Friday, October 30, 2009

Hamas: a short eyewitness account...

Thanks to a friendly progressive Zionist (they exist!) and recent Aliyah who comments on my blog and quickly became a pen pal, I was introduced via email to a young Palestinian woman, Dalia El Massri from Khan Younis (Gaza). We agreed to exchange views with the possible goal of publishing some of her opinions and experiences as a Gazan on my and other blogs.

And because there probably isn't a single Palestine-related subject about which more rubbish, propaganda and misinformation is being peddled than about Hamas I decided to dedicate my first volley of questions to Dalia's perception of Hamas. Here's the result of this short interview:

Q: We are told by anti-Hamas sources that the Hamas government is deeply anti-democratic, anti-liberal and in essence totalitarian in nature. And because most of us in the pro-Palestinian camp are 'liberals', 'left-leaning' or whatever you want to call it, it would be troublesome to support such a movement. But is it true?

A: Well, while Hamas came into the political scene by 100% democratic elections, it did not maintain a 100% democratic attitude but it's sure not a dictatorship. I can say that Hamas has some breaches here and there but in all its way much better than Egypt and Jordan or any other Arab country.

One thing that I found excessive is that in public school girls above 13 years old were asked/obligated this year to wear the uniform which includes head cover and long dress (the head cover is not fair on the Christian minority), but Hamas never imposed women in the street or in public institutions (except schools) to anything.

Hamas plays favors for its won members and supporters to a degree, but regarding the national security services the situation got much better, prior to Hamas being elected anyone could kill anyone in the street and the police members would just stand by without moving a finger.

Q: It was rumoured a few months back that Hamas had instituted Sharia Law by parliamentary decree. Is that true?

A: Hamas did not and could institute any law under the actual situation (Parliament is not fully complete because some Hamas PMs and Fatah PMs live in the West bank and could not participate/vote) but Hamas did discuss Shariah Law in a Parliament session. That cannot not be held against Hamas in the national street since Hamas is known as an Islamic and not a secular movement and that's why it was elected in the first place. But but looking at the real situation on the ground Shariah Law has poor chances to be instituted in Gaza.

Q: Also from the pro-Zionist camp reach us reports about Hamas harassing Christian Palestinians, but independent corroboration of those statements isn't available, at least not to me.

A: About the Palestinian Christians issue, I can say that Hamas is not harassing them, not now, not ever, they get the same treatment as any other Palestinians. My husband has Christian co-workers and they never expressed any complaints.

Q: Then there's the issue of 'human shields', in which Hamas fighters stand accused of using innocent civilians for their own protection. What is your take on this?

A: The human shields controversy is not how the pro-Israel media describes it. Hamas members did not hide behind people nor forced any civilian to be in a shooting/fighting area. What Hamas did is to jeopardize civilian lives by launching rockets from inhabited areas, but the IDF could spot resistance members in open areas easily so they had to resort to crowded areas. I found that inappropriate thing to do in the last winter war, and I think it's unjustified in anyway to endanger civilians.

But the IDF was already targeting civilians: hospitals, schools and mosques during prayer time were hit. The idea of the IDF using "The Human Shields" argument is compete nonsense, it's only their cover-up story for hitting civilians.

Q: Finally, there's the problem of Hamas' Charter, which can only be described as deeply anti-Semitic. Yet the leadership declares often that its fight is with the Occupiers, not with the Jews. Do you think Hamas' attitude towards Israel is one of anti-Semitism? We must not confound feeling hatred towards the Occupiers with anti-Semitism (hatred of Jews in general). And we must not be guided by anti-Semitism either: we cannot fight racism with racism...

A: Hamas has mixed reactions towards Jews and Anti-Semitism as the rest of the nation. Gazans (Fatah and Hamas supporters) sometimes confuse between Jews, Israelis and Zionists. Jews are our cousins, we are Semites too, the educated Gazans understand this fact but some ignorant people think that to be Jewish means to be Zionist. And so, yes the latter hate Jews in general just because they put them in the rank of the occupier but not because of their ethnic background. I could not be particular about Hamas here and talked about Gazans in general since this is a national issue.


At 7:57 AM, Blogger Frank Partisan said...

I think Hamas is reactionary. That doesn't mean that there is not contradictions. I'm not going to get into, they did this, and this, and that. Overall they are the right of the Palestinians.

Very good interview. Honest assessment.

At 2:43 PM, Blogger Gert said...

The 'Rightwing' of the Palestinian body politic? Maybe. But that's not why they got voted in, I'm sure of that...


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