Gaza is a secular society where people listen to pop music, watch TV
and many women walk the streets unveiled
We must adjust our distorted image of Hamas
The Times, UK
December 31, 2008
Last week I was in Gaza. While I was there I met a group of 20 or so
police officers who were undergoing a course in conflict management.
They were eager to know whether foreigners felt safer since Hamas had
taken over the Government? Indeed we did, we told them. Without doubt
the past 18 months had seen a comparative calm on the streets of
Gaza; no gunmen on the streets, no more kidnappings. They smiled with
great pride and waved us goodbye.
Less than a week later all of these men were dead, killed by an
Israeli rocket at a graduation ceremony. Were they "dangerous Hamas
militant gunmen"? No, they were unarmed police officers, public
servants killed not in a "militant training camp" but in the same
police station in the middle of Gaza City that had been used by the
British, the Israelis and Fatah during their periods of rule there.
This distinction is crucial because while the horrific scenes in Gaza
and Israel play themselves out on our television screens, a war of
words is being fought that is clouding our understanding of the
realities on the ground.
Who or what is Hamas, the movement that Ehud Barak, the Israeli
Defence Minister, would like to wipe out as though it were a virus?
Why did it win the Palestinian elections and why does it allow
rockets to be fired into Israel? The story of Hamas over the past
three years reveals how the Israeli, US and UK governments'
misunderstanding of this Islamist movement has led us to the brutal
and desperate situation that we are in now.
The story begins nearly three years ago when Change and Reform -
Hamas's political party - unexpectedly won the first free and fair
elections in the Arab world, on a platform of ending endemic
corruption and improving the almost non-existent public services in
Gaza and the West Bank. Against a divided opposition this ostensibly
religious party impressed the predominantly secular community to win
with 42 per cent of the vote.
Palestinians did not vote for Hamas because it was dedicated to the
destruction of the state of Israel or because it had been responsible
for waves of suicide bombings that had killed Israeli citizens. They
voted for Hamas because they thought that Fatah, the party of the
rejected Government, had failed them. Despite renouncing violence and
recognising the state of Israel Fatah had not achieved a Palestinian
state. It is crucial to know this to understand the supposed
rejectionist position of Hamas. It won't recognise Israel or renounce
the right to resist until it is sure of the world's commitment to a
just solution to the Palestinian issue.
In the five years that I have been visiting Gaza and the West Bank, I
have met hundreds of Hamas politicians and supporters. None of them
has professed the goal of Islamising Palestinian society, Taleban-
style. Hamas relies on secular voters too much to do that. People
still listen to pop music, watch television and women still choose
whether to wear the veil or not.
The political leadership of Hamas is probably the most highly
qualified in the world. Boasting more than 500 PhDs in its ranks, the
majority are middle-class professionals - doctors, dentists,
scientists and engineers. Most of its leadership have been educated
in our universities and harbour no ideological hatred towards the
West. It is a grievance-based movement, dedicated to addressing the
injustice done to its people. It has consistently offered a ten-year
ceasefire to give breathing space to resolve a conflict that has
continued for more than 60 years.
The Bush-Blair response to the Hamas victory in 2006 is the key to
today's horror. Instead of accepting the democratically elected
Government, they funded an attempt to remove it by force; training
and arming groups of Fatah fighters to unseat Hamas militarily and
impose a new, unelected government on the Palestinians. Further, 45
Hamas MPs are still being held in Israeli jails.
Six months ago the Israeli Government agreed to an Egyptian- brokered
ceasefire with Hamas. In return for a ceasefire, Israel agreed to
open the crossing points and allow a free flow of essential supplies
in and out of Gaza. The rocket barrages ended but the crossings never
fully opened, and the people of Gaza began to starve. This crippling
embargo was no reward for peace.
When Westerners ask what is in the mind of Hamas leaders when they
order or allow rockets to be fired at Israel they fail to understand
the Palestinian position. Two months ago the Israeli Defence Forces
broke the ceasefire by entering Gaza and beginning the cycle of
killing again. In the Palestinian narrative each round of rocket
attacks is a response to Israeli attacks. In the Israeli narrative it
is the other way round.
