Now is the time to start talking about Hamas

It’s time for the conversation to move from an emotional one to a rational one

By Michael Jabri-Pickett, Editor-in-Chief

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Palestinian women walk in an open-air market near the ruins of houses and buildings destroyed in Israeli strikes, amid a temporary truce between Hamas and Israel, in Nuseirat refugee camp in the central Gaza Strip. - Reuters
Palestinian women walk in an open-air market near the ruins of houses and buildings destroyed in Israeli strikes, amid a temporary truce between Hamas and Israel, in Nuseirat refugee camp in the central Gaza Strip. - Reuters

Published: Thu 30 Nov 2023, 6:08 PM

Last updated: Thu 30 Nov 2023, 7:13 PM

One of the greatest achievements the Israeli government has foisted upon the world is a lie: Hamas represents Palestinians.

Nothing could be further from the truth. It’s like saying all Jews are Zionists.

In a June 2023 article, jewishcurrents.com wrote: “A 2021 poll of Jewish voters by the Jewish Electorate Institute … made waves when it found that a quarter of respondents agreed that Israel is an apartheid state”.

And a Pew Research study published on pewresearch.org on May 11, 2021, found that “just one-in-three [US Jews] say they think the Israeli government is making a sincere effort toward achieving peace with the Palestinians”.

Similarly, Hamas does not speak for all Palestinians. The group ran against Fatah in 2005 and won elections the next year. There have been no elections since. Today, it is impossible to say Hamas represents Palestinians in any official capacity. Seventeen years ago is an impossibly long time for anyone to say that the party they elected continues to represent their interests.

In that same 17 years period, Israel has had nine elections. From 2006, the Israeli governments were Kadima (2006) to Kadima (2009) to Likud-Beiteinu (2013) to Likud (2015) to Likud (2019) to Kahol Lavan (2019) to Likud (2020) to Likud (2021) to Likud (2022).

Perception is reality. Israel has successfully convinced many that Hamas and Palestinians are interchangeable.

On November 1, Rep Brian Mast of Florida said on the floor of the US House of Representatives that “there are very few innocent Palestinians” according to thehill.com, which is a news media outlet based in Washington, DC. “I would encourage the other side to not so lightly throw around the idea of innocent Palestinian civilians, as frequently said,” thehill.com quoted Mast as saying. “I don’t think we would so lightly throw around the term innocent Nazi civilians during World War II.”

The 43-year-old Republican congressman once served as a volunteer with the Israel Defence Forces.

To make such a statement in such an environment speaks to how ingrained the lie is that Hamas and Palestinians are interchangeable.

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In an October 19, 2023, article, NPR, the non-profit American media organisation, said 47 per cent of the population of Gaza is younger than 18, which means almost half of Gazans were either one-year-old or were not born when Hamas was elected in 2006.

What Israel wants is to perpetuate the thinking that “Hamas” is the same as saying “Palestinian”. If this lie can take hold within the public’s consciousness, then the Israeli government can continue to use that tired old expression they constantly roll out – they have no peace partner – because one party (Hamas) sitting across the table from them is a terrorist organisation, which the US designated to be the case in October 1997.

Why then do we talk about Hamas only in an emotional way? Why in the days and weeks after the October 7 terrorist attack was the first question of every Arab who appeared on any Western news programme: Do you denounce Hamas? Why was the first question not: why did this attack happen?

Emotional responses are immediate reactions to an event. The attack on October 7 was horrific and demanded an emotional response. But if the global community is going to ask emotional questions, then there must also be rational conversations about the 75 years that lead to the October 7 attack.

Now is the time to start talking about Hamas.


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