Hamas at 20
By Khalid Amayreh in Ramallah
I am writing this piece as 300,000-500,000 people
(according to Reuters) are converging at the Katiba Square
in Central Gaza to mark the 20th anniversary of Hamas’s
Undoubtedly, the huge turn-out ( nearly one-third of the
Gaza Strip’s total population) is an unmistakable proof
that Hamas is still very popular among Palestinians despite
the rabid American-led efforts to scuttle the movement,
possibly in order to facilitate the appearance of a
quisling-like Palestinian leadership that would succumb to
Israeli hegemony and colonialist aspirations.
The massive attendance is also an eloquent refutation of a
plethora of tendentious Fatah-financed or Fatah-inspired
opinion survey which have suggested that Hamas’s popular
standing has seriously plummeted especially since the
mind-June events in Gaza .
These opinion polls are actually reminiscent of the
numerous opinion polls preceding the 2006-legislative
elections in the West Bank and Gaza Strip, which had
predicted a massive victory by the Fatah organization over
At 20, Hamas seems a young, viable, and aspiring movement,
with hundreds of thousands of mostly young Palestinians
indoctrinated in the moderate political ideology of the
This moderation, needless to say, will ensures Hamas’s
continuity, growth and prosperity.
Hamas is not and will not be an al-Qaida-like organization,
it will not wage Jihad on the whole world and will not
classify the world into two camps- those who are with us,
and those who are against us, as the al-Qaida organization.
Moreover, Hamas will not judge people’s religions and
ideologies, and will continue to seek friendship on the
basis of mutual respect and mutual interests. Indeed,
despite erratic and stupid utterances by some ignoramuses
who are members of Hamas, Hamas doesn’t actually consider
Jews as enemies. In fact, Jews who support justice and true
peace and who stand against oppression and occupation are
Hamas’ partners for a better future for both Jews and
Muslims in this tormented land.
More to the point, Hamas will continue to make a clear
distinction between hostile states and citizens of these
states and will never seek to target the urban centers of
countries whose governments are hostile to the Palestinian
cause, such as the United States and the United Kingdom.
And Hamas will continue to confine its legitimate struggle
and resistance against the Israeli occupation to the
Palestinian-Israeli theatre. This has always been Hamas’s
policy, and it will continue to be.
At 20, Hamas has been through it all, from creation to
destruction. The movement endured every conceivable act of
savagery and criminality on the hands of the Nazi-like
The leaders of the movement, and in many cases their
families as well, were deported, imprisoned, assassinated
and massacred. Today, as many as 4000 Hamas leaders and
activists languish in Israeli concentration camps, many of
them without charge or trial. Even Hamas’s
democratically-elected MPs and cabinet ministers have been
summarily abducted from their homes and offices for no
reason other than “the Hamas mantra,” a mantra whose
invocations justify every Israeli savagery, brutality and
Indeed, the vindictiveness with which Israel treats these
innocent people has a few parallels in the history of
mankind. The recent bloody repression by crack Israeli army
units of the Kitziot prison inmates in the heart of the
Negev desert is a clarion testimony, if one were needed, to
the blatant barbarianism of the occupation.
Twenty years are not a long period in the history of
nations and their struggle for freedom and independence.
However, looking back at what Hamas has achieved, one can
safely claim that Hamas has been a valuable asset for the
enduring Palestinian struggle.
To begin with, from the very inception, Hamas offered an
authentic alternative to the corrupt of the PLO which par
excellance encapsulated and continues to encapsulate the
meaning of corruption, despotism, dictatorship, nepotism,
favoritism and even treason.
It is true, Hamas has not succeeded in liberating Palestine
from the colonialist Israeli occupation.
However, Hamas has succeeded in reinstituting and
prominently featuring the right of return for millions of
Palestinian refugees as the most paramount cause that can
be neither compromised nor ignored nor circumvented.
