Hamas victory: A Conundrum for the West

In Algeria in 1992, the Islamic Salvation Front (FIS) was dealt a death blow after it won the first round of the first ever post-independence General Election in that country. A military coup, leading to a horrific fratricidal civil war put an end to the experiment in democracy. The West, strident purveyors of democracy, remained deafeningly silent.

The challenge facing HAMAS following its stunning election victory is to avert the bloodbath that afflicted the Algerians. Demonizing the Palestinian liberation movement with threats to suffocate and starve the Palestinians as a collective punishment to dare elect their own representatives is the first salvo to undermine their victory.

Already Israel has refused to hand over Palestinian tax money; the United States of America has halted its aid and the European Union, the largest donor, applied stringent conditions that HAMAS must comply with in order avoid strangulation.

This hypocrisy and blatant double standards by those that extol the virtues of democracy is utterly shameful.

The difficulty that faces the West is that HAMAS, like FIS, has clearly articulated in it’s Charter the intention to form an Islamic government-a government guided by the Qur’an and the Sunnah (the practice of Prophet Muhammad {peace be upon him}). Because HAMAS carries the label ‘Islamic’, they had already condemned it as an obstacle to the “peace process”, despite it being non-existent for the past five years.

Considering the power and influence of the Palestinian Authority (PA), Israel and the West, it is remarkable that HAMAS did so well in the polls. Everything was stacked against the Islamic party. Not allowed to campaign in Jerusalem, harassed at checkpoints, arrested and imprisoned, under double occupation by the PA and Israel, Hamas overcame all these obstacles, and won.

The PA, the corrupt creation of the Israel and the West, was entrusted to carry out the objectives of the occupiers. Millions of dollars poured into its coffers did not weaken HAMAS’s capacity to mobilize voters. Yet, millions of Palestinians languishing in horrendous refugee camps in Jordan, Syria and Lebanon and the diaspora were barred from exercising the vote, rendering this an incomplete exercise.

Blaming the PA and Fatah for its failure in the election, from inefficiency, rampant corruption to complacency, and suggesting that the result is an anti-Fatah vote, insults the intelligence of the Palestinians. They are probably the most educated and politicized of all the Arab people, and voted to continue resisting the occupation. Besides, HAMAS spent decades in selfless service to uplift Palestinian society under oppressive conditions. Towns and cities under its control after the previous municipal elections ensured its overwhelming victory.

Hamas, from all accounts, had improved the administration of its municipalities, delivered essential services to the poor with a degree of compassion and efficiency and checked rampant corruption, cronyism and abuse of power. Its achievements at the municipal level were one of the reasons for HAMAS’s outstanding performance in the legislative council elections.

The West and its media have been dealt an embarrassing blow after pontificating about the incompatibility of Islam with democracy. It would have undoubtedly hailed and embraced the Fatah leadership had the elections gone their way, trumpeting its ‘regime change’ in Iraq and Afghanistan as being responsible for the changes.

The West’s conditions imposed on HAMAS makes a mockery to its claims to uphold international law, democracy, justice, fairness and human rights. They demand that HAMAS must recognize “Israel”, stop “violence”, and “respect signed agreements including the Roadmap”. The alternative is to face sanctions and a halt to humanitarian funding.

It is the Palestinians that have been invaded and occupied and oppressed and brutalized for over 50 years. The Zionists, in collaboration with the Western world, have usurped their land, demolished homes, plundered and destroyed olive groves, and subjected them to humiliation, collective punishment, torture, imprisonment and murder.

Israel, an Apartheid state, on the other hand, has violated international law, ignored the Geneva Conventions, and defied scores of United Nation Security Council Resolutions –” with impunity. The expansion of illegal Settlements continues, the separation wall/fence lengthens, its military more destructive and its rule more vindictive and oppressive- all with Western finance and guardianship.

HAMAS valiantly took up the cudgels on behalf of the Palestinian people and resisted the tyrannical Zionist occupation. Resistance is not violence. Khaled Mishaal, HAMAS’s leader, stated at a press conference on 28th January: “Resistance is a right enshrined by divine books and international laws and any people under occupation have every right to self-defense until they liberate their homeland”.

The “peace process”, from Oslo to the Roadmap, simply served as a camouflage to expand, secure and entrench Zionist Settlements, and guaranteeing the perpetual enslavement for the Palestinians. These conferences focused primarily on Israel’s security, disregarding the issue of Jerusalem as the capital of an independent Palestine, a return to the 1967 borders, freeing political prisoners or the right of the Palestinians living in refugee camps to return to their homes.

It would be wise for the West to see that the type of Islam which HAMAS espouse embraces some of the most significant characteristics of democracy. For example, it stresses the rule of law, of an independent judiciary, of the freedom of expression, assembly and association, of public accountability and of popular participation in government. Women and Christians stood on HAMAS’s platform and were elected.

All these principles and practices are part and parcel of a world view rooted in the Qur’an and not in some human rights declaration conditioned by Western history and experience to be discarded when expediency demands it. HAMAS’s vision is to restore the dignity of the Palestinian people in a just, compassionate society free from Zionist oppression and occupation. They deserve success.