If you were to listen to the Zionist propagandists, then Hamas is the incarnation of evil, a movement dedicated to the extermination of Jewish people no less. Of course the reality is somewhat different. Despite their Islamist politics, which includes putting praise for the Protocols of the Elders of Zion in their Covenant, their politics – like those of all religious nationalists, are extremely confused. And we shouldn’t of course forget that the Israeli State played a key role in helping foster and create Hamas in the first place, as a counterweight to secular Palestinian nationalism.
It is to be welcomed therefore that Hamas’s foreign minister, Mahmoud al-Zahar, in the Washington Post, paying his respects to the fighters of the Warsaw Ghetto Uprising and making an explicit comparison between the fighters of ZOB (the Jewish Fighting Organisation) and the fighters of Hamas. Mahmoud al-Zahar writes that:
Sixty-five years ago, the courageous Jews of the Warsaw ghetto rose in defense of their people. We Gazans, living in the world’s largest open-air prison, can do no less.
And he goes on to say that:
Judaism — which gave so much to human culture in the contributions of its ancient lawgivers and modern proponents of tikkun olam — has corrupted itself in the detour into Zionism, nationalism and apartheid.
And al-Zahar’s conclusion is no less remarkable:
A “peace process” with Palestinians cannot take even its first tiny step until Israel first withdraws to the borders of 1967; dismantles all settlements; removes all soldiers from Gaza and the West Bank; repudiates its illegal annexation of Jerusalem; releases all prisoners; and ends its blockade of our international borders, our coastline and our airspace permanently. This would provide the starting point for just negotiations and would lay the groundwork for the return of millions of refugees. Given what we have lost, it is the only basis by which we can start to be whole again.
I am eternally proud of my sons and miss them every day. I think of them as fathers everywhere, even in Israel, think of their sons — as innocent boys, as curious students, as young men with limitless potential — not as “gunmen” or “militants.” But better that they were defenders of their people than parties to their ultimate dispossession; better that they were active in the Palestinian struggle for survival than passive witnesses to our subjugation.
History teaches us that everything is in flux. Our fight to redress the material crimes of 1948 is scarcely begun, and adversity has taught us patience. As for the Israeli state and its Spartan culture of permanent war, it is all too vulnerable to time, fatigue and demographics: In the end, it is always a question of our children and those who come after us.
Mahmoud al-Zahar, a surgeon, is a founder of Hamas. He is foreign minister in the government of Prime Minister Ismail Haniyeh, which was elected in January 2006.