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A LIBERAL RESPONDS!!!! The Danger of Generalizing Fatah and Hamas

Reader comment on item: Two Palestines, Anyone?

Submitted by Chris G. (United States), Jun 19, 2007 at 15:54

Ok now that I got your attention I'm actually more of a moderate and I am graduate student in cultural anthropology who is conducting research into alternative methods of counter-terrorism.. Below is my response the situation in Gaza and the West Bank:

While what Mr. Pipes says in his article may be true, it still does not answer the basic question of how to achieve peace between Israel and the Palestinians. Part of the problem from what I have seen and experienced personally is the lack of "boots on the ground" understanding of the complex political process.

A good example is how Hamas militants in Gaza are saying, "We have established a true Islamic state in Gaza!" while the Hamas leadership in Syria is saying, "NO! We DO NOT want to establish an Islamic state in Gaza or establish two separate Palestinian states." So what we see is either deception or more likely a simple breakdown in authority and discipline in Hamas. Hamas is an Islamist party, but not all Islamists are the same. This is a crucial distinction.

For example Hezbollah historically kept out Al-Qaeda type ideologies and groups in Southern Lebanon. It has only been able to take root in some of the Palestinian camps. I have also not seen any documented cases of Hezbollah cutting off heads of their captives such as the vanquished Christian South Lebanese Army. Likewise, Hamas is not Al-Qaeda. What our policy makers (both conservative and liberal) have failed at is understanding such things as which spiritual leaders Hamas follows and whether certain Islamic religious leaders could be convinced to urge Hamas towards a more moderate and tolerant government. Instead both Republicans and Democrats scream for democracy in the Middle East. Yet the fact of the matter is that democracy is inherently weak. Furthermore democracy is a guaranteed avenue for extremist Islamists to take over a country. If you put true democracy in a country like Egypt, the Islamic Brotherhood would easily win. Why? Because like Hamas, they concentrated on helping the poor by building hospitals and schools. In an area of extreme corruption, they provide honesty. That is their good side. The bad side is that they also want to wipe out Israel and go out on Jihad at the drop of a hat. A lot of this mentality is based on the concept of honor that is so important in the Middle East.

Today our foreign policy is all about humiliating & killing Islamists. This in fact does nothing but strengthen their hatred towards America and Israel. There is almost no dedicated research into developing more positive Islamic based approaches that blend modern concepts of tolerance and freedom into the best aspects of Islam. There are also no government organizations or programs that I am aware of dedicated to refuting extremist Islamic propaganda that is ALL OVER the internet using traditional Islamic theology. I find it ironic that instead, sites like this one, "History of Jihad, Dhimmi Watch, Jihad Watch, etc…" actually help to promote the extremist Salafi interpretations of the Qu'ran that many Hamas members follow (as well as Al-Qaeda). They should be doing the opposite and assisting moderate traditional Islamic scholars regain the soul of their religion from these post-colonialism wahhabi extremists.

Many of you may say, "TO HELL WITH THAT! I'M NOT SUPPORTING THOSE TERRORIST MUSLIMS!" However, the reality is that, Palestinians are Muslims. Even if not all are practicing Muslims, their culture is Islamic based (aside from the Christian minority some of which actually side with Hamas). We CAN NOT ignore their reality. To ignore the day to day reality of Palestinians and instead try to hammer in our own political theories is a recipe for disaster. Unless we are willing to massacre Hamas and any militant groups of Palestinians (or encourage Israel to wipe them out, man, woman, and child), then we need to work with the messy situation that we find in the Palestinian areas. It is full of grey-areas and contradictions. But unless we understand their mindset, culture, religious beliefs, economics, and politics of Palestinians intimately, we should then look at the logical next step to military solutions and give Israel the green-light to either kill them all or push them all into Egypt and Jordan. From those countries, we will then get continuing attacks on Israel and still the violence will go on and on.

It is for that reason that I advocate what many conservatives have a lot of difficulty with (as do many liberals believe it or not). That is, to fully understand those who we and Israel see as terrorists. To just pour money into Fatah like we are now doing is idiotic. It's time to think outside the box and look for solid leaders amongst the Palestinians who are intelligent and powerful advocates for peace and who are not tainted with corruption. Its time to sit down with Fatah and work with them to develop systems of governance to minimize corruption and bring more moderate Hamas leaders to work with them. Its time to work intensively with Hamas leadership to convince them to officially recognize Israel. Its time to develop Islamic based propaganda that refutes extremist ideologies and that shows what kind of beautiful future that a good government and peace with Israel would bring to the Palestinian people.

This would be a future in which they can worship any faith in peace, where they have economic prosperity, and eventually one day, even travel freely to Israel if peace holds securely and relations are improved. Jordan is one example of successful peace between Israel and an Arab nation. The IDF now have joint military exercises in Jordan and good economic relations since 1995.
We need a much more positive and clever approach rather than the constant threats and refusal to speak towards the extremists that are causing the most problems. Military action works for the short-term but is detrimental in the long term unless we conduct ethnic cleansing. Even that is short term as it would incite a broader and real war by all Muslims. What is needed now is a multi-solution approach that is required for complex problems. What I advocate also may work in Iraq and other hot spots.

I am still a freelance researcher so if any government agency is interested in learning more about my research please contact me through Daniel Pipe's website. If given State Dept. clearance, I would happily pack my bags and get on a flight to Jerusalem within two weeks so as to conduct rapid field research and then to work with both Israelis and the Palestinian governments (and Hamas) to achieve lasting peace.

Chris G.

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