Any sympathizer with the Palestinian cause must recognize the aptness of the Palestinian people's decision to resist and achieve liberation. Solidarity is not about pitying the Palestinians for their grave suffering but rather honoring their will to resist their oppressors.
I won't rest until I plant my heaven in this world. Or I'll uproot the world's heavens from it
Hamas: rising as the military vanguard in Palestine
Hamas, which literally translates to "fervor" in Arabic, is an acronym for the Islamic Resistance Movement(حركة المقاومة الإسلامية). The roots of the movement trace back to founder Sheikh Ahmed Yassin a Palestinian cleric and activist, affiliated with the Muslim Brotherhood, who oversaw charity work in the West Bank and Gaza back in the 1960s.
Hamas, however, wasn't institutionalized as a political organization until the First Intifada in 1987. The tumultuous popular uprising of the First Intifada was the founding momentum for the Islamic Resistance Movement. Hamas steadily grew more radicalized by the recurrent crimes committed by the Israeli war machine. In parallel, the group grew more popular among the Palestinian masses through its welfare programs and activism.
In 1993 after PLO leader Yasser Arafat signed the Oslo Accords peace deal, Hamas grew even more popular at the expense of Fateh among the Palestinian people as it was seen as remaining steadfast and committed to liberation through armed struggle.
In the period leading to the Second Intifada, Hamas rose to be more radical and thus became more popular among the Palestinian people while Fateh (the PLO) grew more pacifistic and thus became less popular. Hamas slowly consolidated itself as the vanguard of the Palestinian resistance.
Gaza: The Archimedes Point of Resistance
The liberation of South Lebanon in 2000 marked a watershed moment in the history of the Arab struggle against Zionism. Four months after which, Al-Aqsa Intifada (the second Intifada) started burgeoning in Palestine. The victory of the Islamic resistance in Lebanon reinvigorated Arab fervor against Israeli colonialism. The second Intifada lasted until 2005 resulting in the liberation of Gaza. Even a prime minister as extremist as Ariel Sharon was forced to pass the "Disengagement Plan Implementation Law" which effectively neutralized all Israeli settlements and IOF presence in Gaza.
The liberation of south Lebanon following a prolonged war of resistance, the liberation of Gaza following the 5-year Intifada, and the futility of the Oslo Peace Accords proved to the Palestinian people that armed struggle is the only viable means for liberation: increasing Hamas's popularity. This was evidenced by the 2006 legislative elections which consolidated Gaza as the stronghold of the resistance.
Over the years, the Israeli occupation has waged aggression campaigns against Gaza to undermine the infrastructure of the resistance in what has been called a strategy of "mowing the loan", however, the resistance persevered and only proliferated its military capabilities.
When studying the constant and complicated motion of the universe, the ancient Greek physicist Archimedes stipulated that if he could find at least one fixed point he would be able to move the universe. This philosophical trope resonates profoundly when studying the politics of Gaza. Gaza became the Archimedes point of the Palestinian resistance to liberate Palestine.
Since 2006, Gaza has become both the sword and shield of the Palestinian cause: relentlessly striving for the liberation of the Palestinian nation, land, and sanctities while enduring the occupation's brutality.
The Demonization Campaign
“If you're not careful, the newspapers will have you hating the people who are being oppressed, and loving the people who are doing the oppressing.”
― Malcolm X
Since October 7th, Hamas quickly replaced Russia as the Western propaganda machine's new obsession. Playing along McCarthytic lines, Western media and politicians rushed to complement the Israeli war with a vile campaign of demonization to manufacture consent for genocide among the Western public.
Ranging from misinformation and spinning facts to straight-out lying, the Western narratives had two main objectives:
Some media platforms shamelessly propagated extremist narratives that painted the Palestinian resistance as "irrational anti-semitic terrorists motivated simply by their hatred for Jewish people and hellbent on their extinction". But most narratives held some sort of nuance to appeal to wider audiences: to ensure that the public, at the very least, opposes the Palestinian resistance even if they don't support "Israel".
Orientalism: Reductio ad ISISThe most popular narrative was identifying Hamas with ISIS to delegitimize it as a national liberation movement because of adopting an Islamic ideology.
Such speaking points lack any meaningful line of reasoning and are propagated for the sake of associating Hamas with terrorist organizations (like ISIS) in the general political discourse.
Hamas is an indigenous liberation movement that adopts Islamic principles and aesthetics similar to how the Irish liberation movement in the 1860s adopted catholic principles and aesthetics.
"Palestine is a land whose status has been elevated by Islam, a faith that holds it in high esteem, that breathes through it its spirit, and just values, and that lays the foundation for the doctrine of defending and protecting it," the Preamble of Hamas' 2017 document of general principles and policies reads.
In the document, Hamas defines itself as being an Islamic national liberation movement fighting against a racist colonial regime for all Palestinians of all religions and cultures.
