[Marxism] Counterpunch: An Interview with Hamas' Ismail Haniya In the Footsteps of Arafat

Mike Friedman mikedf at amnh.org
Thu Feb 2 13:59:18 MST 2006


The following piece, from Counterpunch, might clarify a few things 
about Hamas. Although, I couldn't find the interview anywhere...


February 2, 2006
An Interview with Hamas' Ismail Haniya
In the Footsteps of Arafat


There was no point asking Ismail Haniya, head of the victorious Hamas 
list, whether his movement would recognize Israel's right to exist, 
for two reasons. First, the answer was obvious--no, the movement 
would not recognize Israel's right to exist. Some say for religious 
reasons, as Palestine is a Muslim WAQF. Others say the reason is 
purely nationalist--the banished party cannot recognize the 
occupier's right to usurp its land. Others still say Hamas is 
umbilically tied to the Muslim Brothers movement, which alone is 
authorized--but unlikely--to alter the basic position.

The continuation to this answer is also obvious. Hamas, as a 
pragmatic movement, cannot ignore reality and its nation's desires. 
When the Palestinian state is established in the West Bank and Ga! za 
Strip--that is, when Israel recognizes the Palestinians' right to a 
state in a practical way--there will be place to talk about the 
relations between the two states. Reality is stronger than any 
principle and theory, and if the two have good neighborly relations, 
why would anyone want to destroy them?

The second reason is that the question derives from Israel's 
supremacist and patronizing position. From this position Israel 
dictates the agenda of media issues, which portray the Palestinians 
as yet another persecutor in a historic chain of persecutors of Jews, 
and Israel as a victim. The issues distort reality rather than 
illuminate it.


Speaking of l! iberated Gaza and its improved situation, Haniya 
resembles Yasser Arafat. Arafat boasted in the mid-'90s that Jenin 
was "liberated" because the Israeli army had withdrawn from it, as it 
did from Ramallah and even most of the city of Hebron. Arafat defined 
"occupation" in the old-fashioned way--just a military presence. This 
did not imply control over a nation's freedom of choice, or 
manipulation of its present, its future, and its options for 
development. He measured the "accomplishment" by the number of 
Palestinians he controled and were subject to his security branches, 
rather than by the extent of their freedom--for there is no freedom 
in enclaves surrounded by an occupying army.


It turns out that Haniya also believes in a gradual withdrawal of the 
occupation, ignoring the shrewd way in which Israel is meanwhile 
perpetuating its takeover of the West Bank's lands. Like Arafat, 
Haniya is using the old definition of occupation as military 
presence, ignoring the occupation methods that limit his people's 


Amira Hass writes for Ha'aretz. She is the author of Drinking the Sea at Gaza.
Michael Friedman
Doctoral Candidate in Ecology, Evolutionary Biology and Behavior
City University of New York

Molecular Systematics Laboratory
Department of Invertebrate Zoology
American Museum of Natural History
79th Street at Central Park West
New York, NY 10024

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