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As others see our own conflict… November 2, 2010

Posted by WorldbyStorm in Irish Politics, Northern Ireland, Sinn Féin, US Politics.
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Let’s step away from our own economic troubles for a short while at least, and look elsewhere. Or to put it another way let’s look at the way the other Troubles have been covered elsewhere.

Consider the following, a relatively recent piece on why the Middle East peace process isn’t Northern Ireland by Michael Weiss in Slate. Weiss notes that with continuing (do they ever really stop) peace talks there is ‘the regurgitation of a minority view that these talks are destined to fail because Hamas is excluded’.

And he argues that what many of these analysis have in common:

…apart from thinking rather generously of a totalitarian and anti-Semitic Islamist party, is use of the Irish Republican Army and Northern Ireland as a convenient analogy for the Middle East peace process. Didn’t the British government eventually sit down with Sinn Fein, the IRA’s “political wing,” after decades of murderous mayhem in Belfast and bombings in the Tube, pubs, and other targets on the mainland? And can’t the same lessons learned from the 1998 Good Friday Agreement, which inaugurated the end of the Troubles, be applied to the Arab-Israeli conflict?

His answer is that:

There are many obvious reasons why this analogy fails. The IRA never employed suicide bombers or called for the wholesale destruction of Great Britain. Nor was it the client of a theocratic state intent on becoming a nuclear power. It was also thoroughly integrated with Sinn Fein and could therefore act with greater strategic cohesion than the fragmented Hamas, whose political and paramilitary leadership is spread throughout Gaza, the West Bank, and Damascus, Syria. But, most important, the analogy misconstrues the history of the Northern Ireland peace process and the ultimate aim of the Good Friday Agreement, which was, chiefly, to undermine the terrorists, not to legitimize them.

There’s a degree of truth to what he says, although in truth the IRA did use proxy human bombs (a dismal low in the conflict and one that curiously took place almost at the end of its active phase). There are problems though in how he puts them. I don’t find the thought Hamas’ relationship with Iran terribly convincing as a problematical – or rather as a problematical any greater than any other. Whether Tehran has nuclear weapons or not seems to me to be largely irrelevant to the issue. Israel itself retains nuclear weapons. It would be highly unlikely, indeed almost beyond the bounds of probability, that Iran would hand such weapons over to Hamas or sanction the use of nuclear weapons against Israel. And were it to do so the prospect of the consequent low level nuclear exchange in the Middle East between Israel and Iran would surely demonstrate the pointlessness of any such actions. And there seems to me to be a degree of sophistry in the final sentence about undermining terrorists, not legitimising them. Well of course. What the British and Irish governments was an end to violence and a political path, preferably within the parameters they determined but allowing for some movement at the limits in order to bring all on board. One point that Weiss seems to ignore is how under the 1997 and subsequent Labour administrations there was almost never any effort to ‘humiliate’ the IRA or Sinn Féin. The limitations of attempting to use some sort of nebulous ‘shame’ being evident in the previous history of the conflict.

There are other differences, Hamas is a theocratic organisation in a way that the IRA simply wasn’t. The threading of political and religious goals makes untangling them an even more difficult prospect than simple political goals. But whether that means they’re impossible to untangle seems to me to be a different matter again.

He continues:

The earliest instance of talks between the British government and the IRA occurred during a temporary truce in 1972, with no preconditions set by the former. The IRA took this as a sign of the British government’s wobbliness, and top operatives, including IRA leader Martin McGuinness and future Sinn Fein president Gerry Adams (who was then in British custody), were flown to London by the Royal Air Force, where they simply stated their demands for full British withdrawal from Northern Ireland. The truce subsequently broke down, leading to the “Bloody Friday” attacks of July 21, 1972, in which 22 bombs ravaged Belfast within 75 minutes, killing nine people and injuring 130 more. “Talking to terrorists” had plainly failed in such an anything-goes context, and 1972 marked the single deadliest year of the Troubles.

