Hamas must rebrand and take the wind out of Israel’s sails

In the five years since I became interested in the Palestinians, only two things of positive note have happened in the occupied territories. The Palestinians held full and fair elections in 2006 to establish themselves as a democracy – and much good it did them.

By Stuart Littlewood

Published: Mon 23 Aug 2010, 8:41 PM

Last updated: Thu 2 Apr 2015, 10:11 AM

And in Gaza these amazing people have resolutely survived a vicious land and sea blockade imposed by Israel and aided and abetted by the Western powers as soon as those elections put Hamas into government. They have resisted almost daily air strikes and armed intrusions for four years and courageously withstood the cowardly Israeli blitzkrieg of 20 months ago.

And during all that time they have endured unending barbarity and betrayal, which would have brought a lesser nation to its knees. They have come through.

I often wonder if the British could have clung on through the London blitz, which my family lived under, if they’d had nothing to fight with and nowhere to run and, in addition, they’d had to contend with Nazi tanks in the streets, thousands of checkpoints, Nazi rifle butts smashing down their front doors, and the foul stench of Nazi stormtroopers in their jackboots ransacking their homes and dragging off family members.

Palestinians have been put through that sort of mangle for decades. Death and misery still stalk their daily lives thanks to Palestinian leadership and the international community’s moral bankruptcy.

When Palestinians elected Hamas, Fatah set out to cause maximum trouble. The relentless pressures of occupation and bribery succeed in causing internal divisions and self-destruction. When an attempted coup was beaten off there were claims that Hamas ‘seized control’ when it simply acted to enforce its legitimate authority.

Meanwhile, Israel’s propaganda machine, unchallenged, churns out the lies that Western politicians and Western media feed on and broadcast in order to sustain the racist entity. ‘Impossible to reach agreement with Israel’

It is hugely disappointing to friends and supporters that Ramallah’s hot-shots have failed to put a coherent message across, supposing they actually had one.

The wreckage of Gaza, the great suffering and the day-to-day air-strikes against its civilians—these ongoing crimes are allowed to be lost in the smoke and mirrors of Netanyahu’s scheme to divert attention towards Iran.

Netanyahu briefs Western journalists on his outrageous programme of conquest, implying that Palestinians must accept settlements declared illegal under international law and insisting that Israeli ‘sovereignty’ over Jerusalem cannot be questioned. The PA’s media experts – if they had any – could make mincemeat of Israel’s preposterous claims and reframe the occupation in a way that told the world the truth.

Hamas must do (within chosen limits, of course) whatever it takes to abolish its sinister image and make the rest of the world feel comfortable.

It must erase its ‘terrorist’ reputation, whether justified or not. It must re-brand, open the door and make itself more approachable.

This wouldn’t be difficult. Hamas’s government team are well educated and competent.

They have been tested like no other. Some are described as hardliners but they are not generally seen as Islamic extremists, and I heard no serious complaints from the Christian community when I was there.

There is every reason to believe that the tradition of getting along together is still cherished despite the best efforts of ‘Christian’ warmongers of the West to drive a wedge between Muslims and Christians.

Only when these priorities were met could peacemaking and state-building begin. First things first, right? Secondly it spelled out the need for national unity. ‘A house divided against itself cannot stand… Palestinian strategic action is impossible if the Palestinian nation is unable to speak with one voice or to act with one will.’

But whoever rules in Palestine will never win any battles with Israel or the US without a proper media set-up and an effective communications strategy.

Stuart Littlewood is author of the book Radio Free Palestine, which tells the plight of the Palestinians under occupation

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