This is the second part of a response to Maajid Nawaz’s opinion piece on Hamas, Gaza and Israel.
The first part can be read here.
Your Definition of Terrorism
The perception of linguistic gymnastics regarding “terrorism” and its ascription to Hamas plays into the continued demonisation and dehumanisation of Palestinian resistance movements. You define it is as,
“Terrorism aims to deliberately target civilians, and benefits specifically from their death or injury as a matter of policy. Hamas has this policy.”
Ignoring the point whether Hamas actually has such a policy, this invented definition has no solidifed legal basis in international law, the framework which you use to reference the “recklessness” of the Zionist entity’s murders. In fact, as we shall see, it is deeply uninformed. From an international legal perspective, there is no consensus on the definition of terrorism, precisely because of the teething issue of violence resulting from self-determination, a context which is most certainly applicable to Gaza and Hamas. Terrorism as a label is often also used for political expedience of taking sides, something which your article does, inadvertently or otherwise. The cliché “one man’s terrorist is another man freedom fighter”, could not be more apt.
Take for example, the following definition of international terrorism, proposed by the General Assembly in 1973 (28 UN GAOR Supp),
(1) Acts of violence and other repressive acts by colonial, racist and alien regimes against people struggling for their liberation…
… (3) Acts of violence committed by individuals or groups of individuals which endanger or take innocent human lives… This should not affect the inalienable right to self-determination and independence of all peoples under colonial and racist regimes and other forms of alien domination…
If anything, this definition is more applicable to the apartheid Zionist entity (as judged against the International Convention on the Suppression and Punishment of the Crime of Apartheid, adopted by the U.N. General Assembly in 1973). The violence born from self-determination has been afforded by parts of the body of international law as an exception. Given the history of Hamas as a resistance movement, transitioned into a political party, the actions can strongly be argued to be violence as part of a struggle. Consequently, the Zionist entity’s offensive with its aiming of suppressing a people whose desire is liberation would be regarded as terrorism under this definition.
What really reveals the lack of knowledge on this issue however is the fact that the Zionist entity is an occupying power under international law, which prohibits the use force to suppress a struggle for self-determination, whereas it does not for those who are part of the struggle to self-determine. As the ICJ noted,
“Israel is bound to comply with its obligation to respect the right of the Palestinian people to self-determination.”
The occupation by the Zionist entity, Maajid Nawaz, is the elephant in the room which you have missed in your opinion piece.
If it is argued, as you do Maajid, that Hamas or rather, resistance groups are targeting civilians (belligerent reprisals) in order to desist the offending State, then according to international law, this is legal. As Finkelstein notes,
“International law does not—at any rate, not yet—prohibit belligerent reprisals. The United States and Britain, among others, have staunchly defended the right of a state to use nuclear weapons by way of belligerent reprisal. By this standard, the people of Gaza surely have the right to use makeshift projectiles to end an illegal, merciless seven-year-long Israeli blockade or to end Israel’s criminal bombardment of Gaza’s civilian population.”
Your analysis of Hamas as “terrorists”, even by your own definition, is grossly inaccurate and extremely far from the “unfashionable truth” you make it out to be. Given terrorism can be conducted by a State (as alluded to earlier), the fact that you fail to apply your own definition of terrorism to key instances of the IDF targeting civilians, including shelling UN Shelters and bombing children on beaches (behaviour which seems to be endemic of the IDF, see here and here) reveals your blind-spot when it comes to the Zionist entity’s “terrorism”.
Democracy and Ceasefires
This piece is getting long, so I will eschew your point about there being no democratic elections in Gaza since Hamas has been elected. For now all I will say is that perhaps the three massacres by the Zionist entity, excluding this operation, which decimated infrastructures every few years have not dawned upon you.
With regards to the ceasefire, I am shocked at your comment which supports the Zionist narrative wholesale. You state,
“While the Palestinian Authority accepted Egypt’s earlier ceasefire deal, Hamas rejected it despite being aware that negotiations were taking place.”
