Hamas and Iran

Islamic-conferenceI have been asked to explain for the general public how it is that Hamas ("The Movement for Islamic Resistance"), A Sunni Muslim organization has come to be supported by the Shia theocracy in Iran.  How this happened will be well known to many readers here, but not to others.  Naturally the comments and interventions of Muslims and specialists will be welcome.

Some thoughts:

– The bar between Sunni and Shia Islam has never been as high as it seems to outsiders unfamiliar with Islamic history and the religious sciences.  These two forms of the faith have existed in uneasy but endurable coexistence since the rise of Shiism as a different understanding of the meaning of the Quranic revelation.

In the first centuries of Islam there were many possible interpretations of Islam.  Sufism, Kharaji separatism, Mu'tazilism, etc.  These and many more contesting forms of Islam existed then and somehow managed to co-exist in mutual but not terminal animosity.  As I have often insisted, Islam is an endlessly fractious religio-political conception.  This is inherent in the faith because of the very way in which Sharia law is derived from scripture, practice and tradition and then accepted by bodies of believers through the process of religioususus consensus called in Arabic Ijma'.  This process continues today with every large or small consensus group believing itself to be practicing true Islam.  I will restrain myself from discussing Sufism here in the interest of general readability.

– Nearly all these consensus groups share the notion that it is the duty of true Muslims to defend the world-wide community of believers (Muslims) against the attacks of outsiders.  Islam aspires to an end of days scenario in which all people will be Muslims.  Many of the Islamic consensus groups that I have mentioned above have believed that it is their particular destiny as true Muslims to be the rulers of this  community of believers.  The community is called the 'Umma in Arabic.  Such ambition has usually been wildly fantasist in the clear inability of the groups to achieve a consensus of Muslims regarding leadership, but the groups aspire to this leadership nonetheless.  This aspiration on the part of the takfiri jihadis networked together into what is "shorthanded" as al-Qa'ida enabled the egregious neocon propaganda concerning the imminent and threatening rise of a new Islamic state called "The Caliphate."  The pseudo threat posed by "The Caliphate" was claimed to be as great as that posed by the Soviet Union in the Cold War or Nazi Germany.  A passing knowledge of Islamic history would reveal to all who cared to know that Islamic unity has been an unattainable goal for many, many centuries.  Regrettably, many honest but uninformed people were deceived by this propaganda ploy on the part of the Bush Administration and their neocon friends.

– Nevertheless, in defense of the shining image of the 'Ummaand the belief in a spiritual duty to defend this supposed manifestation of God's will on earth, Muslims and predominately Muslim states feel a deep obligation to defend fellow Muslims against non-Muslim enemies who can be seen as equivalent to the gathering of enemies who attacked the early community of Muslims in the time of the Prophet.  In that spirit, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, the "Supreme Guide" of Iran made a speech in December in which he firmly associated the Iranian Islamic Republic with Hamas.  The bottom line on the Shia/Sunni thing in the context of external attack – Muslims must be defended against non-Muslim and presumably anti-Muslim enemies.  Sectarian difference does not matter in this context.

– Against these religious considerations, Iran must weigh its state interests in a world in which there is no 'Umma except as an abstraction.  Iran wants an improvement in relations with the United States.  The Saudis do not want this any more than the Israelis do.  Any such rapprochement would diminish the ability of Saudi Arabia and Israel to manipulate public opinion and politicians in the United States to their continuing benefit.  If there were such an improvement in US/Iranian relations, Iran would have a profound conflict of interests to deal with.  This is a problem for Hamas and indeed for Hizbullah which lurks below the horizon in the future of a possibly, but improbably changed US foreign policy in the Middle East, i.e., one that treats Israel as a foreign country like all other foreign countries.

– The recent "statement" by someone claiming to be Usama bin Laden is an interesting phenomenon.  As the cognoscenti know, the particular views of his"brand" of Muslims do not permit the acceptance of national, ethnic or other such distinctions among God's subjects.  Nevertheless, Usama seems to have chosen to back this PALESTINIAN Islamic movement.  Hamas should be wary of this lest a takfiri presence and influence lead to the attempt at imposition of norms that occurred in western Iraq.