But what does it mean when Mr Barak talks of destroying Hamas? Does
it mean killing the 42 per cent of Palestinians who voted for it?
Does it mean reoccupying the Gaza strip that Israel withdrew from so
painfully three years ago? Or does it mean permanently separating the
Palestinians of Gaza and the West Bank, politically and
geographically? And for those whose mantra is Israeli security, what
sort of threat do the three quarters of a million young people
growing up in Gaza with an implacable hatred of those who starve and
bomb them pose?
It is said that this conflict is impossible to solve. In fact, it is
very simple. The top 1,000 people who run Israel - the politicians,
generals and security staff - and the top Palestinian Islamists have
never met. Genuine peace will require that these two groups sit down
together without preconditions. But the events of the past few days
seem to have made this more unlikely than ever. That is the challenge
for the new administration in Washington and for its European allies.
William Sieghart is chairman of Forward Thinking, an independent
conflict resolution agency
VIDEO - 'They say they have the right to shoot at us and kill us'
In the fourth of five films from Gaza, multimedia reporter Clancy
Chassay meets Samir who lost his brother and two footballing friends
during Israeli rocket and shell attacks on their playing fields
VIDEO - "Life under Israeli occupation.
Testimonies from an occupied land."
DETAILS: A documentary about life in Palestine and more especially in
Nablus, the biggest city of the West Bank.
Surrounded by checkpoints, Nablus has seen during recent years its
unemployment skyrock and more and more people live under poverty line.
The picture in refugee camps is even bleaker.
This is the story of Palestinians and Internationals trying to reach
out to the world to end Israel's collective punishment of the
Poll: Most Israelis Want Gaza Attack to Continue
According to the survey, 52 percent of Israelis favor continuing the
air assault against Hamas targets in the Gaza Strip, though just 19
percent say the Israel Defense Forces should launch an extensive
In contrast, 19 percent of respondents say the government should
negotiate a cease-fire as soon as possible. Nine percent say they had
no opinion or refused to answer.
The Labor Party has emerged the biggest political winner of the war
against Hamas so far, according to the poll.
Labor and its head, Defense Minister Ehud Barak, have made
significant gains, bringing the left-wing to a 60:60 draw against
right-wing and ultra-Orthodox parties.
Just a week ago, before the offensive, the poll gave the right bloc
65 MKs and the left 53 plus two for the Pensioners. While Likud
actually gained support in the past week, it came at the expense of
other right-wing parties.
Labor, on the other hand, is mostly pulling votes away from parties
such as the Pensioners, Meretz and the various environmentalist
According to the survey, conducted Wednesday under the supervision of
Professor Camil Fuchs of Tel Aviv University, if the Knesset
elections were to be held today both of the main blocs would find it
hard to form a government unless one of the parties were to defect to
the rival side.
Just five days into the war, though, Israeli casualties have been
minimal and there is an overall sense that the operation is a
Experience teaches that the poll numbers could change very quickly
with any complication in the fighting. During the first week of the
Second Lebanon War, Prime Minister Ehud Olmert and then defense
minister Amir Peretz enjoyed unprecedented popularity ratings of 75
percent and 80 percent, respectively. Two months later those ratings
fell by about 90 percent.
As expected, Barak and Labor are the main beneficiaries of the war,
for now. The latest poll has added 5 Knesset seats to Labor. Likud
and Kadima gained two and one MK, respectively.
At this stage the war bodes well for the three leading parties. Most
of the public reportedly believes that in time of war it's best to
vote for parties whose candidates are experienced, such as former
chiefs of staff, prime ministers and defense and foreign ministers.
Barak's personal fortunes improved sharply, with 53 percent of poll
respondents expressing satisfaction with his performance (compared to
just 34 percent about six months ago). A larger number, 38 percent,
are dissatisfied with him but that is nevertheless a significant
improvement over the 52 percent disapproval rating of six months ago.
Olmert, too, has gotten a popularity boost, with a 33 percent
popularity rating this week compared to an average of 14 percent
since the Second Lebanon War, about two and a half years ago.
Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni and opposition leader Benjamin Netanyahu
are also getting good grades from the public for their performances
in recent days.
DESPITE MILITARY MIGHT, "ISRAEL" IS A WEAK AND DYING STATE
Editor's Note: In "Judaism Discovered" this writer makes the point
that Orthodox Judaism is self-destructive and depends for its
continuing hold on the minds and hearts of Judaic masses on an
exterior victimizer who will hate and violently resist Judaics, in
perpetuity. This is expressed in an oft-repeated rabbinic maxim
centered on Esau and Jacob.
Without violent resistance and persecution, Orthodox Judaism would
lose the allegiance of the Judaic masses. Zionism is often said to be
inimical to Judaism, but in "Judaism Discovered" I tried to show that
Zionism's secular thesis was reconciled with Judaism's religious
thesis through a synthesis crafted by the 19th century ideologue,
Moses Hess, the remarkable man who Karl Marx called "my Communist
Oren Ben-Dor, Professor of Law at the University of Southampton in
Britain, begins to approach this understanding in the following
essay, where he writes:
"The sublimated Zionist desire to be hated is the fuel of Israel's
unity and self-righteousness. This self-destructive nature...comes
from deep and ancient forces of which Zionism is merely a symptom and
The Self-Defense of Suicide
By Oren Ben-Dor - okbendor@...
January 1 , 2009
Echoing Lebanon 2006, the people of Gaza are being butchered by
murderous pilots of a murderous state. Ground forces will soon
butcher many more. This widely-expected repetition of Israel's large
scale violence is carried out after a long process that was triggered
when Israel unilaterally cleared its settlements and ground presence
from Gaza only to create what has been described as a remote-
controlled human zoo. Israel has maintained total control over
Gaza's borders, its air and sea space, its economy, its electricity,
food and medical supplies.
The people of Gaza have been starved, humiliated and constantly
intimidated. However, whether the withdrawal was well-intended or
not engages little with the reasons rockets are being defiantly shot
at the Israeli towns of Sderot, Ashkelon and Beer Sheva.
Beyond achieving very short term relief from rocket attacks the scale
of Israel's violence is question-begging and thought provoking.
Israel's actions, justified by the "no choice" (ein brera) and "self-
defence" rhetoric, can temporarily put the lid on the volcano of
hatred around Israel and within it but, after the initial shock and
awe, it is surely destined to bring much more violence.
Assassinating individual members of Hamas, even toppling the
organisation, destroying its infrastructure and buildings, will not
destroy the legitimate opposition to the arrogant and self-righteous
Zionist entity. No army, however well equipped and trained, can win
a combat against increasing number of people who no longer have any
reason to care about dying. If there was hatred against Israelis
before the Gaza massacre, the hatred after it will be of a different
order of magnitude.
Given the sure failure of attempts to bring about stability through
violence, intimidation, starvation and humiliation, what, on earth,
is the desire that moves the Israeli state? What, do Israelis
imagine, will be achieved by this massacre? There must be something
which is suppressed here. There must be, for Israelis, some being
and thinking which is preserved, indeed defended, by the pathology of
provoking a permanent state of violence against them. What kind of
self-righteousness conditions this self-destructive desire to be
Gaza itself gives us a clue. Many of the Palestinians who live in
Gaza are descendants of 750,000 refugees who were expelled in 1948
from what is now the Jewish state. Ashkelon is built on the ruins of
the Palestinian village of al-Majdal whose people were expelled in
1948, many to Gaza. Only by such massive ethnic cleansing could a
state with a Jewish majority and character be established. Any just
realisation of the refugees' internationally recognised right of
return would effectively mean the end of the Zionist project. Those
who choose to return would not merely threaten the Jewish majority.
Upon return, they would surely press demands for equal citizenship.
In so doing, they would challenge the foundational discriminatory
premise of the Jewish state, which assigns a different stake in the
state to all those who pass a test of Jewishness, whether they live
in the country or elsewhere. Thus, for the same reason that Israel
discriminates against its own non-Jewish Arab citizens, it will
prevent the return of the refugees.
