The bankruptcy of Hamas

The latest terror attack in Israel, and its endorsement by the Hamas party, points up the fact that Hamas is as morally and politically bankrupt as its government will soon be financially bankrupt. This kind of crime cannot be excused or condoned, no matter what the other side has done (for the same reason, I hope that Israel will not retaliate in kind). Considered in terms of its political implications, it only reinforces the logic behind the newly-elected Israeli government’s policies, and the destination to which they point: an imposed settlement based on the wall that is now largely complete, followed by a complete closure of the resulting border. This won’t be a fair or just settlement, but it’s hard to see who will object, given that Hamas opposes any settlement and refuses to negotiate.

More fundamentally, the strategy of terror attacks against Israel has been a disaster for the Palestinian people, particularly over the last decade. Hamas was the leading party pushing Palestinians to reject the Oslo peace process. It’s already clear that no better chance will ever arise for a settlement, and that the eventual outcome, after another decade or more of occupation, will be worse than that on offer from Barak and Clinton.

The only real hope is that the cutoff of funds from the EU and US will bring the unreality of Hamas’ position home to the point where the movement is discredited. Hamas has been promised $50 million by Iran, and Qatar and other states may follow suit, but that won’t last for more than a month or two and it’s unlikely to be followed by more, given that Iran has its own problems.

94 thoughts on “The bankruptcy of Hamas

  1. Arab nationalist and Islamic regimes in the Middle East have used the Palestinians for their own international, domestic and cosmic purposes. Continued suffering of the Palestinians stimulates Arab and Islamic outrage at Israel and its major benefactor and away from the powers that be in Syria, Saudi Arabia, Iran, Egypt and elsewhere.

    These regimes have encouraged confrontation and rejectionism. Palestinians embrace the martyr’s crown thrust at them by their Arab and Islamic “friends”.

    Despair deepens.

  2. Katz,

    Agreed, but this focus on the surrounding countries ignores completely the elephant in the room – the ongoing, increasingly brutal occupation.

    Sure the Arab countries have thumbed their nose at the Palestinians, but frankly, it is not their problem exclusively. The expropriation of the Palesitinians is the WORLD’s problem.

    I understand you are just calling it as it is rather than taking a side, but I too am sick of all the hurdles placed on the Palestinians by the world before they will help them regain their universally-agreed (sans Israel, US) rights.

  3. Michael H,

    I agree with you in theory, but having thought about it long and hard I think that in practice it won’t work. If there was a strong Palestinian non-violence movement, and if it was able to put a halt to terrorist attacks then Israel really would be in a lot of trouble. Running over groups of women and children with bulldozers to build a Jew only road is only going to do one thing to Israel’s critical overseas support.

    But its not like Israel’s leaders are not aware of this either.

    When you look at previous successful modern non-violent movements such as the revolution to remove Milosovic in Serbia you start to realise that they are very difficult things to put together, and depend on very smart use of media resources. There are difficult practical problems like controlling your own violent extremist and to get large number’s of people to believe that putting their lives on the line will acheive something.

    I am pretty sure that if it looked like the Palestinians were going to get a non-violence movement going Israel would pull out all stops to end it quickly. And they have a lot of options. They could provoke terrorist organisations into breaking the ceasefire. We already saw that happen when they assinated leaders of Hamas during the “hudna” negotiations. They could release Palestinian advocates of terrorism from prison to counter the non-violent leaders. They could arrest the non-violent leaders which I believe they did during the 1980’s intifada. They could shutdown their broadcast stations and newspapers and fund their Palestinian opponents. They could plant provateurs in non-violent protests and make the protest violent. They could even run false flag terrorist attacks on Israel. On top of this the Palestinian territories are quite small with a population that is small enough for Israel to have enough intelligence resources to monitor the political situation there quite closely. The key thing here is that I believe that Israel’s leaders are smart enough, and cynical enough and well resourced enough to do all these things. Sharon openly said that Gaza was to be kept as, essentially, a violent prison to be a constant justification for denying Palestinians their own state. Netanyahu worked with Oslo process while seeking to end it. They are that cynical.

    When you look at Ghandi’s Indian indepedence movement and the Civil Rights movement in the US you realise that they were critically dependent on their opponents having some sort of moral restraint that would stop them doing all the above things, or at least stop them enough to allow the non-violent movement to be successful. I don’t think that Israel’s moral line is tight enough to allow a Palestinian non-violence movement to be successful.

    I’m not completely convinced that a non-violence movement would not improve things, but weighing it all up its hard to see how it could be successful.

  4. Somehow I think neither appeals to Israel’s concerns for international reputation nor non-violent action have much chance of success. The following from 19 May 2004 BBC news…

    “Israelis fire on crowds in Gaza

    “Dozens of injured were carried to hospital
    Israeli troops have opened fire during a protest by Palestinian demonstrators in the town of Rafah in southern Gaza.
    At least 10 people were killed and 60 injured, though some reports put the number of casualties higher.