I bid you all welcome, let the comments begin—  pl

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46 Responses to Hamas and Iran

  1. confusedponderer says:

    I have frequently encountered a statement, namely that Hamas doesn’t recognise the right of existence of Israel (and that thus Israel cannot be reasonably expected to deal with Hamas at all).
    Could you, or any of the readers, please explain whether this is (a) accurate, and (b) whether or how this is indeed based on religious grounds and (c) whether or how this leads Hamas to limit their offers to hudna instead of traditional peace treaties.

  2. Abu Sinan says:

    Good explanation. I think that Iran is just filling the void that had previous been filled by countries like Egypt.
    Now that Egypt and Jordan have made peace with Israel they can no longer be looked at to support Palestinian resistance.
    Seeking to enlarge its role in the Middle East and wider Islamic world, Iran has stepped in and filled this void.
    This creates a difficult position for countries like Saudi Arabia. The al-Saud family feels that Iran is an existential threat to their rule, as do other Sunni governments in the area.
    The current political climate actually groups together some unlikely allies, most especially Israel and Saudi Arabia.
    The people, as a whole, might not pay too much attention the Sunni/Shi’a divide, but the dictators and monarchies in the area sure do. It is more about power than real religious division, but like most things in the region, their leaders will want to give it a veneer of Islam.
    In the ’06 war the leaders certainly came out of the wrong side of the picture, with their own populations supporting the Shi’ite Hizb’Allah. This time around is little different.
    The Saudis are essentially silent and have muzzled their own population. The idea being it is more important to keep down Hamas and their Shi’ite allies, even if it means effectively being stooges for the Israelis.

  3. somebody says:

    oh well, it is highly unlikely the Middle East conflict is about religion, the US Green Belt strategy was not really about religion either. and the US invasion of Iraq surely had nothing to do with the US president being supported by Evangelicals. The Irish troubles cannot be explained by Catholics being incompatible with Protestants as Spain and France had a similar conflict in the Basque country, and I remember before the US invented the moderate Sunni versus the extremist Shiite conflict (forgetting about Hamas and Bin Laden) Iraqui Shiite soldiers did fight against Iran, no?
    Israel is not a religious project but created by European nationalism and colonialism, the US having inherited all that after WWII including colonial wars from the British and the French …

  4. Abu Sinan says:

    The Israelis have never accepted the right of a Palestinian state to exist based upon 1967 borders, based on international law and numerous UN proclamations.
    So it is true that publicly Hamas has not accepted Israel’s right to exist, but it goes both ways. International law itself really doesn’t accept the legality of the current state of Israel anyways, Jerusalem and its annexation is illegal under international law, as is the occupation of the West Bank and Gaza.
    Privately most Hamas leaders and supporters would accept a Palestinian state based on 1967 borders.
    Hamas puts forward a lot of its argument in religious terms, but it doesn’t have to be so. Let’s remember that before the mid 1980’s the entire struggle was almost complete secular/leftist in nature.
    Religious extremism is just the flavour of the day, just as secularism/leftist and pan Arab movements were before.
    Technically Hamas might do a long term Hudna, if given a Palestine based on 1967 borders, this mostly to appease its most hardcore followers.
    The vast, vast majority of Palestinians would accept such a truce as set in stone, and with 1967, it would hold.

  5. JohnH says:

    A few thoughts of mine:
    1) In Islam, what’s of paramount importance is being a Muslim. Everything else is secondary. In the West, people often identify first by denomination (Catholic, Lutheran, etc.) In Islamic countries, people identify first as Muslim.
    2) While there are many legal traditions in Sunni Islam ( hanafi, maliki, wahhabi), there is no divine authority like the Pope. Emphasis is not on intercession by teachers and scholars but on personal responsibility before God.
    3) I view the ‘umma as more of a grass roots community of believers than as an organized political or religious system. In my view, Muslims believe that their shared religious beliefs should rule the world, not some corruptible religious or political leader.
    Today the highest manifestation of the ‘umma is the Hajj to Mecca, when millions of Muslims from around the world show that they are part of the community and return home lifted by the spirit of that community.
    4) The acronym Hamas means enthusiasm, rapture, zeal, fighting spirit.
    One of the reasons that foreign reporting is so barren, is that the names of foreign organizations are never translated. It’s as if they are intended to remain devoid of any human content. Mujahideen, for example, are strugglers.
    Ironically Gaza in Arabic is an easy pun with gas, which is found in abundance off the coast. It doesn’t take much effort by an Arab speaker to envision American and Israeli intentions. After all, they already stole the land and the water…

  6. Wisewoman says:

    Thanks so much. Your work contributes to a deeper understanding of the issues.

