Candy-coated propaganda disguises the violent dynamics of Hamas’ armed struggle

HAMAS SUSTAINS its occupation of Gaza via a “brutal campaign of abductions, torture and unlawful killings”. A report released by Amnesty International, documents a series of abuses, including extra-judicial executions, torture and slaying of Hamas’ political rivals, Fatah, and also Palestinians accused of “collaborating” with Israel.

Far from being a democratic organisation espousing peace, Hamas are considered the world’s premier terror group, alongside Islamic Jihad and ISIL, whose extremist policies the organisation closely resembles. Instead of seeking reconciliation with Israel, Hamas have, on their South African tour, attempted to patch up their relationship with Fatah.

If Hamas had lead the South African struggle, we would have seen the ANC in exile, reaching out to the PAC and AZAPO while ignoring the Afrikaner Nation. The organisation has no overt plans to make peace with Israel, and any statements issued in this regard, have invariably come from apologists, acting in their own interests. Those like Suraya Dadoo, who wish to paint a candy-coated picture of a movement, which has suddenly transformed, perhaps in a saccharine Damascus moment, but who can tell?

Hamas remains possessed by the scimitar shades of Islamic radicalism, a scimitar sword that is frankly disturbing. Religious radicalism is at the heart of the conflict in the Middle East. In a piece published by Politicsweb, Dadoo, makes the startling (and unsubstantiated) claim, that Hamas has dropped its demands for the removal of the Israeli state, and its replacement by an Islamic Republic under a Caliphate: “Hamas [has] clearly moved away from its 1988 Charter. Throughout the four-day visit to South Africa, Misha’al spoke at length about an independent Palestinian state in the West Bank, Jerusalem and Gaza, based on 1967 borders, with the Right of Return for Palestinian refugees.”

The comely reality outlined by Dadoo, is in keeping with the current two-state approach of Fatah, and presumably also the ANC. One can only suggest, more work here need to be done, in order to address serious concerns within the broader Jewish community –  is Hamas simply paying lip-service to a political agenda at odds with its perverse founding objectives? Has the ANC moved steadily away from its own principled Freedom Charter? Any talks with representatives and leaders within the community, as brokers of peace between the parties, could only ever come about, if the Hamas “death charter” was repudiated, (replaced perhaps by a version of our own freedom charter) and the same may also be said of Likud, and its avowed rejection of a second Palestinian State alongside Jordan.

Any future agreement would therefore entail a three-state or binational solution. Instead of narrowing the gulf between Arabs and Jews, the latest mission to South Africa, opened up fresh wounds, and appears to have alienated those progressives siding with Israel, who would need to be persuaded of any change in outlook amongst conservatives on both sides. We are all hostages of the situation, and it helps matters not, if we resort to medieval acts of excommunication and shunning.

The manner in which the local Palestinian lobby, pressurises the Jewish community, while attempting to cherry-pick Jews considered politically compliant (Anti-Zionist enough) also needs to be remarked upon.

The proverbial olive branch, hiding a Kalashnikov and bombvest, in order to furnish the commissars-in-charge, with a check-box of political ammunition is really no olive branch at all. All we have seen is a renewal of the campaign to defeat an adversary in a conventional war, a war at odds with South Africa’s own peace process. The situation is a lot closer to our nation’s experience of SWAPO and the Border War, than the internal struggle.

The divergence from our historic negotiated solution, (the successful resolution of an “intractable conflict”) has both economic and political consequences, especially now that BRICS-leader Russia is flying Migs over Syria. We risk importing not only the Arab Spring and the Intifada, but the rockets and missiles of a future war.

The tragic renewal of the Hamasist armed struggle on South African soil, comes amidst heighten tensions around the Temple Mount. So far as ANC secretary-general Gwede Mantashe was concerned, outright support for the Hamas armed struggle by South Africa was “not on the table”. Our country it seems, is merely handing out cash, in a strategy it can ill-afford, given the current economic climate.

The problem of Al-Quds

If there is a single pivot point to all the problems in the Middle East, it is the ongoing issue of the status of Jerusalem. Hamas have repeatedly insisted that the Holy City (Al-Quds) is “ours and ours alone”, in the process contradicting the Jordanian waqf, in which King Abdullah is the sole protector and defender of Al Aqsa (Harim el Sharif).

Jordan made peace with Israel in 1994, the same year that South Africa became a democracy, — the country’s history is bound up with a sequence of events which created the Kingdom of Jordan in 1946 and which later lead to the establishment of the state of Israel in 1948. Thus while Mantashe was wining and dining Misha’al in an upmarket Sandton restaurant, US secretary of state John Kerry, was doing the same with the King of Jordan in Amman.

Does South Africa have a unique role to play? It needs to be said repeatedly, that South Africa’s founder, Nelson Mandela was a secularist, who took a bipartisan and non-sectarian approach to the Middle East. Instead of rejecting Israel, he embraced a two-state solution and would no doubt, also accept the power-sharing principles, which would need to be brokered in regard to Jerusalem and the issue of the return of refugees.

Both Arabs and Jews share history in this regard. The Arab states, unfortunately have yet to take responsibility for the thousands of Arab Jews, (black Jews) expelled from Arab states in 1948. Currently there are no firm plans by Arab States to provide land for peace, in compensation for deeded property confiscated from Arab Jews, some 100 000 square kilometres. This is more land than exists in the state of Israel.

In his public address to the South African people, Hamas leader, Misha’al repeatedly defended his organisation’s objectives. Hamas sees itself as the exclusive liberators of Jerusalem, and, like Fatah, wish to see a status quo which would remove Israel’s claim to the Holy City, by returning Greater Jerusalem to the Arab mandate held during the previous British occupation and earlier Ottoman Empire.

The Jewish claim to Jerusalem is equally long-standing and a well-established one, and it seems trite to suggest that Islamicists have over-reached themselves in seeking to preserve the Empire of a previous era, while Israel has sort to accommodate religious differences under a modicum of Secularism, that leaves a lot to be desired.

The return to the Caliphate during the past decade, and Israeli “kragdadigheid” — the hardline over Jerusalem — has caused untold harm, the least of which are the many wars being fought within the Arab world itself. There is currently no consensus on who should be the ultimate ruler (or Caliph) over all Islam, nor is there any requirement for such a person to exist under a secular democracy.

Only be resolving the dilemma of competing claims to the Holy Land, the problems inherent to religion within a Secular Democracy and mending the fissures between the world’s major religions, can our society ever hope to arrive at a peaceful solution. It therefore assists no-one, least of all the parties to the conflict, if we sugar-dust the issues, instead of proposing a constructive way forward.

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