    “The army expressed deep sorrow for the loss of innocent life, but said tanks and a helicopter had fired warning shots to stop crowds entering the area.

    “US President George W Bush called for restraint from both sides and said he had asked Israel for “clarification”. ”

    As Katz says, despair…

  5. “I don’t think that Israel’s moral line is tight enough to allow a Palestinian non-violence movement to be successful.”

    It would certainly be more difficult to appeal to humanitarian impulses of Israelis now than fifteen years ago. Palestinian tactics are partially responsible for growing Israeli intransigence. The demography of Israel with the immigration of Oriental and Russian Jews has diluted the original stock of socialist zionists who were the habitual supporters of the now much diminished Israel Labor Party. New groups tend to be chauvinist or religious zealots.

    Overarching all of this is the fact that, unlike the British in India, Israelis have an enormous emotional attachment to “their” land. For the British in India home was somewhere else. For White segregationists in the US South desegregation meant they had to pee next to Blacks, not give up their homes.

  6. Yes observa we just don’t get it that an oppressed people should accept occupation, oppression, injustice, often by those same hypocrites who justify invasion of Iraq on moral grounds freeing them from a oppression, human rights abuse etc etc.

    Shouldn’t expect too much from a crowd that turns a blind eye to human rights abuses by the US while condemning others for doing the same thing.

    Historians will likely look back once they are out of the cultural and political dominance of the US and the West & wonder at this hypocrisy especially coming from countries like the US and Australia that only came about by the theft of land and marginalization of the original inhabitants.

    In this light we have Israel doing the exact same thing occupy oppress, marginalize; make it untenable that it can be rolled back and claim moral superiority with some PR spin.

    Spare me your moral rationalizations and cultural bias some of us don’t by BS.

  7. SWIO,

    As Hal9000 points out with a fairly routine example of the IDFs conduct, I remain convinced that international opinion (ex-US) is irrelevant to Israel.

    Up until a few years ago, the EU, Russia, China, most of Africa and all Arab and Muslim countries regularly criticised Israel’s occupation, but the colonisation and occupied proceeded unabated.

    I would even suggest that at this point, complete economic sanctions and ostracism would have no impact EVEN if the US joined in.

  8. Observa,

    If you are suggesting from a realpolitik perspective that the worst elements of Israel have or will eventually win, I would agree with you – unfortunately they are in too powerful a position at this stage.

    However, this is a cause for sadness and despair, not smug satisfaction as you appear to have. Unfortunately the victims, both Israelis and Palestinians have been far too many.

    Besides which, you forget that the IRA only succeeded in getting where it did because of violence – it is a real shame it has to come to that, in any situation.

  9. The current situation is stalemated. But what Israel doesn’t really want to accept is that the Palestinians are not going anywhere. The only solutions for Israel are two real states or genocide.

    When the balance of power between the Arab states and Israel evens up the situation will change. There are several hundred million Arabs but only 6 million Israeli’s. It won’t take much Arab improvement for there to be economic, political and military parity. Eventually there will be a tipping point where the surrounding Arab states will be able to exert so much pressure that Israel will want the conflict over more than the Palestinians. Probably by then there will be so many Palestinians that they will be the ones calling for a single state solution, so long as its genuinely democratic. They could then change its name by referendum to Palestine and declare victory. Israeli’s will wish it had taken the two state solution when they had the chance.

  10. observa,
    not to dispute the facts of the times story you cite,
    i really think you should ponder the sources a bit,
    times is owned by murdoch, murdoch is pro-war and very anti-arab,
    you will find plenty of stories like that one that mean nothing,
    another to watch out for at the moment is any paper owned by hollinger international,
    currently controlled by richard perle and henry kissinger

  11. Terje, (at reply no. 9), another possibility is both nations destroyed. That would certainly be far more convenient all round for the rest of the world.

    Majorajam, it is wrong to look at the Ulster situation through the lens of a colonialist analysis. Ulster protestants are not motivated by a wish to remain masters (over others) so much as inhabitants (displacing others).

    Terje, England never did actually invade Ireland. What happened was, various waves of consolidation and retrenchment followed each other, all stemming from a historical presence in Ireland that was actually inherited from the Normans.

    The first Normans in Ireland didn’t invade, they infiltrated, and then the King of England in his capacity of Duke of Normandy tried to control them (not the Irish). This wasn’t just from a motive of maintaining control, but to stop Ireland becoming a potential base for hostile operations in England. This control succeeded, but at the price of securing their control over the Irish.

    About the only military operation you can call an invasion of Ireland was under Cromwell, but that was directed against Royalist forces rather than against the Irish proper – although later operations after the landings were largely directed against Irish forces.