"Hamas believes in and adheres to, managing its Palestinian relations on the basis of pluralism, democracy, national partnership, acceptance of the other, and the adoption of dialogue. The aim is to bolster the unity of ranks and joint action to accomplish national goals and fulfill the aspirations of the Palestinian people."
In “Class Struggle: A Political and Philosophical History”, the Italian Marxist Dominoquo Losurdo explains that, historically, the classes of society achieved initial awareness of the national question through religion: that It was through religious idioms and prospects that people became conscious of real material contradictions. “Marx and Engels carefully avoided indiscriminate liquidation of movements inspired by religion... Religious affiliation can be experienced very intensely and mobilized effectively in political and historical upheaval, but is not the primary cause of such conflict" (Losurdo, 2016).
Unlike Hamas, groups like Al-Qaeda and ISIS adopt a distorted version of Islam: they are takfiris (i.e. they designate anybody who doesn't adopt their distorted beliefs as an infidel that must be slain).
Israeli-apologists today flaunt references to ISIS and Al-Qaeda to garner support for their war machine when the US, the sponsor and propper of the Israeli occupation, had played a leading role in cultivating ISIS and Al-Qaeda first in Afghanistan, then Iraq, and later Syria.
Hilary Clinton famously revealed that the US had exported Wahhabism from Saudi Arabia to Afghanistan to ideologically subvert and recruit Muslims from across the world to fight the socialist government in Afghanistan and the Soviet Army.
Furthermore, by impoverishing Iraq with sanctions, carpet bombing the country, and dissolving the army, the US created breeding grounds for terrorism. ISIS was born out of Al-Qaeda in Iraq where it massacred Iraqi Christians, Muslims, and others under the auspices of the American occupation.
In Syria, the US actively cultivated Takfiri groups, like Al-Qaeda and ISIS, as reliable footsoldiers in their regime-change war. These groups had also infiltrated into Lebanon where they conducted suicide bombing attacks against social hubs in the suburbs of Beirut.
Today, Zionist sympathizers dare to flaunt the "threat of ISIS", when ISIS was coincidentally locked in deadly battles with the enemies of "Israel" in the region, while its settlements and colonial regime were spared from any ISIS attacks.
More so, former Mossad Chief, Efraim Halevy publicly admitted during a televised interview that "Israel" offered treatment for Al-Qaeda-affiliated fighters from Syria because it was aligned with their geopolitical interests.
Alienating Hamas from Palestine
Another set of narratives aims to discredit Hamas as a national liberation movement by divorcing it from the Palestinian people.
Such narratives were common among those who presented themselves as standing in solidarity with the Palestinian people and being critical of Israeli aggression.
The argument of divorcing Hamas from the will of the Palestinian people presents itself as being a smart third way. This argument draws its legitimacy from condemning Hamas, not from the interest perspective of "Israel", but from the supposed interest of the Palestinian people. The objective of these narratives is to prevent support for the resistance among Westerners sympathetic to the Palestinian cause (which is consequentially equivalent to supporting the occupation but with a moralist packaging).
"Hamas does not represent the Palestinian people," French President Emanuel Macron said on October 24 during a detour to Ramallah after meeting with Israeli officials and pledging firm support for the Israeli war on Gaza in what he described as the "fight against terrorism".
Macron's speaking point, which has been echoed by several others, aims to alienate Hamas from Palestine to undermine its raison d'etre as a Palestinian national liberation movement.
The most immediate indicator of Hamas' popular support, as a Palestinian faction committed against armed struggle, was the 2006 legislative elections in Gaza in which Hamas won with a 77% turnout. The elections were assessed to be "open and fairly contested" by the EU Observer Mission which Macron's France was part of.
Hamas' popular support even spreads out to the West Bank. The Washington-based think tank CFR (Council for Foreign Relations) alleges that Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas has deliberated to indefinitely postpone elections in the West Bank in fear of a Hamas takeover.
Furthermore, a poll conducted by the Palestinian Center for Policy and Survey Research (PCPSR), which was cited by CFR, shows that more than half of the Palestinians in Gaza and the West Bank prefer Hamas leadership to assume the presidency over the PLO.
Hamas is not an alien organization parachuted onto the Palestinian people. Hamas is a popular movement that has organically coalesced in Palestine. It's popular among the Palestinian masses precisely because it has chosen the path of armed resistance. Hamas' resistance activity reflects the will of the Palestinians, to whom it has become increasingly clear that there can be no liberation from occupation except through armed resistance no matter how hefty its immediate costs may be.
Anybody sympathetic to the Palestinian cause must recognize the aptness of the Palestinian people's decision to resist and achieve liberation. Solidarity is not about pitying the Palestinians for their grave suffering but rather honoring their will to resist their oppressors.
Sammy Ismail is a Lebanese communist, Philosophy and Political Science graduate- LAU, and Columnist and news-editor at Al Mayadeen. Twitter: @klashinkovv
Originally published in Al Mayadeen.