Sunday, August 3, 2014

Are Hamas and Israel's ruling Likud party that different?

As a follow-up to my blog yesterday regarding Hamas's role in the current violence in Gaza, I wanted to share some additional thoughts. The text below was again written as a response to another person's comment, this time a comment on my recent blog post (made on Facebook, not on this blog site). The criticism in a nutshell was that Hamas has a genocidal policy towards Jews in its charter, or at least Jews living in historic Palestine (present day Israel and the Occupied Palestinian Territories), but that Israel's governing party Likud's charter refusing a Palestinian state is simply calling for a one-state solution to the conflict where everyone lives together, evidence of which can be seen by the Palestinians living in Israel proper today. The author of this comment's main stated goal was rejecting the equivalence I made between Hamas and Likud based on their party charters. The following was my response:

Hamas is not an admirable organization. Far from it. But looking at language in documents, even when they say reprehensible things, can only get you so far. I reached the conclusions I did in the blog post because I am much more concerned by actions, which are much less ambiguous than debating the language in a party's charter, the relevance of that document, the comparisons of the language in the document to public statements made by leadership, etc. It is an extremely important fact that Israel has the 4th-most powerful military in the world, because they have used it very effectively. It is worth noting that Israel's founding in 1948 was accompanied by an ethnic cleansing campaign. No, they did not drive out all of the Palestinians from what is now Israel, but they did drive out 750,000 of them and destroyed hundreds of Palestinian villages. There are many more examples of Israel going on the offensive to kill Palestinians over the years, but fast-forward to the present one. Israel has killed more than 1600 in about 3 weeks, the large majority of which were civilians (and I believe it's about 1/3 that were children). That includes the bombing of 4 kids playing soccer on a wide-open beach (the video of it is hard to watch but shows how easy to see that no credible excuse could be made for it), the destruction of Gaza's only power plant, the deliberate bombardment of hospitals (we know it was deliberate because Israel announced it was going to attack; it gave no justification, however), and as of today, the bombing of civilians shelters in two UN schools. I hope that you can unequivocally condemn all of those things. They are clearly all actions of the Israeli military/government not wanting the Palestinians to survive (not just Hamas, but also civilians). Likewise, I unequivocally condemn Hamas's killing of civilians by firing rockets into Israel. The number of Israeli civilians killed so far in the recent violence is three. Hamas is clearly responsible for those deaths, and they are not excusable. But likewise, Israel is responsible for hundreds of civilians deaths. So in what way are Hamas and the Israeli government different? The main difference is that one has bigger guns. I have trouble seeing any difference beyond that.


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  2. If people have issues with Hamas (and they should), try to keep this in mind: Israeli aggressions against Gaza (repeatedly breaking the 2012 ceasefire agreement, for example) and the ongoing blockade in particular, all sharply increase the popularity of Hamas and effectively keep them in power. If the world wants to increase space for democratic civil society throughout Palestine and in Gaza especially, we must call vigorously for an end to the blockade.

    To that end, this hashtag #EndGazaBlockadeInCairo is being stormed every day at noon, EDT to send a message to those involved in the ceasefire discussions. Pass it on...