    England’s and Ireland’s fates were entangled from early on (think where and how the Irish got St. Patrick). It’s as useful to say that England had no business in Ireland as to say that Ireland had no business in England – the Irish helped the Welsh raid Hereford shortly before the Norman Conquest. Not that the English had any business in Hereford either, or indeed any part of England, if you trace it back far enough.

  12. “Unfortunately for both Palestinians and Israelis, Michael H, you are wrong. Non-violence failed to achieve anything for the Palestinians for over 40 years, except more colonies and more Israeli brutality.
    Israel actually cares nothing for its international reputation – and why should it when it is obstinately defended by the US every time.
    Israel has flaunted UN resolutions and international law since its existence, carried on a brutal occupation, annexed the OT and maintained Jerusalem as its capital despite complete international non-recognition, and established an apartheid state.
    What evidence have you that Israel cares one jot about its international reputation? “

    Chris C, I guess we’ll have to agree to disagree. But even Palestinian proponents of a non-violent approach concede that they were too quick to give up when they failed to achieve their aims. And lets just be clear; a non-violent strategy isn’t just the absence of armed struggle and sitting back waiting for someone else to rescue you, it’s an active strategy of undermining the occupation at its weakest point and winning support amongst Israelis.

    swio is pretty much right on the matter of Israels concern for it’s reputation. The evidence is the huge resources (time, money and people) Israel puts into its’ information campaigns. Ask any journalist who’s been based in Jerusalem. They receive a steady stream of emails filling their inboxs deluging them with stories, explanations and facts and figures from the Israeli perspective. Need any fact about Israel and Israeli PR types will get it in an instant. Well-educated fluent English speaking spokespeople are on hand to answer questions and provide information. Tours and visits to sites of terrorist attacks and interviews with victims and their families can be arranged. And in the US, sponsored tours of Israel for members of Congress, students, opinion-makers etc, have long been routine.

    Israel learnt a lot from the outbreak of the first intifada. Images of soldiers shooting kids throwing rocks could be very damaging, leading to all sorts of unwanted pressures. And this is the main thrust of Israels concern for its image; not necessarily to just block the images, but to provide the Israeli narrative that contextualises these images in a way that serve Israeli interests. Tanks in the streets of Ramallah? – that is retaliation, a pin-point prevention, an anti-terror exercise, rooting out terrorist nests and ticking bombs. Terror, terror, terror, nevermind the daily terror for Palestinians. This is, in part, how Israel protects its reputation; set the terms of the debate. And Hamas etc have done all they can to make this a success. So in the word association game, if you say ‘Palestinian’, what is the first word most Americans think of?

    Israel has to engage in the battle of ideas because the Palestinian cause is a just one, one that naturally stirs the sympathy of most people who actually know what it is. Israel has to eclipse the Palestinian narrative – not a hard job, given the monumental incompetence on the Palestinian side in this regard.

  13. swio,

    You give a pretty compelling list of the kind of actions Israel could use to subvert a non-violent movement. And what’s more I think they have already used them all, except one.

    There are two fairly simple, but I believe utterly compelling, reasons that the non-violent approach must be taken.

    1. It is the morally correct approach. The killing of innocent people on either side is unjustifiable. The Palestinians have a just cause best served by just means. I’m not saying that this ensures success, just that success or failure is irrelevent to the choice of means.
    But even if you don’t agree with this,
    2. The ‘balance of terror’; Israel is far superior. Resort to arms will guarantee death and misery for Palestinians.

  14. On behalf of my late father I thank you for this thread. Dad, as a young British mounted military policeman spent a few years of WW11 in the British Mandated Territory of Palestine. Attached to the Palestinian Camel Corp., as an RSM, he and his men were treated with such courtesy and he grew to highly respect and regard Palestinian Muslims, avidly learning about their culture and their language – in his later life as a police officer in England he was one of very few who could speak Arabic. He would often tell us kids tales of the generosity and many kindnesses of desert Sheiks, farmers, shepherds and orchardists, when the Corps were out on patrol.

    Later, also of the times he was required to investigate the Zionist/terrorist Irgun, Stern and Haganah gangs terrible bloody attacks on Palestinian villages. They killed indiscriminately countless men, women and children, destroying their homes, animals and crops. They also killed British military policemen (some by garotting), and Dad lost quite a few friends and colleagues in the bombing of the King David Hotel in Jerusalem in 1946, much to his lasting grief.

    I believe we can all understand why postwar America, Briton and European politicians were so keen to get an Israel solution for the survivors of the Holocaust – nimbys all. Or indeed, why European Jewry wanted so much for a place of their own, and would then defy anyone in hanging on to it.

    But also surely no-one in their right mind would expect the Palestinians to just quietly give away their homes and country – for the sake of a neat holocaust survivor solution that was never of their making – and head off without a fight; no matter how long it takes.

