Tuesday, January 10, 2012

10-Jan-12: Has the Moslem Brotherhood and its local wing Hamas turned moderate? Depends whom you want to believe

The editors of the Guardian chose this Nasser Shiyoukhi/AP photo
to illustrate their December article about 'moderate' Hamas
mentioned below. Interesting to note that it depicts a woman wearing
a Hamas headband and said to be waiting at the Beituniya checkpoint.
As it happens, we wrote about Beitunya and a woman
just yesterday.
The further away you sit from the confusing, messy reality of the Middle East - say in Western Europe or North America - the simpler, more understandable things sometimes seem to be. To us, this seems especially true about two aspects of Islamism in this area.

In April 2011, the BBC capped its close tracking of the "Arab Spring" analysis with a story of the gentle doctors and emergency room nurses of the Freedom and Justice Party under the now-famous headline "Egypt's Muslim Brotherhood promotes moderate path". And a December 2011 Baltimore Sun editorial excoriating the Egyptian military wrote without evident irony about "the moderately Islamist Muslim Brotherhood". Somehow their writers chose to overlook the  public views of MB's spiritual leader Yusuf al-Qaradawi who declares that "the civilizational-jihadist process... is a kind of grand jihad in eliminating and destroying the Western civilization from within and 'sabotaging' its miserable house... so that it is eliminated and God's religion is made victorious over all other religions." 

To be sure you didn't miss that moderate tone, what the man said was destroy Western civilization from within

Is this miscalculation important? Quite. On Wednesday (tomorrow), the Egyptians will have completed three rounds of post-Mubarak elections and guess who won?
The Muslim Brotherhood's Freedom and Justice Party won almost 40% of seats in the first two rounds of elections, which began Nov. 28. The Salafist Al-Noor Party, which supports full Islamic law, gained more than 20%. Final results are likely this week. According to preliminary results from the country's election agency, the voting was similar to previous rounds with the Brotherhood taking more than one third and Al-Noor coming in second. [Source: USA Today]
To clarify: the parliament of the new Egypt is going to be more than 60% Islamist.
Along depressingly similar lines, from its perch in the UK, the Guardian sought to persuade its liberal global readership in December of a decision by the arch-terrorists of Hamas to "move away from violence in deal with Palestinian Authority". [See the picture above, and please read the caption.] Hamas, formally known as the Islamic Resistance Movement, is the local arm in our neighbourhood of the Moslem Brotherhood. And some people want to paint the Moslem Brotherhood as moderate and unthreatening, then it's not surprising that similar efforts are being made to depict a more mellow Hamas.

Evelyn Gordon, writing today in Commentary Magazine, sees through this and wants to help us do the same. She's aware of the recent pollyannish spate of "could it be that Hamas is turning moderate?" pieces like the one in Melbourne's The Age two days ago analysing Hamas leader "Meshaal's endorsement of non-violent popular protest over armed resistance". Pointing to the nakedness of the emperor, Ms Gordon reminds us that 
"Hamas leaders have been lining up to tell their own people they will never abandon terror or their goal of eradicating Israel. Following are just a few examples from the past month:- Hamas Prime Minister Ismail Haniyeh told those at a ceremony marking the organization’s 24th anniversary that “armed struggle” is “the strategic choice for liberating the Palestinian land, from the [Mediterranean] sea to the [Jordan] river … The Hamas movement will lead intifada after intifada until we liberate Palestine – all of Palestine.”- Hamas “Foreign Minister” Osama Hamdan said Hamas’s recent agreement to join the PLO, Israel’s “partner” in the Oslo Accords, was aimed solely at getting the PLO to “reconsider its political program.” Hamas remains committed to “the liberation of our lands from the [Mediterranean] sea to the [Jordan] river,” Hamdan said, and “anyone who thinks Hamas has changed its positions and now accepts the PLO’s defeatist political program is living in an illusion.”- Hamas official Khalil Abu Leila similarly said the group was joining the PLO solely to “bring the PLO back to its correct path and the goal for which it was established, namely the liberation of Palestine,” and persuade it to scrap Oslo.- Senior Hamas official Sami Bardawil said that anyone who thinks Hamas will recognize Israel is “dreaming,” because “recognition of Israel is not only a red line but, from our standpoint, a religious-legal prohibition.”- Hamas spokesman Fawzi Barhoum denied a Haaretz report that Khaled Meshal, head of the organization’s political wing, had ordered a halt to anti-Israel attacks, saying the report merely reflected the Israeli government’s “state of despair.”
The rest of Evelyn Gordon's essay is here. Those who want to find moderation and sweetness and light will go right on doing that, while the rest of us - particularly those of us living in the cross hairs of the jihadists - will be concerned to ensure the defensive security arrangements are in place and well maintained. The complexity of reality trumps the fantasies of wishful thinking every time.

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