  7. arbogast says:

    Had it not been for a French general, Charles Martel, in the Eighth Century, I am under the impression that Christianity would have disappeared from the face of the earth.
    Was the failure of the followers of the Emir (killed in action) a result of the kind of factionalism you describe?

  8. kim says:

    “I will restrain myself from discussing Sufism here in the interest of general readability.”
    sounds like you might have some interest in, separately now,discussing sufism, and that such discussion might, separately, be at least a bit useful here.

  9. Charles I says:

    The enemy of my enemy is my friend.

  10. It seems to me that your views aren’t all that dissimilar from those of former CIA agent Robert Baer, as expressed in his recent book The Devil We Know: Dealing with the New Iranian Superpower. He suggests that it is very much in the USA’s interests to seek a rapprochment with Iran, and that they would be open to it. (That’s not to say, he believes, that the negotiations would be easy.) He asserts that Iran has evolved from being the radical loose cannon it was in the years immediately following the 1979 revolution and is now deeply pragmatic and intent upon eventually dominating the entire Persian Gulf region. In pursuing this they are less concerned with the pieties of whom they work with and more with their willingness to take Iranian direction and ability to get results. With Iraq out of the way and largely coopted by the Persians (thanks to Bush-Cheney strategic blunders), he doesn’t believe that the Sunni-dominated countries of the region have much of a long term chance of avoiding this fate. (He spends quite a few pages developing this theme, primarily on the basis of cultural and leadership structure differences between the Sunni and the Shia.) Thus, he believes we should ride the tide of history rather than trying to keep fighting it. If you’ve read this I’d like to hear your thoughts.

  11. Patrick Lang says:

    I have not talked to Bob about this but I know that several of my old colleagues for whom he worked agree with me. pl

  12. mo says:

    As usual, a perfectly succinct and accurate description of the relationship. The only thing I could add to that is that historically, the Sunni Muslim world has never been as considerate to the Shia part of the Umma as the Shia has been to the Sunnis. In other words, had Hamas been Shia and Iran Sunni, its most likely that the support given today would not exist, as it doesn’t from those paragons of the Sunni sect, the leaders of Egypt, Jordan and Saudi Arabia.
    a – Yes it is accurate though they have in the last couple of years signaled that they would accept a Palestine based on the 1967 borders and furthermore they accepted Saudi Arabias peace plan.
    b- Not in the slightest (although the opposition and Jihad against it is). It is entirely based on nationalism and a demand for justice for the forcible removal of Arabs from their land in the 1940’s. Most people in Gaza actually hail from the very towns in the south that they throw their rockets at.
    c- A hudna is a traditional Arab solution for when two tribes go to war but when neither can overcome the other and not stand the other. Its a peace treaty without the normalisation if you will. So you can see why its so apt here.
    One thing to note that is while a hudna is translated as “temporary” it must be remembered that temporary in the ME is very different to what it means in the West. In the case of hudna it mostly means peace until such time that I know I can beat you. Given the disparity of the two parties in this instance and the one sided world from the worldwide community, any hudna between Hamas and Israel will likely last a while.

  13. zanzibar says:

    Thanks for educating us Americans that are interested in other viewpoints.
    In my limited circle most including me don’t have a real understanding of the issues when it comes to regions like the Middle East. We have never lived there. At most traveled as a tourist. And definitely know very little about the nuances of their culture and politics. But we do recognize that what is served up by our media does not even pass the laugh test.
    A decade ago folks like me had a limited opportunity to get differing opinions based on experience as our corporate media had already become primarily a propaganda vehicle. I am very grateful that knowledgeable people like you do take the time and energy to foster better understanding of complex issues.

