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hello HAMAS


jana
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the BBC had something called 'the doha debates' recently, after the palestinian elections. i don't know how well publicised they were but i hadn't heard of them (which is not suprpising given my schedule for the last few weeks). later i discovered, they're quite well known. they have a website: www.thedohadebates.com. there are some very interesting stuff there.

 

but i digress. i caught the most recent one: on the legitimacy of the HAMAS. supporting the HAMAS were stanley cohen (lawyer) and dr. mahmoud mohamedou (academic). against the hamas were salim mansur (academic) and david frum (ex-special assistant to president george bush).

 

it was FASCINATING. frum and mansur went on and on about the HAMAS being a terrorist organisation and how the people of palestine should understand their decisions have consequences. there was something desperately patronising about their tone. after all, who are mansur and frum and the rest of the 'First World' to assume that the palestinians don't know what they're doing. their other point was that electing the HAMAS was going to entirely destabilise the middle east. there may be some truth in that.

 

at one level, it's very simple: whatever the HAMAS might be, they've run for election and won fair and square. which means they are the voice of the people. whether or not america and israel like them is not the point. but how unwarranted are the international community's concerns that this is a terrorist organisation that is fiercely and militaristically anti-israel? and are those concerns serious enough to deny the palestinians the small slice of democracy they've finally got?

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I haven't seen the debates, however, I don't agree that this is simple, at any level. Yes, Hamas won the election. And I think that in the past Hamas has definitely been a terrorist organization and very much committed to the destruction of Israel, by whatever means. But that was before Hamas had any legitimate power. With legitimate power comes a higher level of responsibility, does it not?

 

I also disagree that it is patronizing in itself to speculate that not all Palestinians may not understand the consequences of their decisions. Did every woman in South Dakota who voted Republican in 2000 and/or 2004 understand that the consequences of her vote may be that she, or her daughter, or her granddaughter might be forced to bear a child of rape or of incest? Did everyone who voted for Nader in 2000 understand that the consequences of his or her vote would be 8 years of George Bush as President? I suspect that there are quite a few Palestinians who voted for Hamas as some sort of "statement" who are now really rather shocked that Hamas is now representing them. I rather think it has come as something of a huge shock to Hamas itself.

 

I think that self-determination (as opposed to "democracy", as they are not entirely the same thing) is going to be very much the trend of the Aquarian Age, as opposed to the virtually automatic deferral to patriarchal figures such as kings, emperors, popes, dictators (including "presidents" functioning as dictators) etc, which prevailed in the age of Pisces. And it's going to have some of the same effects as families in which "Daddy" is suddenly no longer in charge. It can be very sobering to suddenly have the responsibilities that come along with power. Or not.

 

I think that the way Hamas chooses to deal with its newfound powers and responsibilities should dictate the way the international community, and that very much includes all of its neighbors in the Middle East, responds to it.

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well, here's the thing.

 

first of all, the HAMAS has definitely been elected to power and with a resounding majority. they are indeed a terrorist organisation but then there's that old argument - one man's terrorist is another man's freedom fighter.

 

but it's not just that the HAMAS has been elected. it's also that they are willing to 'soften' their stand. for instance, they've distanced themselves from al quaeda and said that the HAMAS will take it's own decisions keeping in mind the needs of the palestinian people and not follow someone else's agenda. now that is a pretty big step.

 

however, to expect them to become amicable towards israel is expecting the impossible. let's not forget that it is their attitude towards israel (for the most part) that has got them the votes it has.

 

agreed that not every person voting knows what consequences their decisions may have, but that applies for everything. we don't know the future. we cannot predict how someone else will react and what decisions they will take. however, my point is that in an election you know the planks upon which the candidates stand. you know what you're voting for. you may be voting for part of a candidate's mandate - which was perhaps the reasoning behind a lot of the floating electorate that voted for bush - but you know what the other part is. the palestinian people know HAMAS pretty well - both as the suicide bombers and also as social workers. there is something in them that makes a majority believe that these people are their representatives.

 

i think to ignore that is disrespectful, and that is basically what the first world is doing. the problem with HAMAS, so far as the first world is concerned (in my opinion), is that they will not be puppets for anyone. you can't make them into an effective colony and they certainly will not toe a line favouring israel. british soldiers can't camp out there and american military bases won't thrive there like they do in most of the parts of the middle east that the first world is comfortable with. it seems to me that it is this desire to control that is fuelling the opposition to the HAMAS.

