Holy S*!t Batman, who’d a thunk the Wall Street Journal would write anything positive about Hamas and Hezbollah?? A report today notes a shift in tactics by Hamas and Hezbollah toward non-violent resistance in recognition of the fact that violence tends to generate sympathy for Israel and non-violence tends to generate violence by Israel–and hence sympathy for the Palestinian cause:
Hamas and Hezbollah, groups that have long battled Israel with violent tactics, have begun to embrace civil disobedience, protest marches, lawsuits and boycotts—tactics they once dismissed.
For decades, Palestinian statehood aspirations seemed to lurch between negotiations and armed resistance against Israel. But a small cadre of Palestinian activists has long argued that nonviolence, in the tradition of the American civil rights movement, would be far more effective.
Officials from Hamas, the militant group that controls the Gaza Strip, point to the recent Israeli raid on a Gaza-bound flotilla, in which Israeli troops killed nine activists, as evidence there is more to gain by getting Israel to draw international condemnation through its own use of force, rather than by attacking the country.
“When we use violence, we help Israel win international support,” said Aziz Dweik, a leading Hamas lawmaker in the West Bank. “The Gaza flotilla has done more for Gaza than 10,000 rockets.”
I think this underlies a tectonic shift in if not public support, at least growing public sympathy for the cause of Palestinian statehood and disenchantment with the Occupation and Israeli policy. Even only a few months ago you simply would not have seen such a report in WSJ. You still won’t likely see it in the NY Times. Certainly, no one can accuse the WSJ of going weak in the knees over the Palestinian cause. Which makes such reporting all the more remarkable.
The WSJ notes in particular the change in Hamas’ thinking and approach:
Hamas’s turnaround has been more striking, said Mustapha Barghouti, a prominent Palestinian advocate for nonviolent resistance. “When we used to call for protests, and marches, and boycotts and anything called nonviolence, Hamas used these sexist insults against us. They described it as women’s struggle,” Mr. Barghouti said. That changed in 2008, he said, after the first aid ship successfully ran the Israeli blockade of Gaza.
“Hamas has started to appreciate just how effective this can be,” Mr. Barghouti said.
Hamas has started organizing its own peaceful marches into the Israeli-controlled buffer zone along the Gaza border and supported lawsuits against Israeli officials in European courts. Hamas says it has ramped up support for a committee dedicated to sponsoring similar protests in Gaza.
…Salah Bardawil, a Hamas lawmaker in Gaza City, says Hamas has come to appreciate the importance of international support for its legitimacy as a representative of the Palestinian people and its fight against Israeli occupation, and has adapted its tactics. Hamas hasn’t claimed responsibility for a suicide bombing in years and now denounces the tactic as counterproductive. Since an Israeli military incursion into the territory in December 2008-January 2009, it has also halted rocket attacks into Israel.
“Hamas used to believe [international support] was just empty words,” said Mr. Bardawil. “Today it is very interested in international delegations … and in bringing Israeli officials to justice through legal proceedings.”
These are almost precisely the same words used to describe the PLO in the period preceding 1988 when it renounced violence and recognized Israel. While I am not claiming that the PLO’s political evolution and Hamas’ will be the same; or that they have similar political agendas–I do think that just as Fatah underwent a political transformation during this period, so Hamas has and will continue to evolve politically. No one in their right mind would predict that Palestinian militants will turn against violence, but we just may be seeing a tipping point that augurs well on that score. Of course, much of this depends on Israel’s actions. Another war could throw all of these gains out the window and we shouldn’t put something like this past Bibi and the gang. But I tend to think that events militate against a return to full-scale armed conflict and terror at least from the Palestinian side.
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- ‘The Gaza flotilla has done more for Gaza than 10,000 rockets’ (warincontext.org)