Britain’s Labour Party Leader Jeremy Corbyn has refused to give in to calls from Israeli officials and British Jewish figures to denounce Islamic resistance movements Hamas and Hezbollah, vowing to continue talking to the two groups.
The leader of the opposition has come under pressure from a number of Labour lawmakers, Israeli Ambassador to London Mark Regev and Jewish leaders in the UK to distance himself from Labour politicians’ recent remarks condemning Israeli crimes against Palestinians, as well as groups fighting against the Tel Aviv regime’s occupation of the Palestinian lands.
Labour MP Naz Shah resigned as an aide to the party’s shadow chancellor last week after being forced to apologize for backing calls for Israel to “relocate” to the United States.
Also last week, the Labour Party suspended former London Mayor Ken Livingston after he defended Naz Shah in BBC interview and criticized the British media for ignoring Israeli war crimes against the Palestinian people. Livingston also said that Nazi leader Adolf Hitler had been a Zionist early in his political career.
Following these developments, Israeli figures accused the Labour Party leader of being soft on “anti-Semitism” in the party, which was forced to launch an inquiry into how to tackle the issue.
On Monday, Israel’s opposition leader Tzipi Livni said that Britain should condemn “anti-Semitism for the sake of its own core values.”
Israeli Ambassador Regev called on Corbyn to denounce Hamas and Hezbollah and pay a visit to Tel Aviv to build bridges.
Regev referred to Corbyn’s earlier support for the Islamic resistance movements, which were labeled as terrorist organizations by Britain.
A number of British Jews also urged Corbyn to display clarity about having relations with the two groups.
In response to the ongoing calls to reject Hamas and Hezbollah, Corbyn’s spokesman issued a statement on Sunday, saying, “Jeremy Corbyn has been a longstanding supporter of Palestinian rights and the pursuit of peace and justice in the Middle East through dialogue and negotiation.”
“He has met many people with whom he profoundly disagrees in order to promote peace and reconciliation processes, including in South Africa, Latin American, Ireland and the Middle East,” the statement added, noting that it is essential to talk to people “with whom he profoundly disagrees in order to promote peace and reconciliation processes, including in South Africa, Latin American, Ireland and the Middle East.”
“Simply talking to people who agree with you won’t help achieve justice or peace,” it added.
Corbyn has in the past called for the participation of Hamas and Hezbollah for a settlement of the conflict in the Middle East and highlighted the role of Iran in the regional issues. He has also referred to the two movements as “friends.”
RAMALLAH – A student bloc of the Hamas movement on Wednesday came out on top in the closely-followed elections at Birzeit University in the occupied West Bank city of Ramallah.
Following debates between factions vying for the student vote, the pro-Hamas al-Wafaa Islamic bloc claimed victory after gaining 25 seats, with the Yasser Arafat bloc of the Fatah movement trailing behind with 21 seats.
The bloc representing Leftist movement Palestinian Front for the Liberation of Palestine for its part came out with five seats, while other leftist parties including the Democratic Front for the Liberation of Palestine and the Palestinian People’s Party did not receive enough votes to garner a seat.
Voter turnout was reported as 76 percent of the student body.
The Islamic bloc last year won elections for the first time since 2007 at the historically staunchly pro-Fatah campus, taking observers by surprise.
As this year marked ten years since the last national elections, university elections are seen as important indicators of public opinion by political commentators in Palestine and Birzeit is considered to be the most important campus in the yearly political contests.
The Hamas movement congratulated the Islamic bloc for its win at Birzeit and said the victory was an indicator that the movement still had strong sway among the Palestinian public.
The Gaza-based movement said the win came despite efforts by both the Israeli authorities and Palestinian Authority to suppress the Hamas vote, citing the detention of Student Council President Saif al-Islam Daghlas and other students.
Human Rights Watch last year slammed the PA for detaining Palestinian university students across the West Bank after elections “for no apparent reason other than their connection to Hamas or their opinions.”
Hamas’ victory over Fatah comes as the rival factions have shown continued failure to follow through on with attempts to form a unity government since April 2014, after being on cold terms since 2006 when Hamas won the Palestinian legislative elections.
In the following year, violent clashes erupted between Fatah and Hamas, leaving Hamas in control of Gaza and Fatah in control of the occupied West Bank.
Factional disputes between Palestinian factions have been on the rise since a wave of unrest erupted across the occupied Palestinian territory in October.
Hamas and PFLP in particular have lambasted the PA’s ongoing security coordination with Israel as an alleged attempt to quash resistance against the Israeli occupation, while Hamas last summer accused the PA of attempting to eradicate the movement from the West Bank.
Elections haven’t been held in the occupied Palestinian territory for ten years and the public has grown increasingly disillusioned with Palestinian political parties.
Frustration has grown among the youth in particular, with growing numbers showing preference for participating in demonstrations or resistance that are not affiliated with any political party.
Hamas said it rejects the France-sponsored international peace conference between the Palestinians and the Israelis, which is scheduled to take place on May 30 in Paris.
“We consider it a waste of time and a free service for the Israeli government that continues its daily violations against the Palestinians,” Hamas spokesman Sami Abu Zuhri told Anadolu Agency on Saturday.
Abu Zuhri also warned against agreeing to any deal that would harm the Palestinians and their national interests.
In March, Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas affirmed his support for the French proposal.
Peace talks between Israeli and Palestinian negotiators collapsed in April 2014 over Israel’s refusal to release a group of Palestinian political prisoners despite earlier pledges to do so.
If there were any doubts that Hillary Clinton favors a neoconservative foreign policy, her performance at Thursday’s debate should have laid them to rest. In every meaningful sense, she is a neocon and – if she becomes President – Americans should expect more global tensions and conflicts in pursuit of the neocons’ signature goal of “regime change” in countries that get in their way.
Beyond sharing this neocon “regime change” obsession, former Secretary of State Clinton also talks like a neocon. One of their trademark skills is to use propaganda or “perception management” to demonize their targets and to romanticize their allies, what is called “gluing white hats” on their side and “gluing black hats” on the other.
So, in defending her role in the Libyan “regime change,” Clinton called the slain Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi “genocidal” though that is a gross exaggeration of Gaddafi’s efforts to beat back Islamic militants in 2011. But her approach fits with what the neocons do. They realize that almost no one will dare challenge such a characterization because to do so opens you to accusations of being a “Gaddafi apologist.”
Similarly, before the Iraq War, the neocons knew that they could level pretty much any charge against Saddam Hussein no matter how false or absurd, knowing that it would go uncontested in mainstream political and media circles. No one wanted to be a “Saddam apologist.”
Clinton, like the neocons, also shows selective humanitarian outrage. For instance, she laments the suffering of Israelis under crude (almost never lethal) rocket fire from Gaza but shows next to no sympathy for Palestinians being slaughtered by sophisticated (highly lethal) Israeli missiles and bombs.
She talks about the need for “safe zones” or “no-fly zones” for Syrians opposed to another demonized enemy, Syria’s President Bashar al-Assad, but not for the people of Gaza who face the wrath of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.
“Yes, I do still support a no-fly zone [in Syria] because I think we need to put in safe havens for those poor Syrians who are fleeing both Assad and ISIS and have some place that they can be safe,” Clinton said. But she showed no such empathy for Palestinians defenseless against Israel’s “mowing the grass” operations against men, women and children trapped in Gaza.
In Clinton’s (and the neocons’) worldview, the Israelis are the aggrieved victims and the Palestinians the heartless aggressors. Referring to the Gaza rocket fire, she said: “I can tell you right now I have been there with Israeli officials going back more than 25 years that they do not seek this kind of attacks. They do not invite the rockets raining down on their towns and villages. They do not believe that there should be a constant incitement by Hamas aided and abetted by Iran against Israel. …
“So, I don’t know how you run a country when you are under constant threat, terrorist attack, rockets coming at you. You have a right to defend yourself.”
