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The Way Hamas Operates

According to the New York Times, Shin Bet has been issuing vague but ominous warnings about Hamas' intent to carry out terrorist attacks inside Israel. A suicide-murder mission was evidently thwarted in Tel Aviv, and despite a peaceful Passover, Israeli … Read More

By / April 10, 2007

According to the New York Times, Shin Bet has been issuing vague but ominous warnings about Hamas' intent to carry out terrorist attacks inside Israel. A suicide-murder mission was evidently thwarted in Tel Aviv, and despite a peaceful Passover, Israeli security seems to think a new wave of attacks are imminent. The Times:

A senior Israeli army commander, speaking on condition of anonymity, said recently that in Israel’s assessment Hamas had not changed its policy, but that there are “some groups in the military wing of Hamas that don’t like the cease-fire or the unity government.”

The debate over Hamas boils down to one question: Who's in charge? Is it the so-called "outer group," which constitutes the militarized radicals who will stop at nothing to see Israel destroyed, or is it the so-called "inner group" that is tasked with the Hezbollah-like dispensation of civil services within Palestine? The inner group says it will stop at nothing to see Israel destroyed but plays at pragmatism to retain any semblance of international legitimacy. (The inner group functions like the Central Committee, the outer like the KGB. Also, if you want to extend the Soviet analogy, you might call this a kind of Third Period for Palestinian jihad — one of tahdia, or relative calm.)  So far, under the tenuous coalitional government ruled by Hamas, the bureaucratic-advisory approach developed by the group's chief policy wonk Musa Abu Marzuq is regnant. But that hardly means the goal of jihad has been, to coin a phrase, wiped from the pages of time.

After all, Hamas rose to power by biding its time and cultivating short-term, cynical alliances with the PLO. As Shaul Mishal and Avraham Sela write in their flawed but useful book The Palestinian Hamas: Vision, Violence, And Coexistence, "[E]ven though Hamas regreted the PLO's right to represents the Palestinian people, it was willing to forge a political coalition on an agree program focused on jihad." Actually, this set of circumstances was infinitely preferable to Hamas because it was Arafat who had put forward a diplomatic face, undertake the farce that was Oslo, and otherwise placate the hard-nosed anti-Zionists he'd "betrayed."

The goal for Haniyah now is to recapture that blessed air of unaccountability even though he's now exclusively accountable as prime minister. This means broadening a coalition within Hamas itself to the point of turning the outer group into its own off-shoot terrorist network, one that can't be traced back to Ramallah. Israel isn't fooled, even though the UN, Jimmy Carter, and everyone else who fails to realize what the intractable Hamas charter represents, of course are. 

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