The proliferation and dominance of the self-defence discourse and its
by-product - the uncritical acceptance of the legitimacy of the
Israeli state - successfully hide the fact that Israel itself is an
apartheid state which is based on an apartheid (separation) premise.
In the name of this apartheid premise, occupation, dispossession and
discrimination affected all Palestinians whether in Gaza, the West
Bank, in Israel itself or indeed all over the world.
Thus, what is in fact being "preserved" is the unwillingness, or
rather the inability, of Israelis to question their own state's
apartheid foundation. The concealing mantra about Hamas's rocket
firing versus Israel's legitimate self-defence cynically conscripts
both the Palestinians of Gaza and the Israelis of Sderot. Shielding
the Jewish state's unwillingness to deal with colonial and racist
Zionism is more important than all of them.
Accepting the right of Israel to securely exist as a Jewish state has
now become the bench mark for political moderation. Obama is already
singing the song. Egalitarian anti-Zionists who challenge that right
readily fail the test. This anti-Zionist voice is inclusive and
moderate. It insists that injustices to Palestinians stem from the
very premise of statehood that Israel is based upon. Injustices to
Palestinians encompass the whole of historic Palestine in a way which
cannot be partitioned so that they become visible only in the
territories, including Gaza, which Israel occupied in 1967. Let us,
then, break the idle chatter about self-defence that merely levels
"criticisms" against Israel but by that legitimises it: the origin of
the violence in Gaza is intimately linked to the manner the Israeli
state came into being and to the continuing toleration of the
apartheid premise at its very essence. Israel should not
be "reformed" or "condemned" but replaced with a single egalitarian
structure over all historic Palestine.
Israel needs a continuing cycle of violence. As long as this cycle
is provoked through daily oppression, Israelis can sustain that haven
in which they can unite behind their inability to examine their
apartheid mentality. Violence maintains a zone in which that
existential threat of old stifles any possibility for genuine empathy
and egalitarian self-reflection. At the same time, violence is a
necessary means for entrenching the purported legitimacy of what is
claimed to be the only alternative to this violence. That alternative
is no other than the "surprisingly" failing, "sane," "reasonable"
and "moderate peace process" towards two states, a process which aims
to legitimise the apartheid state once and for all. The discourse
has been hijacked in such a way that the urgent calls for the
immediate cessation of violence resuscitate that non-starter, the
essentially unjust two states project that will ensure the
continuation of violence.
Alas, the pathology of generating violence against oneself, violence
that suspends reflection on the core apartheid, succeeds only at the
price of generating enormous hatred. The Israeli pathology will
bring about, stealthily and fatefully, that which the Israelis fear
most. There is indeed "no choice" for the nationalistic project of
the eternal victims but to commit suicide with those whom they
The sublimated Zionist desire to be hated is the fuel of Israel's
unity and self-righteousness. This self-destructive nature,
concealed as a desire for self defense, comes from deep and ancient
forces of which Zionism is merely a symptom and a hint. That which
preserves these self-destructive forces ensures that the eternal
victims' apartheid nationalistic project will be a fleeting
phenomenon. When arrested in mere nationalism, the primordial victim
mentality self-preserves by generating collective suicide of that
nationalistic project. The self-defence of suicide points out the
uniqueness of the Israeli apartheid. Both the no-choice and the self-
defence rhetoric contain a chilling chronicle of suicide foretold.
Despite its military might, Israel is a weak and dying state that
desires to destroy itself. The most powerful nations in the world
assist this suicidal process and this fact calls for urgent
Oren Ben-Dor grew up in Israel and teaches Legal and Political
Philosophy at the School of Law, University of Southampton, UK.
And what reason have you that you should not fight in the way of Allah and of those who, being weak, are ill-treated(and oppressed) ?- Men, women, and children, whose cry is: "Our Lord! Rescue us from this town, whose people are oppressors; and (give us) raise for us from thee one who will protect; and raise for us from thee one who will help!
:Those who believe fight in the way of Allah, and those who disbelieve fight in the way of the Shaitan. Fight therefore against the friends of the Shaitan; surely the strategy of the Shaitan (devil) is weak. (Ayah-75-75 Sura Nisa)
From: Sadaqathullah khan [mailto:]
Sent: Saturday, January 03, 2009 5:41 PM
Subject: Fwd: Gaza : What can I, as a Muslim, do?
