Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Gaza war, 3

The following post begins with the full text of an article entitled “Ceasefire in Gaza” by Dr. Denis MacEoin. The letter includes Hamas’ politics, in its own words, with transliterated and translated Arabic. It is followed by excerpts from 2 articles, giving a Palestinian and an Egyptian analysis of Hamas and the war.

Ceasefire in Gaza by Dr. Denis MacEoin
The author has lectured in Arabic and Islamic Studies and is the incoming editor of Middle East Quarterly. He apparently has been having trouble getting this article published in the “fair and honest” British press.

There are things going on here that half the world just doesn't get. All those clamouring for a ceasefire think all other parties understand the word just like they do. They'd be wrong. The secular Arabic press, such as the international newspaper al-Sharq al-Awsat, uses the standard Arabic term for a cessation of fire: waqf al-nar or waqf itlaq al-nar. That is a literal translation, and it means exactly what ceasefire means in English and other languages. But Hamas don't talk about a cessation of fire, because that would be to introduce a term from the Western political vocabulary into their discourse, and they can't do that.

Why not? Because Hamas is a deeply-grounded Islamist movement that follows the principle that Muslims must never do anything that resembles what the non-believers do. That's why many Muslims here will only wear Muslim clothes and refuse to join in Christmas, birthday or other celebrations with their Christian neighbours.

Hamas is an acronym for Harakat al-Muqawama al-Islamiyya, the Islamic Resistance Movement, and, unlike Fatah, it prioritizes religious values and aims. A Hamas council has just introduced the implementation of severe punishments, such as amputations and crucifixions for breaches of Islamic law in matters like theft or adultery. Read their 1988 Covenant (al-Mithaq) and you will grasp the fact that their struggle against Israel has nothing to do with land in the sense that is understood in international law. Their gripe is that the whole of what they anachronistically term 'Palestine' (the old Southern Syria) was conquered by Islam in the 7th century and not an inch of it must pass out of Muslim hands forever.

As their Covenant makes clear, they are fighting a jihad, and the rules they observe are jihad rules, based on centuries of legislation about the waging of war against unbelievers. The problems with jihad rules is that they simply don't recognize all the elements of international law that modern states base their treaties and international conventions on. Jihad law includes rules on how and when to deceive the foe, and envisages no outcome other than the death or submission of non-Muslims. [If you want to verify that, see my link on 1/9/09: From the Center for Muslim-Jewish Engagement at USC: A comprehensive listing of hadith (authoritative legal rulings) on Jihad. -- smb]

When Hamas announces a temporary cease-fire (a hudna or, recently, a tahdiyya or lull), it does so, not to have an opportunity to talk peace, but to regroup and re-arm. 'Initiatives, and so-called peaceful solutions and international conferences, are in contradiction to the principles of the Islamic Resistance Movement.' The only solution to the Middle East problem is war: 'There is no solution for the Palestinian question except through Jihad. Initiatives, proposals and international conferences are all a waste of time and vain endeavors.'

Numerous times in the past, Israel has shown itself willing to reach an agreement with the Palestinians, on conditions similar to those propounded by the Quartet, first and foremost recognition of Israel's right to exist, followed by a guarantee that there will be no further resort to violence, including terrorist attacks on civilians (and that includes firing rockets at them). As time has passed, especially since the death of Yasser Arafat, a degree of pragmatism has entered the Palestinian mind, but not the thinking of Hamas. Not only will Hamas not make peace with Israel in order to create a viable Palestinian state, they are as ready to kill Palestinian Muslims in order to gain total control of Gaza and the West Bank.

A recent Hamas pronouncement boasted that the Palestinians (for which read Hamas) have made an industry of death and that everyone plays a part: '...the women exceed at this, and so too do the mujahideen [fighters in jihad] and the children. That's why they have formed human shields of the women the children the elderly and the mujahideen in order to challenge the Zionist bombing machine.

This is the only fighting force in history to boast that they have made human shields of their own people. There are films of 'brave' Hamas gunmen dragging screaming children along to serve as shields, and of civilians sent onto the roofs of rocket launching sites, where, ironically, they know the Israelis will not fire on them. It is a mockery of military ethics, yet it goes barely noticed in the Western media.

Israel is not alone in fighting terrorism. Even now, this country fights al-Qa'eda and its affiliates in Iraq or the Taleban in Afghanistan. If we ever gave up the fight against Islamist terror in Britain, we would reap the whirlwind in bombings on land and in the air. Why then do so many of us scorn what Israel does. A combination of Hamas, Hizbullah, and Iran could one day bring Israel down and result in the deaths of millions of Jews. Is there any good reason why Israel should acquiesce in this? Is our grass roots anti-Semitism still so ferocious that we cannot bear the thought of a Jewish state in the Middle East, even if that state was brought into being by a [two-thirds] majority vote of the UN?

This war is not a pretty war, but, truth be told, no wars are pretty. If Hamas cannot be fought to a standstill or until it is a spent force, lulls in the fighting will be of absolutely no use. Beaten to a ceasefire, Hamas will return. They will return and they will fight to a standstill again, then they will regroup and attack once more. More deaths, of Israelis and Palestinians both. Ever-postponed statehood for the Palestinians, unending vituperation of Israel, which is only a democracy trying to defend its civilians from crimes this country would not bear for a week.

It's not a time for a ceasefire. When it comes, let the Palestinian Authority make it and keep to it, and let the PA police its own territories and rein in the madmen who cannot accept anything but their own right to rule everybody else, and their self-proclaimed right to kill Jews wherever they may be found. For Hamas has now announced that they will do exactly that: kill Jews, not just Israeli Jews, but Jews in any country where they may be found. And these are the people the UN and others would have Israel make a ceasefire with today.

A Fatah response to the war, 1/12:
A Fatah official in Ramallah on Sunday launched a scathing attack on Hamas and described its leaders as "criminals." Speaking to The Jerusalem Post on condition of anonymity, the Fatah official denounced Hamas as a "black and bloody militia" that was responsible for the "catastrophe" in the Gaza Strip.

The official expressed hope that the Palestinians in the Gaza Strip would revolt against Hamas when the IDF operation ended. He also expressed hope that Hamas leaders Mahmoud Zahar and Ismail Haniyeh would be tried before a Palestinian court as "war criminals." The Hamas leaders, he charged, were responsible for the death of hundreds of innocent Palestinians. "Ever since they came to power, they brought death and destruction to our people."

An Egyptian response to the war:
Egyptian political analyst Magdi Khalil said he shared the view of the Palestinian Authority and Egypt that Hamas was responsible for the war in the Gaza Strip. "Ever since Hamas seized control over the Gaza Strip in 2007, they turned the area into hell," he said. "They imposed restrictions on the people there and even prevented them from performing the pilgrimage to Mecca." The analyst said that the head of the Egyptian General Intelligence Service was right when he recently described Hamas as a group of gangsters. "Hamas and its masters in Damascus and Teheran want to spread chaos in Egypt," he said. "They want to solve the problem of the Gaza Strip by handing the area over to Egypt. They want to create a homeland for the Palestinians in Sinai." He said that Hamas was not only jeopardizing Egypt's national security, but had also destroyed the Palestinians' dream of statehood. "By endorsing the Iranian agenda, Hamas has brought the Iranians to Egypt's eastern border," he said. "Hamas has also copied Hizbullah's policy of entering into pointless adventures."

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