Guest Post by Amjad Atallah: Hamas vs. the Fundamentalists

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Amjad Atallah co-directs the New America Foundation/Middle East Task Force.
This past Friday, Hamas engaged in an intense battle with a Salafist group called Jund Ansar Allah (the Soldiers of the Supporters of God). The instigation for the battle came after the leader of the group, Abdul Latif Musa, gave a Friday sermon calling for the immediate implementation of an “Islamic emirate” in the Gaza Strip and for a Taliban-like Salafist version of Shariah (or Islamic law) to be imposed.
Hamas didn’t wait. Before his sermon was over, al-Jazeera reported that Hamas police surrounded the mosque and demanded the surrender of Musa and his supporters. The ensuing gun battle left at least 28 dead, including six Hamas police and six civilians including an 11-year old girl, and over 100 wounded. Musa died, according to Hamas, when he blew himself up rather than surrender to the police.
For years, analysts without a stake in supporting either Fatah or Hamas, or Likud or Kadima, including leading former American statesmen, have argued that the Bush-era policy of blockading the Gaza Strip, starving the population, and supporting Israeli attacks on the Strip instead of maintaining a cease-fire, was morally incoherent, illegal under international law, and tactically counter-productive. Even as Somalia became a case study for what one shouldn’t do, the Bush team couldn’t help but hope that what failed in one place might succeed in another.
Just as a reminder, an Islamist group called the Islamic Courts Union (ICU) took over Mogadishu and much of Somalia after years of international inaction and began establishing law and order. Checkpoints were shut down, the airport and seaport were opened, and Somalis in the Diaspora began returning to see how they could help rebuild their failed state.
Rather than engage the ICU and attempt to moderate any potential Salafist tendencies, the US “encouraged” Ethiopia to invade Somalia, fatally weakening the ICU, and simultaneously opening the door to outright chaos and the rise of a Salafist group called the Shabab, leaving western countries to scramble to find ICU leaders with whom they can still work. Piracy off the Horn became a common phenomenon.
Hamas has been more successful than the ICU because Israel has been less successful than Ethiopia. The repeated attempts to overthrow Hamas, which took over the Palestinian Authority in the 2006 elections in the Occupied Territory, have weakened but not bowed Hamas. However, the alternative in Gaza has not been the secular Fatah, but Salafist groups.
The vigor with which Hamas is responding to this challenge (perhaps too vigorous), ironically, would be difficult, if not impossible, by the US-trained Palestinian forces under General Dayton’s instruction in the West Bank. This is not because of any lack of ability, but because of a limit on legitimacy imposed by its cooperation with Israel within the context of the on-going Israeli occupation.
Hamas police are viewed as bringing law and order AND resisting Israel. The West Bank police can only do the former and actually must stand by impotently when Israel conducts raids in the West Bank including in Ramallah, a source of constant complaint to the US government by our Palestinian friends in Ramallah.
This points to a much larger point for US-Middle East strategy. The best forces to counter Salafist ideology, including misogyny, bigotry, and support for violence against civilians, comes not from US military pressure, but from potential alliances with more moderate nationalist Islamist groups which have legitimacy within their own communities. Hamas leader Ismail Haniyeh’s attack on Musa, the leader of the Salafist group, has more resonance on Muslims in the Gaza Strip than an Israeli attack on the mosque, which would have undoubtedly strengthened support for the group.
Fatah, in this sense, is a unique exception, as it remains the only popular based secular nationalist movement left in the Arab world. However, as long as its policy of negotiating with Israel and administering small parts of the occupied territory does not translate into freedom and independence for Palestinians, it will continue to be hamstrung by its tether to the occupation forces. Anyone who thinks that Fatah will get credit for small economic improvements in Palestinian eyes while the occupation continues should google news stories from the 1990s.
This incident shows more than ever the danger to the Obama administration’s goals of a comprehensive regional peace if it continues any of the Bush-era policies in the region, whether in attempting to manage the Israeli occupation with incremental improvements, continuing a blockade on the Gaza Strip, or expecting war to result in peace agreements. It is clear that President Obama disagrees in principle with these approaches, but the policies on the ground have yet to catch up.
As we all so heartily chanted during the US presidential elections, “It’s time for a change.” Hamas actions on Friday should prompt an internal review of US policy toward Palestinian unity. There should be a prompt reconsideration of whether the international community cannot follow the lead of peace groups and open the Gaza Strip from the sea, in cooperation with a technocratic unity Palestinian government, to relieve the assault on the civilian population that has bred Salafist extremism. This would de-couple US policy in the region from Likud’s intransigence far more than our months long negotiation with Netanyahu on a settlement freeze.
Simultaneously, there should be a broader reconsideration of how and when the US can find common cause with nationalist Islamist groups willing to condemn violence against civilians to promote long term US goals for the region.
— Amjad Atallah