  14. Lysander says:

    I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again. The vast majority of the Arab/Muslim world is enraged by what has happened in Gaza. Many hold their own governments culpable and will look for leadership elsewhere. If Shiite Iran/Hizbullah provide it, they will find many who follow.
    That is why Hamas is such a threat to Mubarak. Any success by Hamas would have increased Iran’s legitimacy and ruined his own (what’s left of it anyway.)
    Now the question is, does Iran as a Nation state really have any interest in helping the Palestinians? Does it not simply create a big target sign on their heads? Wouldn’t the west welcome Iran if tomorrow they renounced Hamas and Hizb and recognized Israel? If so why does Iran persist in ‘defiance?’
    I don’t know the answer. Here is my speculation. It has something to do with the Umma that Col Lang spoke about. Iran, by confronting Israel successfully through Hizb and by confronting the U.S. Through its nuclear development is gaining the respect of the broader muslim world. This is not to say that there will ever be a single Islamic nation, but like the U.S. now has influence over Egypt, Jordan and much of the Persian Gulf, that could all change to favor Iran much as Iraq has. The only impediment is a government people hate and that can’t last forever.
    So while neocons talk of regime change in Iran, it is the regimes of their puppets that are most at risk.

  15. mo says:

    The support it gets is not so much from the support it gives. The Saudis and Saddam sent hundreds of millions to the Palestinians or at least the leadership in Arafats time but were never “popular”.
    What Iran is doing is giving that Umma back some dignity. It is saying to HA and Hamas, if you want to resist we have your back, with money, with arms. And, like you say, they do it even though they put themselves in danger. And for that they have our eternal thanks.

  16. lina says:

    “. . .It is entirely based on nationalism and a demand for justice for the forcible removal of Arabs from their land in the 1940’s. Most people in Gaza actually hail from the very towns in the south that they throw their rockets at.” [Mo]
    I could use a comprehensive explanation of “forcible removal.” When I try to research this piece of history and Google “right of return,” there are (surprise) two versions of the story. I had a friend (now deceased) who was born in Palestine in 1940. His father was a lawyer. In 1948, the father moved the family to Damascas where my friend subsequently grew up thinking of himself as Syrian. He never talked about being forcibly removed from his home.
    A 2004 BBC story states:
    “There is also debate over the number of refugees who initially left in 1948, and whether it was Arabs or Jews who caused them to go.”
    I understand everyone writes their own version of history. But where can I go to read eyewitness accounts of what really happened in 1948 with the displacement of Palestinians?
    Sixty years is a long time to “spin” something. Someone must have a few indisputable facts.

  17. Farmer Don says:

    Col. Lang,
    Here is the url describing a meeting Obama had to try to get more info on the Middle East.
    Maybe you know these people.
    Will he learn anything, or just hear more of the same?

  18. Babak Makkinejad says:

    Minnesotachuck & Lysander:
    People in US and EU largely employ the strategy of wealth accumulation to enhance their security. Among Muslims, Hindus, Chinese and many others, people employ the strategy of creating relationships (hierarchical or lateral) & accumlating honour and favors to insulate themselves against vagaries of fate and outrageous fortune.
    These 2 strategies are certainly not mutually exclusive but one or the other often times predominates among this or that group of people.
    Most Americans, raised within a predominantly wealth accumulating strategic paradigm (and in a commercial culture to the booth) will not be able to negotiate effectively with people whose paradigm of self-protection is largely one of influence & relationship & honor accumulation. They have to recognize the other fellows’ approach for successful negogiations.
    I think this ignorance contributed to the failure of Camp David Summit with Clinton-Barack-Araft. I recall reading that an American present during that summit had asked – with exasperation -“I do not know what more this man [Arafat] wants?” Well, whatever Arafat wanted he could not get out of the Camp David Summit and the Arab leaders to whom he shopped the results also did not see what they wanted.
    Thus, the current approaches to Iran, more goodies or more pain, advocated by Ambassadors Indyk, Hass, Ross and also by Mrs. Clinton have absolutely no chance of success.
    I also do not think US will be any more successful in causing Iran to modify her policy towards Palestine & Israel. For if for US the cause of Israel is an Affair of the Heart, for Iran the cause of Palestinians is an Affair of Honor.
    [Unfortunately, while an Iranian can understand an affair of the heart, there are not that many people in US – outside of US Military – that understand this notion of honor. I do not mean people in US have no honor, only that they are no longer motivated by honor except in the US Military – I am not sure if most people would consider “honor” as a quaint historical notion.]
    Which basically means that on Israel-Palestine US & Iran need to agree to disagree and leave it at that.
    An better approach would be to call for an unconditional but honorable reconciliation first and then to proceed from there.
    [In my opinion, as always.]

