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ISIS and Israel allies against a Palestinian state

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From youtube.com/watch?v=WlnmVJU74kg: Israeli Soldiers KILL Gaza Children
Israeli Soldiers KILL Gaza Children
(Image by YouTube)
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An image speaks a thousand words -- and that is presumably what Israel's supporters hoped for with their latest ad in the New York Times.

Two photographs are presented side by side. One, titled ISIS, is the now-iconic image of a kneeling James Foley, guarded by a black-hooded executioner, awaiting his terrible fate. The other, titled Hamas, is a scene from Gaza, where a similarly masked killer stands over two victims, who cower in fear.

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A headline stating "This is the face of radical Islam" tries, like the images, to equate the two organizations.

We have heard this line repeatedly from Israel's prime minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, who tweeted "Hamas is ISIS" after the video of Foley's beheading aired. Last week, in a speech addressed to the family of Steven Sotloff, ISIS's latest victim, he called Hamas and ISIS "tentacles of a violent Islamist terrorism."

Netanyahu's depiction of Hamas and ISIS, or Islamic State, as "branches of the same poisonous tree" is a travesty of the truth.

The two have entirely different -- in fact, opposed -- political projects. ISIS wants to return to a supposed era of pure Islamic rule, the caliphate, when all Muslims were subject to God's laws (sharia). Given that Muslims are now to be found in every corner of the globe, the implication is that ISIS ultimately seeks world domination.

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Hamas's goals are decidedly more modest. It was born and continues as a national liberation movement, seeking to create a Palestinian state. Its members may disagree on that state's territorial limits but even the most ambitious expect no more than the historic borders of a Palestine that existed a few decades ago.

ISIS aims to sweep away Palestine and every other Arab state in the region.

That is the key to interpreting the very different, if equally brutal, events depicted in the two images.

ISIS killed Foley, dressed in Guantanamo-style orange jumpsuit, purely as spectacle -- a graphic message to the world of its menacing agenda. Hamas' cruelty was directed at those in Gaza who collaborate with Israel, undermining any hope of Palestinian liberation from Israel's occupation.

The extra-judicial execution of collaborators may be ugly but it has a long tradition among resistance movements fighting asymmetrical wars. Militants among the Marxist revolutionaries of Latin America and the Catholic nationalists in Ireland, as well as the Allied resistance in Nazi Europe and the Jewish underground against the British in Palestine, had nary a Muslim in their ranks but they brutally punished those who betrayed them.

ISIS's reported 20,000 foot soldiers have quickly taken over swaths of Iraq and Syria in a murderous and uncompromising campaign against anyone who rejects not only Islam but their specific interpretation of it.

Hamas -- split between political and militant factions -- has shown itself both pragmatic and accountable to the Palestinian public. It won the last national election, in 2006, and after its recent fight against Israel in Gaza is by far the most popular Palestinian movement.

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Despite being in control of Gaza for eight years, it has not implemented sharia law nor targeted the enclave's Christians. Instead it has recently formed a unity government with its secular political rivals in Fatah, and has been more than willing to negotiate with Israel.

According to reports, Hamas leader Khaled Meshal has joined Mahmoud Abbas, the leader of the Palestinian Authority, in demanding the most diminutive Palestinian state possible, inside the 1967 borders.

Netanyahu's fundamentalist right wing are the ones refusing to negotiate, with either Hamas or Abbas.

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www.jonathan-cook.net

Jonathan Cook is a writer and journalist based in Nazareth, Israel. He is the 2011 winner of the Martha Gellhorn Special Prize for Journalism. His latest books are "Israel and the Clash of Civilisations: Iraq, Iran and the Plan to Remake the Middle East" (Pluto Press) and "Disappearing Palestine: (more...)
 

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