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"well, here's the thing." ?!?

 

Ahem, WHOSE thing? If your "thing" is to advocate unquestioning acceptance of HAMAS, just because it was elected with a resounding majority that may be fine for you, but, that is NOT MY "thing", any more than I feel obligated to respect South Dakota's state law regarding abortion just because THAT was passed legally. I have as big a problem with HAMAS terrorist tactics as I have always had with the terrorist arm of the IRA. There IS no one thing, there is, as usual, more than one point of view, and every point of view is tainted with self-interest, isn't it? And also colored by personal experience?

 

but it's not just that the HAMAS has been elected. it's also that they are willing to 'soften' their stand. for instance, they've distanced themselves from al quaeda and said that the HAMAS will take it's own decisions keeping in mind the needs of the palestinian people and not follow someone else's agenda. now that is a pretty big step.

Is it? I think "distancing" themselves from al quaeda is just a very obvious attempt to placate the U.S. And every politician in the world claims to be keeping in mind the needs of their people and no politician ever admits to following someone else's agenda. I frankly don't give much of a rat's ass about the rhetoric. HAMAS can choose to continue to try to destroy Israel by violent and overt means, or not. We'll see. I DO think they deserve the chance to prove themselves, one way or the other.

 

. there is something in them that makes a majority believe that these people are their representatives. . .

i think to ignore that is disrespectful, and that is basically what the first world is doing.

But why should the first world respect HAMAS just because the Palestinians voted for them any more than the world should respect George Bush because the Americans voted for HIM?

 

Whether or not the first world respects HAMAS will have a lot to do with what HAMAS chooses to actually do now that they have attained power.

 

the problem with HAMAS, so far as the first world is concerned (in my opinion), is that they will not be puppets for anyone. you can't make them into an effective colony and they certainly will not toe a line favouring israel. british soldiers can't camp out there and american military bases won't thrive there like they do in most of the parts of the middle east that the first world is comfortable with. it seems to me that it is this desire to control that is fuelling the opposition to the HAMAS.

Well, that IS your opinion, Jana. And, since you used "you" in making a pretty accusatory statement, who constitutes "the first world"? You are lumping a whole LOT of people, many of whom hold individual opinions, into that category, aren't you? HAMAS will not be "puppets" for ME, and I can't "make them into an effective colony"? I'm not and have never been an advocate of colonies, "effective" or otherwise. Personally, I don't give a flying f--k whether the Brits or our troops can't "camp out" in Palestine, either.

 

MY problem with HAMAS is that I AM opposed to the destruction of Israel and to the continuing escalation of terrorist violence against civilians, which is what HAMAS has stood for, at least up until now. I AM one of the people who did not believe that anything remotely resembling a peaceful solution to the Israeli/Palestinian conflicts would be possible as long as EITHER Yasser Arafat OR Ariel Sharon were in power. I suspect quite a few people felt that way, and that many of them may have been upset/concerned, whatever, when HAMAS was elected to represent the Palestinians, because HAMAS HAS always presented itself as a terrorist organization.

 

I don't like or respect people who go into restaurants or get on buses and blow up whoever happens to be in them, whatever their political beliefs. And, yes, I support Israel in her fight to exist. I have a LOT of sympathy with people who had whole generations of families wiped out in the holocaust because THEIR trust in the so-called "first world" of their time was tragically misplaced. I am not an American Jew, by the way, but my best friend in grade school was. I was around her house a lot as a child, and her parents were very supportive of Israel. I'm sure that, as well as my studies of European history, has colored my perception of Israel.

 

I read a LOT of first person accounts of the holocaust, written by survivors of the concentration camps, when I was in high school. They were very graphic (I am NOT talking about "The Diary of Anne Frank"), some of them, including the pictures of the dead stacked up like shrunken dummies, and the survivors looking like walking skeletons, and it was very sobering, for a child living in American suburbia. It was also a very, very uncomfortable feeling to think that, had a few things been different, my best little friend's hair, which was long and dark, like mine, could have wound up stuffed into someone's pillow after she had been starved to death or gassed to death.

