Find the Differences - PA and Hamas Ideology Converge (PMW-PALESTINIAN MEDIA WATCH) by Itamar Marcus and Barbara Crook 03/28/04)
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Both the Palestinian Authority (PA) and Hamas reject Israel´s right
to exist, are actively conducting and promoting terrorism, and are
telling their people in Arabic that Palestinian terrorism is part of
Jihad to weaken and destroy Israel. The only meaningful difference
that remains is the PA´s acceptance and Hamas´s rejection of
political process as a vehicle to destroy Israel. The following Op-Ed
from today´s Jerusalem Post illustrates the disturbing similarities
between PA and Hamas ideologies.
The Western world sees Hamas as a terrorist organization seeking
Israel´s destruction, but treats the Palestinian Authority (PA) as a
peace partner, either actual or potential, for Israel. The fact that
Israel continues to seek contact with PA leaders heightens the clear
distinction made between the PA and Hamas.
But the distance between Hamas and the PA has been shrinking for
years. And the way the PA has responded to the killing of Yassin
shows just how close the two groups actually are. The PA has gone far
beyond its expected level of condemnation of the killing, and has
eulogized Yassin as a leader representing all the Palestinian
PA Prime Minister Ahmed Qurei, for example, told PA TV that just
as "Yassin united the Palestinians in his life he united them again
in his death." Yasser Arafat´s official daily, Al Hayat Al Jadida,
published a cartoon of a wheelchair shaped as a map of what the PA
calls "Palestine" (which erases all of Israel) thereby stating
graphically that Yassin and "Palestine" are one and the same.
In an unprecedented move, PA television ceased all regular
programming for days, and except for brief news reports broadcast
only slides of the Koran sung to mournful tunes. In the Arab world,
this Koran broadcasting is usually reserved for the deaths of heads
of state, as was done on Syrian TV after the death of Hafez Assad.
That PA TV treated Yassin in this fashion demonstrates his elevated
stature among PA leadership and PA society.
Anyone listening to PA leaders´ pronouncements in Arabic over the
years has recognized that there never was a meaningful ideological
divide between the PA and Hamas. It is well understood, for example,
that Hamas believes Islam demands Israel´s destruction. As the Hamas
charter states, "Palestine is an Islamic Wakf the liberation of
Palestine is an individual duty binding on all Muslims everywhere."
Less noted is that PA religious leaders have repeatedly made
identical rulings. Even when the Oslo Accord appeared to be in its
heyday, Yousuf Abu Sneinah, preacher of Al-Aksa Mosque, issued this
ruling on PA TV: "The land of Palestine is a Wakf for all The
liberation of Palestine is an obligation for the entire Islamic
nation " (April 30, 1999).
The perception is that a difference between Hamas and the PA is that
the latter, at least in principle, had given up using violence to
reach its political goals. Yet it was Arafat who said in 1999,
literally anticipating the current terror war: "The agreements won´t
liberate the land. Every centimeter needs struggle, and the land
(Al Hayat Al Jadida, January 25, 1999).
When Hamas started using suicide terrorists to kill Israelis in 1996,
the PA condemned the killings in English. But in Arabic, PA leaders
made it clear that there was no difference in attitude, only a
division of labor.
Muhammad Dahlan, then head of Preventive Security in Gaza, said that
the presence of Hamas "is important and essential in the cooperation
in the building." Hani Alhasan, a member of the Fatah Central
Committee, explained the role of Hamas: "Unity is in the nature of
construction, and it is incumbent upon us to divide the work among
the builders." (Al Ayyam, August 31, 1997).
As long ago as 1997, after the bombing at Tel Aviv´s Apropos cafe, a
member of the PA Legislative Council expressed his condolences to the
family of the suicide bomber during a session of the Legislature,
and "his words were interrupted by the applause of the members of the
[PA Legislative] Council" (Al Hayat Al Jadida March 27, 1997). It
should be stressed that all this cooperation was openly expressed in
PA society long before the current terror war began in October 2000.
After starting the terror war, the PA completely erased any
differences between the "builders" by creating its own suicide terror
unit, the "Aksa Martyrs Brigade," which has committed numerous
suicide terror attacks identical to those of Hamas.
IF THERE is any difference today between Hamas and the PA, it´s in
their attitudes toward temporary agreements with Israel.
While the Hamas charter states, "There is no solution to the
Palestinian problem except by jihad," the PA has argued that
temporary agreements can be used to gain strategic territory from
which to fight more easily for Israel´s destruction.
Then PA minister Abdel Aziz Shahin explained this just months before
the PA started the terror war: "The Oslo agreements [were] a foothold
and not a permanent settlement, since war and struggle on the land is
more efficient than a struggle from a distant land... The Palestinian
people will continue the revolution until they achieve the goals of
the ´65 revolution..." that is, the destruction of Israel (Al-Ayyam,
May 30 2000).
Faisal Husseini called the Oslo Accords a "Trojan Horse... the Oslo
agreement, or any other agreement, is just a temporary procedure...
according to the higher strategy [Palestine is] ´from the river to
the sea.´" (Al-Arabi Egypt, June 24, 2001).
Today, the Palestinian Authority and Hamas both embrace the use of
terror to fight Israel. The only meaningful difference between them
is the acceptance or rejection of political process as a vehicle to
destroy Israel. Marcus is founder and director of Palestinian Media
Watch. Crook is PMW´s North American representative.
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