Clinton ignored the history of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, which dates back to the 1940s when Israeli terrorist organizations engaged in massacres to drive Palestinians from their ancestral lands and murdered British officials who were responsible for governing the territory. Israeli encroachment on Palestinian lands has continued to the present day.
But Clinton framed the conflict entirely along the propaganda lines of the Israeli government: “Remember, Israel left Gaza. They took out all the Israelis. They turned the keys over to the Palestinian people. And what happened? Hamas took over Gaza. So instead of having a thriving economy with the kind of opportunities that the children of the Palestinians deserve, we have a terrorist haven that is getting more and more rockets shipped in from Iran and elsewhere.”
So, Clinton made clear – both at the debate and in her recent AIPAC speech – that she is fully in line with the neocon reverence for Israel and eager to take out any government or group that Israel puts on its enemies list. While waxing rhapsodic about the U.S.-Israeli relationship – promising to take it “to the next level” – Clinton vows to challenge Syria, Iran, Russia and other countries that have resisted or obstructed the neocon/Israeli “wish list” for “regime change.”
In response to Clinton’s Israel-pandering, Sen. Bernie Sanders, who once worked on an Israeli kibbutz as a young man, did the unthinkable in American politics. He called out Clinton for her double standards on Israel-Palestine and suggested that Netanyahu may not be the greatest man on earth.
“You gave a major speech to AIPAC,” Sanders said, “and you barely mentioned the Palestinians. … All that I am saying is we cannot continue to be one-sided. There are two sides to the issue. … There comes a time when if we pursue justice and peace, we are going to have to say that Netanyahu is not right all of the time.”
But in Hillary Clinton’s mind, the Israeli-Palestinian dispute is essentially one-sided. During her speech to the American Israel Public Affairs Committee last month, she depicted Israel as entirely an innocent victim in the Mideast conflicts.
“As we gather here, three evolving threats — Iran’s continued aggression, a rising tide of extremism across a wide arc of instability, and the growing effort to de-legitimize Israel on the world stage — are converging to make the U.S.-Israel alliance more indispensable than ever,” she declared.
“The United States and Israel must be closer than ever, stronger than ever and more determined than ever to prevail against our common adversaries and to advance our shared values. … This is especially true at a time when Israel faces brutal terrorist stabbings, shootings and vehicle attacks at home. Parents worry about letting their children walk down the street. Families live in fear.”
Yet, Clinton made no reference to Palestinian parents who worry about their children walking down the street or playing on a beach and facing the possibility of sudden death from an Israeli drone or warplane. Instead, she scolded Palestinian adults. “Palestinian leaders need to stop inciting violence, stop celebrating terrorists as martyrs and stop paying rewards to their families,” she said.
Then, Clinton promised to put her future administration at the service of the Israeli government. Clinton said, “One of the first things I’ll do in office is invite the Israeli prime minister to visit the White House. And I will send a delegation from the Pentagon and the Joint Chiefs to Israel for early consultations. Let’s also expand our collaboration beyond security.”
In selling her neocon policies to the American public, Clinton puts the military aspects in pleasing phrases, like “safe zones” and “no-fly zones.” Yet, what she means by that is that as President she will invade Syria and push “regime change,” following much the same course that she used to persuade a reluctant President Obama to invade Libya in 2011.
The Libyan operation was sold as a “humanitarian” mission to protect innocent civilians though Gaddafi was targeting Islamic militants much as he claimed at the time and was not engaging in any mass slaughter of civilians. Clinton also knew that the European allies, such as France, had less than noble motives in wanting to take out Gaddafi.
As Clinton confidant Sidney Blumenthal explained to her, the French were concerned that Gaddafi was working to develop a pan-African currency which would have given Francophone African countries greater freedom from their former colonial master and would undermine French economic dominance of those ex-colonies.
In an April 2, 2011 email, Blumenthal informed Clinton that sources close to one of Gaddafi sons reported that Gaddafi’s government had accumulated 143 tons of gold and a similar amount of silver that “was intended to be used to establish a pan-African currency” that would be an alternative to the French franc.
Blumenthal added that “this was one of the factors that influenced President Nicolas Sarkozy’s decision to commit France to the attack on Libya.” Sarkozy also wanted a greater share of Libya’s oil production and to increase French influence in North Africa, Blumenthal wrote.
But few Americans would rally to a war fought to keep North Africa under France’s thumb. So, the winning approach was to demonize Gaddafi with salacious rumors about him giving Viagra to his troops so they could rape more, a ludicrous allegation that was raised by then-U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Susan Rice, who also claimed that Gaddafi’s snipers were intentionally shooting children.
With Americans fed a steady diet of such crude propaganda, there was little serious debate about the wisdom of Clinton’s Libyan “regime change.” Meanwhile, other emails show that Clinton’s advisers were contemplating how to exploit Gaddafi’s overthrow as the dramatic moment to declare a “Clinton Doctrine” built on using “smart power.”
On Oct. 20, 2011, when U.S.-backed rebels captured Gaddafi, sodomized him with a knife and then murdered him, Secretary of State Clinton couldn’t contain her glee. Paraphrasing a famous Julius Caesar quote, she declared about Gaddafi, “we came, we saw, he died.”
But this U.S.-organized “regime change” quickly turned sour as old tribal rivalries, which Gaddafi had contained, were unleashed. Plus, it turned out that Gaddafi’s warnings that many of the rebels were Islamic militants turned out to be true. On Sept. 11, 2012, one extremist militia overran the U.S. consulate in Benghazi killing U.S. Ambassador Christopher Stevens and three other Americans.
Soon, Libya slid into anarchy and Western nations abandoned their embassies in Tripoli. President Obama now terms the Libyan fiasco the biggest mistake of his presidency. But Clinton refuses to be chastened by the debacle, much as she appeared to learn nothing from her support for the Iraq invasion in 2003.
The Libyan Mirage
During Thursday’s debate – instead of joining Obama in recognition of the Libyan failure – Clinton acted as if she had overseen some glowing success: “Well, let me say I think we did a great deal to help the Libyan people after Gaddafi’s demise. … We helped them hold two successful elections, something that is not easy, which they did very well because they had a pent-up desire to try to chart their own future after 42 years of dictatorship. I was very proud of that. …
“We also worked to help them set up their government. We sent a lot of American experts there. We offered to help them secure their borders, to train a new military. They, at the end, when it came to security issues, … did not want troops from any other country, not just us, European or other countries, in Libya.
“And so we were caught in a very difficult position. They could not provide security on their own, which we could see and we told them that, but they didn’t want to have others helping to provide that security. And the result has been a clash between different parts of the country, terrorists taking up some locations in the country.”
But that is exactly the point. Like the earlier neocon-driven “regime change” in Iraq, the “regime change” obsession blinds the neocons from recognizing that not only are these operations violations of basic international law regarding sovereignty of other nations but the invasions unleash powerful internal rivalries that neocons, who know little about the inner workings of these countries, soon find they can’t control.
Yet, America’s neocons are so arrogant and so influential that they simply move from one catastrophe to the next like a swarm of locust spreading chaos and death around the globe. They also adapt readily to changes in the political climate.
That’s why some savvy neocons, such as the Brookings Institution’s Robert Kagan, have endorsed Clinton, who The New York Times reported has become “the vessel into which many interventionists are pouring their hopes.”
Kagan told the Times, “I feel comfortable with her on foreign policy. If she pursues a policy which we think she will pursue it’s something that might have been called neocon, but clearly her supporters are not going to call it that; they are going to call it something else.”
