Hamas Caught In the Tide of History

Gershom Gorenberg

My review essay on Paul McGeough’s book “Kill Khalid” and the history of Hamas appears this weekend in the Review section of The National, published in Abu Dhabi.

“When Israel occupied Jerusalem, I was 14,” Sheikh Jamil Hamami once told me. Hamami grew up in East Jerusalem. That week in June 1967, he had heard the promises on the radio that the Arab states would defeat Israel “in a few days, a few hours”. Instead came the Israeli advance. Hamami described the day that the Old City fell in a series of staccato images: “The black picture in my mind is seeing an Israeli soldier enter Al Aqsa… Near the Wailing Wall, I saw a soldier step on the Quran… A soldier told us it was forbidden to pray in Al Aqsa.”

Hamami later became one of the first leaders of Hamas in the West Bank, though he left the movement in 1995, believing that the time for “military action” had ended with the establishment of the Palestinian Authority. His jagged memories of June 1967 allude to two of the reasons for the Islamic revival in the occupied territories – and for the birth of Hamas, for that organisation’s ascendance as a rival to the secular nationalist PLO and for its position today as one of the two power centres of riven Palestinian politics.

In Hamami’s emblematic account, Israel’s military victory in 1967 was an affront to Islam, represented most vividly by Israel’s control of the Al Aqsa mosque. But it also revealed the bankruptcy of the Arab states – chief among them Gamal Abdel Nasser’s Egypt. Secular Arab nationalism had brought the Palestinians a second disaster. Islam was both a part of an identity under perceived threat and a potential replacement for discredited ideologies.

Indeed, Islamic activists gave an explanation halfway between sociology and theology for the outcome of the war, as the Palestinian political scientist Ziad Abu-Amr observed in his sympathetic study of Hamas and Palestinian Islamic Jihad, Islamic Fundamentalism in Gaza and the West Bank: Israel’s victory, Islamic groups claimed, “was the result of the adherence of the Jews to their religion, and… the Arabs’ defeat was caused by their failure to adhere to Islam”. (The explanation, ironically, ignored the intensely secular character of Israeli society in 1967.)

The return to faith that followed was incremental, seen more easily by those not in its midst. In 1999, I met in Nablus with a group of activists from left-wing Palestinian organisations. One woman had been deported from the West Bank by Israel in the early 1970s and had recently returned during the Oslo thaw. She wore slacks and a short-sleeve blouse; her hair was uncovered. That had been the style in Nablus when she was exiled, she said. Now, she continued, she was a stranger in the city of her birth, where the hijab and long, modest garments were de rigueur.

Read the rest here, and come back to South Jerusalem to comment.

38 thoughts on “Hamas Caught In the Tide of History”

  1. “Mishal has adopted the positions generally ascribed to Hamas’s relatively moderate wing: in favour of creating a Palestinian state based on the 1967 lines, next to Israel but without formally recognising it.”

    And will they agree to be demilitirized?

    Another Afghanistan in the making? Another Swat valley? Just what Israel needs, an Islamist state next door, sponsored by Iran. As Bibi said – Hamastan.

  2. From GG’s article in The National:

    So to remain relevant, Hamas is again seeking to follow the public that it seeks to lead. Just as it had to bend its strategy to join the intifada in 1987, today it needs to reconcile its theology with the need for political compromise. In various statements over the past year, Mishal has adopted the positions generally ascribed to Hamas’s relatively moderate wing: in favour of creating a Palestinian state based on the 1967 lines, next to Israel but without formally recognising it.

    This is far from the movement’s original stance….

    Once Palestinians have a state they can have it any way they like, including Islamist, including not recognizing Israel( which they actually do and will). As long as there is no threat arising the rest of the world will turn it’s attention elsewhere. There is no way that has no risk and there is no way where Israel gets to dictate the terms.

    These quotes are not from an exhaustive search or collection but it is enough to indicate the point that along with acknowledgements of Israel’s existence, there is a softening and there are openings about the desire to live in peace from Hamas.

    Report by Ira Cherus May 2006 “Why are Hamas peace Moves Ignored?” published in “Commondreams”

    For once, the government of Israel has done the Palestinian people a favor. The Israelis locked up some leaders of the two rival Palestinian factions, Fatah and Hamas, in the same prison. Prisoners have plenty of time to talk. The imprisoned Fatah and Hamas men talked long enough to reach a shared vision of how the Palestinians might live peacefully side by side with Israel.


    Hamas offer for peace rejected by Israel
    Thursday December 20, 2007

    Haniyya conveyed the message through the Israeli media, claiming that he had both the will and ability to stop the Palestinian resistance groups from firing homemade shells across the Gaza border into Israel, but only if Israeli forces would stop their daily bombing of the Gaza Strip, and end the blockade that has kept the Palestinian population of Gaza imprisoned there since June.

