Palestine: peace comes dropping slow…

Will Hutton looks at this week’s resounding victory of Hamas over Arafat’s Fatah faction, and finds a situation finely balanced between hope and dispair. But, he argues, Hamas may have nowhere else to spend it’s political capital, but on building an internally strong democracy and ultimately creating civil, if not entirely warm, relations with Israel.

To suppose that Hamas can drop its commitment to liberating all of Palestine and resisting Zionism’s claims to the last is to suppose the impossible. Now that its stance has been validated by voters, perhaps nothing can be expected except violence and political impasse.

My hunch is that we can expect better and that Hamas will try to move away from terrorism. For while it may have earned its place in Palestinian regard through its uncompromising role in the intifidas, it has to do something with the political capital it has won. The decision last summer to participate in elections for a legislative council that was created by the Oslo accords it once fiercely opposed was itself a straw in the wind. Hamas always was as much a political as a religious organisation and its political dimension was there for all to see. Now it has won, it is locked in a political, rather than terrorist, dynamic.

Last Friday, Hamas crossed a line when it became Palestine’s majority party. Suddenly, it is no longer just Hamas leaders in private who can decide that terrorism is justified; they have to justify it in their parliament and before the wider bar of Palestinian public opinion. The occupation may go on, but the political position of the principal resistance movement has been transformed.

His quiet optimism is based on the premise that as a legally constituted authority, Hamas cannot afford the next step up from its terrorist campaign:

Justifying terrorism as a general principle is impossible. There are acts of terrorism which have had desirable consequences, like the end of apartheid in South Africa. But that is no more than our acceptance of realpolitik, reflecting the side we’re on. Palestinian resistance to cruel occupation and the confiscation of their land is understandable, but that does not mean it can shelter under a general moral principle justifying terrorism. The only principle available to justify terrorism is that the consequences of its actions justify the violent means. But if the terrorist has not subjected his or her intentions to any kind of scrutiny, participation or vote by the people for whom he or she is acting, then there is no escaping that the decision belongs in the same category as murder. This is even true if the act of terrorism is to try and right a great wrong, which is what Hamas would claim.

This is why Hamas’s election victory is so significant. The movement cannot dodge the fact that, as the new majority party, its morality is no longer its own. It cannot plan a suicide bombing without opening up what it proposes to democratic scrutiny, legal process and wider Palestinian public opinion – or else expose itself to the charge of fundamental hypocrisy. The Palestinians may agree that they should resist Israel with violence, but this will now become an act of war rather than a clandestine act of terrorism. And Hamas does not want war.

  • felix quigley

    Never mind being Jewish, if I was a gay or if I was a woman now in this wonderful Palestine which has been so heavily promoted by the US and by the EU then I would be very very fearful. How Chris Gaskin or Anthony McIntyre can now support this hate-filled Palestine ,ovement beats me. And still say they support gays!

  • Harry Flashman

    The hope that somehow Hamas will become a civilised organisation that will suddenly see that it must conform to democratic political norms once it gets into power is an example of living in La La land. Now that they’ve got their hands on the levers of power they aren’t somehow going to decide that they should concentrate on fixing the drains and mending the roads.

    As Felix says the immediate implementation of Sharia law will be a priority (one of their first acts in Gaza, after smashing up the glasshouses left behind for them to try and build an economy, was to blow up the only bar in the place), this will go along with the systematic liquidation of their political opponents, Fatah members will find themselves lying face down in alleyways in increasing numbers over the next few months. Then of course they will find out ways of using up whatever monies from the EU, US and the UN (there won’t be any new cash that’s for sure) which Arafat hadn’t stolen, to create more martyrs.

    One consolation for Israel is that any funny business from Gaza, an unoccupied piece of Palestine, can be treated as an act of war, after all Hamas are now the government and can’t pretend it’s nothing to do with them. Israel will then be perfectly justified in destroying them, something which progreesives around the world I am sure will cheer. After all no one could possibly object to destroying an fundamentalist, homophobic, misogynistic, anti-semitic organisation whose charter is based on the Protocols of the Elders of Zion and which seeks the elimination of a state specifically created by a UN mandate.

    What you mean progressives actually support these lunatics? Well I’ll be. . .

  • Felix Quigley

    Well, I’ll be damned Harry! It seems that all those pro-Palestinian lot on Slugger have shut up! I wonder could it possibly be that more and more Irish people are starting to ask some very awkward questions about this Palestinianism.