Now with Clinton’s election seemingly within reach, the neocons are even more excited about how they can get back to work achieving Syrian “regime change,” overturning Obama’s nuclear deal with Iran, and – what is becoming their ultimate goal – destabilizing nuclear-armed Russia and seeking “regime change” in Moscow.
After all, by helping Assad bring some stability to Syria and assisting Obama in securing the Iranian nuclear deal, Russian President Vladimir Putin has become what the neocons view as the linchpin of resistance to their “regime change” goals. Pull Putin down, the thinking goes, and the neocons can resume checking off their to-do list of Israel’s adversaries: Syria, Iran, Hezbollah, Hamas, etc.
And what could possibly go wrong by destabilizing nuclear-armed Russia and forcing some disruptive “regime change”?
By making Russia’s economy scream and instigating a Maidan-style revolt in Moscow’s Red Square, the neocons see their geopolitical path being cleared, but what they don’t take into account is that the likely successor to Putin would not be some malleable drunk like the late Russian President Boris Yeltsin but, far more likely, a hardline nationalist who might be a lot more careless with the nuclear codes than Putin.
But, hey, when has a neocon “regime change” scheme veered off into a dangerous and unanticipated direction?
A Neocon True-Believer
In Thursday’s debate, Hillary Clinton showed how much she has become a neocon true-believer. Despite the catastrophic “regime changes” in Iraq and Libya, she vowed to invade Syria, although she dresses up that reality in pretty phrases like “safe zones” and “no-fly zones.” She also revived the idea of increasing the flow of weapons to “moderate” rebels although they, in reality, mostly fight under the command umbrella of Al Qaeda’s Nusra Front.
Clinton also suggested that the Syria mess can be blamed on President Obama’s rejection of her recommendations in 2011 to authorize a more direct U.S. military intervention. “Nobody stood up to Assad and removed him,” Clinton said, “and we have had a far greater disaster in Syria than we are currently dealing with right now in Libya.”
In other words, Clinton still harbors the “regime change” goal in Syria. But the problem always was that the anti-Assad forces were penetrated by Al Qaeda and what is now called the Islamic State. The more likely result from Clinton’s goal of removing Assad would be the collapse of the Syrian security forces and a victory for Al Qaeda’s Nusra Front and/or the Islamic State.
If that were to happen, the horrific situation in Syria would become cataclysmic. Millions of Syrians – Alawites, Shiites, Christians, secularists and other “infidels” – would have to flee the beheading swords of these terror groups. That might well force a full-scale U.S. and European invasion of Syria with the bloody outcome probably similar to the disastrous Iraq War.
The only reasonable hope for Syria is for the Assad regime and the less radical Sunni oppositionists to work out some power-sharing agreement, stabilize most of the country, neutralize to some degree the jihadists, and then hold elections, letting the Syrian people decide whether “Assad must go!” – not the U.S. government. But that’s not what Clinton wants.
Perhaps even more dangerous, Clinton’s bellicose rhetoric suggests that she would eagerly move into a dangerous Cold War confrontation with Russia under the upside-down propaganda theme blaming tensions in Eastern Europe on “Russian aggression,” not NATO’s expansion up to Russia’s borders and the U.S.-backed coup in Ukraine in 2014 which ousted an elected president and touched off a civil war.
That coup, which followed neocon fury at Putin for his helping Obama avert U.S. bombing campaigns against Syria and Iran, was largely orchestrated by neocons associated with the U.S. government, including Assistant Secretary of State for European Affairs Victoria Nuland (Robert Kagan’s wife), Sen. John McCain and National Endowment for Democracy President Carl Gershman.
After the violent coup, when the people of Crimea voted by 96 percent to secede from Ukraine and rejoin Russia, the U.S. government and Western media deemed that a “Russian invasion” and when ethnic Russians in eastern Ukraine rose up in resistance to the new authorities in Kiev that became “Russian aggression.”
NATO on the Move
Though President Obama should know better – and I’m told that he does know better – he has succumbed this time to pressure to go along with what he calls the Washington “playbook” of saber-rattling and militarism. NATO is moving more and more combat troops up to the Russian border while Washington has organized punishing economic sanctions aimed at disrupting the Russian economy.
Hillary Clinton appears fully onboard with the neocon goal of grabbing the Big Enchilada, “regime change” in Moscow. Rather than seeing the world as it is, she continues to look through the wrong end of the telescope in line with all the anti-Russian propaganda and the demonization of Putin, whom Clinton has compared to Hitler.
Supporting NATO’s military buildup on Russia’s border, Clinton said, “With Russia being more aggressive, making all kinds of intimidating moves toward the Baltic countries, we’ve seen what they’ve done in eastern Ukraine, we know how they want to rewrite the map of Europe, it is not in our interests [to reduce U.S. support for NATO]. Think of how much it would cost if Russia’s aggression were not deterred because NATO was there on the front lines making it clear they could not move forward.”
Though Clinton’s anti-Russian delusions are shared by many powerful people in Official Washington, they are no more accurate than the other claims about Iraq’s WMD, Gaddafi passing out Viagra to his troops, the humanitarian need to invade Syria, the craziness about Iran being the principal source of terrorism (when it is the Saudis, the Qataris, the Turks and other Sunni powers that have bred Al Qaeda and the Islamic State), and the notion that the Palestinians are the ones picking on the Israelis, not the other way around.
However, Clinton’s buying into the neocon propaganda about Russia may be the most dangerous – arguably existential – threat that a Clinton presidency would present to the world. Yes, she may launch U.S. military strikes against the Syrian government (which could open the gates of Damascus to Al Qaeda and the Islamic State); yes, she might push Iran into renouncing the nuclear agreement (and putting the Israeli/neocon goal to bomb-bomb-bomb-Iran back on the table); yes, she might make Obama’s progressive critics long for his more temperate presidency.
But Clinton’s potential escalation of the new Cold War with Russia could be both the most costly and conceivably the most suicidal feature of a Clinton-45 presidency. Unlike her times as Secretary of State, when Obama could block her militaristic schemes, there will be no one to stop her if she is elected President, surrounded by likeminded neocon advisers.
Investigative reporter Robert Parry broke many of the Iran-Contra stories for The Associated Press and Newsweek in the 1980s. You can buy his latest book, America’s Stolen Narrative, either in print here or as an e-book (from Amazon and barnesandnoble.com).
Hamas has slammed Twitter for closing several accounts linked to the Palestinian resistance movement, saying the company is biased in favor of the Israeli regime.
The Hamas military wing, Ezzedine al-Qassam Brigades, said in a statement on Friday that its English- and Arabic-language accounts had been shut down for the third time in a fortnight.
Twitter is showing a “clear bias to the Israeli occupation where it should (adopt a) neutral position toward both sides,” the statement added.
It said that the closure comes while Twitter allows Israeli officials to encourage “racism, extremism and terrorism” on the social networking site.
Qassam also urged Twitter to reopen its accounts, saying one of those closed accounts had been followed by over 140,000 followers.
Twitter declined to comment, saying in a statement that the company does not comment on individual accounts citing “privacy and security reasons.”
Since its establishment in December 1987, Hamas has refused to recognize Israel and adopted resistance against the Israeli occupation, which it believes is the sole way of bringing about the liberation of occupied Palestinian territories. The movement says its goal is to liberate the entire Palestine.
The Palestinian resistance movement scored a landslide victory in Palestinian elections in 2006. Hamas has ruled the Israeli-blockaded Gaza Strip, while Fatah has set up headquarters in the occupied Palestinian territories in the West Bank.
Israel has waged three large-scale aerial and ground wars on Gaza in the past seven years. In its latest act of aggression in the summer of 2014, which lasted for 50 days, the regime killed about 2,200 Palestinians and inflicted heavy damage on Gaza’s infrastructure and economy. In that latest Israeli aggression, Twitter shut down most of Hamas’ accounts.