    Sleman al-Shafhe, the reporter who conveyed the offer through Israel’s Channel Two television, said that Haniyya told him he would have “no problem” with negotiating the terms of a truce with Israel.


    Hamas leader acknowledges ‘reality’ of Israel by Conal Urquhart
    guardian.co.uk, Wednesday 10 January 2007 18.35 GMT

    Hamas accepts the existence of the state of Israel but will not officially recognise it until the establishment of a Palestinian state in the West Bank and Gaza, according to the group’s leader in Damascus, Khaled Meshaal.
    In comments made to Reuters, Mr Meshaal softened his anti-Israel rhetoric, suggesting that Hamas does not seek the destruction of Israel as written in the group’s charter. He said that Israel is a “reality” and “there will remain a state called Israel, this is a matter of fact”.


    April 21, 2008 (AP via MSNBC)

    Hamas offers truce in return for 1967 borders

    No Israeli response, but U.S. rejects it as ‘no change’ [Bush administration]
    DAMASCUS, Syria – The leader of Hamas said Monday that his Palestinian militant group would offer Israel a 10-year “hudna,” or truce, as implicit proof of recognition of Israel if it withdrew from all lands it seized in the 1967 Middle East War.
    Khaled Mashaal told The Associated Press that he made the offer to former U.S. President Jimmy Carter in talks on Saturday. “We have offered a truce if Israel withdraws to the 1967 borders, a truce of 10 years as a proof of recognition,” Mashaal said.
    In his comments Monday, Mashaal used the Arabic word “hudna,” meaning truce, which is more concrete than “tahdiya” – a period of calm – which Hamas often uses to describe a simple cease-fire.
    “Hudna” implies a recognition of the other party’s existence.
    Mashaal said Hamas would accept a Palestinian state limited to the lands Israel seized in 1967 – that is, the West Bank, Gaza Strip and east Jerusalem. But he said the group would never outright formally recognize Israel.
    ….._Earlier,[Ex. Pres. Jimmy] Carter said that Hamas is prepared to accept the right of Israel to “live as a neighbor next door in peace.”


    from the Guardian- March 1 2009, Peter Beaumont reporting

    Hamas , the militant Palestinian organisation, attempted to conduct secret talks with the Israeli leadership in the protracted run-up to the recent war in Gaza – with messages being passed from the group at one stage through a member of prime minister Ehud Olmert’s family.
    Confirmation of attempts to establish a direct line of communication between Hamas and Israel – and the willingness of senior figures in Hamas to contemplate direct negotiations – fundamentally alters the narrative of the build-up to the war in Gaza which claimed more than 1,300 Palestinian lives and led to about a dozen Israeli deaths.
    ….. The motivation – from Hamas’s side – stemmed from a growing frustration with the role of Egypt as an intermediary over key issues between the two sides, especially in relation to ceasefires.
    …. According to Baskin, that offer was immediately rejected by the office of Olmert who said Israel did not negotiate with terrorists. His contacts, said Baskin, were two-fold. On the Hamas side, his contact was a senior figure whom he met in Europe, who was close to the organisation’s leaderships both in the Syrian capital Damascus and the local leadership in Gaza. His liaison with the Hamas official focused on two issues: opening secret and direct contacts, and linking the prisoner exchange for Shalit’s release to the renewal of the ceasefire and the ending of the economic siege on Gaza.


    May 5, 2009

    Addressing U.S., Hamas Says It Grounded Rockets

    DAMASCUS, Syria – The leader of the militant Palestinian group Hamas said Monday that its fighters had stopped firing rockets at Israel for now. He also reached out in a limited way to the Obama administration and others in the West, saying the movement was seeking a state only in the areas Israel won in 1967.
    “I promise the American administration and the international community that we will be part of the solution, period,” the leader, Khaled Meshal, said during a five-hour interview with The New York Times spread over two days in his home office here in the Syrian capital.
    Speaking in Arabic in a house heavily guarded by Syrian and Palestinian security agents, Mr. Meshal, 53, gave off an air of serene self-confidence, having been re-elected a fourth time to a four-year term as the leader of the Hamas political bureau, the top position in the movement. His conciliation went only so far, however. He repeated that he would not recognize Israel, saying to fellow Arab leaders, “There is only one enemy in the region, and that is Israel.”
    But he urged outsiders to ignore the Hamas charter, which calls for the obliteration of Israel through jihad and cites as fact the infamous anti-Semitic forgery, “The Protocols of the Elders of Zion.” Mr. Meshal did not offer to revoke the charter, but said it was 20 years old, adding, “We are shaped by our experiences.”


