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http://www.hanania.com/col10067.htm
 

Israel Once Again Strengthens Hamas' Hand

By Ray Hanania

If there is someone to blame for the atmosphere that has permitted organizations like Hamas to use violence to achieve their goals or send out their "message," Israel has the most guilt.

At least, that's what one can surmise from the history of Israel's policies toward Hamas and its founders.

On Dec. 9, 1987, at the start of the Palestinian uprising known as the Intifadah, Abdul Aziz Rantisi met with Sheikh Ahmed Yassin and five other devout political Muslims to establish Hamas.

Hamas, the acronym for Harakat al Wukawwamah al Islamiyya (Islamic Resistance Movement) was created intentionally to make the point that members of the Muslim brotherhood had been at the forefront of launching the Intifadah.

Today, many recognize Yassin and Rantisi as "fathers" of the Intifadah. Although Yassin is well known around the world, mainly because of the eight tortuous years he was imprisoned by the Israelis, Rantisi was made famous only recently when Israeli media and anti-Arab reporters inaccurately interpreted a picture of Yasir Arafat hugging Rantisi as evidence that Arafat was "soft on terrorism." The picture was published in papers around the world (although pictures of Arab victims of Israeli violence have yet to be published in the same papers).

With the release of Yassin, the stock of Hamas rises once again, and threatens to undermine the once dominant role of the moderate Palestine National Authority and the Democratic process which embraces Christian and Muslim Arabs equally in Palestine. The irony is, that Israel has no one to blame for this scenario than itself.

As everyone knows, in the early 1980s, Yassin had initially approached Israeli authorities to seek approval to register a bevy of Charitable Organizations intended to propagate Islam and to recruit supporters. Had Israel said no, then, Hamas would still be struggling for recognition.

Israeli authorities approved Yassin's request. They did so for one main reason. Yassin was an avowed critic of Yasir Arafat and the PLO, and so were the Israelis. The Israeli theory was simple: allow rivals to Arafat to surface in the West Bank and the Gaza Strip to reduce Arafat's and the PLO's authority.

That is not to say that Israel created Hamas. But the fact is, Israel made it easy for Hamas to begin in a twisted policy intended to undermine Arafat and the PLO.

Yassin's institutions became the foundation for the Hamas organization that he, Rantisi and their five compatriots formed in 1987.

Yassin and his followers enjoyed Israel's laissez faire policies that allowed money to enter the territories to fund these charitable projects, schools, Mosques and social institutions. Meanwhile, anyone or anything associated with the PLO was jailed.

Today, of course, that policy clearly backfired for the Israelis, who now view Hamas as their number one threat, making the crackdown of Hamas their top demand on Arafat's weak but still overwhelmingly popular Palestine National Authority.

As we witness the unbelievable details surface of the bungled Israeli Mossad assassination plot on Hamas leader Khalid Mashaal on Sept. 25 in Jordan, we also see Israel's actions once again strengthening the hand of Hamas.

The failed Mossad assassination has exposed the corruption of Benjamin Netanyahu's policies. Netanyahu's hypocrisy is naked to the world. He denounces terrorism by day, and sleeps with it by night.

Hoping to keep the sordid Mossad affair quiet and avoid public humiliation, Netanyahu agreed to swap Yassin, whose release has been sought for years, in exchange for the return of his two Mossad agents who used fake Canadian passports to enter Jordan and poison Mashaal.

Yassin's release and return to Gaza has injected Hamas with a rejuvenated spirit at a time when Arafat and the snail-paced peace process with Israel is at its lowest stage.

If Israel is really concerned about the so-called Hamas threat, and if it really desires peace with the Arab World and the Palestinians, then Israel should move forward to implement its promises and push the peace process forward, not backwards as it has done since Netanyahu's election as Prime Minister.

Hamas survives as a bi-product of Israel's bankrupt policies.

The more pain Israel inflicts on the Palestinians, through collective punishment, public humiliation of Arafat and the PNA, withholding taxes owed to the Palestinians, and arresting and jailing Palestinian leaders, the stronger Hamas becomes.

If this continues, Israel may one day find itself seeking negotiations with Hamas.

But, if Israel hasn't already figured this one out, the stronger Hamas becomes, the less likely it will sit down to negotiate anything.

 

(Ray Hanania is an award winning Palestinian Arab journalist and author.)


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