    Especially I would say if you were a woman with any streak of independence in todays dearly loved in Ireland Palestine. Well your future if you are a woman in Palestine is to shut up and obey your “Man” and do not stray into any kind of extra-marital relationship. One way to keep that old marriage together isn’t it Harry! The new growth industry in Palestine I would say is FEMICIDE. Come on you Irish sisters how about some solidarity at this moment!

    If the James hillbilly character from California can’t find his keyboard maybe you Irish ladies can contribute something on this!

    Harry you are dead right! Hamas will twist and turn. But Sharia is sacred to them!

    You know the picture of the Iranian woman buried to her neck ready for the “stoning”. The new growing entertainment in “Palestine” I am afraid.

    Que silencio! The Irish “Left” amaze me!

  • Patricia Morrison

    The splendid victory for Hamas in the Palestinian elections will be welcomed by anti-imperialists everywhere. It offers the best hope for a real and lasting peace in Palestine. As several spokespeople for Hamas have pointed out all that the Zionist entity needs to do to ensure peace is

    1. Withdraw their occupying army to the 1967 border.

    2. Dismantle the illegal settlements and wall.

    3. Enter into meaningful negotiations about the return of the victims of the Nakbad (the ethnic cleansing of Palestinians from their homeland) to their homes and the restoration of their lands assets.

    Seems like a really good offer to me.

  • Harry Flashman

    To summarise then Patricia; “Drive the Zionist sons of pigs and monkeys into the sea”, that about it?

  • felix quigley

    Well, Patricia, I don’t know about anti-imperialists in Ireland welcoming the victory of Hamas, but certainly not I would hope anti-imperialist women who are supposed to stand against women’s repression.

    There are many errors of knowledge and judgement in your piece above. Mainly that the 1948 Arab war to end the state of Israel was genocidal in intent as the Arab League leadership made clear. The following is taken from Wikepedia where you will also find a map which shows the relative tininess of the state of Israel in relation to the massive land mass of the Arabs.

    ” On the same day, however, the Arab League Secretary-General, Abdul Razek Azzam Pasha, said, “This will be a war of extermination and a momentous massacre which will be spoken of like the Mongolian massacres and the Crusades”. [42]”

    I believe that the 1948 genocidal war against Israel just a day old was a continuation of the 1939-45 Nazi Holocaust and that a thread runs through to today, the Iranian President’s statement and now the election of Hamas.

    But what about women and Hamas?

    What sort of a “man” is it who will murder his sister because she had a relationship with a Christian, never mind a hated Jew? I would say not a man at all.

    And what sort of men is it that buries women up to the neck and stones the poor creature until her face is a pulp and her piercing screams have ended, which may be an hour later. Sharia lays down the exsact size of stones they must use to prolong the agony. Do such entities deserve the name of “man”. We need a different word!

    So what is it that Palestinian women have got to look forward to with this Hamas victory.

    At least you Patricia have decided to write in but what about all those others in Ireland on the left, and even feminists, who are generally silent at the moment on this new situation.

  • Patricia Morrison

    To summarise for Harry’s benefit

    1. Withdraw their army to 1967 borders

    2. Dismatle the illegal settlements and wall.

    3. Enter into meaningful negotiations about the right of return of the victims of the Nakbad and restoration of their lands and assets in accordance with international law.

    Where does this mention anything about pigs, monkeys or seas?

  • Patricia Morrison

    The attempt by the Zionist lobby on this site to conflate the rise of Hamas with the issue of the violence used by men on women does a great disservice to both problems.
    Violence by men against women is a daily fact of life for many women regardless of the class, religion or nationality. It is not unique to Palestine or Islam. It might surprise your male correspondents that it even happens in Northern Ireland and Britian.

    One women is seriously assaulted (ABH, GBH, attempted murder) by her male partner every day in Northern Ireland (PSNI) Statistics).

    60% of 127 women resident in refuges in Northern Ireland experienced violence during pregnancy. 13% lost their babies as a result (Monica McWilliams & Joan McKiernan (1993) Bringing it out into the open, Belfast HMSO).