    The latest:

    My talk with Hamas about peace with Israel

    By Helena Cobban, WASHINGTON Chrisian Science Monitor June 24, 2009

    …….In 2006 it [HAMAS] won parliamentary elections held in the West Bank and Gaza. More recently it survived the military onslaught Israel launched against Gaza last December – and in the wake of that war, Hamas’s popularity among Palestinians increased.
    Meanwhile, Washington’s ongoing campaign to strengthen the rival Fatah party of Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas has backfired badly. Rather than strengthening Fatah, the aid that Washington and its allies have sent to Mr. Abbas has further fueled the nepotism and corruption within Fatah and hastened its internal decline.
    Clearly, if there is to be a Palestinian team at any peace negotiations, its work must be supported by Hamas as well as Fatah. But can Hamas, whose 1988 Charter still rejects participation in peace conferences and calls for an end to the State of Israel, really be judged a valid party to the peacemaking?………

    Many Westerners might think of Hamas as only a collection of gun-toting fanatics intent on killing civilian Israelis. But Hamas also has a strong civilian wing that provides valued services in many Palestinian communities.
    In 2006 it was that wing that participated peacefully and successfully in the nationwide vote. Meanwhile, Hamas’s military wing has shown during several periods that it can exercise full or near-full restraint during cease-fires: That happened in 2005 and 2008, and has generally been the case in recent months, too.
    One major challenge for today’s peacemakers has been Hamas’s refusal to meet the three preconditions that Washington and its allies in the international “Quartet” set in 2006, before they would even start talking to it.
    Hamas, they said, must renounce violence, recognize Israel, and sign on to all the agreements previously reached by the Palestinian Authority (PA.) (Another challenge has been Washington’s refusal, until now, to consider any reframing of those demands.)

    I interviewed Hamas head Khaled Meshaal, in Damascus, Syria, on June 4. He restated his opposition to the preconditions, on principle. He noted that Washington did not apply any such preconditions to hard-line members of Israel’s government. Also, he pointed out that in Mr. Obama’s speech in Cairo, he had called for talks with Iran’s government without any preconditions at all.
    Discussing the “Mitchell Principles,” established by Mitchell during his successful peacemaking in Northern Ireland, Mr. Meshaal argued that they were applied equally to all sides. They were established during Mitchell’s earliest rounds of meetings with the warring parties, rather than being preconditions for those contacts.
    Meshaal is a sober, intelligent man who talks in a way that seems much more “political,” and politically savvy, than religious. He stressed that Hamas wanted to be “part of the solution, not part of the problem.”
    He expressed a strong desire for Hamas to heal its present deep rift with Fatah. He also reaffirmed Hamas’s support for a 2006 proposal whereby Abbas or other non-Hamas negotiators would conduct the actual peace negotiations with Israel. Any resulting peace agreement would then be submitted to a Palestinian-wide referendum, and Hamas would abide by its results, he said.
    If Hamas and Fatah can rebuild enough trust to authorize a unified Palestinian team to start negotiating, this proposal could allow peace talks to proceed without finding a complete prior answer to the West’s “dealing with Hamas” problem.
    Meshaal also restated Hamas’s support for establishing a Palestinian state alongside Israel, in the areas that Israel occupied in 1967 – providing that all the occupied land, including East Jerusalem, as well as the right of Palestinian refugees to return to areas they fled in 1948, would also be implemented.
    No Israeli government would accept this plan as it stands. But it represents a notable shift toward pragmatism and away from the positions stated in Hamas’s 1988 Charter. It can be seen as Hamas’s starting point in a negotiation in which all parties would need to show further flexibility. The hard-line language in Hamas’s Charter – as in the 1999 Charter of Israel’s Likud Party – could be changed
    somewhere in the future, as happened in the South African peacemaking, rather than requiring it to be changed upfront.
    If Hamas is folded into the peacemaking, it would emerge – like South Africa’s African National Congress, or Northern Ireland’s Sinn Fein – as a very different organization afterward.
    In addition, if Obama’s peace diplomacy works – with Israelis, Palestinians, and other Arabs – then the whole Arab-Israeli arena would become very different from what we see today. Israel and its neighbors could finally turn their attentions away from preparing and waging war and rebuild their own societies in a climate of security and hope.

    [my bold]

  3. Suzanne post demonstrates a dangerous ignorance of Islamism:

    “We have offered a truce if Israel withdraws to the 1967 borders, a truce of 10 years as a proof of recognition”.

    But why only a truce, why not peace? Answer: because Islamofascists cannot make peace with a non-Islamic state and must seek to destroy it. The purpose of such a Hudna for Hamas, Iran’s proxy, is to secure itself a sovereign Palestinian state from which to rearm and attack Israel.

    “But he urged outsiders to ignore the Hamas charter, which calls for the obliteration of Israel through jihad ,,,Mr Meshal did not offer to revoke the charter, but said it was 20 years old, adding “We are shaped by our experiences…..”

    So why doesn’t Hamas revoke the Charter? Answer: because the Charter quotes and takes its authority from the Koran.

    “The hard-line language in Hamas’s Charter…could be changed somewhere in the future as happened in the South African peacemaking,”

    Hamas’s Charter takes its authority from the Koran. Hamas can only change its hard-line language by rejecting its Islamist principles.