Comments

25 comments on “Guest Post by Amjad Atallah: Hamas vs. the Fundamentalists

  1. Kathleen Grasso Andersen says:

    POA…Three Cheers for Rep. Jerry Nadler…for saying that Obama is violating the law by not investigating Dopey and Darth on Torture
    http://www.democraticunderground.com/discuss/duboard.php?az=view_all&address=102×4026539

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  2. Kathleen Grasso Andersen says:

    Calling J Street!!!! All Americans who oppose our gov’t’s support of Israeli actions in Gaza, should join together and file a formal complaint against the U.S. with the Council on Human Rights. It would carry so much more weight coming from US citizens and would put the Obama Mission in Geneva in a curious spot.
    I was present when Yasser Arafat addressed the Commision for Human Rights in 1988 and the US Mission boycotted his speech. There is no legitimate Palestinian leaader that the US and Israel will recognize…only puppets need apply. I’ve seen this syndrome so many times with Native American tribal leaders and the US gov’t and whatever business entity has profits to be made. Only those who play ball and accept money are recognized as legitimate, here and abroad.

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  3. Paul Norheim says:

    POA,
    thanks for the update. I especially enjoyed
    reading your last excerpt from Peace Now – I
    seldom read such precise description of the facts
    “on the ground” and what is at stake. I`m almost
    tempted to quote large parts of your excerpt and
    add an Amen to it, but I`ll restrict myself to a
    couple of quotes:
    “President Obama has made the creation of a non-
    hemorrhaging interface between the United States
    and the Arab world and Muslim worlds a cornerstone
    of his foreign policy. In doing so, he has not
    abandoned the deep alliance with Israel, but added
    to that historic commitment a sober, resolute
    effort to bring a peaceful resolution of the
    conflict between Israelis and Palestinians, and
    between Israel and the Arab States.”
    Exactly! And I think I would add one thing here
    that I suppose you disagree with: If Obama had
    tried to freeze financial support to Israel at
    this moment, this may have been morally
    appropriate, but a huge political mistake that
    would have backfired big time. Not only would this
    give his opponents at home fuel to their
    propaganda, it would also create a degree of
    hostility towards Obama (and everything he
    proposes) in Israel that would stall ANY future
    efforts during his administration. He went to the
    core issue – colonial expansion – and should stick
    to that for now.
    “The unholy alliance between Jewish and Christian
    religious extremists in creating an ersatz,
    biblical end-of-days hegemony in and around the
    Old City is wind in the sails of the sundry
    Jihadists seeking to rid the Islamic holy terrain
    of the taint of Jewish and Christian crusaders.”
    Again very precise words. It`s the same people
    (the Christian extremists) who are currently
    screwing up the health reform debate in America.
    “And there is absolutely no way that Obama can
    surmount the mountain of opposition these bought
    and paid for whores in his own party are waging
    against his feeble effort to rein in the expansion
    of the racist state of Israel.” (POA)
    But you have to give him some credit for trying,
    don`t you?
    Realistically: If Obama had started his attempt to
    be more balanced in this conflict by freezing the
    transfer of dollars to Tel Aviv, don`t you think
    that would make Harry Reid and the rest of the
    Israel-First people much stronger? It would have
    been political suicide of the first order,
    wouldn`t it?
    I think starting with a demand to stop the
    colonial expansions proves his political
    instincts.
    This doesn`t mean that I am optimistic with regard
    to the outcome – but I think it`s the best thing
    he could do in these circumstances.

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  4. nadine says:

    Hamas has made the hijab compulsory, and created a “morals police” like Saudi Arabia and Iran have to enforce the decree. They control the schools and indoctrinate the children; they teach children how to become suicide bombers at summer camp; they have banned alcohol and traditional weddings because they don’t allow music.
    Hamas IS imposing sharia on Gaza. It’s a fact.
    Here’s a detailed report showing instances of all these things if you are interested. http://www.terrorism-info.org.il/malam_multimedia/English/eng_n/pdf/hamas_e076.pdf
    To say or think that Hamas is in the least moderate or moderating just because they fought an Al Qaeda group for part of Rafah is wishful thinking to the point of insanity. I don’t know what you think it helps to believe things that are so obviously untrue. Do you really think that wishing will make it so?