I’m not entirely convinced by that interpretation. Whether Bloody Friday (another low in the conflict and something that typifies the sheer counter-productivity of much of the activity in the 1970s) can be regarded as a specific response to the failure of the truce, or whether it was a manifestation of other dynamics is open to argument, but the idea that 1972 marked the single deadliest year of the Troubles due to talks seems a little unlikely. There were other events that year, notably at the start, Bloody Sunday on January 30th 1972, which explain to some degree a significant upward spike in violence. 479 people died in 1972. But the years that succeeded it were marked by numbers of deaths which were also very large, 1973: 253, 1974: 294, 1975: 260, 1976: 295 and then a sharp dip to 111 in 1977.

It’s also telling what Weiss, perhaps because he is unaware of it, doesn’t discuss. The cessation of offensive armed struggle by the Official IRA which at the time was certainly able to mount a large fraction of the PIRA campaign. Talks didn’t bring about that ceasefire, but communications between various parties during the preceding years seem to have at least led to a situation where OIRA felt it possible to withdraw from conflict (whether that makes for happy comparisons is a different matter – the Officials as Fatah, well, no, not really).

It’s the following claims that Weiss makes, though, that are most difficult to accept:

From then on, both the British and Irish governments instituted a constitutional “bottom line” in the form of two preconditions for negotiating with the IRA. First, they refused to negotiate with an organization that was still involved in an active military campaign; second, they insisted on the “consent principle,” which stated that the future of Northern Ireland must be decided by the people of the province. Since this province contained a majority of Protestant unionists, there was every possibility that Northern Ireland would remain part of the United Kingdom. The IRA’s capacity to reject the will of the people was therefore nullified.

The first part is simply wrong. There were contacts on various levels throughout the subsequent history of the struggle and a further ceasefire in the mid-1970s [see below]. The second is true to a point, but is largely irrelevant. Consent principle or not PIRA was shifting towards a cessation before 1993, and the principle seems to have been more of a sop towards Unionism who were about to face much greater challenges, in the face of an IRA that was willing to ceasefire, than they had hitherto.

He gets more wrong…

In fact, the DUP opposed the deal, and Sinn Fein didn’t sign off on it until the very end, by which point all the heavy lifting had been done by Trimble’s Ulster Unionists and John Hume’s Social Democratic and Labour Party. This is why Trimble and Hume won the Nobel Peace Prize, and hard-core Irish republicans to this day refer to the Good Friday Agreement as the “Got Fuck All” agreement.
True, by May 2007, after a decade of fitful implementation of the accord, particularly concerning the ever-nettlesome question of decommissioning, as well as London’s renewed emphasis on incorporating the extremists, the leaders of Northern Ireland’s power-sharing government wound up being Gerry Adams and Ian Paisley. But by this point, these men had been forced into a political architecture that neither especially wanted 10 years before and which, regardless of how they may mug for posterity, they had no part in assembling.

This is a very strange misreading of the history. It will come as news to many of us that Adams and Paisley led the power-sharing government. But that’s a minor issue. Few would disagree that Trimble managed to bring mainstream unionism a good distance of the way towards accepting power sharing with Republicans. That was no mean achievement. The situation for Hume was much less difficult, naturally so, there was almost no constituency in nationalism opposed to power-sharing (and how could there be given that the SDLP had been arguing for the GFA or some equivalent since before Sunningdale?). Where Hume was vital was not so much in the 1990s as in the late 1980s where he was courageous enough to reach out the Republicanism, or perhaps earlier again when he made a solution without power sharing near untenable from a nationalist (and ultimately most of Republicanism) perspective. However to argue that either he or Trimble engaged in the only heavy lifting involved is to underestimate the effort required within Republicanism, and indeed within Loyalism as well to move towards a more pacific position.