AIPAC is a rogue lobbying group with enormous influence in Washington, one-sidedly supporting Israel at the expense of regional peace and Palestinian rights.
Bernie Sanders addressed its annual conference in spirit, not in person, delivering his remarks in written form – expressing longstanding support for a ruthless apartheid state run by hate-mongering Zionist zealots.
“Israel is one of America’s closest allies,” he said, “and we – as a nation – are committed not just to guaranteeing (its survival), but also to its people’s right to live in peace and security.”
Fact: Both countries partner in each other’s high crimes, Sanders failed to explain.
Fact: Israel’s survival isn’t threatened. Its only threats are ones it creates. Sanders paid no heed to its longstanding reign of terror on defenseless Palestinians.
Fact: Calling their freedom fighters “terrorists” mocks their dignity, humanity, and “right to live in peace and security” Israel systematically denies them.
Claiming as president he’ll “work tirelessly to advance the cause of peace as a partner and as a friend to Israel” belies reality.
No peace process exists, not now or earlier going back decades. Israel rejects it out-of-hand, pretending otherwise, wanting historic Palestine for Jews only, its people denied their fundamental rights.
Sanders knows what he won’t explain, one-sidedly supporting Israel while pretending otherwise. His voting record belies his claim about being “a friend not only to Israel, but to the Palestinian people.” When did he ever introduce legislation supporting their rights? Never!
He backs naked Israeli aggression on the phony pretext of responding to Hamas rocket attacks, used only in self-defense.
Saying he “believe(s) that Israel, the Palestinians, and the international community can, must, and will rise to do what needs to be done to achieve a lasting peace” ignores what never happened before and won’t now.
Again, Sanders knows what he won’t say, maintaining the fiction of efforts for regional peace when none exist. Washington and Israel systematically undermine them.
His formula for peace isn’t reality based. After decades of Israeli state terror, slow-motion genocide affecting an entire population, punctuated by intermittent premeditated wars, apartheid worse than South Africa’s, and governance of, by and for hate-mongering Zionist zealots, how can anyone believe it wants peace and stability.
Sanders is like all the rest, demanding “Hamas and Hezbollah renounce their efforts to undermine the security of Israel… Peace has to mean security for every Israeli from violence.”
Saying “attacks of all kinds against Israel” must end is code language for wanting Palestinians denied their international law guaranteed right of self-defense.
Adding “peace also means security (and well-being) for every Palestinian,” their right to “self-determination, (and) ending ‘what amounts’ (sic) to the occupation of Palestinian territory, establishing mutually agreed upon borders, and pulling back settlements in the West Bank (like earlier) in Gaza” ignores no possibility of achieving any of the above.
Sanders failed to explain Ariel Sharon’s so-called disengagement from Gaza transferred its settlers to stolen Palestinian West Bank land, displacing Palestinians from what’s rightfully theirs.
It put Jews out of harm’s way ahead of three Israeli wars of aggression on Gaza – in 2008-09, 2012 and 2014, along with frequent aerial and ground assaults, an entire population terrorized and besieged for nearly a decade with no prospect for relief.
Sanders saying “economic blockade of Gaza” must end ignores its political imposition, unrelated to security concerns.
Expressing rhetorical support for “a sustainable and equitable distribution of precious water resources so (both sides) can thrive as neighbors” ignores his one-sided support for Israel for 30 years.
He willfully lied, claiming Israel’s 2014 Gaza war followed “weeks of indiscriminate rocket fire into its territory and the kidnapping of (its) citizens.”
Operation Protective Edge was planned months in advance, naked Israeli aggression unrelated to Hamas rockets (launched only in self-defense after repeated Israeli provocations) and nonsensical kidnapping claims.
Sanders can’t get his facts straight, including false claims about Hamas “construct(ing) a network of tunnels for military purposes.”
They’re built as a vital lifeline, supplying goods essential to survive, restricted or prohibited by Israel’s suffocating blockade, one of many examples of its genocidal policy – what Sanders never explains.
His address featured numerous examples of misinformation and one-sided support for Israel. Rhetorically expressing concern for Palestinian rights rang hollow.
Throughout his political career, he never cared. Why should anyone believe he turned a new leaf.
Judge him and other politicians only by their voting record. Rhetoric is meaningless.
Stephen Lendman can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
His new book as editor and contributor is titled Flashpoint in Ukraine: US Drive for Hegemony Risks WW III.
I was invited along with other presidential candidates to be at the AIPAC conference in Washington, but obviously I could not make it because we are here.
The issues that AIPAC is dealing with are very important issues and I wanted to give the same speech here as I would have given if we were at that conference.
Let me begin by saying that I think I am probably the only candidate for president who has personal ties with Israel. I spent a number of months there when I was a young man on a kibbutz, so I know a little bit about Israel.
Clearly, the United States and Israel are united by historical ties. We are united by culture. We are united by our values, including a deep commitment to democratic principles, civil rights and the rule of law.
Israel is one of America’s closest allies, and we – as a nation – are committed not just to guaranteeing Israel’s survival, but also to make sure that its people have a right to live in peace and security.
To my mind, as friends – long term friends with Israel – we are obligated to speak the truth as we see it. That is what real friendship demands, especially in difficult times.
Our disagreements will come and go, and we must weather them constructively.
But it is important among friends to be honest and truthful about differences that we may have.
America and Israel have faced great challenges together. We have supported each other, and we will continue to do just that as we face a very daunting challenge and that is the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
I am here to tell the American people that, if elected president, I will work tirelessly to advance the cause of peace as a partner and as a friend to Israel.
But to be successful, we have also got to be a friend not only to Israel, but to the Palestinian people, where in Gaza unemployment today is 44 percent and we have there a poverty rate which is almost as high.
So when we talk about Israel and Palestinian areas, it is important to understand that today there is a whole lot of among Palestinians and that cannot be ignored. You can’t have good policy that results in peace if you ignore one side.
The road towards peace will be difficult. Wonderful people, well-intentioned people have tried decade after decade to achieve that and it will not be easy. I cannot tell you exactly how it will look – I do not believe anyone can – but I firmly believe that the only prospect for peace is the successful negotiation of a two-state solution.
The first step in that road ahead is to set the stage for resuming the peace process through direct negotiations.
Progress is never made unless people are prepared to sit down and talk to each other. This is no small thing. It means building confidence on both sides, offering some signs of good faith, and then proceeding to talks when conditions permit them to be constructive. Again, this is not easy, but that is the direction we’ve got to go.
This will require compromises on both sides, but I believe it can be done. I believe that Israel, the Palestinians, and the international community can, must, and will rise to the occasion and do what needs to be done to achieve a lasting peace in a region of the world that has seen so much war, so much conflict and so much suffering.
Peace will require the unconditional recognition by all people of Israel’s right to exist. It will require an end to attacks of all kinds against Israel.
Peace will require that organizations like Hamas and Hezbollah renounce their efforts to undermine the security of Israel. It will require the entire world to recognize Israel.
Peace has to mean security for every Israeli from violence and terrorism.
But peace also means security for every Palestinian. It means achieving self-determination, civil rights, and economic well-being for the Palestinian people.
Peace will mean ending what amounts to the occupation of Palestinian territory, establishing mutually agreed upon borders, and pulling back settlements in the West Bank, just as Israel did in Gaza – once considered an unthinkable move on Israel’s part.
That is why I join much of the international community, including the U.S. State Department and European Union, in voicing my concern that Israel’s recent expropriation of an additional 579 acres of land in the West Bank undermines the peace process and, ultimately, Israeli security as well.