 

The reason I am personally, not particularly "comfortable" with most parts of the middle east is that I don't fancy the idea of having to wear a burqa or to have to defer to male chauvinists who justify their oppression of women by their religious beliefs. That has to do with being a committed feminist, and not a controlling neo-colonial imperialist, if that is what the "First World", of which I am a member, is supposed to represent. The "First World" is not a monolith, and despite my membership in it, I think I have EVERY right to form my own opinion about anything and everything.

 

If I don't particularly like or trust HAMAS, and I don't, I think I also have every right to express that opinion despite that fact that it could be construed as "disrespect" for the Palestinians' decision. THEY have every right to elect anyone they want to represent themselves. But I don't have to like their choice, or express approval of it, without reservations, just because they made it. Any more than anyone in Europe or the Middle East, or the Indian subcontinent has to like or express approval for the U.S. choice of its president. In the 21st century, many decisions made by many groups of people in many countries can have ramifications outside those countries. So there are going to be comments, questions, complaints, fears, and anxiety about some of those choices.

 

I've edited this post numerous times, to try to make it a little less, what, inflammatory?, but you know, I DO have some very strong personal feelings regarding Israel. I did not have a whole lot of friends as a child, and the ones I DID have were pretty important to me. Also, many of my views and opinions have been shaped as much by what I have READ as what I have seen and experienced personally. The first person accounts of the concentration camps, some of which were written by people who were the same age when they experienced those horrors as I was when I was reading them, left a rather indelible mark.

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Ahem, WHOSE thing?

 

well, my thing actually. it was a turn of phrase used as i would use it conversation. it wasn't intended to be indicative of a diktat that all must obey.

 

Is it? I think "distancing" themselves from al quaeda is just a very obvious attempt to placate the U.S.

 

maybe. that doesn't make it any less important. if anything, if the HAMAS is ready to placate the U.S. that's a huge step away from their terrorist agenda. whatever the reasons for the change in rhetoric, i think it deserves to be listened to. and i wouldn't agree that rhetoric counts for nothing. rhetoric is everything in the democratic system. from election to court martial, everything revolves around the rhetoric one adopts.

 

Well, that IS your opinion, Jana.

 

of course it is. i don't claim to speak for the world. i'm just putting across my understanding of what i see around me. that's as valid as anything else.

 

I DO think they deserve the chance to prove themselves, one way or the other.

 

precisely what i think too. they've been chosen to be the voice of a majority of the people of palestine. they should be legally acknowledged as such. that's all i'm saying.

 

But why should the first world respect HAMAS just because the Palestinians voted for them any more than the world should respect George Bush because the Americans voted for HIM?

 

but there isn't the same level of respect for the HAMAS as there is for bush. no country stood up and said that they refuse to acknowledge george bush and his political party as the leaders of the American nation. whatever anyone might think of the legitimacy of his election, it doesn't change the fact that he is accepted by all to be the president of the united states of america. no one is questioning the legitimacy of the election in palestine but america and her political allies are refusing to recognise the HAMAS' victory. i don't think that is fair.

 

And, since you used "you" in making a pretty accusatory statement, who constitutes "the first world"? You are lumping a whole LOT of people, many of whom hold individual opinions, into that category, aren't you?

 

when i say 'the first world' i refer to the countries traditionally considered under that umbrella - the industrialised capitalist countries with a majority within that group being formed by the NATO countries. and yes, i'm lumping a whole lot of people. it is absolutely impossible to take into account the opinion of every single person.

 

The "First World" is not a monolith, and despite my membership in it, I think I have EVERY right to form my own opinion about anything and everything.

 

absolutely. i wouldn't contest that at all and neither am i doing that. i am however referring to the collective opinion that is expressed by spokespersons of that non-monolithic first world. agreed that they don't take into account every single person's view. however, they are spokespersons, representatives. if they are not truly representative, then that is another matter altogether and one for internal debate within a country. the fact is they come out before the rest of the world as representatives.

 

I don't like or respect people who go into restaurants or get on buses and blow up whoever happens to be in them, whatever their political beliefs.