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  5. PissedOffAmerican says:

    http://peacenow.org/entries/special_from_danny_seidemann_on_huckabee_the_settlers_and_jerusalem
    An excerpt……..
    Which brings us to the present. Tonight, former Arkansas governor Mike Huckabee will attend a dinner at the Shepherd’s Hotel in the East Jerusalem neighborhood of Sheikh Jarrah. This is the site of the newly approved messianic Jewish settlement. It is the place where Prime Minister Netanyahu decided to pick a fight with the President of the United States over the latter’s insistence on a settlement freeze.
    It is also the place where Huckabee has decided to openly side with an Israeli Prime Minister in challenging the policies of his own president. For Huckabee, a once and perhaps future candidate for US president, extremist evangelical ideology apparently trumps patriotism. (And it is worth noting that Huckabee was the keynote speaker at a summer 1998 fundraising dinner for the Jerusalem Reclamation Project/American Friends of Ateret Cohanim in New York – the same group whose non-profit tax status is challenged in today’s Israeli press).
    Under normal circumstances, this would be no more than an episodic illumination of the decay that has been spreading in American political discourse, and the way certain elements of the political right in the United States, from health care town meetings to Sheikh Jarrah, are abandoning constitutional civility.
    But more is at play here.
    President Obama has made the creation of a non-hemorrhaging interface between the United States and the Arab world and Muslim worlds a cornerstone of his foreign policy. In doing so, he has not abandoned the deep alliance with Israel, but added to that historic commitment a sober, resolute effort to bring a peaceful resolution of the conflict between Israelis and Palestinians, and between Israel and the Arab States.
    The success of this ambitious endeavor depends very much on the events at the volcanic core of that conflict, Jerusalem. If the stakeholders do not pay reverence to the religious and national complexities of Jerusalem and its holy sites, President Obama’s efforts will be stillborn. And unless a political agreement ensues that guarantees that no one in Jerusalem – Israeli or Palestinian, Jew, Christian or Muslim – need struggle to maintain or her individual or collective identity in the city, there will be no resolution of this conflict.
    So it is no accident that Jerusalem has emerged in recent weeks as the arena of choice for many who seek to undermine President Obama’s global agenda. Elements in the evangelical Christian Zionist right, who often make Israel’s messianic settlers appear meek by comparison, aspire to turn Jerusalem into an Armageddon theme park. Settlement activities around Jerusalem’s Old City are being manipulated by Prime Minister Netanyahu, without leaving fingerprints, as a proxy war geared to derail the President’s efforts to kick-start substantive political negotiations. The unholy alliance between Jewish and Christian religious extremists in creating an ersatz, biblical end-of-days hegemony in and around the Old City is wind in the sails of the sundry Jihadists seeking to rid the Islamic holy terrain of the taint of Jewish and Christian crusaders.
    Let there be no doubt: recent events in Jerusalem cut against the web and weave of every fiber of President Obama’s Cairo address. And that is precisely what they are supposed to do.
    So we may chuckle at the sight of a Fox News talk show host with a great political future behind him posing for a photo-op at the Shepherd’s Hotel, but this should not be allowed to distract us. The stakes for Israel today could not be higher. The displacement of Palestinian families in East Jerusalem cannot be justified even to Israel’s staunchest allies. Recent actions in Jerusalem are leading Israel to an inexorable slide into pariah status, abandoned by all its supporters, save Mike Huckabee and his flock, who like their Jewish counterparts place their own extremist ideology over their own patriotism and the real interests of Israel.

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  6. PissedOffAmerican says:

    Settlement Freeze – The facts on the ground
    18/08/2009
    According to news released this morning, August, 18, 2009 in the Israeli media, Netanyahu and Barak have agreed to freeze construction in the settlements until early 2010.
    Peace Now Research Shows the Following:
    Fact No. 1: In the West Bank Settlements and in East Jerusalem there are over 1000 housing units under construction right now.
    This means that on the ground there is NO settlement freeze, a real freeze is the end of all construction even those yet to be completed. Anyone who visits the settlements, can see large and small construction sites where construction continues at a rapid pace.
    Fact No. 2: In the past 9 months, since November 2008 the govt has not published any new tenders for construction in the settlements. (Though a few tenders were published for completion of infrastructure, roads, etc. but no new tenders for apartments).
    However govt sponsored construction of government only constitutes about 40% of all construction in the territories. Most of the building is through private initiatives from settler groups, NGO’s etc.
    Thus, even if there is a complete freeze of construction bids on behalf of the government – at least 60% of all construction in the settlements continues as before.
    For more details about settlement freeze….
    http://www.peacenow.org.il/site/en/peace.asp?pi=62&docid=3603
    In other words, the Racist State of Israel is LYING. And, guaranteed, our Secretary of State, President Obama, and a huge contingent of Washington worms are going to laud Israel for doing something they know damned good and well is not really being done. Our own politicians are going to water and fertilize what they KNOW is a lie.