It is absurd for elements within the Netanyahu government to suggest that building more settlements in the West Bank is the appropriate response to the most recent violence. It is also not acceptable that the Netanyahu government decided to withhold hundreds of millions of Shekels in tax revenue from the Palestinians, which it is supposed to collect on their behalf.
But, by the same token, it is also unacceptable for President Abbas to call for the abrogation of the Oslo Agreement when the goal should be the ending of violence.
Peace will also mean ending the economic blockade of Gaza. And it will mean a sustainable and equitable distribution of precious water resources so that Israel and Palestine can both thrive as neighbors.
Right now, Israel controls 80 percent of the water reserves in the West Bank. Inadequate water supply has contributed to the degradation and desertification of Palestinian land. A lasting a peace will have to recognize Palestinians are entitled to control their own lives and there is nothing human life needs more than water.
Peace will require strict adherence by both sides to the tenets of international humanitarian law. This includes Israeli ending disproportionate responses to being attacked – even though any attack on Israel is unacceptable.
We recently saw a dramatic example of just how important this concept is. In 2014, the decades-old conflict escalated once more as Israel launched a major military campaign against Hamas in the Gaza Strip. The Israeli offensive came after weeks of indiscriminate rocket fire into its territory and the kidnapping of Israeli citizens.
Of course, I strongly object to Hamas’ long held position that Israel does not have the right to exist – that is unacceptable. Of course, I strongly condemn indiscriminate rocket fire by Hamas into Israeli territory, and Hamas’ use of civilian neighborhoods to launch those attacks. I condemn the fact that Hamas diverted funds and materials for much-needed construction projects designed to improve the quality of life of the Palestinian people, and instead used those funds to construct a network of tunnels for military purposes.
However, let me also be very clear: I – along with many supporters of Israel – spoke out strongly against the Israeli counter attacks that killed nearly 1,500 civilians and wounded thousands more. I condemned the bombing of hospitals, schools and refugee camps.
Today, Gaza is still largely in ruins. The international community must come together to help Gaza recover. That doesn’t mean rebuilding factories that produce bombs and missiles – but it does mean rebuilding schools, homes and hospitals that are vital to the future of the Palestinian people.
These are difficult subjects. They are hard to talk about both for many Americans and for Israelis. I recognize that, but it is clear to me that the path toward peace will require tapping into our shared humanity to make hard but just decisions.
Nobody can tell you when peace will be achieved between Israel and the Palestinians. No one knows the exact order that compromises will have to be made to reach a viable two-state solution. But as we undertake that work together, the United States will continue its unwavering commitment to the safety of Israeli citizens and the country of Israel.
Let me just say a word about an overall agenda for the Middle East.
Of course, beyond the Palestinian question, Israel finds itself in the midst of a region in severe upheaval.
First, the so-called Islamic State – ISIS – threatens the security of the entire region and beyond, including our own country and our allies. Secretary of State Kerry was right to say that ISIS is committing genocide, and there is no doubt in my mind that the United States must continue to participate in an international coalition to destroy this barbaric organization.
While obviously much needs to be done, so far our effort has had some important progress, as airstrikes have degraded ISIS’ military capacity, and the group has lost more than 20 percent of its territory in the past year. So we are making some progress.
But we are entering a difficult period in the campaign against ISIS.
The government in Baghdad has yet to achieve a sustainable political order that unites Iraq’s various ethnic and sectarian factions, which has limited its ability to sustain military victories against ISIS. Unless there is a united government, it’s going to be hard to be effective in destroying ISIS.
More inclusive, stable governance in Iraq will be vital to inflict a lasting defeat on ISIS. Otherwise, ISIS could regain its influence or another, similar organization may spring up in its place.
In Syria, the challenges are even more difficult. The fractured nature of the civil war there has often diluted the fight against ISIS – exemplified by the Russian airstrikes that prioritized hitting anti-Assad fighters rather than ISIS. And, just like in Iraq, ISIS cannot be defeated until the groups that take territory from ISIS can responsibly govern the areas they take back. Ultimately, this will require a political framework for all of Syria.
The U.S. must also play a greater role disrupting the financing of ISIS and efforts on the Internet to turn disaffected youth into a new generation of terrorists.
While the U.S. has an important role to play in defeating ISIS, that struggle must be led by the Muslim countries themselves on the ground. I agree with King Abdullah of Jordan who a number of months ago [said] that what is going on there right now is nothing less than a battle for the soul of Islam and the only people who will effectively destroy ISIS there will be Muslim troops on the ground.
So what we need is a coalition of those countries.
Now, I am not suggesting that Saudi Arabia or any other states in the region invade other countries, nor unilaterally intervene in conflicts driven in part by sectarian tensions.
What I am saying is that the major powers in the region – especially the Gulf States – have to take greater responsibility for the future of the Middle East and the defeat of ISIS.
What I am saying is that countries like Qatar – which intends to spend up to $200 billion to host the 2022 World Cup – Qatar which per capita is the wealthiest nation in the world – Qatar can do more to contribute to the fight Against ISIS. If they are prepared to spend $200 billion for a soccer tournament, then they have got to spend a lot spend a lot more against a barbaric organization.
What I am also saying is that other countries in the region – like Saudi Arabia, which has the 4th largest defense budget in the world – has to dedicate itself more fully to the destruction of ISIS, instead of other military adventures like the one it is pursuing right now in Yemen.
And keep in mind that while ISIS is obviously a dangerous and formidable enemy, ISIS has only 30,000 fighters on the ground. So when we ask the nations in the region to stand up to do more against ISIS – nations in the region which have millions of men and women under arms – we know it is surely within their capability to destroy ISIS.
Now the United States has every right in the world to insist on these points. Remember – I want everybody to remember – that not so many years ago it was the United States and our troops that reinstalled the royal family in Kuwait after Saddam Hussein’s invasion in 1990. We put these people back on the throne. Now they have the obligation to work with us and other countries to destroy ISIS.
The very wealthy – and some of these countries are extraordinarily wealthy from oil money or gas money – these very wealthy and powerful nations in the region can no longer expect the United States to do their work for them. Uncle Sam cannot and should not do it all. We are not the policeman of the world.
As we continue a strongly coordinated effort against ISIS, the United States and other western nations should be supportive of efforts to fight ISIS and al-Qaeda. But it is the countries in the region that have to stand up against these violently extremist and brutal organizations.
Now I realize that given the geopolitics of the region this is not going to be easy. I realize that there are very strong and historical disagreements between different countries in the region about how ISIS should be dealt with.
I realize different countries have different priorities. But we can help set the agenda and mobilize stronger collective action to defeat ISIS in a lasting way.
Bottom line is the countries in the region – countries which by the way are most threatened by ISIS – they’re going to have to come together, they’re going to have to work out their compromises, they are going to have to lead the effort with the support of the United States and other major powers in destroying ISIS.
Another major challenge in the region, of course, is the Syrian Civil War itself – one of the worst humanitarian disasters in recent history.
After five years of brutal conflict, the only solution in Syria will be, in my view, a negotiated political settlement. Those who advocate for stronger military involvement by the U.S. to oust Assad from power have not paid close enough attention to history. That would simply prolong the war and increase the chaos in Syria, not end it.
In other words, we all recognize that Assad is a brutal dictator. But I think that our priorities right now have got to be destroy ISIS, work out a political settlement with Russia and Iran to get Assad out of power.
I applaud Secretary Kerry and the Obama administration for negotiating a partial ceasefire between the Assad regime and most opposition forces. The ceasefire shows the value of American-led diplomacy, rather than escalating violence. It may not seem like a lot, but it is. Diplomacy in this instance has had some real success.