    “Meshaal is a sober, intelligent man who talks in a way that seems much more ‘political’ and politically savvy, than religious.”

    Islam is a supremacist religious/political ideology that seeks world domination. Hamas are islamofascists who are imposing strict Islamic rules on the population it controls, like the Taleban in Afpak.

    “In addition if Obama’s peace diplomacy works…..Israel and its neighbours could finally turn their attentions away from preparing and waging war and rebuild their own societies in a climate of security and hope.”

    Has Obama’s peace diplomacy with the Taleban, Hamas’s brother Islamofascists in Afpak? Answer: No, there’s a military war going on. Islamists fight and glory in their own deaths to achieve their religiously inspired goal to create a worldwide caliphate.

    Did peace diplomacy work with the Nazi or Japanese fascists? Answer: no. they had to be militarily destroyed to achieve peace.

    “Israel and its neighbours could finally turn their attentions away from preparing and waging war and rebuild their own societies in a climate of security and hope.”

    Israel’s neighbours – Egypt, Lebanon, Saudi Arabia, Jordan are confronted with the threat of Islamofascism posed by Iran’s proxies, Hamas and Hezbollah, within their own borders. Syria aids the terrorists because the Alawis hold power through terrorism.

    The Arab states cower behind Israel’s nuclear capability to defend them from Iran. But at the same time, recognition of Israel’s existence in their midst as a liberal democracy threatens the Arab despots’ own ability to hold onto power over their own populations.

    I note that Suzanne’s last quotation is from an American Christian journal. As usual, a Christian journalist busying herself as a Hamas apologist is silent on the persecution of Christians in Islamic states, silent on the persecution of Christian Arabs by Muslim Arabs. Here is a link to a video “Muslim Persecution of Christians” http://media0.terrorismawareness.org/files/MPAC.swf

    Clearly Suzanne and the other Useful Idiots know nothing about Islamism (or the basic tenets of Islam.) They make the fundamental error of believing that all human beings must necessarily share their own worldview and values. I suggest a visit to Yad Vashem.

    Have you read Hamas’s Charter yet Suzanne?

  4. It’s funny, but not very surprising, that Charlotte thinks the CSM is a Christian paper.

    Speaking of which, though, it’s telling that Christian Arabs insolently refuse to act as Charlotte thinks they ought to, and instead hold views on the Israeli-Arab conflict quite similar to their Muslim counterparts. (They even have militant strains of their own.) I can see why this is an inconvenient fact for people like Charlotte: The Palestinians start looking less like the neighborhood representatives of an implacable religious bogeyman bent on the destruction of all that’s Good and True (or Western, anyway) and more like a garden-variety nationalist movement.

  5. P.S. That’s not to deny the religious overtones in the conflict, of course. But as Gershom’s article describes, the religious element is both relatively recent and contingent, in the sense that it co-opted the political platform of pre-existing nationalist movements.

  6. Raghav-
    What you say about the religious overtones of the conflict being “recent” is a myth, made in order to convince gullible Israelis that peace can be had “if only Israel makes a few more concessions”. Benny Morris, in his book about Israel’s War of Independence called “1948” points out how Muslim religious leaders were at the forefront of that war (and later ones) saying how the Jihad against the Jews was a religious obligation, and this ALWAYS carried great weight. Arab society was ALWAYS conservative and religious. It is true that prior to the Islamic revival of the 1970’s, there was a partially secularized urban elite that was talking in Western terms, or using Marxist jargon, as did Arafat at one time, but the religious element was always there and important for the Arab masses.

    The conflict is now, and always has been a conflict of religious civilizations and it is about time that Israelis begin to realize this.

  7. Y. Ben-David,

    The involvement of political religion dates back a bit earlier than that, to the late 1920’s. Gudrun Krämer’s A History of Palestine is required reading here: she points out that the Jaffa riots in 1921 showed few religious overtones, and the injection of a religious valence into the conflict was a deliberate policy of the religious institutions the mandatory authorities set up.

  8. Raghav posted: “It’s funny, but not very surprising, that Charlotte thinks the CSM is a Christian paper.”

    From Christian Monitor’s website:

    “Do church leaders determine or influence the Monitor’s editorial content?
    The Board of Directors of the First Church of Christ, Scientist has oversight over Monitor editorials and editorial cartoons, but rarely changes copy. The board selects the Monitor’s editor, whose staff chooses stories they feel are most appropriate on a daily basis.”

    To assert that Christian Monitor is not Christian in values is irrational.

  9. Yes, Raghav, you’re right when you say “the involvement of political religion dates back a bit earlier than that” – about 1400 years as far as Islam is concerned.

  10. For some people the all the evidence that is contrary to what they choose to believe in is meaningless. Above is a quote the says the opposite of what is alleged. The CMS is a very respected non-religious paper here. I did not even think it was necessary to either hide the venue thinking this is so well known.