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  7. PissedOffAmerican says:

    AIPAC Sends in the Clowns!
    By: Franklin Lamb
    Congressman Steny Hoyer
    Suddenly they were all over the place, arriving not as singles but in battalions. Many, like Maryland’s 5th District Rep. Steny Hoyer had been to Israel nearly a dozen times; career stalwarts once more showing fealty to Israel’s brutal occupation of Palestine while lamely telling their constituents that they were on a legitimate ‘fact finding mission.” For many, their real purpose was to signal their President that there must be no change in the US policy of coddling Israel’s increasingly Apartheid regime.
    Among the nearly four dozen members of Congress were some of the most Islamophobic and anti-Arab ever to be elected by American voters
    House Majority leader Steny Hoyer, leading a delegation of 29 Democratic Congressmen, appeared to read from a cue card as he explained in Jerusalem that he had misgivings about Obama’s insistence on stopping colonial expansions (euphemistically called by the Israel lobby ‘settlements’). Hoyer downplayed Obama’s demand to stop the expansions and informed the White House from Jerusalem that that the issue “should be a subject of negotiations”. Hoyer refused comment on Kadema leader Tsizni Linvi’s ‘leak’ of part of the last years CIA study that Hoyer helped AIPAC bury on Capitol Hill. Appearing to quote from the now withdrawn ‘study’ Livni declared in a former Palestinian village, now renamed Tirat Hacarmel:
    ” Livni got it right. Israeli officials see the writing on the wall and there is not deep affection for Israel on Capitol Hill. Most feel the US will sooner or later ‘cut Israel loose’ but still they don’t want its domestic lobby on their case. Many outside of Washington don’t understand this, and Americans in the Middle East are sometimes queried “why do you Americans love Israel so much when you claim you oppose colonialism elsewhere” ?
    Hoyer remained focused on undermining Obama, “I don’t think settlements are nearly the big issue (emphasis mine) that confronts the Palestinians and the Israelis in reaching an agreement. “President Obama has called for a stop to any additional settlements. But, that is a thorny tough issue,” he said, adding that “it’s an issue that has to be solved at the bargaining table even if it takes awhile.” Hoyer’s comment presumably warmed the hearts of his hosts and handlers even as it reportedly infuriated some in the now divided the White House.
    Remarkably, Hoyer, now in his 14th term in Congress (on June 3, 2008 Steny set the all-time Record for the longest serving Member from Maryland) has yet to find a single aspect of Israel’s occupation, numerous wars against Lebanon, assassinations, slaughter of innocents and massive violations of international humanitarian law and violations of American laws (Arms Export Control Act of 1976, the 1961 Foreign Assistance Act and rack of other laws) “a big issue”.
    But God forbid some misguided Palestinian pre-teen lobs a piece of gravel at one of Israel’s 400+ US funded (now $ 6 million each!) 130,000 pound, 1,200 horsepower, 30 foot long, 13foot wide, Merkava IV, triple impenetrable (except to Hezbollah rockets we recently learned) tanks and Hoyer is on the House floor crying ‘Palestinian terrorism’ and ready to support another AIPAC Congressional Resolution demonizing Arabs and Islam.
    Get over there and do some good!
    Earlier this month, AIPAC dispatched two Congressional delegations to Israel. Their primary purpose, as they nearly stumbled over one another, was to warn President Obama to ‘back off Israel.”
    Continues…….
    http://intifada-palestine.com/2009/08/17/aipac-sends-in-the-clowns/
    This article is wrong. They aren’t “clowns”.
    They’re ghouls.
    And there is absolutely no way that Obama can surmount the mountain of opposition these bought and paid for whores in his own party are waging against his feeble effort to rein in the expansion of the racist state of Israel.
    It is obvious that Israel is going to ERASE the Palestinian people with the help of OUR politicians, and our tax money. And that makes us no better than Nazi Germany.