Anyhow, consider the following:

George Mitchell’s involvement in Northern Ireland is similarly misread when it comes to gauging prospects for legitimizing Hamas now that he is President Barack Obama’s special Mideast envoy. Mitchell went to Northern Ireland in 1995 as part of a three-man team designed to supervise the decommissioning of weapons—itself indicative of his early role as the enforcer of the Anglo-British “bottom line.” In January 1996, his team produced a report that concluded the IRA was not going to disarm before joining the peace process. Their nonradical solution? Force the organization to disarm when it joined the peace process. The six Mitchell Principles, to which all parties to negotiations had to pledge their total commitment before they were admitted to the table, included agreeing to democratic and peaceful means of resolution, total disarmament subject to independent verification, the renunciation of force, the end of “punishment” killings and beatings, and respect for the outcome of peace negotiations, whatever form it may take.

Which explains in no way why the first round of decommissioning did not occur until after 2000 and killings and punishment beatings continued well into the 2000s. So the idea that the IRA was ‘forced’ to disarm when it joined the peace process is nonsense, not merely because the peace process was as much a creature of the IRA (whether it likes that fact or not) as it was of the SDLP, or – and here one has to wonder at the very idea, the UUP. Anyhow, in this revision of the reality Weiss can then argue that…

Built atop this solid foundation, the Good Friday Agreement of 1998, which enshrined a democratic power-sharing arrangement for Northern Ireland, constituted the “triumph of moderation over extremism,” to quote one of the agreement’s key architects, Protestant unionist David Trimble. British Prime Minister Tony Blair’s success was to make the starting point for these negotiations “sufficient consent,” meaning that a settlement was reachable with the support of the British and Irish governments and a majority of unionists and a majority of nationalists, as determined by popular referendum. Ian Paisley’s Democratic Unionist Party and Gerry Adams’ Sinn Fein, neither of which ever had commanding majorities in their constituencies, could be left out entirely and had no veto power over the resulting accord.

This is bizarre stuff really given the reality that there were Sinn Féin ministers in the powersharing executive from the first one in 1998. In other words political authority was exercised without decommissioning, the first instance of which came four years later in 2001.

But the notion that Adams and Paisley were unhappy about the final shape of the dispensation is frankly odd. Perhaps I’m way off beam, but it has struck me that the arrival of Sinn Féin and the DUP in pole position, while hugely annoying to some ‘mainstream’ critics was something that in a way vindicated the agreement. On a slight tangent remember in 2003 being at a Political Studies Association of Ireland Conference and discussing with a Unionist inclined researcher from Belfast the balance of power in Unionism. He surprised me at the time by suggesting that when it came to the crunch the DUP would be vastly more pragmatic than it had seemed previously and that its ‘capture’ of the middle ground of unionism had changed it more than it had changed the middle ground. My scepticism was clearly entirely wrong.

Weiss goes over the top though in his depiction of how an equivalency with the North might look.

So what would the Hamas equivalent of this scenario look like? At the very least, another devastating war with Israel would need to occur, leaving the Islamists completely depleted and certainly not in sole administrative control of Gaza. Targeted assassinations would likely be renewed. Israeli intelligence operatives would thoroughly penetrate Hamas’ command structure, so as to be able to predict and pre-empt almost every rocket fired into Ashkelon or Sderot or every attack on settlers in the West Bank. Hamas would then have to concede that its strategic long-war doctrine of violent “resistance” and its dream of establishing Greater Palestine was a fantasy, which would mean no more statements like this one from Hamas co-founder Mahmoud Al-Zahar, issued on June 15, 2010: “Our ultimate plan is [to have] Palestine in its entirety. I say this loud and clear so that nobody will accuse me of employing political tactics.”

Consider that targeted assassinations were not a strong feature of the Irish conflict. Nor is it possible to seriously argue that in 1987 PIRA was in a significantly worse position militarily than three years before, at least in terms of access to arms. Now, it wasn’t in a place where the situation was likely to improve radically either, that being the very definition of stalemate, but as was demonstrated by the bombings in England in the 1990s the idea that it was a ‘completely depleted’ force would be laughable (by the way, none of this is meant to be read as an apologia for PIRA, but simply a statement of the realities of the balance of forces at play). Take the ‘dream of establishing a Greater Palestine’. Sinn Féin remains wedded to the concept of a United Ireland, as indeed do many of us who post or comment on this site. The crucial point is that Sinn Féin now and many of the rest of us, whatever our political homes, envisage this as part of a democratic and peaceful process. But one suspects from reading this text that Weiss would be unable to contemplate an Hamas that retained that goal while working peacefully towards it.

