Hamas’s invasion of Israel has once again brought attention to the Palestine problem. The routine of Israel oppressing the Palestinians while simultaneously stealing their land has once again been interrupted by outright war.

For over 75 years our government, parroting the United States, declares that a Palestinian state can only be achieved by direct negotiations with Israel, independent of third parties. This puts the Palestinians in an impossible position. All the negotiating leverage lies with Israel. Israel has the finest army in the region, replete with nuclear weapons and the support of the most powerful nation in the world. And it controls virtually all the land along with, of no small importance in this region, the water resources.

The Palestinians have no military and control little. Asking them to negotiate with the party that holds all the cards is asking them to sit at the table and accept any crumbs they are offered, to negotiate on their knees. To submit.

This was amply demonstrated by the late, unlamented Oslo Accords. In 2001, the Norwegian Ministry of Foreign Affairs commissioned an official history of the Norwegian-mediated negotiations. The report concluded, “… the Oslo process was conducted on Israel’s premises, with Norway acting as Israel’s helpful errand boy. … Israel’s red lines were the ones that counted, and if the Palestinians wanted a deal, they would have to accept them, too.”

Some Palestinians intend to neither submit nor wait for a third party—the U.S. being the key candidate—to push Israel into a just agreement. They are told their enemy has the right to defend itself; they assume the same right.

But how to fight a vastly superior military? How does a weak people fight a strong state. One answer is terrorism. Peter Ustinov once quipped, “Terrorism is the war of the poor, war is the terrorism of the rich.” Or as Sayeed Siyam of Hamas has said, “we do not own Apache helicopters ourselves, so we use our own methods.”

Not that only the weak use terror, of course. The two greatest terrorist attacks in history, the nuclear bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, were carried out by a powerful democratic state. And not only terrorists inflict death and suffering on civilians as wars in Vietnam, Iraq and Afghanistan have shown.

In any case, yes, Hamas’s invasion with its killing and capturing of civilians includes a large measure of terrorism. It can no more be justified than Israel’s generational oppression of the Palestinians.

So I can support neither Hamas nor Israel. My sympathies lie with the Israeli civilians who have suffered and died from the invasion and with the Palestinian civilians who must live under the boot of their fellow Semites.

Israel will “win” the war. It will kill many Palestinians and destroy much of their property and then we will return to the status quo. Israel will continue to oppress the Palestinians, steal their land, and lock the Gazans in their prison. Unless …

Unless Hamas achieves what some pundits claim is its main objective.

They suggest that Hamas directed its attack on the current negotiations between the U.S. and Saudi Arabia to normalize the relationship between the Saudis and the Israelis according to the Abraham Accords. Hamas, the theory goes, is attempting to force the Saudis to include the Palestinians’ interests in the deal.

If Hamas is successful, the Palestinians may indeed profit from this carnage, a thoroughly justifiable profit, a profit too long waited for. It will be a tragedy, nonetheless, if this is what it takes to bring justice for these beleaguered people.

4 thoughts on “Terrorism—weapon of the oppressed?”
  1. My thoughts pretty much exactly, except one piece:
    “Push Israel into a just agreement.”
    Is it not true that the only agreement Hamas will find just is if there is no Israel at all?
    I admit, this conflict has always been above my pay grade but I’d be interested in your thoughts on that point.
    God bless both sets of citizens.

  2. I believe that if the U.S. and Saudi Arabia presented a truly just deal for the Palestinians, acceptable to the PLO and supported by the Palestinian people in a referendum, Hamas would simply have to live with it. When Britain and Ireland (and the U.S.) proposed the Good Friday Agreement and the Irish people supported it in referendums, the intransigent IRA fell into line.

    Slim chance, but possible.

  3. Thanks Bill for this perspective. We had commented that there is NO VOICE anywhere for WHY this happened in the first place. My neighbour “These are animals. Look what they have done.” Then Israel does the same and its self-defence. I remember years ago thinking that if there’s a Third World War, it would probably begin with Israel & Palestine. I hope I’m wrong! Eilis
    (Too many memories of N Ireland)

  4. For some reason I do not understand, most people I know see this half-century Gaza fiasco as a choice between Israel or Hamas. What’s wrong with that? Plenty.
    Let’s begin with our increasingly authoritarian/borderline fascist country, Israel. For decades we’ve been casting Israel’s choice as either a one-state or two-state solution. Either Israel absorbs Palestine and makes every Palestinian a full citizen or it recognizes an independent Palestinian nation comprising both the Gaza strip and the West Bank as it was in 1967. Only Israel won’t hear of either. That leaves the third option – ethnic cleansing.
    On BBC radio this morning I heard an Israeli spokesman who claimed Israel hit 300 Hamas targets over the last 24 hours. This bold claim brought to mind the adage about how, to a man who has only a hammer, everything looks like a nail. It’s as though the act of an Israeli bomb exploding is proof positive that it landed on a Hamas target. That’s divinity-grade targeting and that’s bullshit.
    Then we have Hamas, an entity bereft of the legitimacy only a free and fair election can confer. Elections were called in 2021 for the tattered remnants of Palestine but Hamas prohibited voting in Gaza.
    Gaza, the biggest open-air prison on Earth where people are born into captivity and die without ever having known peace and freedom.
    What would Israel be without Hamas? Dwell on that question too long and you’ll be way down the rabbit hole. What would Hamas be without the apartheid state, Israel? They need each other to claim their legitimacy. Netanyahu’s Likkud depends on the support of Israeli voters who perceive this strongman as their essential defender. Hamas needs Netanyahu depicted as Gazans’ oppressor so that it can pretend to be striking back. Horseshit atop horseshit.
    What about the rest of us? Well, I’ve been around for most of this murderous dance. Every 5 or 10 years it appears, exacts its price and then recedes until the next bout. Meanwhile Israel and it’s “settlers” steadily and incrementally seize more of the West Bank, eliminating any possibility of a valid Palestinian state. Netanyahu rejects the very idea of an “occupied territory” claiming that has been erased by a “boots on the ground” reality. We look the other way.
    Me, I blame Hamas – and I blame Israel – and I blame that clusterfuck of Abrahamic faiths; Jewish, Christian and Muslim, the apocalyptic death cults with their lurid tales of Armageddon. Damn them all. Damn them all to hell (as if there was such a place except here on Earth).

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