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  8. PissedOffAmerican says:

    An American, engaged in peaceful protest against a separation wall that is ILLEGAL under international law, is shot in the head at close range by the Israeli GESTAPO, rendering him into a vegetable, AND OUR COWARDLY CRIMINAL NON-REPRESENTATIVE STATE DEPARTMENT DOES NOTHING. Clinton, as a Secretary of State, is a pathetic embarrassment.
    And now this….
    http://www.maannews.net/eng/ViewDetails.aspx?ID=219888
    Israel declares shooting of American an “act of war”
    Published yesterday (updated) 18/08/2009 19:14
    Bethlehem – Ma’an – Israel has declared the shooting of unarmed American demonstrator Tristan Anderson in the West Bank to be an “act of war” in a bid to avoid compensating his family.
    The Israeli Ministry of Defense sent a letter containing this declaration to the Anderson family’s lawyers, according to attorney Leah Tsemel who is perusing a civil suit against the Israeli government.
    Anderson was critically injured on 13 March 2009 when Israeli soldiers shot him in the forehead with a high velocity tear gas canister during a demonstration against the separation wall in the West Bank village of Ni’lin. He remains unconscious in Tel Aviv’s Tel Hashomer Hospital, where he recently underwent another surgery to reattach part of his scull that was removed during life-saving surgery five months ago. Prospects for his recovery remain unclear.
    Tsemel, the civil suit attorney told Ma’an that the “act of war” designation automatically releases the government from paying compensation under a recently-amended tort law. Israel makes this designation “all the time,” in tort cases involving Palestinian victims, she said.
    She also said the Andersons’ lawyers would “exhaust all possibilities in Israeli courts,” and in international courts if necessary, to hold the government accountable. A court date has not yet been set.
    Phone calls to the Israeli Ministry of Defense seeking comment were not immediately returned.
    Tsemel also reiterated that overwhelming evidence shows that Anderson was not a combatant and presented no threat to the Israeli soldiers. In an eventual court proceeding, she said, Anderson’s lawyers would present eyewitnesses, videotape, a medical report, and even the Israeli soldier’s own reports to prove this.
    “If a process by which unarmed civilian demonstration is classified by Israel as an ‘act of war,’ then clearly Israel admits that it is at war with civilians,” said Attorney Michael Sfard, who is handling the criminal side of the Anderson case, in a statement circulated by the International Solidarity Movement (ISM).
    On the criminal side of the case, ISM said Israeli police have completed their criminal investigation and passed the file to the district attorney of the Central District of the Israeli prosecutors’ offices. Sfard, is awaiting their decision.
    Anderson was shot at a distance of 60 meters while standing with a group of Palestinians and international activists, hours after the demonstration had been dispersed from the construction site of the Wall.

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  9. arthurdecco says:

    Kudos to JohnH, Carroll and jonst for their measured, perceptive and intelligent comments on this thread.
    And in regards to the voluminous output of prose from the usual suspects in opposition to all things reasonable, as always – we knew before they put their fingers to their keys what they were going to type…and how dishonestly they were going to frame their, for lack of a better word, arguments.
    IMO, Amjad Atallah struck a tone of reasonableness worthy of our respect in this essay – a tone obviously terrifying to the bloodthirsty nutbars fueling both sides of this madness.
    And as far as the opinions of Israel’s for-now-favourite pet Palestinian, Mahmoud Abbas go – I’m not remotely interested in what he may have to say on this subject any more than I’m interested in listening to the illogical mutterings and bigoted ravings of our very own in-house fifth columnists. He’s a traitor to his people.
    So thanks to TWN for providing this forum to Amjad Atallah.
    Voices of Reason are always welcome in my world.

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  10. JohnH says:

    Nadine said, “Is there any top limit to how many Hamas can “legitimately” kill in its “vigorous response”?
    I don’t know. Is there any limit to how many Branch Davidians the US government can kill and still be legitimate? Or how many Iraqis? Or Afghan wedding parties and funeral processions? Is there any limit to how many Lebanese the Israelis can kill in their homes and still be legitimate? Or how many Palestinians?
    In all cases, the rulers in question perceived a threat, and they took a vigorous response. In this case the Israeli government should be pleased that Hamas is maintaining its monopoly over violence in Gaza, thereby enhancing its credibility as an organization that Israel could do business with, should Israel choose to negotiate with an organization having some legitimacy.