He also ignores the divergent strands inside the IRA during the period. While a military option was clearly – at least on the evidence of how poorly supported dissident formations are now and have been – one that was increasingly unpopular within the IRA and Sinn Féin that is not to say that a core of those there didn’t support them (it’s always been revealing to me that the splits that occurred in the 1990s took place so relatively late in the day, clearly those involved also believed that they were much more representative of internal opinion within PIRA than they actually were). That suggests that the organisation still provided a relatively congenial environment for those who sought a very different path to that which was taken.

I read his piece and my sense is that there are actually greater arguments for talking to Hamas and attempting to incorporate them into any process than there were to do likewise with PIRA (and in reality the arguments to do the latter were overwhelming). Hamas holds territory in a way that PIRA was simply unable to replicate in the same way (whatever about parts of Armagh which fundamentally appears to be different). Hamas is embedded in Gaza in a way which is again distinctively different even to the ‘communities of resistance’ idea that was articulated during the period. It would certainly be interesting to see the outcome of any future election and see how well or poorly Hamas fare, but even that is in a sense irrelevant. Hamas exist and they’re not going to stop existing any time soon, so if we are to take the logic of the Irish peace process they need to be engaged with. This may work, this may not. That’s a different matter, but to prejudge a situation prior to engagement is the very trap that British and Irish governments fell into prior to the 1990s.

Of course there are differences, I’ve pointed to the most obvious above, and no two conflicts are the same, but in some respects one could also argue that transitioning Hamas from outright antagonism to the very concept of an Israeli state to a more emollient position is hardly any greater a challenge than convincing Republicanism (at least in the main) that it should refashion its own strategies towards a United Ireland. One could also argue that persuading Hamas to accept a two-state solution as an interim measure is easier if only because they’re not also being asked to accept powersharing, or some equivalent.

But in a way that’s an irrelevance. The differences and the similarities are their own while one suspects that the underlying lessons of engagement being essential remain true.

Comments»

1. Ramzi Nohra - November 2, 2010

Absolutely spot on World. Great analysis.

Northern Ireland is not like Palestine/Israel. However, its different in ways that dont suit the Israeli propagandists.

Most obviously, the difference is that in I/P the plantations are happening now! – not a few hundred years ago. Also the tactics employed by the Israelis such as “targetted” killings with heavy collatoral casualties would have produced a massive intensification of the conflict. One can imagine what their response to Omagh would have been.

I cant really disagree with any of the points you raise World. Except to add that the Provos links to Libya werent too different to Hamas links to Iran. Iran is a source of weapons and training to Hamas – not really theological inspiration as Hamas remains devoutly Shia.

And the ” IRA was never committed to the destruction of Britain” is a bit of red herring. It DID remain committed to the “destruction” of NI, in that it wanted an United Ireland.

I suppose the issue of suicide bombings is badly phrased by Weiss. The fact that they used suicide bombings is irrelevant. The fact that Hamas deliberately acted to maximise civilian casualties is of massive importance, and created the type of political environment which made talking to them substantially more difficult.

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2. coc - November 2, 2010

Hamas remains devoutly ShiaSunni.

Is there any real evidence that HAMAS relies heavily on Iran? Obviously certain elements have a vested interest in ensuring that that element of the axis of evil remains permanently in the crosshairs of ‘freedom’, but apart from that, is it not the case that Syria, Egypt and Saudi more than Iran are supporting HAMAS? OAnd let’s not forget that HAMAS was initially supported by the Israelis themselves as a counterweight against the then percieved threat of FATAH?

I don’t know who Michael Weiss is, but the article is so full of lazy and inappropriate parallels, it scarcely merits the delicate vivisection you’ve honoured it with.

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Ramzi Nohra - November 2, 2010

Sorry you spotted the obvious error. I must learn to preview.
My point of course is that Hamas arent simply an arm of Iran, they’re not even from the same branch of Islam.