 

neither do i. but that is besides the point. israeli military responses to palestine haven't exactly been humanitarian either. i'd like to clarify that i don't think israel is the 'bad guy' here. all i'm saying is that when it comes to violence, there has been equal amounts of bloodshed by both parties. a bomb killing people regardless of religious belief is no better or worse than a bullet killing a person because of their religious belief. once again, only my opinion. the holocause cannot be used as an excuse to redeem israel exacting violence upon others. just like the memory of the holocaust cannot be used to castigate germany till time immemorial.

 

i have enormous respect for israel and the people who survived the atrocities that europe has been inflicting upon them for centuries. we all know that the holocaust is the culmination of this. two of my dear friends during school belonged to families who bore scars of the holocaust and thanks to them, the holocaust wasn't something from history books. it was almost personal memory. but it also taught me perspective. rafi's grandmother - who had lost husband, son and daughter to the holocaust and carried that hideous number on her skin said - always said, "i didn't survive it to inflict it upon anyone else, with words or with actions. i survived it because i had the hope that i would live. and i did." aside from all that, the fact that they have survived in the circumstances that they do - surrounded by hostility, with a strip of land that has almost nothing in it - is amazing.

 

in the ideal world, israel has as much a right to exist as palestine. in the real world, i have no idea how it can work out so that everyone can retain their dignity and allow each other their land. it's probably not possible. that still does not mean, i believe, that the democratic mandate of a people be ignored.

 

also i don't think having set off bombs once is any reason to believe that the bombers cannot be statesmen. india probably had the most peaceable freedom movement but we still had to draft a constitution where those with criminal records would be allowed to run the country because so many were arsonists and killers during the colonised era. it didn't mean that they were bad statesmen. neither did it mean that they cultivated violence in independent india.

 

Any more than anyone in Europe or the Middle East, or the Indian subcontinent has to like or express approval for the U.S. choice of its president.

 

but nobody has done that. absolutely nobody has done that. people at individual levels may have said and debated the validity of the election but at a state level, at the level of elected representatives, nobody stood up and said, "we don't think bush is the elected representative of america" or "we don't agree with this election and therefore we will not recognise george bush as the president of the united states of america". any disregard for the elected mandate of the united states of america is purely unofficial. that is very different from world leaders standing up and saying they don't recognise an elected party.

 

as for strong opinions, we both have them. and hopefully, we'll both survive the discussion. :smooch:

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rhetoric is everything in the democratic system. from election to court martial, everything revolves around the rhetoric one adopts.

That's an area in which we have, I think, a very fundamental disagreement. I think the rhetoric can be very deceptive indeed. In my particular democratic system, we have people who are quite adept at adopting any rhetoric that will get them elected and keep them in office. And a great deal of their time IN office is spent trying to ensure, with various degrees of success, that the people who elected them do NOT find out how little some of their actions are in keeping with their adopted rhetoric. A great deal of the important stuff is still done by wheeling and dealing behind closed doors, and in the end, it's what is done that really counts, and NOT what is said.

 

no one is questioning the legitimacy of the election in palestine but america and her political allies are refusing to recognise the HAMAS' victory. i don't think that is fair.

Well, hell YES, they are recognizing the HAMAS victory, they are trying to figure out what to do about it, and they are trying to put a lot of pressure on HAMAS. Part of what is going on IS rhetorical posturing, and, again, what is going to count, ultimately, is what is actually done, and not what is said. Particularly not what is said, or threatened, at the outset. "America and her political allies" can't really afford to say basically, "Whoopee. The Palestinians just elected the guys who have always honestly come right out and admitted to being terrorists, and not the guys that were terrorists too, but lied about it." (Ahem, that is MY personal opinion, and that is exactly why I AM willing to give HAMAS a chance - I don't think that in actuality HAMAS is much worse than their predecessors.) Part of the game is also, again, in my opinion, applying pressure in a way that gives both sides a way to make certain concessions without losing face with their own electorates.

 

when i say 'the first world' i refer to the countries traditionally considered under that umbrella - the industrialised capitalist countries with a majority within that group being formed by the NATO countries. and yes, i'm lumping a whole lot of people. it is absolutely impossible to take into account the opinion of every single person.

