Saturday, August 02, 2014

The Vision Of Hamas

MoveOn once was an organization devoted entirely to economic justice and closely related issues, a critical effort in the midst of ever-greater concentration of wealth in the hands of the 1%.  But no good "progressive" can resist the temptation to oppose the one successful national liberation movement in the Middle East.

The e-mail seemed evenhanded enough, expressing concern for "Israeli and Egyptian security concerns and the Israeli-Egyptian economic blockade of 1.8 million human beings - mostly women and children - in Gaza." It urged signatures for a petition calling on Secretary of State John Kerry to ramp up his effort at securing a cease-fire in the region.

But the organization's objective became clearer when it pleaded for "ending the economic blockade (of) 1.8 million human beings, mostly women and children, in Gaza."  Adult males do not matter.  And memories, apparently, are quite short. For the benefit of MoveON and other apparent amnesiacs, we return to August, 2005 when

More than 1,000 Israelis made a defiant stand Thursday in the synagogues of two Jewish settlements in the Gaza Strip, confronting their own soldiers with rudimentary arsenals of household items in a final attempt to prevent their evacuation from land they believe was promised to them by God.

The standoffs came as Israeli soldiers moved swiftly to clear communities that have been most opposed to the Gaza evacuation. After a day of emotional encounters around kitchen tables and in places of worship, Israeli officials said 17 of Gaza's 21 settlements had been emptied, with agreements in place to evacuate two others.

In perhaps the most dramatic moment of the highly unusual military operation to end Israel's nearly four-decade presence in the coastal strip, Israeli troops stormed the synagogue in Kfar Darom over the course of a sweltering afternoon.

Using water cannons and cranes, Israeli forces broke through barricades of tables lashed together with rope, coils of razor wire and a hail of rocks, paint-filled light bulbs and what military officials said was acid thrown by scores of settlers holding out on the roof. Dozens of commandos, climbing ladders and being lowered onto the roof inside shipping containers, took more than three hours to clear the building.

That extraordinary- probably historically unprecedented- generosity in violently uprooting its own citizens in order to transfer a small amount of land to an enemy now qualifies as exceedingly foolish.  Israeli soldiers and settlers alike were by their own government's hands eliminated from the Gaza Strip, which its new owners assured the world would become a viable, independent state.  At that time, Charles Krauthammer reminisces,

... there was no blockade. On the contrary. Israel wanted this new Palestinian state to succeed. To help the Gaza economy, Israel gave the Palestinians its 3,000 greenhouses that had produced fruit and flowers for export. It opened border crossings and encouraged commerce.

The whole idea was to establish the model for two states living peacefully and productively side by side. No one seems to remember that, simultaneous with the Gaza withdrawal, Israel dismantled four smaller settlements in the northern West Bank as a clear signal of Israel’s desire to leave the West Bank as well and thus achieve an amicable two-state solution.

This is not ancient history. This was nine years ago.

And how did the Gaza Palestinians react to being granted by the Israelis what no previous ruler, neither Egyptian, nor British, nor Turkish, had ever given them — an independent territory? First, they demolished the greenhouses. Then they elected Hamas. Then, instead of building a state with its attendant political and economic institutions, they spent the better part of a decade turning Gaza into a massive military base, brimming with terror weapons, to make ceaseless war on Israel.

Where are the roads and rail, the industry and infrastructure of the new Palestinian state? Nowhere. Instead, they built mile upon mile of underground tunnels to hide their weapons and, when the going gets tough, their military commanders. They spent millions importing and producing rockets, launchers, mortars, small arms, even drones.

There was, as the cliche has it, method behind the madness.  The Covenant of the Islamic Resistance Movement (the Hamas Covenant) of 1988 asks "Arab countries surrounding Israel" to "open their borders before the fighters from among the Arab and Islamic nations so that they could consolidate their efforts with those of their Moslem brethren in Palestine." The Islamic Resistance Movement, the Covenant asserts, "strives to raise the banner of Allah over every inch of Palestine" because "Israel will exist and will continue to exist until Islam will obliterate it."

As if to assure everyone their motivation goes far beyond Palestinian aspirations for a homeland, the Covenant refers to "Israel, Judaism,and Jews" as "cowards" who must "never sleep."

The actions of the government of Benjamin Netanyahu may not have been wisely crafted to achieve the goals of eliminating rocket fire from the Gaza Strip into Israel and destroying the underground tunnels designed to enhance the objective of obliterating citizens of a sovereign state.  But organizations like MoveOn which believe Hamas would like to end the economic blockade of Gaza in order to uplift the well-being and quality of life of the residents are living in a world of their own making, one in which no one but Islamic fundamentalists may apply (cartoon below by Ivarjfeld from August, 2013).

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