Firstly, you seemed to have completely missed the 10-year truce Hamas had offered.
Secondly, the academic, Finkelstein, encapsulates the reasons for the rejection, which again demonstrates your highly simplistic (as opposed to “nuanced”) elucidation:
“The ceasefire, first of all, says nothing about the rampages by Israel against Hamas in the West Bank. And it was those rampages which caused the current conflict to escalate. It gives Israel a green light to continue arresting Hamas members, blowing up homes in the West Bank, ransacking homes and killing Palestinians, which was the prelude to the current fighting.
Secondly, if you look at the ceasefire, it’s exactly what was agreed on in… June 2008 and the same ceasefire that was agreed to in November 2012. Namely, in both cases, it was said that there would be a relaxing of the illegal blockade of Gaza. In both cases, after the ceasefire was signed, the blockade was maintained, and in fact the blockade was escalated. So now, in the current version of the ceasefire, it said the blockade will be lifted after there has been calm restored and the security situation has been established. But if Israel says Hamas is a terrorist organization, then the security situation can never be calm in the Gaza, and therefore there will be never a lifting of the blockade of Gaza. So we’re right back to where we were in June 2008, November 2012. Of course Hamas is going to reject that kind of agreement. It means… it legitimizes the brutal, merciless, heartless, illegal blockade of Gaza.”
I commend your attempts at a balanced position on the issue. However in the pursuit of linguistic moral and legal differentiation, perhaps to come to terms with you own conscious, an incredibly biased, Zionist account has been espoused. What hits the final nail in the coffin is the fact that, regardless of your perceived yet unattained middle-grounding, your conclusion supports the Zionist aim of the operation in the first place – the destruction of Hamas, Palestinian inheritors of oppression by Zionist occupiers.
This massacre by the Zionist entity was based upon a false pretext. Hamas was blamed by Netanyahu for the murdered of three Jewish teenagers. A massacre ensued and is still continuing despite the fact that there was no firm evidence pointing to Hamas as the perpetrators. This was even recognised by the US State Department and Human Rights Watch. And now reports are surfacing that Hamas was in fact not behind the murders.
Finally, it is interesting to note that you highlighted that Hamas and the Palestinian Authority were in conflict yet failed to mention that Hamas and PA had now formed a unity government. Commentators, including Finkelstein have alluded to the fact that the unity government is what triggered Netanyahu to throw a fatal tantrum, which seems to be the historic behaviour of the Zionist entity:
“At this point, Netanyahu virtually went berserk, and he was determined to break up the unity government. When there was the abduction of the three Israeli teenagers, he found his pretext.
Whenever the Palestinians seem like they are trying to reach a settlement of the conflict, which the unity government was, at that point Israel does everything it can to provoke a violent reaction—in this case, from Hamas—break up the unity government, and Israel has its pretext. “We can’t negotiate with the Palestinian Authority because they only represent some of the Palestinian people; they don’t represent all of the Palestinian people.” And so Netanyahu does what he always does—excuse me, what Israeli governments always do: You keep pounding the Palestinians, in this case pounding Hamas, pounding Hamas, trying to evoke a reaction, and when the reaction comes—well, when the reaction comes, he said, “We can’t deal with these people. They’re terrorists.”
Your rhetoric, sadly, is in synchrony with the Zionist propaganda. The “unfashionable truth” is Maajid, the Zionist entity has lost the propaganda war. People around the world are recognising it for what it is: a usurping power which is doing everything it can to continue its land-grab by any brutal means. Through the social media, as well as mainstream journalists actually being placed on the ground in Gaza, the reality of the Palestinian resistance and Hamas is coming to the fore. People are not skirting around the issue of Hamas, they are recognising the propaganda techniques used by the Zionist entity.
And those techniques exemplify everything wrong with your opinion piece.