Re: your other point, Hamas certainly gets support from Syria. Egypt are down on them though – they’re suspicious of them due to H’s ties to the Muslim Brotherhood, the main Egyptian opposition group. I had heard individuals in Saudi funded Hamas big time. I havent heard those stories for a while. Not sure what to read into that.
I read a generally interesting book called “The Secret War on Iran” by Israeli journo Ronan Bergman. It was good in parts, but the most bizarre part was how he blamed all the problems of the reason, which in his mind were predominantly manifested by Hamas and Hezbollah, on Iran.

Its like blaming all the problems of Northern Ireland in the late 80s on Libya.

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Ramzi Nohra - November 2, 2010

Problems of the region, not “reason”
Sheesh…

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3. neilcaff - November 2, 2010

On targeted political assassinations. There was a book that came out in the mid 90’s, ‘The Committee’ dealing with collusion between British Security Services and Loyalist paramilitaries.

At one point when British Intelligence got wind of talk of a new direction in the IRA in the mid 80’s they floated the idea of targeted assassinations of IRA “hardliners” like Martin McGuinness in order to alter the balance of forces in favour of “doves” like Adams.

Bad and all as British Intelligence are they don’t seem to possess that deadly combination of utter political stupidity and fanatical bloodthirstyness that appears to be a must for a career in the Israeli military establishment. Can people imagine Adams trying (or even attempting) to sell a peace strategy to the IRA on the back of the murder of McGuinness and other leading members of Sinn Fein or the IRA?

It’s always puzzled me why the Israeli’s and the Americans think murdering the leaders of movements you’re eventually going to have to sit down and talk to will some how make the people you haven’t murdered more interested in talking to you.

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Ramzi Nohra - November 2, 2010

indeedy. They also used to complain the Palestinian Authority police force not giving their full support to the occupation forces, while at the same time murdering their members sporadically. Funny old world.
Admittedly, they have come to a modus vivendi with them recently.

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4. Jim Monaghan - November 2, 2010

The Israelis originally used Hamas to weaken Fatah.
At a recent antiwar conference there was a Hamas speaker. He was far more nuanced that I expected.
My guess is that the secret of their success is their willingness to fight and not give in. There is no end to Israeli demands. So the Palestinians have no choice. Cromwell gave us a choice of Hell or Connacht, the Israelis are effectively at say Galway and Mayo, and at the arte the settlements are being bulit it will soon be the equivalent of Conamara. Fatah is seen as being complicit and effectively selling out.
Sure Iran is helping/using Hamas. But if the conditions did not exist then it would be useless. There is a huge % of the Palestinian population with no expectation of things getting better. The facts on the ground is making for hat is basically an open air prison camp. No wonder the reaction is suicide bombers. If life is worth little and hope does not exist, then why not go down fighting. I can easily imagine young and not so young Palestinians saying to Fatah, Israel has no respect for you ( look at the delibrate breaking of Arafat, who died a miserable death, while the Israelis blockaded him), at least they fear Hamas.

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Budapestkick - November 2, 2010

You’re pretty much on the money there Jim. As well as that, comparing Palestine to the north is ludicrous beyond belief. As bad as things were for Catholics there during the pogroms and so on there is no comparison between that and what the Palestinians have gone through in the last few decades.

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Tim Johnston - November 2, 2010

Suicide bombing is “fighting” now? borne out of hopelessness?
You don’t think that religion has any influence, then?

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Ramzi Nohra 1 - November 2, 2010

how is suicide bombing not fighting? At least compared to stuff like aerial bombing, which is viewed as fighting by most.

It is also a war crime when directed against civilians of course.

re: Religion, it probably has some sort of influence, but quite a few of the suicide bombers in Lebanon for example were secular (SSNP and Communist party). The common factor was that they were facing a vastly technologically superior occupying force.

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Budapestkick - November 2, 2010

This seems to be a rehash of the very strange distinction that makes mass murder of civilians by aerial bombardment acceptable military practice and doing the same on a much smaller scale by suicide bombings so on somehow worse. I find the murder of civilians abhorrent. Methodology doesn’t seem that significant to me.

