist groups in Gaza, Hamas and the government acted to ensure their safety and punish the aggressors, as in the case of British journalist Alan Johnston who was freed by Hamas from his radical captors and the killing of Italian solidarity activist Vittorio Arrigoni.
The movement’s position towards the Shiites is similar to that towards Christians. At a time when the Middle East is experiencing a media war between Shiites and Sunnis, Hamas refuses to denounce Shiites as apostates, and has interacted with them politically. When the relationship with Iran became strained during the Syrian crisis, the disagreement was political rather than doctrinal. Daesh, on the other hand, not only thinks of Shiites as apostates, but also all other Sunni groups that hold a different ideology, and believes they must be fought.
Even the two organizations’ treatment of the enemy differs. Hamas identifies the Israeli occupation as the enemy, while Daesh considers everyone else its enemy. Daesh has boasted of its numerous crimes against humanity in its treatment of its abductees and the civilians under its rule, including burning Jordanian pilot Muath al-Kasasbeh alive. It has attempted to legitimize its inhumane conduct by distorting or misinterpreting religious texts. Hamas paid its condolences to al-Kasasbeh’s family and condemned Daesh’s actions. Contrast Daesh’s brutality with Hamas’ treatment of the Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit during his captivity, as even the Jerusalem Post reports.
Moving Forward in Relations with Hamas
Both Hamas and Daesh are on the list of terrorist organizations in many countries, including the member states of the European Union and the United States. However, the listing of Hamas is clearly politically motivated: Unlike Daesh, Hamas has neither targeted nor called for targeting any entity other than the Israeli occupation. Hamas was added to the list of terrorist organizations following the events of September 11, 2001, even though it had nothing to do with this terrorist attack. The political nature of the position against Hamas is underscored by the fact that the General Court of the European Union issued a decision on December 17, 2014, urging the removal of Hamas from the list of terrorist organizations. The Court argued that the order to list Hamas in 2003 was based on media reports rather than solid evidence.
In addition, many European and American dignitaries that are known for their stance against terrorist organizations worldwide have met with Hamas leaders on more than one occasion. Those include European parliamentarians and former US president Jimmy Carter, who met with Ismail Haniyeh in Gaza in 2009 and Khalid Meshaal in Cairo in 2012.
The bottom line is that Israel’s attempt to exploit a chaotic Middle East by implicating Hamas as a terrorist group linked with Daesh is baseless. Hamas is ideologically, intellectually, jurisprudentially and politically different from Daesh. Media outlets that adopt the Israeli narrative hurt their professionalism and credibility.
Palestinian movements must not allow the disagreement with Hamas to justify the accusations that harm the Palestinian cause internationally and create tensions locally. Hamas must also realize that the differences between them and Daesh do not mean that its rule of Gaza is free of abuses and human rights violations, and must therefore revisit its conduct and be more careful in its political discourse. It should move beyond the approach of having one discourse for local consumption and another for global consumption since every word uttered by any Hamas leader is marketed abroad as a message from Hamas to the world.
When the Fatah-led Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) and Arab regimes, especially in Egypt, do not oppose the efforts to link Hamas with Daesh – or, indeed, occasionally contribute to these efforts – they may “benefit” in the short-term by weakening Hamas as a political opponent. However, this carries the dangers of destabilizing Palestinian society in the medium and long-term. Excluding moderate Islamists could push Palestinian society towards radicalism, in which case both Fatah and Hamas will find themselves fighting takfiri groups.
- ISIS: The Islamic State of Iraq and Syria. Daesh is the Arabic acronym for ISIS. Some commentators use ISIL: The Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant. The group itself began to use IS in 2014.
- Samir Suleiman, Islam, Demokratie und Moderene, Herzogenrath: Shaker Media, 2013, P 302. Tariq Ramadan, Muslimesin in Europa, Marburg: Medienreferat, 2001, p15.
Al-Shabaka Policy Member Belal Shobaki is assistant professor in the Department of Political Science at Hebron University, Palestine. He is a member of the American Political Studies Association. He has published on Political Islam and identity and is now working on a book on the Palestinian division. Shobaki is the former Editor-in-Chief of Alwaha Newspaper in Malaysia. He was also a Lecturer in the Department of Political Science at An-Najah National University and the Head of the studies Unit at the Palestinian Centre for Democracy and Studies.