Let me also say what I think most Americans now understand, that for a great military power like the United States it is easy to use a war to remove a tyrant from power, but it is much more difficult to comprehend the day after that tyrant is removed from power and a political vacuum occurs.
All of us know what has occurred in Iraq. We got rid of Saddam Hussein, a brutal, brutal murderer and a tyrant. And yet we created massive instability in that region which led to the creation of ISIS. I am very proud to have been one of the members in Congress to vote against that disastrous war.
And the situation is not totally dissimilar from what has happened in Libya. We got rid of a terrible dictator there, Colonel Gaddafi, but right now chaos has erupted and ISIS now has a foothold in that area.
Bottom line is that regime change for a major power like us is not hard. But understanding what happens afterward is something that always has got to be taken into consideration.
In my view, the military option for a powerful nation like ours – the most powerful nation in the world – should always be on the table. That’s why we have the most powerful military in the world. But it should always be the last resort not the first resort.
Another major challenge in the region is Iran, which routinely destabilizes the Middle East and threatens the security of Israel.
Now, I think all of us agree that Iran must be able to acquire a nuclear weapon. That would just destabilize the entire region and create disastrous consequences.
Where we may disagree is how to achieve that goal. I personally strongly supported the nuclear deal with the United States, France, China, Germany, Russia, the United Kingdom and Iran because I believe it is the best hope to prevent Iran from developing a nuclear weapon.
I want to thank the Obama administration for doing a very good job under very, very difficult circumstances.
I believe we have an obligation to pursue diplomatic solutions before resorting to military intervention.
You know it is very easy for politicians to go before the people and talk about how tough we are, and we want to wipe out everybody else. But I think if we have learned anything from history is that we pursue every diplomatic option before we resort to military intervention.
And interestingly enough, more often than not, diplomacy can achieve goals that military intervention cannot achieve. And that is why I supported the sanctions that brought Iran to the negotiating table and allowed us to reach an agreement.
But let me tell you what I firmly believe. The bottom line is this: if successfully implemented – and I think it can be – the nuclear deal will prevent Iran from obtaining a nuclear weapon. And preventing Iran from getting the bomb makes the world a safer place.
Does the agreement achieve everything I would like? Of course not.
But to my mind, it is far better than the path we were on with Iran developing nuclear weapons and the potential for military intervention by the United States and Israel growing greater by the day.
I do not accept the idea that the “pro-Israel” position was to oppose the deal. Preventing Iran from getting a nuclear weapon will strengthen not only the United States’ security, but Israel’s security as well.
And I am not alone in that idea. While Prime Minister Netanyahu is vocally opposed to the accord, his is hardly a consensus opinion in Israel and it’s important that everyone understand that. Dozens of former security officials, including retired Army generals and chiefs of the Shin Bet and Mossad intelligence agencies support the agreement. Netanyahu may not, but many others in Israel do.
But let me be clear: if Iran does not live up to the agreement, we should re-impose sanctions and all options are back on the table.
Moreover, the deal does not mean we let Iran’s aggressive acts go unchecked. The world must stand united in condemning Iran’s recent ballistic missile tests as well as its continued support for terrorism through groups like Hezbollah.
Going forward, I believe we need a longer-term vision for dealing with Iran that balances two important objectives.
First, we must counter the destabilizing behavior of Iran’s leaders.
But secondly we must also leave the door open to more diplomacy to encourage Iranian moderates and the segments of the Iranian people – especially the younger generations – who want a better relationship with the West. While only a small step in the right direction, I was heartened by the results of the recent parliamentary elections in which Iranian voters elected moderates in what was, in part, a referendum on the nuclear deal.
I know that some say there is just no dealing with Iran – in any way at all – for the foreseeable future. And that is the position of some. After all, Iran is in a competition with Saudi Arabia and its allies for influences over that region.
But a more balanced approach towards Iran that serves our national security interests should hardly be a radical idea. We have serious concerns about the nature of the Iranian government, but we have to [be] honest enough, and sometimes we are not, to admit that Saudi Arabia – a repressive regime in its own right – is hardly an example of Jeffersonian democracy.
Balancing firmness with willingness to engage with diplomacy in dealing with Iran will not be easy. But it is the wisest course of action to help improve the long-term prospects of stability and peace in the Middle East – and to keep us safe.
Lastly, these are but some – not all – of the major issues where the interests of Israel intersect with those of the United States. I would address these issues and challenges as I would most issues and that is by having an honest discussion and by bringing people together.
The truth is there are good people on both sides who want peace, And the other truth is there despots and liars on both sides who benefit from continued antagonism.
I would conclude by saying there has a disturbing trend among some of the Republicans in this presidential election that take a very, very different approach. And their approach I think would be a disaster for this country. The Republican front-runner, Donald Trump, suggested limiting immigration according to religion and creating a national database based on religion – something unprecedented in our country’s history.
Now this would not only go against everything we stand for as a nation, but also – in terms of our relationship to the rest of the world – it would be a disaster.
Let me just conclude by saying this: the issues that I’ve discussed today are not going to be easily solved.
Everybody knows that. But I think the United States has the opportunity, as the the most powerful nation on earth, to play an extraordinary role in trying to bring to people together – to try to put together coalitions in the region to destroy ISIS.
And that is a responsibility that I, if elected president, would accept in a very, very serious way. We have seen too many wars, too much killing, too much suffering. And let us all together – people of good faith – do everything we can to finally, finally bring peace and stability to that region.
Thank you all very much.
Once again, The New York Times has provided us with a Palestinian “slice of life,” a look at that society from within, and once again the portrait is unflattering. In recent articles the newspaper has shown us Palestinian sexism, patriarchy, prudery, violence and general backwardness. Now we get a close look at the “dysfunction of Palestinian politics.”
The latest piece by Diaa Hadid is titled “A Legislature Where Palestinian Lawmakers Go to Hide,” and it introduces us to Najat Abu Baker, a member of the defunct Palestinian parliament, who took refuge in an “all-but-abandoned legislative building” in Ramallah. She was avoiding prosecutors who had summoned her to answer charges of insulting Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas.
The building is considered a “protected space” where security forces do not enter, but it serves for little else. A few guards patrol the site, and some 120 employees show up in order to collect their paychecks, although they have little real work to do.
No doubt the system is dysfunctional, but in all her 1,200 words about the subject, Hadid never once mentions the Israeli occupation as a factor in the breakdown of Palestinian governance. Israel has arrested and currently imprisons elected members of parliament, for instance, but in her telling it is all a Palestinian problem, fed by rivalries between the Fatah and Hamas factions and nothing else.
Hadid fails to mention the occupation in other stories that depict a “slice of life” in Gaza, the West Bank and Israel proper, and these articles also present Palestinian society in a censorious light. Since the beginning of the year, she has published the following in the Times:
- An article about nightlife in Haifa, shown as a “liberal” refuge from the backward and conservative Palestinian community. (1-3-16)
- A story about Gaza women who ride bicycles in defiance of the sexist norms of local society. (2-23-16)
- A piece about the killing of a Hamas fighter, allegedly for homosexual acts and theft. (3-2-16)
- An article about a Gaza woman who was allowed to sing in public under the watchful eyes of prudish Hamas officials. (3-14-16)
The Haifa piece was the subject of comments by Times public editor Margaret Sullivan, who noted that the story lacked context. “While it’s impossible (and a bad idea) to summarize the history of Israel and Palestine in every piece of news coverage or every feature article, this article needed more political and historical information to put it in perspective,” she wrote.
But neither Hadid nor her editors took this advice to heart. In each of the following feature stories context is almost totally missing. The three Gaza articles fail to mention the eight-year blockade of the strip—a stunning omission.