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Tim Johnston - November 3, 2010

I see what you’re saying, Ramzi. My point was similar to the one you’ve made at 6 below, namely that other oppressed peoples have not resorted to suicide bombing – specially involving their children – as a means of fighting a superior force.
While not secular, the Tamil Black Tigers still do not detonate themselves for potential reward in the afterlife, and pursue military objectives as did the Japanese. They distance themselves from the Palestinian model:
http://www.nytimes.com/2003/01/14/world/masters-of-suicide-bombing-tamil-guerrillas-of-sri-lanka.html
So, the religious aspect is quite central; Hopelessness alone as a factor cannot account for the resort to suicide bombing. Obviously, the technology to make it possible is a factor…

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Ramzi Nohra - November 3, 2010

Interesting article Tim. I live in a very Tigers-sympathetic area at the moment incidentally.

I would take issue with the idea that the Tigers didnt deliberately target civilians. There were plenty of occasions when planted large car bombs without an apparent political/military targets, or indeed killed large groups of civilians face to face with firearms. However they didnt use suicide bombing for these attacks – they didnt need to as the groups in question weren’t well protected.

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5. Ramzi Nohra - November 2, 2010

This is a very interesting link by an ex-senior member of the israeli security establishment on the possibility of dealing with Hamas:

http://www.haaretz.com/israel-could-have-made-peace-with-hamas-under-yassin-1.274217

re: Hamas. I suppose the Israelis do fear it, but they have seriously damaged the Palestinian cause by their criminal actions around the second intifada. Compare and contrast with Hezbollah in Lebanon.

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6. Jim Monaghan - November 2, 2010

Oppressed peoples tend to hit out in a reckless way. I suppose they don’t have “smart” bombs. I would add as well that Israel allows access to every Israeli civilian casualty but does not allow reporters to report in a similar manner in say Gaza.
I would use reckless rather than criminal. Words are important when the real, predominant crime is the dispossession of a people of their land.How do you fight the best equiped army in the middle east, and probably one of the best equiped in the world.
Interesting that the zionist lobby in Ireland is quite weak, at least amongst ordinary people, they are probably strong amongst a certain type of Christian nutters who think the Messiah will come when the Jews return to the Holy Land.

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Ramzi Nohra 1 - November 2, 2010

Hi Jim
OK I see what your saying, but I think that other Oppressed people have not reacted like Hamas.

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7. The Cedar Lounge Revolution In Gaza at Z-Word Blog - November 2, 2010

[…] one of the principal writers at The Cedar Lounge Revolution, an excellent Irish politics blog. In this entry he distracts himself from Ireland’s catastrophic economic situation  by considering the […]

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8. Joe in Australia - November 3, 2010

Jim, what do you mean when you say that Israel “does not allow reporters to report in a similar manner in say Gaza”? Israel couldn’t censor news from Gaza even if it wanted to: isn’t in Gaza; it withdrew from there more than five years ago.

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9. CMX - November 3, 2010

Great analysis here by WbS and subsequent commentators. However I would disagree with WbS’s assertion that HAMAS’s religiosity makes a solution harder; because HAMAS has no religious demands that it makes upon Israel. Ramzi makes an excellent point that “the fact that they used suicide bombings is irrelevant. The fact that Hamas deliberately acted to maximise civilian casualties is of massive importance” however unlike GB and the IRA in relation to NI, Israel has killed civilians on a far larger scale than HAMAS (which doesn’t make the murder of Israeli civilians any less reprehensible but it does make it harder for Israel to claim the moral high-ground) and there have been virtually no suicide bombings for the past 5 years or so. Furthermore in 1994 HAMAS offered to stop targeting Israeli civilians in return for a promise by Israel to stop targeting Palestinian civilians; an offer rejected by Israel

As regards to prospects for peace it must be remembered that since 2000 HAMAS has stated it would stop attacks against Israel if Israel withdrew to pre-’67 borders (as the UN demands it to.) The 6 month truce between HAMAS and Israel before Operation Cast Lead was broken by an Israeli air strike not HAMAS rocket fire (making the idea that the war was even a disproportionate response to Palestinian rocket fire wrong; there was no rocket fire until Israel started the war) and it was the same for Operation Hot Winter before that.