The same can be said about other Palestinian national
constants and red lines which the often happy-go-lucky
Fatah negotiators viewed as “unsacred” and even
Actually, thanks to the political culture that Hamas helped
foster and consolidate among Palestinians, there is no
dignified Palestinian politician, even from Fatah, who
would publicly express a readiness to give in on such red-
lines like East Jerusalem, the refugees and the totality of
any prospective Israeli withdrawal from the Palestinian
It is actually because of its consistent refusal to succumb
to Israeli hegemony and bullying that Israel and her
guardian ally, the United States, and their poodles, and
puppets and allies have been boycotting and blockading
Hamas in the hope that another Palestinian entity, e.g.
Fatah, would do Israel’s and the West’s bidding by finally
surrendering to Israeli colonialism, probably through a
“peace settlement” that has all the marks of a capitulation
Non the less, Hamas not only has assets, has liabilities as
well. Following the death of Hamas founder and spiritual
leader Sheikh Ahmed Yasin, who was brutally assassinated by
Israel in 2004, a new generation of Hamas leaders didn’t
really understand the timeless golden adage that “it is not
enough to be right, one has to be wise, as well.”
Yasin and his lieutenants understood and translated this
golden maxim into tangible political wisdom that helped
Hamas overcome or at least circumvent the treacherous
minefields of the Oslo years.
It is perfectly true that most of the blame for the
mid-June events in Gaza falls on Fatah, not on Hamas. After
all, it was clear to all and sundry that Fatah leaders,
especially in the Gaza Strip, accepted willingly to play
the role of quislings on behalf of the US and Israel, thus
forcing Hamas to take a preemptive action to prevent the
occurrence of a longer and bloodier civil war that would
have claimed the lives of tens of thousands of
We all remember how Israel reacted to the Sabra and
Shatilla massacres in 1982, when then Prime Minister
Menachem Begin remarked that “we have nothing to do with
what happened …It is Arabs killing Arabs.”
Had Keith Dayton and Muhammed Dahlan and their cohorts
succeeded in their conspiracy, God forbid, we would have
had Ehud Olmert make the same argument, saying “we have
nothing to do with what happened in Gaza ; it is
Palestinians killing Palestinians.!” Non the less Hamas is
not completely blameless.
In these difficult days, when our people in Gaza are facing
a brutal and merciless blockade at the hands of the
children, grandchildren and great grandchildren of the
holocaust, and when most nations prefer to play blind, deaf
and dumb and look the other way, we need to utilize every
shred of wisdom at our disposal.
Yes, we must do the right thing, but it is also true that
we must choose the right time for doing the right thing.
Doing the right thing at the wrong time causes disaster and
unnecessary bloodshed. It also undermines our ability to
withstand the brutality of our enemy.
Hamas is undoubtedly right in refusing to recognize Israel
’s right to exist. Israel, a country whose very existence
was made possible only thanks to the destruction and near
obliteration of another people, the Palestinian people, has
no moral legitimacy and has no moral right to exist.
Non the less, Israel does exist and has moral and
international legitimacy, and Hamas and the rest of the
Palestinian people should be able to relate to this
existence in pragmatic terms, but without giving it any
moral legitimacy, because then we would all embrace the
Zionist narrative and become de facto Zionists.
Hence, it is advisable that Hamas should reformulate the
Hudna concept, at least in order to show the world that the
movement is not nihilistic, e.g. like al-Qaida.
Similarly, Hamas and other Palestinian organizations should
be able and willing to stop the firing of al-Qassam
projectiles onto Israeli territory if and when Israel shows
a genuine willingness to lift the criminal blockade and
terminate its aggression against the people of Gaza .
Yes, resistance to a sinister and wicked military
occupation is a legitimate and secret right that no one can
However, how to exercise this right in a way that would
limit one’s losses is always a matter of discretion and
In short, Hamas and other Palestinian resistance groups
should start thinking with their brains, not with their