Commentary Magazine


Harmless Hamas

So it turns out that Hamas is a much misunderstood movement and if you really knew more about them, you’d almost want to be governed by them: this at least according to William Sieghart, the director of Forward Thinking, a London outfit devoted to engaging organizations considered beyond the pale. Sieghart’s revelation of Hamas as a decent bunch of well behaved administrators (community organizers, anyone?) appeared in the Times of London a few days ago, and joins the chorus of Western apologists  looking to give cover to the Gaza branch of the Muslim Brotherhood. Clearly, Sieghart did not get the memo about the recent legislation Hamas introduced in Gaza, barely a week before launching its rocket war against Israel, that imposes Koranic punishments on offenders – hand amputation to thieves, flogging to those who are caught drinking alcohol or selling it, and the like. He is also, clearly, a liar:

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.

Obviously, he has never heard of the Oslo Process, the Clinton Parameters, the Road Map, and the countless speeches, statements, declarations and press conferences given by European leaders and American presidents in favour of a two state solution. He has also ignored all those Israeli leaders’ statements clarifying Israeli support for a two- state solution as a matter of national interest. What more commitment does one want?

But the most puzzling bit of his silly article is the claim that Hamas – an Islamist movement and an affiliate of the Muslim Brotherhood – was not elected for its ideology and the ways it practices Islam, but because it would deliver good governance. So what? Fascists were always fond of saying that under Mussolini trains ran on time. Do people need a dictatorship to see that? What the Hamas victory meant was that Palestinians did not mind an oppressive, intolerant, and fundamentalist regime in control of their lives. They are now living the outcome of their choice and, as democracies go, they, and not Israelis, are responsible for their leadership’s recklessness. Besides, if this is what Hamas was really elected for – clean streets and good governance – launching a suicidal war against Israel and doing nothing in the last 18 months to improve the lot of their people shows that they failed the mandate supposedly given them by the Palestinian electorate.