By focusing on the gruesomeness of the violence, we miss the political dimension of what's going on.
I really like this piece. I think the respectable view as you call it is not just incoherent but also verges on hypocrisy. Hamas represents the kind of politics those who offer apologisms that if visited in their own countries they'd fight tooth and nail to stop. So, I find not just that it doesn't make sense but that it is fundamentally dishonest really.
I also do wonder if revolutions have to be zero sum. I'm more attracted to the idea in Arendt that revolutions cannot be zero sum if they seek to remain revolutionary. If ideas are the driving force of revolution and violence is the act manifesting them, what happens when violence becomes the true representation of revolution overwhelming whatever principles had gone before. I fear the danger in this escalation, is that nought but violence takes over creating an overflow of conflict destroying what little order was present in the area.
“By its actions, Hamas has openly shown itself to be implacably hostile to Israel’s very existence….”
Actually, it was announced long, long ago in its founding documents. The only ones who didn’t take them at their word were “mainstream” liberal Democrats. Time to wake up, perhaps?
"The truth is that if Israel were to put down its arms there would be no more Israel. If the Arabs were to put down their arms there would be no more war." For all the billions of words that have poured from the mouths (and pens) of opinionated Western 'Progessives' down the years, I have yet to hear a single one that in any way diminishes the baleful truth of these words of Benjamin Netanyahu in 2006.
Very impressive. There's a mind-of-winter, Fanon-meets-Weber inevitability about this piece., horrifying but bracing. It clicks like a gun being cocked.
If the Palestinian street wasn't backing Hamas, the Palestinian Authority wouldn't be so afraid of losing another election to them, this time in the West Bank.
It’s very noticeable that both the EU and the US seem to do their best to keep the PA and Fatah alive as an alternative, but I wonder if that will work. Keeping this semblance of democratic alternative alive seems more like a Bush-Era remnant alive, as opposed to Obama’s tactic of handing everything over to local strongmen without any regard to ideology.
I’ve seen the idea thrown around of empowering some prominent but pliable warlord figure as an alternative to Hamas. A Palestinian Haftar or Kadyrov, or a new Arafat. As deeply cynical or ‘problematic’ as that might be at least it’s an idea better than to go in, destroy everything, and hope for the best (the ‘Iraq model’. Though with tensions being as high as they are I’m not sure such a person still exists.
This is one of the most sensible texts you've published on Wisdom of Crouds. Look forward to listen to the podcast, too.
Damir, Shadi, please listen to this:
I think it runs in Beinart's line of thinking. Not a solution, but a perspective sorely needed for a U.S. public that is out of touch with some critical historical footnotes.
This was incredible. Blown away. Thank you for writing this.
the one-sided, popular-in-some-circles view, that Israel oppresses Palestinians while failing to mention the numerous times Israel publicly offered to support a non-violent, non-militarized Palestinian state against the constant Palestinian threats to Israeli civilians by Palestinian armed terrorists, global campaigns to delegitimise Israel, history rewrites to eliminate all Jewish connections to the Holy Land, Jew-hate indoctrination throughout its schools and media and its never-ending support for all of Israel's enemies, the article's violent revolutionary destruction change thesis is thought provoking.
I also take issue with the article's faux-naivete in stating, "it holds that Hamas’ actions were in no way representative of the Palestinians’ own wishes. After all, there have been no elections since 2006."
Gazan voters popularly elected Hamas in 2006 knowing what they represented and it's long been known that Hamas would beat the Palestinian Authority in the West Bank were Abbas (himself in something like the 12th year of his four-year term) to allow elections, which he obviously won't. They hate each other. You must conclude that Hamas does represent the majority Palestinian ideology. It's just not the democratic, liberal society they good-naturedly, naively project on Palestinian society which has no such experience. Apologists for the "oppressed and peace-loving" Palestinian street never mention this. Israel's Jews, through 120 years direct experience understand this.
Otherwise the article is good brain prep.
Is the term revolutionary valid for Hamas? My understanding is their fighters would call themselves mujahadeen (holy warriors). I further understand that this term is used for fighters who are on jihad, making Hamas a religious military order. Here in the West the equivalent to groups like ISIS or Hamas would be organization like the Teutonic knights, or maybe the crusaders assembled for the Albigensian Crusade. Does the term revolutionary apply to Crusaders, or is this a modern descriptor?
