[One note about this picture: While Hamas is known for its militance and resistance, I find it interesting that we often see photos of armed Palestinians, but we rarely see the photos of equally armed Jewish settlers. It’s a bizarre thing to see young teens and other settlers walking around with guns all the time in Israel. It’s just hard for Americans to be used to seeing so many arms. I’d encourage you to keep that in mind as you watch the news and see all of the armed Hamas supporters – there are an equal number of armed Jewish settlers who carry their guns with them everywhere…but when was the last time you saw that on TV?]
It’s all over the news. Hamas wins the elections. I’m not quite sure what to make of all this. Those of you who read this blog know that many of my commenters indicate that I have been ‘brainwashed’ by Hamas, which is interesting, because I’ve never even met anyone who is part of Hamas. When I was in Palestine this summer we did meet with leaders (some militant) within Fatah, but never Hamas. I understand the resistance movement within Palestine. I understand “to exist…is to resist.” However, Hamas has no desire to recognize Israel and has called for the destruction of Israel. And that is extremely problematic. I want nothing more than freedom and liberation for Palestinians under oppression by the Israeli government. I make no qualms with that. I believe that oppression in any form is wrong, and that it is wrong for Israel to take away the freedom of movement for Palestinians, which has so many harsh implications and consequences for the Palestinians: economic, social, religious. However, I believe that Israel should be allowed to exist. I believe that we should recognise Israel.
The Palestine News Network (which I commend to you all as an important addition to where you are receiving news about the Middle East) recently interviewed a Hamas leader Sheikh Yasser Mansour here. Part of the interview involved the following exchange:
PNN: Will resistance stop especially given Israel’s withdrawal from Gaza and the movement’s participation in the elections?
Resistance is a legitimate right so as long as there is occupation there will be resistance. The safeguarding of armed resistance is a duty for us all. We all reject labeling the resistance as terrorism.
I watched Bush’s press conference where he addressed the question of whether they would continue to engage in peace talks with Palestinians. Israel has said they will not be in conversation with Hamas. However, I was somewhat impressed that Bush would not say that, at least not in the press conference. He said, “Well, I made it very clear that the United States does not support political parties that want to destroy our ally, Israel, and that people must renounce that part of their platform. But the government hasn’t formed yet. They’re beginning to talk about how to form the government. And your question on Abbas was a good one. And our message to him was, we would hope he would stay in office and work to move the process forward.” Bush didn’t, as far as I heard, come right out and say, “We are going to abandon the peace process because of this election” (which is good since the election was primarily able to take place because of the US support and backing). However, he made it clear, over and over again, that they will not work with a goverment that calls for the destruction of Israel.
I can only hope that this is the beginning of a new vision and hope for Hamas. If they continue to maintain that Israel should NOT have the right to exist, I can’t see how the peace process will continue to move on.