The best Hadid can manage is this vague reference in the article about the Gaza singer: “In recent months, Hamas officials have been quietly loosening the reins as Gaza residents chafe under years of restrictions on their movement by neighboring Israel and Egypt. They have endured three wars in a decade, and poverty and unemployment are rampant.”
Readers are left with no real sense of Israel’s role in these successive disasters. Once again, the focus is on Palestinian shortcomings.
If they were so inclined, Times reporters could choose to write any number of positive stories underscoring Palestinian resilience, perseverance and achievements. Here are just a few:
- Only last week Hanan al-Hroub, a Palestinian elementary school teacher in the occupied West Bank, won the $1 million Global Teacher Award for 2016, beating out other talented educators throughout the world with her inspired teaching of nonviolent conflict resolution.
- Gaza fishermen have been braving the constant harassment of Israeli gunboats, the threat of arrest and live fire each time they go to sea in search of their daily catch. They continue to work even as Israeli sailors damage and confiscate their boats and equipment.
- Herding communities in the Jordan Valley and the South Hebron Hills cling to their land in spite of repeated demolitions and encroaching settlements. Some of them take refuge in caves after bulldozers destroy their tents and houses.
- Authorities have demolished the Israeli Bedouin community of Al Araqib at least 95 times, but the residents keep returning to rebuild in an incredible show of determination.
- The Nassar family has held off Israeli confiscation of their ancestral land in the West Bank for decades, drawing on international support for their community, the Tent of Nations, where they operate under the slogan, “We Refuse to Be Enemies.”
The Times has shown no interest in highlighting any of these topics, although they provide first-rate material for profiles and “slice of life” feature stories. It appears that such articles would also carry the risk of challenging the accepted narrative by exposing Israeli brutality as well as Palestinian efforts at peace-building.
Times editors and reporters can claim that they have provided sketches of Palestinian life from inside the occupied territories and in Israel proper, but they show little interest in moving beyond facile stereotypes. Robbed of context and viewed through a prejudicial lens, Palestinian society takes a beating in the Times.
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Tom Friedman thinks that if it weren’t for Hamas, Gaza would be another Singapore. If you look up Singapore you will find that it is an island city-state off southern Malaysia, with a population of about 5.5 million people and a GDP total of $452 Billion. It is a global financial center, a center for global commerce, and a financial and transportation hub. Its standings include: “Easiest place to do business” (World Bank) most “Technology-ready” nation, “top international meetings” city, city with “Best investment potential”, 2nd-most competitive country, 3rd-largest foreign exchange center, 4th-largest financial center, 3rd-largest oil refining and trading center and one of the top two busiest container ports since the 1990s. Singapore’s best known global brands include Singapore Airlines and Changi Airport, both amongst the most-awarded in their industry.
And there’s more. The Singaporean military is arguably the most technologically advanced in Southeast Asia, and none other than Israel made this possible. As a boy I remember my father, who at the time was still a general in the Israeli army, traveling to Singapore very frequently. Israeli Defense Force (IDF) commanders were tasked with creating the Singapore Armed Forces from scratch, and Israeli instructors were brought in to train Singaporean soldiers. As I write these words, Singapore still maintains strong security ties with Israel and is one of the biggest buyers of Israeli arms and weapons systems.
The Gaza Strip on the other hand is arguably the world’s largest concentration camp and is controlled entirely by Israel. For nearly seventy years it has been a refuge for poor, homeless refugees who were forced out of their homes and off of their land by Israel. The authorities in the Gaza Strip are not permitted to build an airport or seaport, and people have no access to trade or commerce; The UN declared the Gaza Strip as “food insecure” largely because of the siege that is imposed and strictly enforced upon it by Israel; the people of Gaza are victims of constant carpet bombings and massive attacks by the Israeli army. So, how exactly was Gaza going to be like Singapore? One has to wonder, was Thomas Friedman high when he wrote this, or is he really so poorly informed?
It was early in February 2016, when Friedman wrote this piece in the NY Times The piece is broad-stroked and superficial, and his main argument is that everyone is to blame for the collapse of the peace talks and the death of the Two State Solution. But what is particularly nauseating is the following sentence: “Hamas” Friedman writes, “devoted all its resources to digging tunnels to attack Israelis from Gaza rather than turning Gaza into Singapore.” Wow! Hamas prevented Gaza from becoming another Singapore! This means that Hamas at one point had the ability and the resources to create a paradise on earth in Gaza, to establish a major center for finance and commerce, but chose to spend all those resources to attack Israel instead.
So it was Hamas that imposed the siege on Gaza; Hamas that destroyed the water supply in Gaza making the water unfit for human consumption; Hamas is to blame for the massacres Israel committed in Gaza over the past seven decades; Hamas is the reason that Gaza is in ruins; Hamas is the reason that medical facilities cannot function, and that the basic most medicine is impossible to find; Hamas is the reason that schools are in ruins. Hamas is to blame for the fact that for seven decades the refugees have not been able to return to their homes and their land. Or perhaps Tom Friedman is just spewing all this nonsense because that is what liberal Zionists want to believe?
Hamas is certainly the excuse for all of this, but not the reason for any of it. Some tunnels, were built as traps for Israeli soldiers, and during the Israeli invasion into Gaza in 2014 they were used in several daring operations against the Israeli forces. However, the majority of the tunnels were used as a lifeline. They were used to bring in much needed aid, food, medicine, cash and they allowed people (like me for example) to travel in and out of the Gaza strip, albeit “illegally.” The reason Gaza is not Singapore is that Israel, with the aid of the Egyptian and the US governments and the complicity of the international community has created a concentration camp and implemented genocidal policies in Gaza.
While today Israel uses Hamas as an excuse for the murder, destruction and imprisonment of close to two million Palestinians in Gaza, this was not always the case. When Israeli commandos would enter Gaza and commit atrocities there in the early 1950s, the excuse was “infiltrators.” Arabs were infiltrating the newly established Jewish state and had to be stopped. These were refugees who wanted to exercise their right to return to their lands and their homes. But Israeli law made it illegal for them to exercise this right, and the Israeli army established a murder squad to deal with them. It was made up of young, bloodthirsty Jews, headed by the butcher-in-chief Ariel Sharon. They would enter the newly formed Gaza Strip and massacre Palestinians as punishment. Their thirst for Palestinian blood turned out to be unquenchable and they became an embarrassment even by Israeli standards, so this terror squad, called “Unit 101” eventually had to be dismantled.
Later on the excuse for the killing was no longer “infiltrators” but “Fedayeen” or fighters, and later on the name changed again and Israel used the term “terrorists.” The murderous attacks on Gaza continued, many of them led by Ariel Sharon who rose in the ranks of the Israeli Army and would command larger forces during these raids thus increasing the death toll. In recent years Israel has been using Hamas as an excuse for its genocidal policies against the people of Gaza. The firepower utilized by Israel today is the kind of which Sharon could have only dreamed: In 2014 Israeli fighter jets executed six thousands fly overs dropping millions of tons of bombs on Gaza, and that was prior to the massive ground invasion. Yes, Sharon may be dead but his legacy lives on.
So, perhaps Thomas Friedman can explain further how Hamas is at fault that Gaza isn’t another Singapore? Hamas was not yet created when Israel decided that people in Gaza would always live among death and ruins. And while it is true that Hamas is dedicated to fighting Israel, and it is true that Gaza has brave fighters, Tom Friedman might be interested to know that in spite of seven decades of oppression and violence and in spite of the fact that Gazans are forced to live in a concentration camp, people in Gaza have one of the highest literacy rates in the world. Gazans are some of the finest teachers, writers, poets, engineers, doctors and therapists. They are all Gazans, all dedicated to making Gaza livable for its children.