    There is a real need to understand what is happening inside Hamas and Islamism for that matter- to be informed- not to just be knee-jerk opposed. Being knee-jerk opposed to any evidence or sign would be would be useful idiocy,

    As George Mitchell has said “you don’t even have a political process until you accept the the other side has a legitimate point of view”

    Israelis who think like the above, are not, in the end, going to help Israel survive.

  11. I should add- I have often thought that real “Christian values” as I understand them would be of some service here.

  12. Um, Charlotte, the paragraph you quoted doesn’t say what you seem to think it says. The piece that Suzanne quoted wasn’t an editorial. As the About the Monitor page notes, the Monitor’s news reporting is “basically secular,” and its features are impartial, aside from a single religious column. (It’s good practice to link to pages you’re quoting, by the way.) Neither staff nor opinion writers are necessarily Christian: Take, for instance, this recent piece by Shi’ite Reza Aslan, whose most recent book I suggest you read.

    I agree that pointing out that the CSM (as spies call it) isn’t a Christian paper might have been irrational, since you’re not likely to change your mind, but it’s a perfectly accurate and well-known fact.

  13. Suzanne posted “By the way – there is nothing wrong with ‘Christian values”. The problem is not Christian values, the problem is Islamic jihadist values:

    “In a sermon aired on Hamas’ Al-Aqsa television, cleric Yunis Al Astal stated, “Today, Rome is the capital of the Catholics, or the Crusader capital, which has declared its hostility to Islam, and has planted the brothers of apes and pigs in Palestine in order to prevent the reawakening of Islam.

    “I believe that our children, or our grandchildren, will inherit our jihad and our sacrifices, and, Allah willing, the commanders of the conquest will come from among them”
    He maintained that Rome would become, “”an advanced post for the Islamic conquests, which will spread though Europe in its entirety, and then will turn to the two Americas, even Eastern Europe.” Ref- Fox 14 Apr. 2008

  14. Suzanne, who refuses to read the Hamas Charter, posted in support of genocidal Islamist Hamas:

    ‘As George Mitchell has said “you don’t even have a political process until you accept the other side has a legitimate point of view”

    No doubt Suzanne would have been saying that on the way to the gas chamber.

  15. Suzanne does not refuse to read the Hamas Charter. Suzanne refuses to read ad hominem attackers posts. Charlotte stupidly tries to make her case to me by first insulting me. I return the favor in this post. I don’t read Charlotte’s “droppings” which are pure pot-boiler knee-jerk so called “pro Israel” schtick. The facts don’t matter. One can only hope that she is not a voter in Israel ( she never says where she lives though she demands to know where I live to assess my legitimate opinion). She does not even say she is Jewish- not that I care… or maybe I did not read far enough. Certainly she does not have what I understand and have been taught to be “Jewish values”. And cetainly she does not seem like an endpoint of all that Jewish suffering that has learned anything about how to live peacefully with others going forward.

    Her innuendoes are disgraceful and shameful both towards her own side towards those she does not agree with and towards the Muslim and even Christian side about which she is clueless.

    David Grossman in his book “Death As a Way of Life” ( which Charlotte should read- my reading assignment to her) says that there are only two kinds of people in this conflict: those who want war and those who want peaceful coexistence. Charlotte, it appears, belongs to the former.

    Charlotte- if you want more just keep it up.

  16. Suzanne posted in response to my comments: “the facts don’t matter”.

    False. Respected scholarly debate is based on accurate facts.

    “And certainly she doesn’t seem like an endpoint of all that suffering that has learned anything about how to live peacefully with others going forward.”

    Oh, so that was the reason for the Holocaust? The Jews of Europe did not know how to live peacefully with the Nazis, so the Jews had themselves to blame for being gassed.

    “there are only two kinds of people in this conflict: those who want war and those who want peaceful coexistence.”

    But Islamists don’t want peaceful coexistence with non-Muslims, that’s why they cut the infidels’ heads off. And that’s a fact. (They also chop off hands or feet of thieves, but I digress)

    Dr Andrew Bostom has written extensively. in accord with respected scholarly conventions, on Islam: A snippet :

    “Hamas’s foundational covenant [181], whose motto states (in Article 8) “Allah is its goal, the Prophet its model to be followed, the Koran its constitution, Jihad its way, and death for the sake of Allah its loftiest desire”, reiterates (in Article 11) that all of historical Palestine is a permanent Islamic religious endowment [waqf] (“In this respect, it is like any other land that the Muslims have conquered by force, because the Muslims consecrated it at the time of the conquest as religious endowment for all generations of Muslims until the Day of Resurrection”). The Hamas Covenant also (in Article 13) rejects “so-called peace solutions”, and insists (in Article 15) upon waging an annihilationist jihad to eradicate Israel, even invoking the apocalyptic hadith (in Article 7) from the canonical collections of Bukhari and Muslim, [182]