  19. jr786 says:

    It remains unclear to me how much Iran has helped Hamas, financially or materially. I have yet to hear of any zionist tanks or helicopters being destroyed by Iranian supplied munitions to Hamas.
    Moral support? In abundance. Press TV has championed Hamas and the Muslims of Gaza for ages. How many people here know that the zionists drained all the currency out of Gaza before eid al-fitr, depriving the people of perhaps their moment of celebration?
    Unity depends on an external source, people being people. I don’t doubt that some Muslims will remain diehards but does it really matter to most who places their hands on their knees or whether or not du’a is acceptable?
    As Col. Lang points out, Muslims are obligated to fight to defend Islam and Muslims IF the war against Muslims is being made because they are Muslim.
    This is the question being asked by most ordinary Muslims, even ones from ‘sects’ that haven’t been involved politically for hundreds of years, believe me.
    To me, the answer is yes. But unity demands leadership – the essential sunni-shia divide. The Iranians have shown it, not much but a little. The Arabs have disgraced themselves.
    The more Muslims see the participation of Arab Sunni leaders in the zionist slaughter of Muslims and the destruction of mosques (13 is the number reported) the more they realize they are the hypocrites.
    Gaza is an issue for all Muslims.

  20. Farmer Don
    A group of non-entities. pl
    “Itbach?” Someone will have to explain this verb to me. pl

  21. JohnH says:

    Lina–I recommend Avi Shlaim’s “The Iron Wall.” Written 10 years ago, he had access to Israeli cabinet members and archives to get past the spin.
    Also, an excellent eyewitness account of Israeli ethnic cleansing cames in a passage from none other than Yithak Rabin, who wrote in his memoirs, censored in the first edition: “While the fighting was still in progress, we had to grapple with a troublesome problem for whose solution we could not draw upon any previous experience: the fate of the civilian population of Lod and Ramle, numbering some 50,000…Clearly, we could not leave Lod’s hostile and armed populace in our rear, where it could endanger the supply route…We walked outside, Ben-Gurion accompanying us. Allon repeated his question: ‘What is to be done with the population?’ B.G. waved his hand in a gesture which said, ‘Drive them out!'”
    Then Rabin goes on to desribe how it was done.

  22. Trent says:

    MinnesotaChuck, The Commonwealth Club of San Francisco hosted Baer for a discussion of just this issue. If you use iTunes the podcast is available there. It might still be available on the Commonwealth Club’s website if you don’t use iTunes. Well worth the time. Cheers.

  23. mo says:

    Forcible removal is a catch all for driving the Arabs of Palestine from their land and villages using a variety of techniques (there is a list of stuff on my blog under Zionist mythology).
    Ironically, the combination of techniques involved very little actual physical removal of people. When the Hagganah and Irgun did enter a village it was not to remove but to slaughter, most infamously at Deir Yassine. They would then post flyers across all the surrounding villages warning that if the people did not leave the same fate awaited them (Any of this sound familiar?). And in one famous case, the Irgun took over an Arab radio station and broadcast messages telling the Arabs to flee (which is where the famous myth that the Arabs were told to leave by their leaders comes from).

  24. mo says:

    Lina, apologies I didn’t actually answer your question.
    As always with these things, I always find it best to read work done by scholars critical of their own side rather than wonder about any bias. The most acclaimed book in that category has to be
    The Ethnic Cleansing of Palestine by Ilan Pappe.

  25. jonst says:

    You wrote: ” and the US invasion of Iraq surely had nothing to do with the US president being supported by Evangelicals.” I am by no means as sure as you are on that issue.
    Respectfully, your sweeping—though eloquently written– as always, generalities about the nature of humans leaves my heading spinning. You are not simply painting with a broad brush. You are painting with a battery of fire hoses.

