Why won't Hamas tell the world WHY there should not be a Jewish state in Palestine?
February 26, 2006 (updated May 19, 2021)
The man Hamas has designated to be the prime minister of the Palestinian Bantustan statelet, Ismail Haniyeh, gave an interview to the Washington Post and Newsweek which was published in my local paper--the Boston Globe--today, February 26. When asked, "Do you recognize Israel's right to exist?"--a question to which Hamas has in the past answered with a clear "No"--Haniyeh gave an answer which reminds me of Peter's three disavowals of Jesus, each marked by the crowing of a cock:
"The answer is to let Israel say it will recognize a Palestinian state along the 1967 borders, release the prisoners, and recognize the rights of the refugees to return to Israel. Hamas will have a position if this occurs. "
In 2017 Aljazeera reported:
"Hamas accepts Palestinian state with 1967 borders: Khaled Meshaal presents a new document in which Hamas accepts 1967 borders without recognising state of Israel."
This means that Hamas will NEVER have a position on the central moral question of the conflict--the moral question Zionism must bury under a mudslide of obfuscation and lies and confusion if it is to maintain the minimum of world wide public legitimacy required to avoid the fate of the world's other notoriously racist regime, apartheid South Africa, after that regime lost such legitimacy.
Ismail Haniyeh has not even been installed officially as the prime minister yet, and already the "cock has crowed once." I suspect it will become a familiar sound.
Why won't Hamas tell the world WHY there should not be a Jewish state in Palestine? I believe the explanation is that Hamas does not like the answer.
Why should there not be a Jewish state in Palestine? The answer is: because such a state, which defines itself as one in which the sovereign authority is the "Jewish people" rather than all its citizens, is necessarily based on discrimination and ethnic cleansing against an entire ethnic group--non-Jewish Palestinians. The only morally consistent and coherent answer to this question that can gain the respect of the world's public, is to say that there should be full and genuine equality under the law for all those who live in Palestine, regardless of ethnicity or religious persuasion.
But Hamas, despite language in its [pre-2017] Covenant that speaks of human rights and tolerance of other religions (similar to language in the Israeli Declaration of the Establishment of the State of Israel, which speaks of "complete equality of social and political rights" for non-Jews), apparently cannot uphold the principle of full and genuine equality and at the same time advocate the key part of its pre-2017 Covenant which says that:
"It is the duty of the followers of other religions to stop disputing the sovereignty of Islam in this region... "
The 2017 updated Covenant wording of essentially the same idea is now expressed this way:
"By virtue of its justly balanced middle way and moderate spirit, Islam – for Hamas - provides a comprehensive way of life and an order that is fit for purpose at all times and in all places. Islam is a religion of peace and tolerance. It provides an umbrella for the followers of other creeds and religions who can practice their beliefs in security and safety."
So "sovereignty" of Islam is now the "umbrella" of Islam over "followers of other creeds and religions".
Hamas leaders are as averse to embracing the principle of genuine equality for all as are the Zionist leaders of Israel averse to upholding their rhetoric about equality for non-Jews. Each movement is far more concerned about limiting sovereignty (or "umbrella" status) to either "the Jewish people" or to "Islam." Unable to give a morally coherent reason why there should not be a Jewish state in Palestine, and knowing that its actual reason (to make Palestine an Islamic state) is indefensible in the eyes of a world public which understands that millions of Jews consider Palestine/Israel their home because they were born there and now live there, Hamas simply disavows its past denial of Israel's right to exist, and offers coy evasions when asked the question. In doing so Hamas gives away the entire shop of moral legitimacy to the Zionists.
This Is No Surprise
The tactics of Hamas and Zionist leaders are determined by their mirror-image ethno-centric strategic outlooks. From the tactics, one can infer the actual strategy, even when official rhetoric disguises it. Hamas and Zionist leaders, in practice, do not define the enemy as those who enforce racist inequality against non-Jews, or anti-Semitic laws against Jews. These are the tactics that would flow from a strategy of aiming for full and genuine equality for all people living in Palestine/Israel. Rather, Hamas and the Zionist leaders say by their actions if not their words that the enemy is "Jews living in Palestine/Israel" or "non-Jewish Palestinians" respectively. Thus Israel uses its billion dollar U.S. supplied military to carry out unprovoked attacks on Palestinians (bulldozing down their homes and even killing children in refugee camps), while Hamas uses sticks of dynamite and suicide bombers to kill random Israelis at bus stops and restaurants in Tel Aviv. These are the tactics that flow from a strategy of forcing either Jewish or Islamic sovereignty on everybody and eliminating those who disagree.
From the fact that Hamas tactics equated "resistance to Zionism" with killing random Israeli civilians (instead of only IDF forces and civilians who attack Palestinians) one could have inferred that Hamas's strategy was never to abolish a Jewish state in Israel because, if it had been, then Hamas would have embraced genuine and full equality, not the sovereignty (or "umbrella" status) of Islam. Hamas's decision to target random Israeli civilians made it clear that, when in power, and when forced to choose between, on the one hand, the "sovereignty of Islam," which cannot successfully challenge the legitimacy of its ideological twin (the "sovereignty of the Jewish people") versus, on the other hand, choosing the principle of equality for all, which can successfully challenge the racism underlying the Jewish state principle, Hamas would choose the former.
It is thus not at all surprising that Hamas won't tell the world WHY there should not be a Jewish state in Palestine. And since they won't do this, it is not surprising that they have embraced the left-Zionist definition of the goal: a "Palestinian state along the 1967 borders," in other words a Bantustan Palestinian statelet in 22% of Palestine, next to, broken into disconnected pieces by, and dominated by a Jewish state from which 80% of the non-Jews were driven out, dispossessed of all their property, never allowed to return and never compensated for their property, and in which the remainder of non-Jews are denied the rights of first class citizenship.
At this point, one might object that Hamas is not betraying its former denunciation of Israel's right to exist, but just pursuing that goal in a more realistic way by demanding the right of Palestinian refugees to return to Israel. But this is a naive point of view, as naive as it would have been for the African National Congress during the years of apartheid in South Africa to have stopped exposing the wrongness and racism of apartheid and to have instead adopted a strategy of reforming apartheid. It is true that Zionists would have a hard time maintaining Israel as a Jewish state if it granted all the refugees their right of return, but this is irrelevant in practice because the Zionists are never going to grant the right of return as long as they are in power, and their power derives from--more than anything else--world wide legitimacy for the right of a Jewish state to exist in Palestine: the very thing that Hamas once refuted, albeit in a morally inconsistent and therefore less persuasive way, and now apparently will no longer directly refute at all, preferring coy evasion.
Some people say that talk about "international working class solidarity" is old-fashioned and outdated, but the 180 degree turnaround by Hamas shows what happens when the concept of the international working class is jettisoned. When the concept of ordinary people (i.e. working class people, regardless of their ethnic group or religion) being the rightful sovereign authority is abandoned, contrary notions fill the vacuum, like sovereignty of the Jewish people or of Islam. Divisive, racist views fill the vacuum, pushed by elites who understand that their power rests on divide-and-rule. To really win, to succeed in abolishing racist regimes like the Israeli Jewish state, we need to embrace the simple idea that ordinary people, as equals regardless of ethnicity or religious persuasion, and in friendship and solidarity, should rule. This is a powerful, uniting idea with which we can win.