    The hour of judgment shall not come until the Muslims fight the Jews and kill them, so that the Jews hide behind trees and stones, and each tree and stone will say: “Oh Muslim, oh servant of Allah, there is a Jew behind me, come and kill him,” except for the Gharqad tree, for it is the tree of the Jews.. ”

    Better go and look for the Gharqad tree Suzanne and hope the Islamist knows how to recognise it before he chops your head off. Ah, but I forgot, you’ll be safely ensconsed in the US while the Israelis face their armageddon. But then again, I did read a few weeks ago about the Muslim man in the US who chopped his wife’s head off because she wanted a divorce. So the headchoppers are in your neck of the woods too.

    By the way I am 100% kosher by the rules of any beth din in the universe. But I live by reason based on empirical fact, not emotion. Hence I cannot be persuaded that the world is flat, or that the moon is made of green cheese, or that an Islamist who believes absolutely in his own revealed religion will compromise his belief in the tenets of his faith.

    Unfortunately the values of Islam are inimical to those of Judaism, but that is a fact that you seem intellectually unable to grasp. “Death as a way of life” is an Islamic, not Jewish, value. The psychodynamic explanation for your refusal to deal with the facts of Islamofascism and Hamas might be your fear of lack of control over genocidal fascists. I wonder if Jews on the way to the gas chamber irrationally blamed themselves for their predicament for not wanting peaceful coexistence with the Nazis.

    Suzanne, those who do not learn from history are condemned to repeat it. And you evidently know nothing about history or the value of fact.

  17. Suzanne decries “ad hominem attackers posts,” which as an aside I only find amusing because here and in earlier comments, anyone who disagreed with her was labeled inhumane and short-sighted, irrational and warmongering, knee-jerk oppositionists and stupid.

    I’m going to pass on this discussion only because the usual tenor of discussion here (excepting Phillip) is generally respectful even when it gets heated over differences of opinion.

    But “Charlotte- if you want more just keep it up.” is beyond the pale….sorry, but Suzanne has turned this into a verbal brawl and made it a personal grudge match. Charlotte, you and others are trying to have a discussion with an ideologue who, like most ideologues, is not open to discussion or reconsideration or compromise.

  18. Well aliyah06, now it’s you who’s providing the amusement. If there’s anyone who comes over as an extremist, irrational ideologue it’s Charlotte. It’s a bit like trying to rationally convince a claustrophobiac that confined spaces really aren’t harmful. You can argue till you’re blue in the face, it won’t do no good.
    Islam, Islamism, Hamas, Hisbollah, the PLO, Iran, they’re all the same, and they’re all out to get her, while Suzanne, me, and all the other terrorist-luvvin’ leftist treehuggers sit here in our comfortable distance and enjoy the fireworks.

    Sure, everyone has a right to their paranoias and phobias, but that doesn’t mean they are entitled to make others suffer for them, nor are others required to base rational discourse on them.

  19. On July 17- Aliyah06 said that I was playing a numbers game and shrugging Jewish deaths aside, of saying that Jewish deaths are not that important. She however shrugged off that those in Gaza (she calls “Hamastan” even though not everyone are members of or support Hamas in Gaza) had nowhere to run when they were warned. I ignored it. But when she went further and spoke about “Jewish Genocide” choosing to take the Hamas charter of 1988 as a real threat, I thought it was irrational and over the top. She also sticks to the lower though still substantial numbers that the Israeli government publishes and admits to in the recent Gaza War.

    Charlotte on the other hand deflects guilt to numbers being killed elsewhere like by the British in Afghanistan as if that makes the numbers okay.

    Aliyah maintains that all of OUR dead are innocent- not theirs. The majority of theirs were combatants she says. NO comparison she says. Where does she get this? Aliyah06 also denies there is an occupation (something even Sharon admitted to).

    Nevertheless the discussion was somewhat rational even though Charlotte called me an anti-semite- which I ignored ( July 20). Still she insisted on knowing whether I was Jewish, and Israeli, personally in the line of fire when I pointed out that the piece we are commenting on, highly critical of the Gaza War, is written by an Jewish Israeli.

    Aliyah06 then calls me “immature” for discarding inconvenient facts ( about the charter) after my long list of Hamas softening positions. OTOH it’s only PA’s non-negotiables that are convenient facts, not the Israeli ones. Nor is even half the blame for the prolongation of this conflict due to Israel who has always ( presumably) shown a desire for peace and living up to signed documents while the Palestinians have not.

    Lastly (and enough for now here)Charlotte says I am playing a “useful idiot in aid of Islam” (July 22) which I ignored again. Apparently Charlotte has students like me “all emotion and no facts”. Does she punch them too when they differ with her opinion- call them “Muslim apologists”?

    And so on. You can read, if you like, the discussion again and see exactly where my patience wore thin.

