Wednesday, December 17, 2014

17-Dec-14: Has Hamas just been whitewashed by Europe?

Terrorists? Who, little us? [Image Source: AP/Hatem Moussa,
Gaza February 3, 2006)
Hamas, whose constitution commits it legally to the belief that "Israel will exist and will continue to exist until Islam will obliterate it" is designated for good and extremely painful reasons as a terrorist organization by the following countries:
  • AustraliaNew Zealand and the United Kingdom all designate the Izz ad-Din al-Qassam Brigades division of Hamas a terrorist organization.
  • Canadian law terms Hamas a terrorist group.
  • Egypt bans Hamas, calling it a terrorist organization.
  • Japan froze the assets of  nearly five hundred terrorist organizations in 2005, one of them being Hamas.
  • Legally, Jordan banned Hamas in 1999, but is extremely flexible in the way it carries out the ban.
  • The United States has Hamas on its Foreign Terrorist Organization list.
  • Saudi Arabia "banned the Muslim Brotherhood in 2014 and branded it a terrorist organization. While Hamas is not specifically listed, a non-official Saudi source stated that the decision also encompasses its branches in other countries, including Hamas." [source]
The European Union was on this list until this morning. The news today is filled with reports about a change of European heart on Hamas. But the dry and technical reality is more nuanced than that. Under the headline "Hamas removed from EU's terrorism blacklist", a German news source explains:
An EU court has struck off the Palestinian Islamic militant group Hamas from the bloc's list of terrorist organizations. It said the 2001 listing was influenced by the media and the internet. In removing Hamas from the list, the General Court of the European Union said the group's listing in 2001 was not based on hard evidence confirmed by authorities. "In today's judgment, the General Court finds that the contested measures are based not on acts examined and confirmed in decisions of competent authorities but on factual imputations derived from the press and the internet," the court said. The court decided to keep in place an asset freeze against Hamas for three months, "in order to ensure the effectiveness of any possible future freezing of funds." It said the decision was based on procedure and did not address the "question of the classification of Hamas as a terror group." A spokeswoman for the EU's executive arm, the European Commission, said the bloc still considered Hamas to be a "terrorist" group. "The EU continues to consider Hamas a terrorist organization," Maja Kocijancic said. She added that the EU would consider its response to the ruling, including whether to appeal.
Our first reaction on reading this was similar to that of Elder of Ziyon who wrote this earlier today:
This means that ever since the EU was founded in 1993, despite spending tens of thousands of man-hours and untold millions of euros on Middle East topics and on the ground in Israel and the territories, no effort has been made to document Arab terrorism. Think about it. The EU wants to be a part of the peace process - it is part of the Quartet - and it has given lots of money to anti-Israel NGOs. It has no problem criticizing Israeli actions and parsing the statements of Israeli ministers to find evidence of anything offensive. Yet in all that time, no EU official has felt it was important to research and report on Arab terrorism! Not one bothered to visit the site of suicide bombings and read official Hamas statements taking credit for them. Not one bothered to follow up on Hamas incitement, on Hamas antisemitism, or on Hamas' public statements declaring all of Israel "occupied" and all Israelis to be targets for attack. Not one.
It's almost enough to make a person lose a measure of respect for the fine ethical, political and legal values that the EU and its EC executive arm stand for.

Ah, but we're not dismissing the Europeans that quickly because, despite the clear-enough-sounding headlines, neither the Europeans nor their General Court of the European Union, the bloc's second highest tribunal have made what they term
"any substantive assessment of the question of the classification of Hamas as a terrorist group within the meaning of the Common Position.”
Why not? A good question, but as with most European juggling, there are a multitude of considerations that they are bringing to bear on the question. Naturally, this being Europe, neither clarity nor moral decisiveness come into the matter, as those who follow European acrobatics know too well.

Bottom line: this is a political move, and will be followed by more. A work in progress, demonstrating (depressingly) again what can be expected from Europe's best and brightest.

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