Friedman lays the blame for the death of the “Peace process” on everyone: “So many people stuck knives into the peace process it’s hard to know who delivered the mortal blow.” Indeed? It really isn’t that hard to see the massive building of Jewish only cities and towns, shopping malls and highways in the West Bank. It isn’t that hard to see the ethnic cleansing that goes on in East Jerusalem, spreading Jewish only communities at the expense of Palestinians. And it really isn’t hard to see the ongoing Jewish expansion on Palestinian land taking place in the Naqab desert, the Galilee and everywhere else that Palestinians reside. It certainly isn’t hard to see how Israel has been turning all of Palestine into a single Jewish Apartheid state.
“Bibi won” Friedman writes, “He’s now a historic figure — the founding father of the one-state solution.” As much as Bibi Netanyahu would love for this to be true, it isn’t. Israel’s Labor governments established the One State solution when Bibi was still a boy. The foundations for a single apartheid state in Palestine were laid when Israel occupied the lion’s share of Palestine in 1948, and then it was cemented and made permanent when Israel completed the occupation of Palestine in June 1967.
Miko Peled is an Israeli writer and activist living in the US. He was born and raised in Jerusalem. His father was the late Israeli General Matti Peled. Driven by a personal family tragedy to explore Palestine, its people and their narrative. He has written a book about his journey from the sphere of the privileged Israeli to that of the oppressed Palestinians. His book is titled “The General’s Son, Journey of an Israeli in Palestine.” Peled speaks nationally and internationally on the issue of Palestine. Peled supports the creation of a single democratic state in all of Palestine, he is also a firm supporter of BDS.
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu expressed his gratitude, on Saturday, to French President Francois Hollande, after the French government shut down a Hamas-affiliated television station that, according to the Israeli media, “aired content which constituted anti-Israel and anti-Jewish incitement.”
Netanyahu had earlier urged Hollande to end the transmission of Al Aksa television, the Hamas-run channel that was being broadcast on the French satellite service EUTELSAT — also associated with Palestine Today TV, which was shut down in the occupied West Bank, on Friday.
According to the PNN, Israel’s Shin Bet internal spy agency said in a statement, on Friday, that the Ramallah offices were raided overnight, in a joint operation with the military over allegations that the channel “broadcasts on behalf of the Islamic Jihad,” a Gaza-based Palestinian resistance movement.
“The channel served the Islamic Jihad as a central means to incite the West Bank population, calling for terror attacks against Israel and its citizens. Incitement was broadcast on the television station as well as the Internet,” Shin Bet added.
Palestinian officials have denounced Israel’s closure of the offices. Yousef al-Mahmoud, Palestinian Authority spokesman, described the Israeli raid on Palestine Today TV station in Ramallah as “part of the aggressive occupation policy towards Palestinian media.
Dr. Hanan Ashrawi, member of Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) executive committee, also denounced the Israeli raid, saying it contravenes free speech rules.
The Palestinian Journalists’ Syndicate made an official statement, as well.
“Incursions into areas under the Palestinian Authority’s control and attacking its sovereignty and media institution [are] a stark violation of basic human rights and international and humanitarian laws that have safeguarded freedom of speech,” she said.
Last November, Israeli soldiers broke into the headquarters of Al-Hurriyya Media Network, destroyed the offices, confiscated the tools and threatened to demolish the entire building if the network works again, accusing it of “inciting” Palestinians against the Israeli occupation.
The month previous, in October, Israeli soldiers raided the offices of the International Middle East Media Center and the Palestinian Center for Rapprochement.
Since the start of October 2015, almost 200 Palestinians have been killed, in addition to 30 Israelis, settlers and soldiers.
The current tension is ongoing since October, due to repetitive Israeli settler attacks on Al-Aqsa mosque, the third holiest place in Islam, and Israeli restrictions over Palestinian entrance, in addition to the Douma arson attack which killed a baby and his parents on July 31.
Israeli forces have been criticized internationally, over recent months, for its ‘preemptive shootings’ of Palestinians alleged to be holding knives.
In addition several of the incidents in which the military has claimed that they were ‘attacked’ have proven to be false.
The New York Times serves as Benjamin Netanyahu’s stenographer in a story this week that reports his latest rant against critics of Israeli policy, repeating his claims at length but making no attempt to verify or even question the distortions in his response.
The Israeli prime minister was reacting to comments by British Prime Minister David Cameron, who criticized Israel’s settlement construction in and around East Jerusalem during a session in parliament Wednesday, saying that he found the situation “genuinely shocking.” The Times, which made no mention of Cameron’s remarks at the time, now presents us with an article by Isabel Kershner framed around the official Israeli response.
Her story, “Benjamin Netanyahu Rebukes David Cameron for Criticizing Israel,” gives much space to the prime minister’s assertions and allows him the final word. It also quotes Jerusalem Mayor Nir Barkat and allows the comments of both men to stand without challenge.
Netanyahu, speaking at a political meeting Thursday, portrayed Israel as the peacekeeper in East Jerusalem, saying that “only Israeli sovereignty” has prevented ISIS “and Hamas from igniting the holy sites as they are doing all over the Middle East.”
He implied that Israel has brought prosperity to Palestinian residents of East Jerusalem, citing “roads, clinics, employment and all the other trappings of normal life that their brethren do not enjoy elsewhere in the Middle East.” Mayor Barkat also stated that Israel is building “the newest, most advanced schools” for Palestinian youth and paving new roads for residents.
The Times made no attempt to challenge the veracity of these comments although they grossly misrepresent the situation Palestinians face in occupied East Jerusalem. The data is available for all to see and is certainly familiar to Kershner and Times editors.
For instance, as of January 2011:
- Entire Palestinian neighborhoods were not connected to a sewer system and lacked paved roads and sidewalks.
- West Jerusalem had 1,000 public parks compared to 45 in East Jerusalem.
- West Jerusalem had 34 swimming pools; East Jerusalem had three.
- Nearly 90 percent of the sewage pipes, roads and sidewalks in the city were found in West Jerusalem.
- West Jerusalem had 26 libraries; East Jerusalem had two.
More recent news also belies the claims of Netanyahu and Barkat. Far from working to provide education, health care and road access for Palestinian residents, Israeli policies and actions have made life more and more difficult for the non-Jewish residents of the city:
- In 2015, Israel placed dozens of Palestinian children under house arrest in East Jerusalem, preventing them from attending school.
- The Israeli government has been working with settler groups to dispossess Palestinians of their homes.
- More than a third of East Jerusalem students are unable to complete high school because there are not enough classrooms. (Under an order by the Israeli High Court, some new classrooms are being built, but these will only alleviate the shortage by half.)
- Some 38 percent of East Jerusalem’s planned areas have been confiscated for the development of Jewish settler neighborhoods, while only 2.6 percent is zoned for public buildings—such as schools—for the city’s indigenous Palestinians.
- Israeli invasions of Makassed hospital in East Jerusalem hospital and restrictions on patients attempting to enter the hospital prompted several United Nations agencies to condemn the actions as violations of international law.
- By Feb. 22, Israeli forces had demolished 27 Palestinian-owned structures in East Jerusalem, including a school, since the beginning of this year.
Kershner’s story, however, makes no mention of any of this. The focus here is solely on the Israeli show of outrage. Netanyahu and Barkat’s statements are allowed to stand, even the claim that Hamas and ISIS are working together to foment terrorism. In fact, the two are bitter enemies, but the Times has no interest in disabusing its readers of this inconvenient fact.
Cameron’s statements gave the Times an opening, a chance to examine the settlement enterprise, conditions in East Jerusalem and the attitudes of Palestinian leaders and citizens living under Israeli control. But this was not to be. Only the Israeli narrative was of interest to the Times, and even the prime minister of the United Kingdom could not make his voice heard above its strident demands.
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.