So its clear that Israel are the ones prolonging the conflict not HAMAS and what needs to change is for Israel to recognize, as GB did in relation to the IRA, that it can not defeat HAMAS any more than HAMAS can defeat Israel. If this was NI it would be like Britain bombing Northern Ireland from the sky despite the IRA saying they support the GFA

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JS - November 3, 2010

“However I would disagree with WbS’s assertion that HAMAS’s religiosity makes a solution harder; because HAMAS has no religious demands that it makes upon Israel.”

They demand Islamic law all across Israel under an Islamic state. I think that qualifies as a religious demand. The point is that Hamas are zealots who will get their own people killed for political points. How can someone negotiate with that?

“Israel has killed civilians on a far larger scale than HAMAS (which doesn’t make the murder of Israeli civilians any less reprehensible but it does make it harder for Israel to claim the moral high-ground)”

War sucks, it sure does. Hamas is responsible for putting civilians in harms way. Hamas builds bombs and launches rockets from densely populated areas, a war crime. Considering how, in typical wars, civilians die in far, far greater numbers than troops, Israel has conducted itself extremely morally by carefully using power.

“and there have been virtually no suicide bombings for the past 5 years or so.”

Thanks to draconian Israeli security measures, like the fence.

“Furthermore in 1994 HAMAS offered to stop targeting Israeli civilians in return for a promise by Israel to stop targeting Palestinian civilians; an offer rejected by Israel”

Hamas says they’ll give a cease fire if Israel gives them territory. What happened when Israel gave territory to Palestinians? Oh yes, when Israeli left Gaza, did the 2nd intifada end?

The two conflicts are dramatically different.

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CMX - November 3, 2010

1 Under Hamas’s truce offer it does not demand Israel be under Islamic law.
2 there is no evidence to back up claims made time and again by the Israeli military that Hamas fights or launches rockets from civillian areas. Amnesty international in fact found that most Hamas operations were launched from sparsely populated farmland. I don’t think any, even casual, observer would concur that the IDF acted “morally” in any recent military engagement

3 After Israel “left” Gaza in 2006 it still maintained complete control of all 4 border crossings and its shores and airspace. Hamas still did however stop all armed actions against Israel at this point until 6 months later when Israel, without provocation, launched an air-strike against an innocent Palestinian family on a beach thus starting Operation Hot Winter.

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10. Jim Monaghan - November 3, 2010

Hio Joe,
You may not have heard but the Israelis have a blockade of Gaza by land and sea. Not fully successful but they do their nasty best. It is with great difficulty that reporters gain access. In the occupied west bank they harass and threaten. They don’t fully controll the news but they make a major effort to.Her the state broadcaster always goes to a “soft” zionist source for the news.
I don’t like Hamas. But I see it as a product of repression and the sellout of Fatah ( teh majority secular party. Interesting that all the leftists groups are allied to Hamas.
The Israelis are good at the use of the “weasel” word collataral damage. When they kill kids it is a mistake, ha.
Repression has created a monster. I blame the oppressor.What do you expect when you steal a country and drive people into camps.
Israel and the war in Iraq has created a carnival of reaction in the region. Driving whole populaces into the arms of those who offer a fightback. Secular movements and minority religious groups are amongst the victims. The entire palestinian people are probably the greatest losers.

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Joe in Australia - November 3, 2010

Jim, let’s deal with one thing at a time. Do you acknowledge that Israel has no control over the activity of reporters within Gaza?

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Ramzi Nohra - November 3, 2010

They specifically banned reporters getting in during Cast Lead.

That is exercising control over reporters within Gaza is it not?

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11. thesystemworks - November 3, 2010

HAMAS are in total control of reporting within Gaza. Though foreign journalists have problems getting in, especially when hostilities are at their highest.

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12. thesystemworks - November 3, 2010

The PA and other Arab groups have a history of intimidating foreign and domestic journalists, also.

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