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Hamas at 25: Beyond the tired language

By       Message Ramzy Baroud     Permalink
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It was then that Hamas Prime Minister Ismail Haniyeh declared that the siege was over, only to be reminded three weeks later by a massive Israeli war that it was not. However, deterring Hamas backfired and Israel soundly lost that battle. In the process there were new discoveries that the resistance in Gaza was much more resourceful than previously thought. 

Days after Gazans celebrated the defeat of Israel's war objectives, several billboards thanking Iran for its help of the resistance were erected in Gaza. It was perhaps Hamas' (and the Islamic Jihad) way of sending a clear message that it will continue to play by its own rules, that it is a member of no camp, that its allegiance remains to principles and not to governments or funds. Interestingly though, the billboards were not signed. 

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Now that Meshaal has visited Gaza and been greeted by a large number of Palestinians, the movement seems to operate with greater clarity and confidence than any other time in the last two years. "Politics without resistance has no meaning," he said soon after arrival. The statement is rife with meanings and suggestions. 

At 25, Hamas has morphed in its status and importance, and within that prominence lies its strengths and weaknesses. In order to maintain a level of power and to safeguard its political evolution, it has no other option but to become even more dependent on other parties, Egypt notwithstanding, whose prospects for stability are receding by the day. 

The Israeli prescription of understanding everything Palestinian, including Hamas, no longer suffices. Western journalists need to take notice of that complex reality and quit stereotyping and cataloging Palestinians using the same old language. There is more to understanding such issues than a tired division between good guys and others "hell-bent on the destruction of Israel." Hamas should be understood properly within its local context, and then in relations to all of its surroundings, including Israel. 

Now, 25-years later, Hamas is still understood within limited confines of an ever-redundant discourse obsessed with Israel's security, and later with an imagined Iranian threat. A new understanding is desperately required, one that is sensible enough to take into account the uniqueness of the Palestinian narrative itself, Palestinian history, the struggle and rights involved, as opposed to Israel's security -- the cornerstone of Western media reporting on Palestine and the Middle East. 
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Ramzy Baroud is the Managing Editor of Middle East Eye. He is an internationally-syndicated columnist, a media consultant, an author and the founder of PalestineChronicle.com. His latest book is My Father Was a Freedom Fighter: Gaza's Untold (more...)
 

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