Tina K. Russell

June 20, 2007

Hamas and Them

Filed under: hamas, israel, us — Tina Russell @ 12:37 am

The New York Times has some serious guts… here’s an op-ed straight from Hamas on the Palestinian civil war. It’s actually quite good, please read it. Our framing of Hamas may not be quite correct… (that is, the international perspective of “Fatah = good little collaborators, Hamas = filthy terra ists”). It looks to me like Hamas might be more legitimate than we ever thought.

He argues that Hamas’s control of Gaza is necessary, and that America and Israel have been arming Fatah soldiers to remove elected Hamas leaders from power by force, and that Hamas has been offering truces with both Fatah and Israel again and again while Israel continues to portray Hamas a party of stubborn extremists. The real “coup,” he argues, is Fatah attempting to remove, forcibly, Hamas from power, from its elected position, and the drumbeat portrayal in Western media of Hamas as terrorists. I think Barack Obama once said that there’s no point in talking to Hamas if they don’t want to recognize Israel… that makes me angry because he’s saying, essentially, that there’s no point in talking to people you disagree with. There’s value in discussion even if you cannot change an opponent’s mind… I’ve always felt that Israel is a legitimate state (if they aren’t, I mean, who is? It’s not like any country in the world has exactly rock-solid borders), but my impression is that Hamas has always offered a sort of grumbling, well-whatever acceptance of Israel as part of diplomacy deals, and I wish Israel would accept that as the real thing because it takes real effort to admit when you’ve been wrong.

Anyway, whatever you think of Hamas, please read the op-ed as it’s a nice position paper. Hmmm… I’ve always respected Palestinian president Mahmoud Abbas (of Fatah), but his dissolution of the Palestinian parliament kind of disturbs me. I mean, when the South seceeded from the United States, Lincoln didn’t dissolve Congress or purge the government of Democrats. He saw his job as to unite the country, and that’s why he picked a Democrat as his running mate for re-election on the “National Unity Party” ticket. Hamas and Fatah lining up and fighting as West Bank vs. Gaza Strip seems… disturbing, even if interesting in a “hmmm, let’s see where this goes” kind of way (if you ignore the fact that people are dying). It’s not as though Palestine vs. Israel has produced any results in the past umpty billion years. I hope Hamas and Fatah can work out their differences and restore unity to Palestine… and I hope that we, and Israel, stay out of it as such resolution is a necessary step on the path to statehood.

Remember that we cannot “fix” other nations, and that neither Fatah (removed from power–like the Republicans over here–largely over issues of corruption) nor Hamas are perfect parties. I cannot imagine supplying either side with guns will help the situation at all… we may want to work towards humanitarian aid for both areas, and focus on the security and well-being of dissidents (I’m pretty worried about, say Fatah supporters and Christians in the Gaza Strip, and Hamas supporters in the West Bank). Whoever “wins” should not be our concern, because an ultimate victory for one side–and a crushing defeat for the other–would only be a defeat for Palestine. We have to let them work it out, and work on protecting human life rather than exacerbating the problem with military support for either side.

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