    Each year, 45% of female homicide victims are killed by present or former male partners compared to 8% of male victims. On average, 2 women per week are killed in England and Wales by their partners/ex-partners (Criminal Statistics (1992) Home Office)

    Sourced at http://www.womens-aid.org.uk/statistics.php

  • spartacus

    Harry:
    Felix and yourself are hardly in a position to be runing down ‘lunatics’. But there’s a bigger problem with your ‘analysis’. Try this on for size, from UPI June 18, 2002:

    “Israel and Hamas may currently be locked in deadly combat, but, according to several current and former U.S. intelligence officials, beginning in the late 1970s, Tel Aviv gave direct and indirect financial aid to Hamas over a period of years.

    Israel “aided Hamas directly — the Israelis wanted to use it as a counterbalance to the PLO (Palestinian Liberation Organization),” said Tony Cordesman, Middle East analyst for the Center for Strategic Studies.

    Israel’s support for Hamas “was a direct attempt to divide and dilute support for a strong, secular PLO by using a competing religious alternative,” said a former senior CIA official.

    According to documents United Press International obtained from the Israel-based Institute for Counter Terrorism, Hamas evolved from cells of the Muslim Brotherhood, founded in Egypt in 1928. Islamic movements in Israel and Palestine were “weak and dormant” until after the 1967 Six Day War in which Israel scored a stunning victory over its Arab enemies.

    After 1967, a great part of the success of the Hamas/Muslim Brotherhood was due to their activities among the refugees of the Gaza Strip. The cornerstone of the Islamic movements success was an impressive social, religious, educational and cultural infrastructure, called Da’wah, that worked to ease the hardship of large numbers of Palestinian refugees, confined to camps, and many who were living on the edge.

    “Social influence grew into political influence,” first in the Gaza Strip, then on the West Bank, said an administration official who spoke on condition of anonymity.”

  • TAFKABO

    I resent the implication that to be pro Palestinian means I am automatically pro Hamas, or anti-Israeli for that matter.
    The Palestinians greatest curse is not Israel, it is the woeful leadership they keep getting saddled with.
    Regardless of what one thinks of Hamas, let us not forget the continued suffering of the ordinary Palestinian people.

  • felix quigley

    With you there on the suffering part, but when it is self-inflicted, as when the Arabs tried genocide in 1948, then nothing to be done except defend YOURSELF. Got it there, this site is not for missionaries. OK!

    To the substance above from Spartacus:

    “The cornerstone of the Islamic movements success was an impressive social, religious, educational and cultural infrastructure, called Da’wah, that worked to ease the hardship of large numbers of Palestinian refugees, confined to camps, and many who were living on the edge.

    “Social influence grew into political influence,” first in the Gaza Strip, then on the West Bank, said an administration official who spoke on condition of anonymity.”

    Well, my my! Isn’t a little knowledge very dangerous. Do you know NOTHING about the Nazi social programmes in Germany. But the centre was still Jew Hatred, as with Hamas AND Fatah.

    About the Israeli elite supporting Hamas as a counterweight against Fatah. Well if they did what idiots! What stupid fools! But Spartacus that is only a tiny part of THE STUPIDITY AND BETRAYAL of the stalinist and social democratic leadership that came into power in the Israeli state.

    For stupidity try this.

    After they won the 67 War which was another genocidal war launched by the Arabs with the aim of completing the Holocaust what did this bankrupt leadership do?

    THEY OFFERED THE WHOLE OF THE WEST BANK AND GAZA BACK TO THE ARABS FROM WHENCE THE ATTACK HAD COME.

    Now Spartacus was that stupid or was that stupid!!!

    By the way the Arabs refused the offer and prepared for the next (genocidal) war.

    Oh Patricia. Such a beautiful Irish name too. And I thought you might have a soft heart with such a beautiful name!

    But no you maybe have gone to too many Palestine Solidarity meetings.

    You have no words at all for the Arab FEMICIDE! Which is so prevalent!

    I just cannot believe, I dare not believe, that the beautiful, soft-hearted Celtic women of Ireland are with you there at all Patricia.

  • TAFKABO

    this site is not for missionaries. OK!

    Who put you in charge?

  • felix quigley

    Nice Tafkabo. Very nice.

    A very good counter. Adds nothing to the discussion though.

    But on the other hand I am left wondering if maybe, just maybe, you ARE really so stupid you did not see what I was getting at.

    I am not in charge, don’t want to be, wish it the best of luck, and hope lots of priests missionaries and everybody takes part.