  20. Fiddler, just because you’re paranoid doesn’t mean they’re not out to get you.

    Iran, Hamas, Hezbollah, Taleban et al – check out the facts – they sure are out to get you, just like the Nazis and their allies were – or would you have been a conscientious objector?

  21. Suzanne is so irrational that she defends a charter that she hasn’t read.

    The Nazis didn’t soften. The Japs didn’t soften. Fascists don’t soften until they are beaten into the ground.

  22. Aliyah- see how Charlotte calls me irrational in an attempt to get the mean-spirit going again?

    I’ll answer civilly as I can:

    “until they are beaten into the ground”

    These attempts to beat them into the ground have only made Hamas stronger more relevant in case you have not noticed. Prior they could be almost ignored. Never mind that Israel actually brought them on, promoted them in the beginning as a counterweight to Fatah- talk about shooting oneself in the foot!. Now they cannot be ignored. They have to be recognized as representing some portion of Palestinians.

    Are you thinking in terms of another world war?

    I suggest you read David Grossman’s book either the Hebrew or the English translation by Haim Watzman.

  23. Suzanne is unable to distinguish fact from opinion.
    Instead of discussing the validity of her arguments on a factual basis, Suzanne evaluates the level of hurt she feels that her opinions, unsupported by factual evidence, are rubbished. Suzanne mistakenly rational debate for a politically correct tea party at which no-ones feelings must be offended.

    Suzanne, there is no evidence that Hamas has “softened”. Despite all excuses and prevarication, the Hamas Charter still stands (as does the PLO/Fatah Charter). If you had any depth of knowledge of Islamism and Hamas, and if you had read the Hamas Charter, you would know that Hamas cannot reject their Charter. To do that would be a rejection of their core values.

    It is a fact that whereas Judaism permits transgression of all rules to save life, Islam glories in martyrdom to achieve its goals.Hamas’s stated goal is the destruction of Israel. Hudna and other devices are merely means to the religiously ordained end: the destruction of a Jewish state, the existence of which is anathema to Islam.

    You resent Aliyah06 calling you ‘”immature” for discarding inconvenient facts (about the charter)'” How can you expect to enter into intellectual debate and be taken seriously when you fail to reach the level of intellectual rigour of a gnat. You want to discuss Hamas without reading, understanding and discussing their core values as set out in their Charter. If you were a student of mine, I wouldn’t punch you, I’d throw you out of the class.

    PS Hamas are not a stand-alone outfit. They are part of the world wide Islamist movement. According to your ?rationale? Israel is also responsible for the Taleban in Afghanistan and the Islamic Republic of Iran. I suppose I must thank my lucky stars you didn’t recommend a book by Illan Pappe.

  24. “These attempts to beat them into the ground have only made Hamas stronger more relevant in case you have not noticed. ”

    No, as a matter of fact, they are losing popularity through their actions during Cast Lead (forcing civilians onto roofs, drawing return fire near civilians, hiding in bunkers while forcing youngsters to fight, etc.) coupled with their ever-increasing encroachments on personal freedoms (forcing female lawyers to wear hijab, modesty police on the beaches), their on-going theft of international aid while “the people” go without, their continued display of arrogance in driving their large gas-guzzling SUVs around while the average guy can’t get gas for his car….their poll numbers are down and there is an ground swell of resentment, as they have proved more inept than Fatah and just as corrupt.

    “Now they cannot be ignored. They have to be recognized as representing some portion of Palestinians.”

    Who’s ignoring them? They are the center of world attention—it’s simply that other civilized nations have demanded that they act like a state instead of like a terror organization. They refuse. As a result, they are boycotted, and not just by Israel.

  25. Charlotte -you are too focussed on me. And perhaps I should not respond for all the mean-spirit you project. This is all too representative of how hatred of Islam ( which you convey) distorts and makes ugliness- just as the hatred expressed in that old charter you are obsessed with is also ugly. That is a document though. You are a person.

    You only offer that you are a teacher while demanding to know about me. That you teach makes me cringe. I hope that you don’t transmit your hatred and distortions to your students.

    Argue with Aliyah06 who is saying below that Hamas has changed because of the Gaza War even though I give evidence that Hamas sought to avoid the war and we know Hamas had changed well before. As well Hamas gained in popularity from that war as, just like Israeli’s, Palestinians support each other during an onslaught.

    Aliyah06- resistance to Hamas has to do not with what Israel does, which in the case of Gaza increased anger toward Israel, increased despair and trauma, increased support of Hamas, increased international awareness of Israel’s harsh occupation and military rule and the imbalance of power, increased sympathy for Palestinians.

    What was eating away at Hamas popularity would have continued very well without the onslaught and with some actual restraint on the part of Israel in place of feigned and false restraint.

    Now Israel has a huge propaganda public relations program on to try and quell the mess of what was stirred up. But as the original piece here was titled: No, What Happened in Gaza Won’t Go Away despite the jumping up and down of “useful idiots” to borrow a phrase.