    Observa wouldn’t hand over his castle without a fight believe me!! And judging by the way he writes, he wouldn’t resile from laying a few bombs along the way, even if it was only to make a point.

    Let us all remember, the Palestinians that remain in what is left of their homeland, which is less than 22% of what they had in early 1948, and had had landrights to for thousands of years, are being daily slit up a treat. For every Israeli killed (which I do not condone in any way), at least 3 Palestians are killed – many of them children. Except they get killed by arms-length gunship fired rockets; army snipers; spooked Israeli soldiers; and settlers (who are often seeking subsidised housing, and/or are believers in the old testament map of Judea and will brook no argument); or get crushed by falling masonary/homes etc. etc. But who cares, they are only the suspect Oriental ‘Other’, with whom, apparently it would be a good idea to do away with, otherwise they will only do away with ‘us’. What bollocks!

    What to do? Like many of you I despair, but at least here so many of you have given them a guensey. Thanks.

  15. IHT April 20 reports.
    “The Jordanian government spokesman, Nasser Joudeh, told the Petra news agency that the Hamas weapons cache, which was found at an undisclosed site in Jordan, included rocket launchers, explosives and automatic weapons. Jordanian newspapers ran front-page photos of the weapons on Wednesday.

    “These activities contradict the positive commitment by the new Palestinian government not to use the Jordanian arena for any purposes that harm Jordan’s security or for meddling in its internal affairs,” Joudeh was quoted as saying Tuesday.

    Zahar planned to visit Jordan this week as part of his current tour of Arab states. He is seeking money for the Palestinian Authority government, which faces a worsening financial crisis since Hamas, a radical Islamic group, assumed power last month�

    Hamas needs money badly.The Arab League has offered enough dough for a month, a number of rich Arab states are holding back because of Hamas’s position. The only loud voice offering money is Iran and that is both yet to happen and causing anger amongst poor Iranians. Now they have really pissed off Jordan, and another opportunity for finance goes bad.

    So what would ending violence with Israel do? Generate jobs and income. Palestinian workers in Israel did provide a substantial stimulus to the Palestinian economy in the past.

    “Prior to the outbreak of the second intifada in 2000, 22 percent of employed Palestinians worked in Israel or in Israeli settlements. While these numbers dwindled during the intifada, the World Bank estimated that in 2005 a daily average of 44,800 Palestinians, primarily from the West Bank, worked in Israel: 7,400 held Israeli papers or foreign passports, 18,800 were legal workers, and 18,600 worked illegally. These numbers do not include East Jerusalem ID holders whose number has remained steady over the last five years. Taken together, these West Bank, Gaza, and East Jerusalem workers constituted 10 percent of all employed Palestinians and earned 12 percent of Palestinian incomes. “

    And the World Bank has estimated that every additional 10,000 Palestinians allowed to work in Israel would generate $120 million for the Palestinian economy and increase the GNI by 2.5 percent. However since March the 11 Palestinians have been barred from entering Israel and the latest bombing should ensure a continuation of that policy. Now Israel is saying it will eliminate all Palestinian guest worker permits by 2007.

    Can see a lot of advantages for Palestinian people in the cessation of violence by terrorists against Israeli people.

  16. Ros

    do you have shares in the IHT? Have you ever entertained an opinion not approved therein?

    ‘Can see a lot of advantages for Palestinian people in the cessation of violence by terrorists against Israeli people.’

    Can see a lot of advantages for Israeli people in the cessation of illegal occupation by settlers of Palestinian land.

    Which came first Ros, the occupation or the bombs? Which causes which Ros? Where, in light of this consideration, does primary responsibiity lie Ros?

    No checking in the IHT.

  17. This won’t be a fair or just settlement, but it’s hard to see who will object, given that Hamas opposes any settlement and refuses to negotiate.

    There really is no justice or fairness in the distribution of sovereignty or property. It is mostly historical or geographical luck or brute facts which determine where most borders are drawn. More contingency than equity.

    The best way to pre-empt conflict is to have a settled distribution from the outset and maintain some kind of proper due process to cope with change.

    Obviously the Israelis were the guilty party who upset the modern Middle Eastern settlement. Equally obviously the worthy party who most wanted to end the conflict once they had got what they wanted.

    Hamas refuse to accept the legitimacy of any bilateral or multilateral due process to resolve conflicting property and sovereignty claims. Israel refuse to acknowledge Hamas’ attempt to delegitimise the Israeli state. When an irresistable force meets and immovable object…

    Israel will not lose since it is the hegemonial regional military power. Therefore Israel will wage war and build walls until Hamas is exhausted. Plenty of Israeli smart bombs and plenty of Hamas suicide bombers.

    Sectarian geo-politics are not fair, they are fatal.

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