Like all religious movements, Hamas is driven by faith and therefore cannot compromise
The belief that Hamas will moderate and renounce violence, embrace peace based on compromise and recognize Israel is naïve and will lead to an escalation of violence.
In fact, those who claim Hamas will “moderate” are basically arguing that Hamas engaged in years of suicide bombings and violence against Israel simply to wrest government power from the rival Fatah organization.
Hamas is an Islamic terrorist group and is not capable of adjusting by embracing compromise as might any secular government. Hamas is a “movement” in constant flux fueled by the distortion of Islam, Palestinian suffering, Israeli policies gone wrong and the failure of the peace process. Religious movements are driven by faith. Unlike organizations and secular governments, movements driven by faith cannot compromise.
Faith-driven movements don’t need leaders. The “faith-driven” followers will, when it is beneficial to the movement, return to violent self-sacrifice.
Israel proved the resiliency of Hamas. Despite an ongoing and illegal Israeli campaign of “extra-judicial killings” that targeted and destroyed its leadership, Hamas has survived and has become more powerful.
Suicide bombers part of Hamas’ existence
Hamas is not just about faith but about the faithful individual. That’s why suicide bombing is so much as part of its existence. Suicide bombers die for the “cause,” sent off by the higher belief rather than a convening of strategic leadership. They exist in flux driven by the emotion of the times with minimal assistance.
This has caused Israel’s great quandary. How can they punish the terrorists when the terrorists take their own lives? So Israel strikes out at everything around the suicide bomber. And instead of undermining this movement, they strengthen it by driving more and more Palestinians into its fold. Hamas is not only anti-Israeli. It is also anti-Palestinian. The Hamas vision of “Palestine” precludes any involvement of secular Palestinians, Christians or secular Muslims. The Hamas vision of Palestine is a “Frankenstein” monster pieced together with the remnants of Palestinian suffering and the shortcomings of a Palestinian government that was never a free sovereign nation, but a leadership imprisoned by a military occupation.
The goal of Hamas is to impose religious fundamentalism on Palestinian society such as separating men from women, forcing women to wear veils, and imposing their restrictive conduct on society, excluding such things as singing, dancing, creative expression, free speech, and most of all, criticism of itself or its distortion of Islam.
On January 25, Hamas destroyed its secular Palestinian leadership. Its next target is Israel. Hamas didn’t enter the elections to participate in a Democratic process. It gambled with nothing to lose. Hamas is not and has never been Democratic in any form.
Hamas has no elected leadership. It participates in Democracy to suffocate Democracy. Power is based on loyalty to religious fanaticism not political idealism or the greater good of the broader society. While foes of Palestinian independence have constantly cited the PLO Charter as cause for alarm, the Hamas Charter is more vicious, riddled with uncompromising religious dictates and unwavering goals. It may be true that many Palestinians turned to Hamas not because they embrace the notion of wrapping Palestinians in a societal Chador or Berqa, but because they were fed up with the corruption of Fatah and the PNA.
But that is a misleading notion. In fact, a Hamas spokesman has urged the European Union to not stop funding to a Hamas government, citing its many so-called charitable operations and services to the “people.”
The secular Palestinian government was never a sovereign nation. It had never morphed completely from a revolution to a sovereign government. It existed under a brutal and restrictive occupation.
Will Hamas be any less corrupt? It is true that Hamas has cared for its loyal Palestinian followers in the Gaza Strip better than the PNA cared for the Palestinian society. But Hamas services are not handed out without a price. Need must be matched by religious loyalty. Its schools do not teach free secular education but feed a narrow-minded religious agenda. Its health services are given to those who embrace its religious doctrine and agenda.
And, all of this has been done without any public accountability. What has Hamas done with its funds? Will it now open its books to public scrutiny?
The fact is that Hamas has embezzled in charitable funds and used the money for terrorist acts and suicide bombings. Is government corruption more reprehensible than moral corruption that justifies the murder of innocent civilians and, worse, the intentional goal of undermining a peace process? Violence contradicts Democracy. Hamas should have been forced to publicly renounce all violence before being allowed to enter the Palestinian election process.
President Mahmoud Abbas failed because he had the legal power to act but chose not to act. Hamas acted outside of the Palestinian “rules of law.” It acted like a band of outlaws, vigilantes who decided on their own self-appointed authority to use violence against Israeli targets.
But while Democracy seeks to appease and open its arms to all to participate, a Hamas government will slowly smother a free Palestinian society. Tragically, the only real option left is the collapse of all Palestinian government and the tightening of Israeli occupation controls until Hamas is defeated. A Hamas Palestinian State is no state at all.
The inevitable escalation of violence will be as painful and as costly in lives not just for Palestinians, but for Israelis, too.
Ray Hanania is an award winning Palestinian journalist, author and humorist. His columns seek to define the moderate and moral Palestinian voice. He can be reached at www.hanania.com Ray Hanania is a member of Scholars for Peace in the Middle East spme.org