  26. jr786 says:

    I’ve been watching the Doha summit, which includes Presidents and representatives from nearly every Muslim/Arab country, with the prominent exceptions of zionist allies like Saudi, Jordan and Egypt.
    Remarkably, Khalid Meshal spoke first, and spoke well, I thought.
    There were Assad, the Turkish representative whose name I missed and Ahmadinejad and many others.
    Nothing prevents Muslim unity except Muslims and zionist allies of the zionist state.
    It seems to me that having Meshaal speak first, alongside the representative of Islamic Jihad and the Plfp, in the presence of so many countries was an indication that they recognize Hamas as the legitimate voice of the Palestinian people and the lawful resistance against the occupation, which it most certainly is.
    If Bush’s aim was to delegitimize Hamas and the resistance through his proxy gangster zionist state it looks as if that effort, like all of his others, has failed.
    This meeting, whatever comes out of it, is the first step in restoring the honor and dignity of the Arabs and Muslims. The Emir of Qatar has far more decency than I thought he did.

  27. Keith
    OK. “Itbach al-yahud!” would mean “cook the Jews!” a possibility but not much of a war cry in a pogrom.
    Seriously. I have spent a lot of time with Arabs in the last 35 years. I have never heard the expression that you cite. pl

  28. LeaNder says:

    Farmer Don
    A group of non-entities. pl

    Harsh statement. The question is, who do you think could help to stop it? What can the average citizen do?
    Illan Pappe surely an archenemy of the propagadist fraction, you mention above.

  29. Babak Makkinejad says:

    Thank you for your observations.
    Do my sweeping generalizations advance understanding?

  30. Lysander @ 1/15, 6:08 pm:

    “Now the question is, does Iran as a Nation state really have any interest in helping the Palestinians? Does it not simply create a big target sign on their heads? Wouldn’t the west welcome Iran if tomorrow they renounced Hamas and Hizb and recognized Israel? If so why does Iran persist in ‘defiance?'”

    As I read Baer, he’s saying that Iran is supporting the Palestinians through Hezbollah and Hamas to further its goal of undermining the perceived legitimacy of the Sunni-ruled Arab states in the eyes of their citizens. Although the Sunni regimes talk a good game, they don’t put thier own skin in the game and they have been utterly ineffective in terms of concrete results beneficial to the Palestinians. So far it’s working. The outcome of the 2006 Israel-Lebanon conflict was a huge strategic victory of Iran and Hezbollah because of its effects on the Arab street. Baer believes that Iran will accept any Israeli-Palestinian settlement that is acceptable to the Palestinians. They have no specific terms in mind that they seek to impose.

  31. Is the bottom line who outside Palestine what groups effectively support HAMAS with money, arms and medical care? If so then as you say you can forget the religious labels. Suspect a wide-spectrum of support for HAMAS! Curious, is there any Israeli support for HAMAS?

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  37. Mark says:

    Your post states the following:
    “Iran wants an improvement in relations with the United States.”
    It would be quite useful to hear your evidence for this conclusion. It is not that I disbelieve it. As a non-specialist, I find much foreign affairs reasoning to be either quite abstract or opaque, and in both cases conclusory. So it could be quite illuminating to see what you–experienced in these matters—view as persuasive evidence on a salient point.

  38. curious says:

    The basic tension with Iran I think is fairly simple:
    It’s pro western, ex-imperial aristocracy/kingdom vs. revolutionary.
    Saudi, Kuwait, etc are prime target of pan arabic nationalism or revolutionary Islam.
    Hey, everybody likes to be the king, and nobody likes the scrappy revolutionaries who wants to topple this and that. (specially not the big oil interest.)
    Also interesting is the early 20th century agreement between US and British large oil company to devide the middle east (the red line map?) between main arabian peninsula and US’s (Kuwait and eastward)
    Tho’ I am not sure what’s the story US can enter Saudi arabia (with lawrence of arabia gag and all, the British should have kept that part of the map)
    So it’s basically, US part of the oil empire flipping and turning, and rushing the rest of ex-colony. The monarchy are all holding on, and now their days are numbered.

  39. All
    I will tell you again to state whom you are addressing in your comments.
    You are getting my analysis. Take it or leave it. pl

  40. Keith says:

    William R. Cumming –
    Curious, is there any Israeli support for HAMAS?
    Proof that percieved necessity can make strange beadfellows, and that short term thinking has long term consequences:

  41. Charles I says:

    Lina, you could start with this rather dated (published 1997, posted to web 2001) review in Le Monde:
    “The expulsion of the Palestinians re-examined By the French newspaper Le Monde”
    Informative in its own right, it is very well footnoted with functioning links to a plethora of other sources including Jewish self-described “revisionist historians, prominent among them Benny Morris. There’s a detailed timeline, enough leads to keep you busy for hours and hours.
    I recall that Noam Chomsky’s 1999 “Fateful triangle : the United States, Israel, and the Palestinians ” contained a lot of detailed material quoting primary Hebrew sources on the subject, such as Yithak Rabin noted above, to the most cold-blooded effect.
    I recall being struck by the candour that the various actors displayed in the Hebrew sources, whereas any discussion in English I’d encountered to date usually foundered on the shoals of the standard antisemitic canard.
    Then I started reading the comments discussions in Haaretz! Oy vey, what an eyeful.