Just because modern jihadists used Western terminology to characterize themselves to a Western audience does not necessarily mean they see themselves in the way these terms are used by Westerners.
The fatal flaw with some revolutions and revolutionaries is the lack of any real desire to govern. Collect the trash, sweep streets, build schools, support trade. Boring. Sounds like work. Hamas could have been governing over the last several years relying on support from Qatar and others. They haven’t. Not with genuine ambition to make life richer and better for Palestinians.
They are ruthless trouble makers when they need to be, and, sure, maybe now was one of the times they needed to be lest rapprochement between Israel and Saudi Arabia take away the fun and force them into the “real” job market.
Existing to destroy one people is a bad business model no matter how “clever” or “justified” people will say you are when doing it. You have to prove you can make life better for people.
That will determine the outcome for Hamas. And it is very hard to think they are up to the job. Or even interested.
It is interesting to watch the stages of rationalization that some are going through to find a justification for what Hamas did on Oct 7, as well as before. More balanced voices, like yours, initially acknowledged the horror of torturing, killing, and kidnapping Israeli children, pregnant mothers, and the elderly. The next stage was/is "yes, what Hamas did was terrible but what Israel is doing in Gaza is becoming genocide." This piece marks a new stage of rationalization by suggesting that the pogrom of Oct 7 (let's not mince words on this) was a legitimate expression for revolutionary legitimacy by Hamas. This is a step too far for me. Hamas is not a revolutionary movement, it is a terrorist group like Al Qaeda and Isis. A revolutionary movement has some political goal toward which it wants to lead its followers. Other than the fantasy goal of eliminating Israel entirely, which is genocidal in conception and could never be achieved in the real world, Hamas has no goal other than anarchy. If it were a true revolutionary movement it wouldn't expose its constituents, the civilians of Gaza, to the predictable violent response of Israel with no attempt to protect them from bombing by providing access to their vast network of tunnels, to share their hoarded food, water, and fuel with desperate civilians and hospitals, or block those seeking refuge in southern Gaza so they are forced to remain exposed in the north. A true revolutionary movement wouldn't cynically locate operational offices, rocket launchers, and ammunition in immediate proximity to civilian infrastructure, challenging Israel to commit war crimes when it responds to Hamas' own war crimes. Hamas is a well-funded client of Iran, Qatar, and, perversely, Netanyahu, and its only agenda is to ensure its continued funding and existence. The ongoing negotiation between Israel and Saudi Arabia threatened its existence as well as Iran's power in the region, and that was the proximate stimulus behind Hamas' pogrom. I feel confident in saying that no "revolutionary" agenda justifies the deliberate killing of infants and children, Jewish or Muslim, and any effort to come up with such a justification should cause one to look in the mirror and reconsider one's assumptions.
These people who are acting so dramatic while they live so removed and seemingly so uneducated of the truth of Hamas is another distraction to a serious plight of the Palestinian people
Hamas never will set the Palestinian people free. The will only harm them.
Same as to the people of Lebanon and the long suffering people who are dehumanized by the Iranian government.
The UN envisioned a two state solution for the Palestine region and the Arabs rejected it from the beginning and demanded the expulsion of Jews although they have nowhere else to go and this is their historical homeland. If the Palestinians have become a colony it is because they have failed to become a viable partner in the region. Here is a balanced summary of the situation beneath the toxic racial rhetoric. https://www.theatlantic.com/ideas/archive/2023/10/decolonization-narrative-dangerous-and-false/675799/?utm_campaign=atlantic-daily-newsletter&utm_source=newsletter&utm_medium=email&utm_content=20231027&utm_term=The+Atlantic+Daily
The tone of this piece is a bit like Shelby Lyman calling a chess match. "Hamas just sacrificed a rook! This really complicates the position!" I don't know you, but this piece comes across to me as a heroic effort to avoid choosing sides in the conflict.
I won't ask you directly to pick a side. But if the Iranian side wins, will you be very sad about that outcome?