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Genevieve Cora Fraser: Hamas - Thumbs Up or Down?

Hamas - Thumbs Up or Down?

By Genevieve Cora Fraser

Sam Bahour's article "Hamas Forced to Collapse" was not only timely, coming out shortly before the April 18th Tel Aviv suicide bombing, his points were well taken, though I dispute the title of his piece. As he states, Hamas is beginning to show an impressive pragmatism, but the West is not interested.

Bahour, who is a Palestinian-American businessman living in Ramallah, cites The Observer's (UK) recent report that a member of the Palestinian Legislative Council stated that Hamas had moved into a "new era" which did not require suicide attacks. "One would think this is good news, especially after the death and destruction such bombing caused," Bahour speculates. "This, one would imagine, should be even better news for Israel and the U.S. given they both have continuously linked such bombings to the reason that the never-ending peace process was unable to actually reach its destination, peace."

"But cautious optimism was not the case," Bahour reports. "Instead, the U.S. wasted no time in dehumanizing the newly elected Palestinian parliamentarians and cabinet ministers." Bahour then goes on to recite the list of sanctions the West has imposed since the election - "a cessation of funding to the Palestinian government and a request for all other countries of the world to follow suit. Then Israel severed all Israeli bank ties with the Palestinian banking system, government related and non-government related. Only yesterday was a U.S. Department of Treasury decree making it illegal for Americans to do business with the Palestinian government. We wait to see tomorrow’s nooses."

Not only has the West forced Palestine into a humanitarian crisis, "the greater fear is that if the U.S. and Israel are successful in collapsing the Hamas government and Hamas in turn decides to abandoned democratic means to express itself, we will be back where we started from, suicide bombings killing innocents and setting the agenda from outside any known political framework."

And then came the Tel Aviv bombing. The responses to the suicide attack were as might be predicted. The West and Israel and the Arab League doing business with the West condemned the attack but then turned their collective rage on Hamas who stated simply it was an act of self defense, though it was Islamic Jihad who claimed responsibility.

"We are not a great power who can confront the planes and missiles of the occupation, but our people have the will and the right to defend themselves and to confront as much as they can the arrogance of the occupation," Hamas Interior Minister Saeed Seyam stated. Those in support of Palestine echoed his assertion claiming that the suicide bombing came as a result of Israeli policy, especially those of the last two months, as well as their non-stop attacks, killings and sealing off of Gaza since the election in January. What is the difference if the delivery system of the bombs is by plane, by tank or on foot, some ask.

The BBC spoke of Hamas maintaining their pariah status with their response to the bombing and their claim "to what they call their right to resist." OK. Let's pause for a moment and take a deep breath. Isn't the BBC and comparable media, the West and their Arab enforcers being disingenuous? All people have the right to resist - especially a brutal occupation. It is amazing to watch as Western powers (which includes Israel) disregard international law as they pursue their Imperialistic agendas while systematically denying the protected rights of others - especially when they resist their deadly embrace.

On July 4, 1776 the American Declaration of Independence announced to the world that not only are all men created equal but that "when a long train of abuses and usurpations, pursuing invariably the same object, evinces a design to reduce them under absolute despotism, it is their right, it is their duty, to throw off such government, and to provide new guards for their future security." Consider Hamas to be the agent determined to overthrow Israel-America's despotic rule over Palestine.

Perhaps President Bush, his administration and Congress need to re-read the Bill of Rights to the American Constitution on which many international laws are based. How can we uphold these rights for ourselves while denying them to others. Among these rights are the (II) Right to keep and bear arms; and (IV) the Right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures. Number (VI) is the Right to a speedy trial and witnesses; (VII) is the Right to a trial by jury. And(VIII) prohibits excessive bail, excessive fines and "imposing cruel and unusual punishments." When it comes to Israel's treatment of the Palestinians they flunk on all counts and so does the West by financing and supporting Israel's unending crimes against humanity.

Returning to the issue of the April 18th bombing, instead of serving to collapse Hamas, the incident might prove to be a turning point in their favor. Though the Palestinian Authority is teetering and might fall because of the Western monetary boycott, Hamas might weather the storm and grow and solidify their position.

Since the election, Fatah and other resistance organizations have maintained support for Palestinian President Abbas in defiance of Hamas. But contrary to their expectations Abbas immediately condemned the bombing as America and Israel would insist that he do - calling it a despicable act. (As a humanist, I personally offer my deepest condolences to the bereaved.) But Fatah, instead of supporting their leader, turned on Abbas and demanded an apology. Why can't Abbas uphold our internationally recognized rights as Hamas does, they asked? A good question and one that the people knew the answer to as soon as it was asked.

Abbas is a Western proxy. Despite what may be his good intentions, on the whole he does not represent Palestinian interests. Some may see this as a good thing because Palestine needs to keep at least one oar in Western real politiks. But Hamas has set out to accomplish a different task - to unite the country in demanding that the world recognize Palestine and their rights that the West seems determined to ignore. Today, many in Palestine that were angry at the Hamas victory - despite the hardships they face - may be looking at Hamas with fresh eyes.

Meanwhile Israel has retaliated against the family of the suicide bomber, who dedicated his martyrdom to the 7,000 Palestinian prisoners which includes hundreds of children, and has stepped up their attacks on militant strongholds. But I doubt that Israel wants to risk Hamas renouncing their truce and upping the ante to full scale attacks. The ace that Palestinians hold is tragically that they have nothing left to loose. Whereas if "outside forces" which to date Hamas has kept in check come to join the fight and Hamas' militant arm gears up for action, Olmert's government might risk collapse more than Hamas.

Israelis do not like others to do to them what they have done to others. On the whole, they would prefer that Palestine and Israel go their separate ways - and pronto before they too must suffer. Some are even willing to return to the 1967 borders, as Hamas insists. But if Israel chooses to live by the sword, it might die by the sword. Isn't it time for Israel to heed the words from the Bible and turn their arms into plowshares and pruning hooks and send in their teachers and not their soldiers. Hamas is willing to extend the olive branch and declare an indefinite truce, but first, Israel must recognize Palestine's Right to Exist.


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