Who are Hamas? What do they want?

23 Dec
Israel is killing children at a historic rate, is killing aunprecedented number of journalists, and is starving half a million civilians while raining military explosives on a giant concentration camp. No part of this is complicated. No part of this is two-sided.
Caitlin JohnstoneAt This Point We Have To Always Assume Israel Is Lying Until Proven Otherwise
I hear virtually no one saying, demanding of Hamas, that it stop hiding behind civilians, that it lay down its arms, that it surrender. How can it be that there are no demands made of the aggressor, and only demands made of the victim? 1
US Secretary of State, Anthony Blinken
The answer to Blinken’s question is is that the vast majority of the world’s population correctly sees the United States and Israel as the aggressors, and the population of Gaza, which is being bombed, starved and massacred, as the victims of imperialist violence.
WSWS: United Nations reports Israeli forces are carrying out mass summary executions in Gaza

Since October 7 we can take it that anyone, no matter what patch of Marshall Mcluhan’s global village they call home, is familiar with the word, Hamas. But in understanding it, Westerners are disadvantaged by the combined effect of two things. One is that, for reasons set out here and here, even corporate media more or less trustworthy on matters which do not impact critically on oligarchic interests become markedly less so on matters which do. 2

The other is that, for reasons set out here, Israel and Palestine fall into the latter category. 3 In seeking to understand Hamas, therefore, corporate media are of strictly limited use.

So I’m grateful to a steel city reader who alerted me a week ago to a 17 minute video. It draws on the analytic work of Tareq Baconi, author of Hamas Contained: The Rise and Pacification of Palestinian Resistancenope: I haven’t read it – and was posted by Al Jazeera, 4 a valuable source on many things but compromised by Qatari ownership on matters affecting the Emirate. One such is Syria, where the Emir’s hatred of the Assads is transparent to those who grasp the antipathy between the “Arab socialism” which is Ba’athism, and the Islamism of the Muslim Brotherhood. Another is Hamas, whose Brotherhood origins, and Qatar’s backing of the same, mean we need as ever to adopt a scepticism too often confused with cynicism.

All the same, Hamas Explained is head and shoulders above the standard – a low bar I grant you – of Western media offerings:

* * *

  1. On December 20 the Huffington Post reported on US officials lobbying Switzerland – custodians of the Geneva Conventions on conduct during war – to waive application of the same to Israel’s genocide in Gaza.
  2. “… corporate media more or less trustworthy on matters that do not impact critically on oligarchic interests become markedly less so on matters that do”. Our ‘quality’ media build up credibility by their candour on matters, even ones embarrassing to power, which do not critically undermine said power. This bank of credibility is then freely drawn down on matters – like going to war – where dissent is less easily tolerated.
  3. One measure of the horrors in Gaza, and Israel’s contempt for international law, is that some corporate media are allowing journalists and editors to condemn Israel. But those media have spent decades assuring us that, unlike Apartheid South Africa, the so-called “Jewish State” and “Palestine Problem” are, like the Emperor’s suit, way too complex for “simplistic” judgment. What’s more, even in the current climate of partial condemnation of the IDF, it is de rigeur  to preface with condemnation of Hamas.
  4. A warning below the YouTube video notes that “Al Jazeera is funded in whole or in part by the Qatari government.”  By contrast, videos on Hamas by the BBC get this label: “BBC is a British public broadcast service”.  By such means, many of them barely perceptible, is the Western public brainwashed into the deep rooted and barely conscious assumption – in defiance of 500 years and Not Out of colonial and neocolonial savagery – that West is Best.

2 Replies to “Who are Hamas? What do they want?

  1. Just finished reading ‘Inside Hamas – the untold story of the militant Islamic movement’ by Zaki Chehab, which was published in 2007. Chehab (a Palestinian born in Lebanon post-1948) is a secularist and is by no means “pro Hamas” in that he doesn’t buy their religious ideology, but the last paragraph of his book reads as follows:

    “The facts on the ground are that, whatever Hamas’ political fortunes, they are not just going to melt into the background, nor will any military action succeed in eradicating them. The idea that the Israeli army could destroy Hamas by rolling in the tanks and raining down the missiles brings to mind a chilling American comment during the Vietnam War: ‘We destroyed that village in order to save it.’ This strategy did not work in Vietnam and it will not work with Hamas. Hamas is not some alien guerrilla force. It is someone’s brother, neighbour, or the guy who gives your son money for his education. For as long as these people represent the Palestinian people at the ballot box, the West and any future Palestinian Authority will have to accept it for what it is – and negotiate with Hamas.”

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