Professor Rashid Khalid is not afraid of making enemies – which is fortunate as he has a lot, especially in the US. In this wide ranging interview he speaks sharply of the Palestinians, Saudis, Qataris, the vast settlement-industrial complex and his old friend Obama. And why a peace process based on Begin’s idea of autonomy can’t work. Recorded 18 months ago, it is remarkably fresh – except that then he only fears a civil war in Syria might begin.
Last February Khaled Meshaal, political leader of Hamas left Syria to live – via his first, brief, visit to Gaza – in Doha. There, in the Qatari capital, he is interviewed by Foreign Policy magazine. He gives brief explanations on why Hamas left Syria, and his opposition to making any concessions until Israel shows itself ready to end the occupation. It is less revealing than other interviews he has given but is, perhaps, a message to an American audience that he is a human being who believes in democracy and human rights – but is unflinching about the priority of ending the occupation.
Steps to change, from bottom to top. (5) the PA allows Hamas to hold an anniversary rally in Nablus, Dec. 14; (4) Hamas goes back on an agreement to allow Fatah to hold its celebration in Gaza, Dec.16; (3) Fatah announces it will hold the celebration in Gaza City’s al-Saraya square Dec 28, the venue offered by Hamas. (2) Dec. 31, Fatah celebration begins. (1) Fatah flags fly in Gaza.
Gershon Baskin argues that by initiating the recent round of fighting with the assassination of al-Jabari, Israel strengthened the idea of weapons and intransigence over the pragmatism which had been emerging in Hamas – witness Meshaal’s change of tone. He lays out the steps that can be taken for progress.
Meshaal makes an inflammatory and celebratory speech at a rally for Hamas’ 25th anniversary vowing Hamas will free every inch of the land from the river to the sea from Israeli control: a challenge to Fatah as well as Israel. Whether the demogoguery was as showy but flimsy as the flags and replica rocket, who knows? UPDATES 2, Observer corrects its wrong translation , 3,4, commentary by Richard Silverstein and Uri Avnery.
To coincide with Meshaal’s brief visit to Gaza, we post the first part of an interview he gave to Mouin Rabbani in 2008. He gives an account of his upbringing and the formation of Hamas. It is an idealised version from a deeply religious man who has not lived in Gaza or with the worst aspects of Hamas – the intolerance, antisemitism , lack of due process and reliance on violence over politics. But it is a valuable counterweight to the view that Hamas is nothing but those worst aspects and rules only by terror. Part 2 next week.
Israel cannot hide forever under its Iron Dome. While its neighbours are changing and growing in confidence Israel is shrinking in political stature as it again opts for hi-tech violence over political thought. Adam Shatz in London Review of Books contrasts the liveliness of Arab politics with the lonely inertia of Israel.
In this long, densely illustrated blog, film-maker Adam Curtis offers a fresh take on the history of deteriorating relations between Israelis and Palestinians; it is a story of the failure of politics, or the loss of hope in any politicians or political process on both, once Utopian, sides. It has not been possible to transfer the many film clips to this posting, for which you can go the original where indicated.
Special Rapporteur Richard Falk peers though the fog of truce, and though it’s still blurry he discerns how much Hamas has gained from surviving the intense bombardment, and how much the array of Arab emissaries achieved in actuality and in status.
The Security Council had several meetings after Operation Pillar of Defence began but was unable to produce any statement because all versions – including compromises from other SC members – were vetoed by the US because they did not attribute responsibility for the violence to Hamas.
International relations are based on a peace process which does not exist and a denial of Hamas’s authority, which does. It would be farcical were not the weapons lethal, the killings horrible, the imbalance of power palpable. Thus are Egypt, Turkey and Qatar, which recognise Hamas, handed the key role.
Dahlia Scheindlin takes apart the Israeli excuse of ‘we had no choice’ and looks at the roads not taken. Amira Hass says though Israel may have learned some propaganda lessons from Cast Lead, it has learned nothing politically.
Since the Emir of Qatar’s visit to Gaza last week, comment has continued on how, where and why Hamas is changing its stance and its alliances. Hugh Naylor says that Hamas’ new alignment with Sunni Muslim countries has broken the anti-Israel, anti-western ‘resistance’ alliance, to which Hamas was affiliated, of Syria, Iran, and Hezbollah in Lebanon.
The latest exchange of fire between the IDF and several armed groups in Gaza has led to Defence Minister Ehud Barak threatening collective punishment for Hamas unless all violence from Gaza ends. An Israeli defence official insists there will be no overt talks with Hamas, a task which Egyptian mediators have taken on. Reports from Ma’an and Al Jazeera.
In a series of airstrikes over two weekends, the IDF has targeted Salafist (or Al Qaeda) leaders in Gaza in apparent punishment for the cross-border attack by jihadi militants in Sinai last June. Despite Hamas’s efforts to arrest members of more militant groups, Israeli authorities have held Hamas responsible and Hamas-controlled groups returned rocket fire last week. Five news stories beginning 7th October.
Jared Malsin, former English editor at Ma’an, guides readers through the Salafist groups in Gaza. The blockade, he says, created the extremists. (Though small in number, they issue such violence, antisemitism and hostility to democracy they have given all Palestinians a bad name internationally.) But Salafist intransigence attracts some young men. Hamas has been cracking down on them since 2009.
Criticisms of the Hamas government for its lack of respect for human rights have dogged its five-year rule in Gaza. While, like its neighbour governments in the West Bank and Israel, it is accused of acts of torture and arbitrary arrest, it is the lack of due process, of a criminal justice system, which draws the most opprobrium. The Hamas defence — it is acting under siege — does not convince Human Rights Watch.
Eva Illouz from the Hebrew University is not much taken with Judith Butler’s ideas about contemporary politics, or even politics as queer theory; but she deplores the horrible practice by some fans of Israel of bullying critics of Israel and exerting private pressure on institutions to withhold from those critics any acclaim or acceptance rather than engaging with them in public debate.
‘The illusion that a movement structured like Hamas is running a mini-government that depends on only a handful of people,[who can be assassinated] without whom it would not exist, is at the heart of the deceit nurtured by Israel’ writes Zvi Bar’el in this review of a new Israeli book about Hamas. It reveals a more strategic body, willing for dialogue with Israel, than the rhetoric of ‘security’ permits to be known.
Israel’s strategy of isolating Gaza in order to undermine Hamas has not worked. Rival terrorist groups have sprung up threatening the security of Egypt as well as Israel. While the leaders of Hamas and Egypt’s Muslim Brotherhood have recognised the need for anti-terrorist co-operation, Israel’s leaders have yet to recognise the new situation. In Ha’aretz, Zvi Bar’el lays out the need to free Gaza from the siege.