What can we do about the slaughter of Muslims in Palestine and around the world? What is our stance concerning the slaughter of Muslims in Palestine and other parts of the world that is happening right now, where houses are being destroyed, farms are being wrecked, children are being killed, the wounded are being detained in the streets, houses are being bombarded and people are being prevented by the Jews and others, from buying the food and drink that they need? What can I, as a Muslim, do?
Praise be to Allaah.
1- You have to make du'aa', and recite du'a' al-qunoot in your salaah (prayer).
2- Collect charity and send it through trustworthy channels.
3- Support the weak and oppressed in all ways, including the media and the internet.
4- Get scholars, daa'iyahs, khateebs and writers to explain the oppression that is happening and the negligence on the part of the ummah, and to mobilize the ummah to defend the holy places.
5- Check on one's own intentions with regard to fighting for the sake of Allaah, and see whether he is applying the hadeeth of the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him): "Whoever dies without having fought for the sake of Allaah or having had the intention of doing so, has died following one of the branches of hypocrisy." (Saheeh Muslim, no. 3533)
6- Pursuing all the means of building up material and moral strength, in preparation for meeting the enemy (in battle).
7- Reminding oneself and others of the virtues of martyrdom for the sake of Allaah and studying the rulings on jihad, and not having an attachment to this world.
8- Doing as much damage as possible to the enemies who are in a state of war with us, by boycotting their products, attacking them verbally and in writing to humiliate and annoy them, and to point out their kufr and shirk, and their insults to Allaah, His Messenger and the believers, publishing as much as possible in the audio-visual and print media about this serious topic whilst also connecting that to Islamic belief and the words of Allaah and His Messenger,
We ask Allaah the Exalted and All-Powerful to support His religion and cause His word to prevail.
Sheikh Muhammed Salih Al-Munajjid
http://www.islamqa. com/en/ref/ 21284/
FATWAS Islamic Rulings
http://www.fatwa- online.com/ news/0020221. htm
Shaykh 'Abdul-'Azeez Aal ash-Shaykh:
"Indeed waging war against the weak Muslims in Palestine is (Israeli) terrorism and oppression.
...today the Muslim Ummah was passing through a severe phase which requires it to take a close look (at itself) so that it can become a single Ummah defending and protecting it's 'aqeedah".
http://www.fatwa- online.com/ news/0020414. htm
Shaykh Saalih ibn Fowzaan:
"It is obligatory upon the Muslims to make supplication for their Muslim brothers and to assist them with wealth. To assist them with wealth and supplication, this is what is obligatory, and this is what will benefit them."
http://www.fatwa- online.com/ fataawa/worship/ jihaad/jih003/ 0020406_1. htm
Shaykh Ibn Baaz:
"It has been confirmed to us by trustworthy and reliable witnesses that the Palestinian intifaadhah (uprising) and those who have stood forth in this are from the most dedicated Muslims there, and that their jihaad is (an) Islaamic (one). This is because they are oppressed by the Jews, and that which is obligatory upon them is to protect their religion and themselves and their families and children and to drive out their enemy from their land with all they are able to of strength."
http://www.fatwa- online.com/ fataawa/worship/ jihaad/jih003/ 0020404_1. htm
Shaykh Ibn Baaz:
"Certainly, the Muslim(s) feel much pain and great sadness at the deteriorating situation in Palestine, with matters going from bad to worse, escalating in complexity as the days pass, such that it has reached where it has (today).
...and that which is worth mentioning here, is that the Palestinian issue is an Islaamic issue from the beginning (right through) to the end."
For further fataawa regarding Palestine
http://www.fatwa- online.com/ worship/jihaad/ jih003/index. htm
PLEASE NOTE: Terrorism is prohibited in Islaam, and these fataawa do not in any way or form imply it's permissibility or acceptance. Rather, they provide qualified Islaamic legal rulings from the recognised Senior Scholars of Islaam to oppose those who have caused oppression by occupying Palestinian land.
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