Not so Random Questions about Hamas’ Victory

Some have argued that the withdrawal from Lebanon in May of 2000 played a key role in the outbreak if the Intifada in October. Seen in the West as a hopeful sign that if Israel makes concessions it will lead to peace, the Lebanese pullout registered in the Muslim world as a sign of Israeli weakness, as proof that if the Israelis (and Westerners) bleed enough they’ll turn and run. Thus the pullout encouraged the Palestinians to think Israel was weak and on the run, so they hit them with all the violence they could — both sides of the green line, civilians and military — in the hope of a repeat performance. As one analyst put it in early 2001:

A conspicuous failure of Israeli deterrence occurred in the struggle against the Hizbullah in Lebanon, especially in recent years. This failure reached its climax in the disgraceful withdrawal from Lebanon in May 2000, in the abandonment of the SLA (South Lebanese Army) and the pedantic, to the point of disdain, fulfillment of United Nations Resolution 425 from 1978. It is difficult to disassociate that withdrawal from the bloody clashes or mini-war, which the Palestinians initiated in Judea, Samaria and Gaza in late September 2000. In the “Al-Aksa intifada”, which is ongoing still today…

To what extent does Hamas’ victory reflect the Palestinians reading of the withdrawal from Gaza this summer? After all, it was Hamas’ relentless campaign of terrorism that dislodged the Israelis. They had restored pride to a wretched people whose corrupt “secular” leadership had failed to defeat its enemy.

It is interesting that Hamas won by about the same percentage of people who think that suicide terrorism (a.k.a., martyrdom) is a legitimate weapon to use against Israel. More fallout from how stupidly our media has covered the conflict?

4 Responses to Not so Random Questions about Hamas’ Victory

  1. To what extent does Hamas’ victory reflect the Palestinians reading of the withdrawal from Gaza this summer? After all, it was Hamas’ relentless campaign of terrorism that dislodged the Israelis. They had restored pride to a wretched people whose corrupt “secular” leadership had failed to defeat its enemy.

    The connection is more prosaic, I think. The PA’s Fatah government failed to establish order in Gaza after the Israeli withdrawal. Perhaps the longing of the Palestinian population for plain-vanilla good government has been exaggerated, but it is not much of a stretch to surmise that they lost patience with a government that could not even benefit from an enemy surrender.

  2. RL says:

    but in the victory parade that followed, Hamas had live bombs which blew up in the face of a bunch of kids, killing them. that’s hardly the go-to group to get order.

  3. David says:

    It is surprising to see how the UK media have misrepresented Hamas’s victory in the Palestinian polls, by playing on the ignorance of their readership. True observers know that Hamas is very two faced. To non-Muslims they are an aggressive terrorist organisation but to Muslims they can be very benevolent. What better way to secure the votes of the Palestinian public than to build schools and medical centres? What better way to defeat Fatah than to show Palestinians that there is an alternative to the money grabbing narcissism of Yasser Arafat and those who grew rich from him?

    No, the Palestinian electorate did not ‘vote for the suicide bombers’ per se, they voted for a change, away from Fatah to a group whom they hope will deliver a more comfortable way of life for them. It remains to be seen if Hamas will perform, now that they have achieved political power.

    As a footnote; A Hamas victory should be good for Israel. There will be no more expensive, time wasting negotiations for starters. Hamas have stated that they want to rely less on Israel’s support for the Palestinian people by creating ties with Egypt, who can give them cheap petrol and electricity. Hamas want to create trading ties with Arab and other Muslim countries. Hamas are considering having an army.

    All these things serve to sweep away the nebulous Fatah period, so if at some point Hamas do decide to go to war with Israel, it won’t be quite so hard for the Knesset to vote on bombing Gaza City.

  4. RL says:

    Response to David:
    you wrote:
    It is surprising to see how the UK media have misrepresented Hamas’s victory in the Palestinian polls, by playing on the ignorance of their readership. True observers know that Hamas is very two faced. To non-Muslims they are an aggressive terrorist organisation but to Muslims they can be very benevolent. What better way to secure the votes of the Palestinian public than to build schools and medical centres? What better way to defeat Fatah than to show Palestinians that there is an alternative to the money grabbing narcissism of Yasser Arafat and those who grew rich from him?

    RL: this would be true if the educational system were not a form of systematic child abuse in which little kids are taught to be suicide terrorists and inculcated with hatred. the “irrationality” of the vote for Hamas (or, as Ahmed might put it, the hyper-asabiyya) cannot and should not be glossed over with “rational” explanations that ignore the depths of the tragedy.

    No, the Palestinian electorate did not ‘vote for the suicide bombers’ per se, they voted for a change, away from Fatah to a group whom they hope will deliver a more comfortable way of life for them. It remains to be seen if Hamas will perform, now that they have achieved political power.

    RL: i find the notion that Hamas was selected because it would “deliver a more comfortable way of life” hard to understand. Sharia will be more comfortable? continued war with Israel will be more comfortable? why are you projecting middle class values onto this electorate? certainly such middle class values about comfort and tranquility are anathema to Hamas.

    As a footnote; A Hamas victory should be good for Israel. There will be no more expensive, time wasting negotiations for starters. Hamas have stated that they want to rely less on Israel’s support for the Palestinian people by creating ties with Egypt, who can give them cheap petrol and electricity. Hamas want to create trading ties with Arab and other Muslim countries. Hamas is considering having an army.

    RLi hope you’re right that it should be better for israel because they won’t waste time with (useless if not counter-productive) negotiations, but i must say that that can only be true if a) the rest of the world doesn’t start pressuring Israel to negotiate with Hamas in the hopes that it will bring Hamas to be flexible, and b) Hamas doesn’t use the time to prepare another still more vicious and self-destructive war. we undersestimate the willingness of some people to opt for the negative sum (i lose you lose) strategy.

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