Geoffrey Wale: Palestine Arabs must reject fundamentalism

The conflict between Hamas and Israel rages on and both sides are suffering losses. Families in Gaza and Israel are left in mourning. The fighting goes on with no end in sight. The yearning for statehood is at the root of this conflict. Palestinian Arabs remain stateless, trapped in Gaza and under Israeli occupation in the West Bank. Is the use of terrorism justifiable in the drive for Palestinian statehood? In my opinion, the willful destruction of life and property to advance any cause is never justified. However, in the history of the conflict over Palestine, Zionists resorted to terror in advancing their drive for the foundation of Israel. Let me be clear, I am not equivocating Hamas with Zionist organizations such as Irgun.

Irgun was a splinter group from the Haganah–a militia founded in 1920 to defend Jewish immigrants in Palestine–dedicated to armed struggle for the foundation of a Jewish state, maintaining “only Jewish armed force would ensure the Jewish state.” Irgun waged a campaign against British rule in Palestine in an effort to drive the British out. There were attacks on the British Army, sabotage of infrastructure, bombings of British embassies abroad and smuggling of Jewish refugees to Palestine. Irgun was designated a terrorist organization by the British, and captured Irgun fighters were imprisoned and in some cases hanged. In the end, Irgun prevailed: Israel was founded on May 14, 1948.

However, Israel is a modern, secular nation, a parliamentary democracy and signatory to the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, which crucially, ensures religious liberty is guaranteed in Israeli law.

In contrast, Hamas is an offshoot of the Muslim Brotherhood. Its goal is the restoration of the caliphate with the creation of an Islamic state in Palestine. The basis of the Hamas Charter is Sunni Islam and Salafism. The Hamas Charter reiterates the motto of the Muslim Brotherhood: “Allah is its goal, the Prophet is the model, the Qur’an its constitution, jihad its path, and death for the sake of Allah its most sublime belief.” This is nothing more than a deadly pipe dream. If there is any hope for the foundation of a Palestinian state in the region to coexist with Israel, the Palestinian leadership must reject religious extremism, particularly the internecine fighting between the Sunni and Shia denominations in Islam. It must also reject terrorism as this only ensures fighting will continue with no end in sight.

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