Hamas: Terror Group or Savior Of Palestine?
The islamophobic image of Hamas deters us from considering its potential to fight back when Palestinians are forced to become refugees in their own land.
In contemporary times when criticism of Israeli occupation is on the rise, Hamas is often portrayed as an attacker of Israel and disturber of world peace. Its actions of suicide bombings are recounted without backing them up with reasons. Provocative quotations out of its contexts and one-sided reports where Hamas is seen from the Israeli viewpoint are abundant. The overall image built gives us an Islamophobic image of Hamas that deter us from considering it as the only military organization with the potential of fighting back when Palestinian people are forced to become refugees in their own land.
When the first intifada broke out on December 9, 1987, as a response to the motor accident a day earlier where Palestinian civilians were killed by an Israeli Defence Forces’ truck, the following protests were a rather spontaneous uprising and not an orchestrated event as is claimed. Amongst the various groups that rose to speak up against the increasing/continuous Israeli infiltration of Palestinian territory, The Muslim Brotherhood – under pressure from some of its followers – formed a political wing called the Hamas.
THE MUSLIM BROTHERHOOD
The Muslim Brotherhood had originated in Egypt in 1928, and in 1935 had sent its one of its member to Palestine. Their main aim was to transform society via socio-educational efforts to make it resemble the model that existed during prophet Muhammad’s time. Hence it started out by building mosques, constructing schools, establishing libraries, forming sports and social clubs, making charity organizations, and giving out loans to fresh Arab and Palestinian University students. With time The Brotherhood became quite popular among the people, most of whom were refugees by now. This created tensions in the group as some refugees felt that it should become a political organization and take part in the Palestinian fight against Israel. It was because of this that a certain section of its members branched out in 1980 and formed the Islamic Jihad Movement.
It is to be noted here that ‘jihad’ is a rather simple term that has been used over and over again and has therefore become loaded with negative meanings. ‘Jihad’ in Islam essentially means to struggle and fight. It does – under no circumstances – mean to wage a war unnecessarily but rather to do so when the capacity of toleration is exhausted.
THE FORMATION OF HAMAS
During the first intifada, tensions in the Brotherhood group multiplied. As a lot of its members started pressurizing their leaders to get politically involved and participate in the resistance against the occupation, Hamas was formed. The people started using the name ‘Hamas’ in its leaflets from 1988 and became officially involved since then. It issued its main aims on 18th August 1988 where it identified itself as being a part of the Brotherhood.
‘Hamas’ is an Arabic derivative transliterated as Ḥarakat al-Muqāwamah al-Islāmiyyaah, which translated to the Islamic Resistance Movement.
The aim of Hamas however was different from the Brotherhood because unlike the earlier it centrally focused on the Palestinian problem and not a model society. In its charter, it states that it’s the obligatory duty of all Muslims to fight for their land of birth. There are two sections of Hamas, one is the political section and the other is the military section.
Its problems with the PLO: According to Hamas when it rose, the PLO‘s methods had failed to attain Palestinian freedom because of their secular and nationalist ideologies, as it viewed Islam as the only way to have a larger impact. However owing to its religious stance, Hamas has repeatedly suffered losses of its members who were either executed by the Israeli army or imprisoned. There was mass deportation carried out by Israeli soldiers in 1992 over Hamas members.
IN THEIR OWN WORDS
In an interview conducted in 2002 by a US reporter, Roger Gaess, Hamas members spoke about the “fairness” of international organizations and the huge role of the US in providing artillery to Israel. “Does it support racism?” spoke one of the members being interviewed, and stated that fairness will only be when Israel is recognized as a settler colony.
Getting sanctioned by the USA and by international organizations, Israel has consistently vilified Hamas. The terming of Hamas as a terrorist organization by multiple countries, which followed the suicide bombings, reveals their refusal to accept the Palestinian’s right to self-defense, whilst the Israeli right to self-defense is vouched for everywhere backed by the discourse of anti-Semitism.