Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Hamas and Popular Resistance

Nathan Brown analyzes Hamas's rhetorical embrace of "popular resistance":
"alk of popular resistance is hardly evidence that Hamas leaders have been reading Gandhi. First, Hamas leaders make clear that they still regard armed action as legitimate. And they have even suggested that the cease-fire does not mean an end to efforts to capture Israeli soldiers in order to force an exchange for Palestinian prisoners excluded from the last deal for Gilad Shalit. Then, Israel released over 1,000 Palestinian prisoners in exchange for Shalit, an Israeli soldier held by Hamas for over five years.

"Second, this step away from violence is not breaking much new ideological ground. Hamas leaders have never rejected the idea of some sort of suspension of armed action in principle; indeed, they have held their fire for a prolonged period.

"Finally, popular resistance is not quite the same as nonviolence, though there is considerable overlap. When Palestinians speak of popular resistance they often do so to distinguish it from what they call the 'militarization' of the second intifada. And sometimes they do so nostalgically to recall the first intifada, characterized by strikes, demonstrations, founding of grassroots organizations—and restricted largely to fairly low-level violence, like stone throwing. Popular resistance means involving the entire society in the effort rather than allowing a small number of hardened fighters to dominate the political field."

As I've said before, I can't picture any major Palestinian group denying the legitimacy of something called "armed resistance," since to do so could be seen as accepting the legitimacy of Israel's occupation of the West Bank, at the very least.



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