  42. Charles I says:

    William R. Cumming, re is there any Iraeli support for Hamas?
    I have recently read analysis, I’m sorry I can’t recall where, pointing out that the unilateral withdrawlal from Gaza was preceded by requests from Fatah/The Palestinian Authority to the Israelis for prewithdrawl co-operation in strenghten governance, (by strengthening Fatah/PA in Gaza) which was not effectively forthcoming. We saw the result. Not giving an exceedingly patient and accommodating-to-the-point-of-futility Fatah anything to offer up to their people for legitamcy was, in effect, support for Hamas. I think these calculations are done.
    To my mind, many many Israeli provocations, like the November helicopter strike that murdered 6 in Gaza prior to the expiry of the ceasefire are a form of support for Hamas, as are the blockade, the starvation, the harrassment and murder of fisherman and on and on. Supporting Fatah serves no discernible, as opposed to alleged, Israel interest, because nonterrorist Fatah demands peace and a two state which would require Israel to withdraw, pay reparations and stop invading neighbours, stop stealing land and water, and playing out their national pathologies on their neighbourds necks.
    Hamas, on the other hand, is a perfect foil, ready to pierce any inopportune prospect of peace, a crucial role in the Israeli concept of peace negotiation. Indeed, Hamas and Hizbullah seem to me to be in large part the products of Israeli aggression and occupation, if not an actual explicity connived anti-Fatah creation.
    I agree with all who say that any peace acceptable to the Palestinians would be acceptable to Iran, the Saudis, anyone. What would be to complain about – that the Zionest nest wasn’t wiped out as promised? These countries have proven themselves to be as cold bloodedly realistic as any other actor, nothwithstanding fervent agitprop from Tel Aviv and Washington to the contrary.
    I think Hamas itself would much more recalcitrant than any sponsor in the face of real peace. Its’ got a mission, a raison d’etre that might not take to peace and a proper state.

  43. jr786 says:

    To Charles I:
    If anybody would bother listening to Hamas, or Palestinians in general, they’d soon learn that they see little advantage in the establishment of a Palestinian Bantustan that would be as subject to American/Israeli military might as Gaza is today.
    Does anyone in their right mind believe that either the US or Israel would eve allow an independent Palestinian state to, say, sign a mutual defense pact with Iran that established Iranian bases in the nation of Palestine? Or do anything else that a sovereign state can and should be able to do?
    This fantasy was rejected ages ago by most Palestinians. It only survives in the minds of American politicians and corrupt Palestinians like Abbas who may still have a nephew or two that have not a received Mercedes 500sl with black tinted windows.

  44. Hello says:

    Two quick comments:
    1)Hamas is a Palestinian, Islamic resistance movement ironically its existence was nurtured by Israel(Jewish) to weaken the PLO.
    2) Hamas will have no problem to recognize Israel, once the latter defined its borders .

  45. anna missed says:

    Great comment Babak,
    for revealing the essential “forest from the trees” explanation for failure of U.S. policy in the M.E. Where “the strategies of power are economic to enhance security” are the differentials of power that you indicate. In the west, and particularly in the U.S. economic power trumps the other networks of power; and following in descending order are the military, political , and religious (networks of power). In the M.E. HOWEVER the order is reversed with the religious network informing the political, military, and the economic. Is it any wonder that a L.Paul Bremmer’s efforts to re-stack the power equation in Iraq, U.S. style, had absolutely no chance in hell of accomplishing anything but inspiring active resistance? Same goes for Afghanistan, Lebanon, and the territories. With all the other nations just simmering for their own opportunity to join up.

  46. confusedponderer says:

    Try this or this this or this this or this this or simply use ‘the mighty google’ …

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