    Hamas is not a state. (!) Until the party is included into the process they will be little more than a popular resistance movement with very little urgent further reform . Their main practical purpose and the source of their power is not ideology but is to resist the hold that Israel has on Palestinians. Reform ( and divisions about reform) which exist ( no question about it), and which would happen further from the very public pressure you note and their desire for relevance would have continued to happen internally without what they are now calling a massacre by Israel.

  26. “Argue with Aliyah06 who is saying below that Hamas has changed because of the Gaza War [That’s not what I said….read it again]

    even though I give evidence that Hamas sought to avoid the war [one doesn’t avoid war by repeated rocket launches.]

    and we know Hamas had changed well before. ” [no, we know no such thing–the fact that you say it over and over and over doesn’t make it true, nor do self-serving tactical statements by Hamas spokespersons, angling for donations or recognition, constitute “change.”]

    “Hamas is not a state.” Hamas has an army, a police force, control of hospitals, sewage, government, banking, media outlets and education. It may not have a seat at the UN, but it has all the hallmarks of a state. Their main source of power at the moment is that they hold all the guns and kill anyone who opposes them, and are reinforced, trained and financed by Iran, Lebanon and the Saudis.

    Let’s try it the way the Quartet suggested: renounce terror (or “resistance” if you must play word games), honor prior agreements, and recognize Israel. THEN we can start including them in the process.

  27. Suzanne wrote “This is all too representative of how hatred of Islam (which you convey) distorts and makes ugliness – just as the hatred expressed in that old charter you are obsessed with is also ugly.”

    The age of the Charter is irrelevant. The Charter stands in the same way as the US constitution and the UN founding Charter of 1947.

    “distorts and makes ugliness” – what have I distorted about Islam?

    The US and UN charters are egalitarian, Islam is discriminatory, totalitarian, and repressive.

    Mean spirit? What is it you love and find beautiful in Islam and the Koran? It’s hatred of the non-Muslim. It’s requirement that the non-Muslim must submit to Islam. The dhimmification of the non-Muslim. It’s description of Christians and Jews as Apes and Monkeys.

    Are you a Muslim? Do you want to live under Sharia Law, pay a Jizya so that your Muslim overlord spares your life, peer at the world through the slits of a burka, deny the right of girls to an education, submit to the will of your husband as your superior, be deprived of the right to listen to music……

    What have I distorted? You’re not only factually bereft. You’re just plain daft.

  28. Hamas Charter Article 28 “…..Israel, by virtue of its being Jewish and of having a Jewish population, defies Islam and the Muslims.”

    Article 13: Peaceful Solutions, (peace) Initiatives and International Conferences: (Peace) initiatives, the so-called peaceful solutions, and the international conferences to resolve the Palestian problem, are all contrary to the beliefs of the Islamic Resistance Movement. For renouncing any part of Palestine means renouncing part of the religion; the nationalism of the Islamic Resistance Movement is part of its faith, the movement educates its members to adhere to its principles and to raise the banner of Allah over their homeland as they fight their Jihad: “Allah is the all powerful….”

  29. I think this goes to something I said on a previous post. Fundamentalism isn’t the problem, it’s somebody else’s solution. There are many ways to interpret an ancient text, so what makes a someone choose one interpretation over another? It has to be desire. This is why fundamentalism is a sideshow to the real issues.

  30. Duncan, the Koran is not a book of stories to be interpreted. It is an instruction manual.

    I suggest you read Dr Andrew Bostom who has researched and written extensively on Islam. Plenty available on the web:

    “The rise of Jewish nationalism—Zionism—posed a predictable, if completely unacceptable challenge to the Islamic order—jihad-imposed chronic dhimmitude for Jews—of apocalyptic magnitude. As Bat Ye’or has explained,

    …because divine will dooms Jews to wandering and misery, the Jewish state appears to Muslims as an unbearable affront and a sin against Allah. Therefore it must be destroyed by Jihad.


  31. Duncan, what’s Israel and Jews got to do with Islamic fundamentalism in Afghanistan, the Swat Valley, Kenya, etc. Any Jews there. I’d advise you to widen your tunnel vision and get your headlight beam off Israel. There’s a big, wide, interconnected world out there.

    Contrary to popular myth, the jooos aren’t the origin of all evil

  32. Your comments say more about you than they do about me Charlotte. I don’t know how you could come to the conclusion that I think the Jews are the root of evil or any of the other garbage you came out with. It can only mean that you’re primed to throw mud or inflict your inflated sense of self-righteousness upon people you disagree with. It also implies that you consider fundamentalism to be the preserve of muslims. Readers can judge for themselves whether your comments are a rational response to mine.

    There are many people in the world who interpret Islam differently. This is not news. It’s not controversial. It’s reality. You should go there some day.

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