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  11. PissedOffAmerican says:

    Here is Huckabee, joining Hoyer, Reid, and Bayh in openly undermining the foreign policy efforts of their President.
    Please read the comments after the short article. This is the kind of racist wackjobs Huckabee is aligning himself with.
    http://www.israeltoday.co.il/default.aspx?tabid=178&nid=19397
    Here is yet one more article describing Huckabee’s efforts. Note that he chooses to join a contingent of people that includes those willing to flaunt signs claiming “”Barack Hussein Obama – Anti Semite, Jew-Hater.”
    http://www.google.com/hostednews/afp/article/ALeqM5jXknOjIz4fDLYZk2oRYq5pd_F8rg
    Apparently, bi-partisanship IS alive and well. But these pieces of shit like Reid, Huckabee, Cantor, Hoyer, etc, only practice it while whoring themselves on Israeli soil, united in undermining our President’s policy goals and aiding Israel in its campaign of human rights abuses and war crimes.

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  12. JamesL says:

    Who said Israel was at all interested in peace?

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  13. PissedOffAmerican says:

    Its comical seeing the RW contingent jumping on Atallah’s comment like jackals.
    Particularly Nadine, who has rabidly snarled on and on about Hamas trying to impose sharia law on Gaza.
    Any unrest, any sectarian fueding, radicalism, or conflict between Hamas and Fatah, is incited and nurtured by Israel, working to Israel’s advantage. The responses by Kotz, this racist abomination Nadine, and the mouthpiece Wig-wag are day-glo orange in their predictability.

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  14. kotzabasis says:

    Atallah in a post to the Washington Note, on January 20, 2009, displayed his inimitable originality as a political thinker when he claimed that the “cease-fire” in Gaza was Obama’s “first foreign policy success.” On August 17, 2009, from among the ashes of his by now burnt out originality he rises like a phoenix to claim that Hamas is showing the first symptoms of a unique metastasis from a virulent fanatic radical organization to a moderate one. The demiurge of this beatific poetically transcendental transformation from the ugly reality of Hamas as an irreconcilable terrorist organization is Hamas itself. By fighting the Salafist group of Jund Ansar Allah and killing its leader Abdul Latif Musa Hamas is blazing a new course of political moderation that according to Atallah would be foolish for the US under Obama not to take advantage of that could change the whole configuration of the Palestine Israel conflict.
    Thus the offspring of the Islamist fanatical coupling of Ahmed Yassin and Sayyid Qutb, the founder and the spiritual leader of Hamas respectively who both have their roots in the Muslim Brotherhood, like a poisonous snake is shedding its skin and metamorphosing itself into an amiable friendly python.
    Atallah is either unaware of the historical fact or deliberately hides it so he make his case, that throughout history all widespread and toxic fanatical movements had variable degrees of fanaticism among their members and often created within the general movement their own groups that fought each other to the death. The virulence of fanatical Islam in our times and the internecine and fratricidal warfare that goes and will go within it illustrates in a pellucid manner the above historic fact.

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  15. nadine says:

    According to the reports, Hamas blew up the Al Qaeda leader’s house with the occupants still inside.
    Atallah notes “The vigor with which Hamas is responding to this challenge (perhaps too vigorous), ironically, would be difficult, if not impossible, by the US-trained Palestinian forces under General Dayton’s instruction in the West Bank. This is not because of any lack of ability, but because of a limit on legitimacy imposed by its cooperation with Israel within the context of the on-going Israeli occupation.”
    So for a Western force that doesn’t have “legitimacy” because it “cooperates” with Israel (meaning: is not trying to destroy Israel) blowing up a mosque, or a militant’s house with everybody inside would be a war crime. But for Hamas, it is merely “a vigorous response” and quite all right. No war crimes here, no condemnations from HRW. Hamas may proceed with its small civil war with Al Qaeda with further “vigor” as it sees fit.
    It’s rather ironic that Atallha does not possess the introspection to notice that his definition of governmental legitimacy gives Hamas pretty much carte blanche to kill as many Al Qaeda guys and civilians caught in the crossfire as they like. Yet these are the same Palestinians whose deaths would now be creating a firestorm of outrage – if only they had been killed by Israelis. Or General Dayton’s troops. (Headline: “They Blew Up the House with Everybody Inside! etc).
    Is there any top limit to how many Hamas can “legitimately” kill in its “vigorous response”?

