Hamas the terrorist group?

The newspapers are filled with stories about the latest battle in the Arab-Israeli war, which started in 1948 but somehow is presented in our media as a fresh conflict.  Hamas is described as a terrorist organization that has somehow occupied various buildings and rocket-launching sites throughout Gaza.  In fact, Hamas is the legitimately elected government of all of the Palestinians, having won 76 out of 132 seats in a 2006 election (the Fatah party won only 43), as its Wikipedia article explains.  Despite a military conflict with Fatah in 2007 (wikipedia), which resulted in the loss of power in the West Bank, Hamas supposedly remains the popular choice of the average Palestinian and overwhelming the choice of Gazans when it comes to political representation.

We don’t have to like what Hamas advocates or Hamas’s army does, but we should have the courage to accept their authority to speak and act for the Palestinians.

[Hamas is actually delivering on its campaign promises, which is more than most of us Americans can say for our politicians.  Hamas promises in its charter to “raise the banner of Allah over every inch of Palestine” and to fight against Jews (they can’t be fighting against the state of Israel because they don’t recognize the existence of the state of Israel and certainly they aren’t fighting against the 20 percent of Israelis who are Arab).]

6 Comments

  1. James Robertson

    January 4, 2009 @ 10:43 pm

    1

    They deserve the same amount of respect that the political party that controlled Germany in the 1930’s deserved – they too were legally elected.

    Democracy is a system; it doesn’t automatically generate worthwhile results.

  2. Brad Templeton

    January 5, 2009 @ 12:14 am

    2

    Well, we do get a lot of arguments about what the definition of terrorism is, but with many of the definitions, there is no reason a government could not use terrorist means and thus be a terrorist government.

    The definition I use for terrorism is “Engaging in violence against civilian targets to sew terror among civilians.” This is distinguished from violence against military targets. More subtly, there are attacks with military targets which kill civilians, and which the attackers know will harm some number of civilians. For me, the key is the purpose. Do the attackers want to attack civilians and strike fear into them?

    Terrorism, in my view, is an artifact of democracy, in that it primarily exists as a weapon when you feel oppressed by a democracy. Only in that case is it worth attacking the people, because the people hold power, and can be thought of as your enemy. Not much point randomly killing civilians inside a dictatorship, and so it doesn’t happen much. (It may be done by those who hope it will make the people rise up against the dictator.)

    However, a lot of people use definitions of terrorism more broad than mine, and all sorts of things get called terrorism. I believe my definition is closer to the original one, and the expansion of the term came because once everybody declares terrorism to be evil, if you can get something called terrorist, you are getting it branded the worst sort of evil.

    Note as well that the attack on the Pentagon and theoretical UA93 attack on the White House were not terrorist acts, even though they involved killing the innocent civilians on the planes, as the goal was not to kill those civilians. (Not that I suspect those bastards cared a lot about that.)

  3. theo

    January 5, 2009 @ 1:55 am

    3

    Why the freaking obsession with mideast flashpoint that the whole world seems to be enjoying in? The news networks are like goading the entire flashpoint to rage on and one can see the secret desires in them to see it boil over. Where is the deflection of attention I don’t get?

  4. Drew

    January 5, 2009 @ 12:15 pm

    4

    Don’t you just like the way the US heralded the Palestinian’s into having “free” elections and reduced funding until it happened. When the elections DID occur: Rice and Bush declared “they made the wrong decision” and promptly cut off all their funding.

    Now we have a bunch of hungry folks with a dim future packed into what amounts to a large parking lot. And we wonder why they are unhappy, fire rockets and blow themselves up. They need jobs and opportunity.

    We don’t have to like Hamas/Fatah, but we do have to treat them as the voice of the people.

    I don’t think we’re gonna like the end results of the democracy of Iraq either.

  5. vladi

    January 6, 2009 @ 5:59 am

    5

    Hamas is a terrorist organization and should be destroyed.
    Take a look the list of attacks “democratic” Hamas launched against Israel only in 2008

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_rocket_and_mortar_attacks_in_Israel_in_2008

  6. philg

    January 6, 2009 @ 11:02 am

    6

    Vladi: There is nothing that says a democratically elected government cannot behave violently (certainly the U.S. government has engaged in its share of military operations). In the case of Hamas, behaving violently is one of the things that they promised potential voters. As far as labeling them a “terrorist organization”, the point of my original posting was that it implies that they are renegades, acting in conflict with the interests of the average resident of Gaza. In fact, the average resident of Gaza voted for Hamas and Hamas is doing what it promised to do. Hamas has a more legitimate claim to political power than 95 percent of Arab rulers, very few of whom were elected. Given that Hamas’s stated goal is the destruction of “the Zionist entity”, we shouldn’t be surprised that Israel fights back, but that should be possible without pretending that Hamas lacks support among Gazans.

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