That lump includes most of the other people on this board, each of whom has an opinion that we probably SHOULD be taking into account. I don't know that it's particularly productive to attempt to start out a dialogue by basically attacking the "first world" as a collective entity and not only holding individuals responsible for the actions/statements of their "representatives" but also for the MOTIVES assigned to those representatives, i.e. objecting to HAMAS solely because HAMAS is allegedly unlikely to be a puppet for Western interests. I notice no one else has responded :hey: and it's hard to believe that no one else is interested in the issue. I just hope that we haven't scared everyone off. I DID wait a reasonable amount of time, you know, before replying to your, er, provocative, salvo. :evildb:

 

the holocause cannot be used as an excuse to redeem israel exacting violence upon others. just like the memory of the holocaust cannot be used to castigate germany till time immemorial.

Well, the non-violent approach certainly had catastrophic results for so many Jews, didn't it? And the guilt factor regarding the holocaust has always extended far beyond Germany. That's one of the reasons that there IS such reluctance to recognize HAMAS in the face of its stance regarding Israel. Because of the failure to stop Hitler until it was too late for so many.

 

Perspectives on the holocaust differ a great deal, from person to person, I believe. I think that one of the reasons Israel has survived initially, surrounded by its avowed enemies is because so many of its founders had adopted the perspective of "never again". I think some of that is changing, though, and that there is recognition that some of the very, very hard line policies of Sharon et al have been a detriment to Israel, and have created sympathy for Israel's enemies.

 

in the ideal world, israel has as much a right to exist as palestine. in the real world, i have no idea how it can work out so that everyone can retain their dignity and allow each other their land. it's probably not possible. that still does not mean, i believe, that the democratic mandate of a people be ignored.

If the democratic mandate of a people involves the destruction, by terrorist or mililtary means, of its neighbor, particularly a neighbor I am emotionally invested in, I have no more problem ignoring that mandate than I would have had in ignoring Hitler's mandate, had I been alive in the first half of the twentieth century.

 

also i don't think having set off bombs once is any reason to believe that the bombers cannot be statesmen.

As I have stated, I think that remains to be seen. I don't think it's necessarily unreasonable, though, to ask for some assurances from these particular would-be statesment, given their recent track record.

 

as for strong opinions, we both have them. and hopefully, we'll both survive the discussion. :smooch:

Yes, we do. And yes, we will :heart: And hopefully, we will NOT have sent everyone else here :duck: ing for cover. :crit:

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Well, I THOUGHT about adding a reply right after you first posted this jana, but realized all I had to say was basically...yes I heard about that. Not exactlly brilliant or adding anything. :blush:

 

I am enjoying your exchange...I'm learning more about the whole situation and I realize that spirited discussion is not a bad thing. It's how we do learn and grow. For me it's like watching two professors debate. I'm just soaking it up and learning! :flower:

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as for strong opinions, we both have them. and hopefully, we'll both survive the discussion. :smooch:

Yes, we do. And yes, we will :heart: And hopefully, we will NOT have sent everyone else here :duck: ing for cover. :crit:

 

hopefully not. and if people are running for cover, then hopefully they will take heart from the fact that we're still on hugging terms. :p

 

i will write properly in response tomorrow. right now i'm too zonked. it's 2 in the morning. and i've been asleep since about 10. my body clock is all buggered. :roll: however, i do think that the world is getting smaller day by day. we're too close to one another to not have an opinion on things. the world is becoming a smaller place. we live all over the world. opinions matter. plus, i do think that the HAMAS victory is going to play a HUGE part in the way things are going to pan out in the middle east, which in turn is definitely going to affect the rest of the world. therefore, no need for cover. :scotch:

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  • 1 month later...

I've been rummaging through my mind since I read it yesterday to recall something. I heard part of a radio report on either this situation or one very similar. People were talking about trading in old family jewelry to get basics like food and a bit of fuel to drive to work or whatever.

I don't think it could be described as justified. It should never have to happen. Anywhere at any time..but it does, repeatedly throughout history for different reasons. When I have a bit more time I'll re that article more carefully and also see if I can find the info about the radio thing..I know it was on NPR.

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see, the logic is that palestine KNEW it was voting in a terrorist group. however, i don't think the palestinians realised that it was going to mean that the foreign aid they get would dry up. though, that is naivete. i was reading a couple of blogs with personal opinions that were flatly blunt: they voted them in, now this is the price they pay.

 

at an individual, human level, it's heartbreaking.

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it is terrible. there are families caught in there wh onever have a chance to get away. i read a long newpaper story last night, and it is incredibly scary. it looks like this will never end.

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