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  16. JohnH says:

    Wigwag apparently just doesn’t get it: “Hamas police are viewed as bringing law and order AND resisting Israel.”
    Gaza has an organization that is in charge and has a monopoly over the means of violence, the necessary condition of any security force. Moreover, they were elected and thus have some real legitimacy (unlike the totally corrupt and compromised Fatah).
    What this means is that Israel has someone to talk to on the Palestinian side. Of course, Israel doesn’t much like what they have to say. Israel would much prefer imposing the corrupt and compromised skeleton of a Fatah organization on the Palestinians.
    And this is where it gets interesting. Will Israel opt for peace, conducting tough negotiations with an organization that can deliver? Or will they once again show that they can blow any opportunity for peace? Will Israel continue to shun Hamas preferring Fatah, which can’t deliver on peace, but will pretty much let Israel run all over the Palestinians?
    IMHO, the last thing Israel wants is to negotiate peace with a Palestinian party that can deliver, which is why they doggedly continue to blow opportunities. Peace would require negotiating away some of Israel’s dreams. It would also require that Hamas make concessions–during negotiations not before, as Israel demands. (In reality, why should anyone expect Hamas to make concessions (surrender) before negotiations, thereby making any negotiations pointless?)
    But Israel would much prefer to keep the Zionist mirage alive and have some quisling Palestinian strongmen take over security operations and the occupation itself.

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  17. Carroll says:

    Posted by …, Aug 17 2009, 10:52PM
    >>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>
    Scary isn’t it?
    Although I have nothing in common with the right wing whackos, I understand their frustration….’everyone’ is frustrated, right,left and center …even though some of them are obviously totally illogically so.
    I was reading the liberal site Dkos today, which is also as loony as the conseratives, and there were a dozen articles there by black militants encouraging blacks to go to political events on the health care issue wearing guns to confront the “white folks” because “everyone against” universal health care is only against it because they are “racist” out to get black people and our black president.
    That’s how insane both the right and left political camps and their followers are.
    All it needs is one spark.

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  18. ... says:

    david – >>Mike Huckabee is not the only American politician to go to Israel and anger Palestinians this week.
    House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer (D-MD) is leading a 29-member Democratic delegation on an AIPAC-sponsored tour of Israel. The junket follows the same itinerary as last week’s 25-member Republican House group led by Minority Whip Eric Cantor.
    http://mondoweiss.net/2009/08/hoyer-junket-upsets-palestinians-undermines-obama.html#more-8468

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  19. ... says:

    this picture reminds me of something i read in the news today in the usa… people walking around with assualt rifles when the president-obama is giving a speech…. maybe the usa is going to be like the folks in the middle east firing off into the sky, or more….
    >>A man toting an assault rifle was among a dozen protesters carrying weapons while demonstrating outside President Barack Obama’s speech to veterans on Monday, but no laws were broken. It was the second instance in recent days in which unconcealed weapons have appeared near presidential events

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  20. David says:

    I see that Mike Huckabee is currently in Israel doing everything he can to undermine President Obama. Reminds me of George Bush’s trip to meet with Ariel Sharon while Bill Clinton was still president. Fancies himself a patriot does Mr. Huckabee?

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  21. Carroll says:

    Atallah is right on every point.
    The only thing left out I want to see is international troops put between Israel and Palestine as Jones and others have suggested.
    It is going to be necessary at some point anyway if/when a settlment is reached to put an international force in place to carry out directives and oversee both sides as agreements are implemented or else it will devolve back into a bloody mess.

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  22. WigWag says:

    “There should be a prompt reconsideration of whether the international community cannot follow the lead of peace groups and open the Gaza Strip from the sea, in cooperation with a technocratic unity Palestinian government, to relieve the assault on the civilian population that has bred Salafist extremism.”
    Is Salafistt extremism the result of the hardship imposed on the civilian population as Atallah suggests, or is it the result of a specific policy decision on the part of Hamas to let Salafist extremists into Gaza?
    According to President Abbas, Al Qaeda affilated extremists are in Gaza at the invitation of of Hamas. Here’s what Abbas said in February, 2009,
    “Al-Qaeda is present in Gaza and I’m convinced that they [Hamas] are their allies,” said Mr Abbas in an interview with al-Hayat, a London-based Arabic newspaper. “I can say without doubt that al-Qaeda is present in the Palestinian territories and that this presence, especially in Gaza, is facilitated by Hamas.” (“Al-Qaeda has infiltrated Gaza with help of Hamas, says Abbas,” London Times, February 28, 2009.
    I wonder when Hamas changed its mind and decided that the Salafist groups in Gaza were more trouble than they were worth. Could it be when the Salafists decided that Hamas wasn’t religiously pure enough (it’s hard to believe that Atallah thinks this makes Hamas moderate)? Could it be when Al Qaeda affiliated groups began to join Hamas’ enemy Fatah in taunting Hamas members as Shia? Could it be when the Salafists decided they couldn’t stomach supporting a movement that received arms, funding and support from Shia “apostates” in Iran and the Shia in Hezbollah?

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  23. Zathras says:

    I don’t mean to be difficult here, but the reason the Gaza coast is being blockaded is because the Israeli government fears that lifting the blockade would invite an influx of weapons to Gaza, with renewed rocket and other terrorist attacks on Israel to follow.
    There are plenty of people who don’t think the Israelis have any right to take the steps they have to prevent this, but seeing as none of them have much influence in Tel Aviv the question must be asked: how could the sea blockade of Gaza be lifted and Israeli concerns about weapons being smuggled into Gaza accomodated? I’m all for pressing Israel to lift the blockade if this can be done, but pretending that it isn’t an issue as Mr. Atallah does here gets us nowhere.

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  24. jonst says:

    I am sure there are various points Mr Atallah is trying to convey in his post about this incident. What I take from it however is, it is good evidence to refute the ignorant, simplistic, and counterproductive theory that it is ‘us, the good guys, against ‘them’ the bad guys’. This pernicous assertion/belief was the mating call of Bush Admin. And is, the mating call of the neocons. Further that ‘them’ bad guys don’t have mutually exclusive security interests. i.e. Saddam and OBL hate the US ergo Saddam and OBL work together.
    If this is among the goals of Mr Atallah, I say good.

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  25. WigWag says:

    It’s hard to know what to make of this post by Amjad Atallah. Is he trying to suggest that it is a sign of progress that the civil war between Hamas and Fatah has now been joined by a potential third party, Jund Ansar Allah? Is he suggesting that because the Hamas founding document says only Muslims can rule in the Holy Land and cites the Protocols of the Elders of Zion that unlike Jun Ansar Allah, Hamas is really moderate? Is he actually suggesting that a key to jump starting a peace process in the Middle East is for the U.S. to facilitate Palestinian reconciliation? Did he follow the recent Fatah Conference? Did he notice that criticism of Hamas was at least as frequent and vitriolic as criticism of Israel?
    Does Atallah really think Palestinian reconciliation is a prerequisite for success? Exactly how likely does Atallah think it is to occur? Or maybe Atallah thinks that if reconciliation is impossible, that the U.S. should abandon the secular Fatah in favor of the Islamists in Hamas who a few short years ago were launching suicide bombers that only stopped because of the Israeli-constructed separation fence.
    If it weren’t so sad and misguided, it would almost be funny watching people like Atallah and Helena Cobban pleading the Hamas cause. They never tire of telling us that Hamas has moderated; that its more open-minded leaders are in ascendancy and that it is really interested in a long term cease-fire (as if that is the same thing as a final peace deal).
    If they’re right, I wonder what explains this new-found moderation. Could it be that the beating Israel imposed on Gaza in response to rocket fire from Hamas has soured Gazans and Hamas on military resistance? Could it be that the embargo imposed on Gaza by both Israel and Egypt has made things so difficult in Gaza that the citizens there are more and more fed-up with Hamas? Could it be that continued isolation by the United States and Europe has finally convinced Hamas that it has little choice but to moderate its positions? Could it be the fecklessness of its Hezbollah allies during the recent Israeli attack on Gaza gave Hamas pause that t could rely on its Lebanese ally for anything other than rhetorical support? Could it be that the realization that most citizens in Iran are more interested in aligning with the United States than providing support to Hamas has tempered Hamas’ view of what it can achieve? Could it be that Israel’s security fence has so hindered its ability to send out suicide bombers that Hamas realizes that it has lost another quiver in its arsenal? Could it be that Tom Friedman is right; that increasing economic prosperity in the West Bank is making Fatah more popular at just the time that Hamas is losing popularity? Could it be that Hamas no longer believes polls that show it winning a future election in light of the failure of polls in to predict the winners in Lebanon and Iran?
    In short, if Hamas is moderating its positions, it’s because of the policies that Israel, the Bush and Obama Administrations and the Europeans put in place. Every one of those positions was opposed by the likes of Atallah, Levy, Clemons and Cobban. The very positions that this group and their fellow travelers opposed are responsible for moving a reluctant Hamas in the direction of less recalcitrance.
    Recent moves by Hamas raise another very interesting question. Is Atallah willing to admit that heretorfore, he was wrong?

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