Belmont Club

The people of the shadows

What’s sometimes overlooked in the news coverage of “militant” organizations like Hamas is the role they play in oppressing their own people.  Historically terrorist organizations have had to kill many more of their own people than the enemy, for the simple reason that maintaining control over their population, not defeating the enemy army, is their political priority. Rarely have the absurdist consequences of this been so clearly demonstrated than by events in Mosul.

MOSUL, Iraq (AFP) – A suicide bomber on a bicycle in Iraq’s northern city of Mosul targeted a protest condemning Israeli air raids on the Gaza Strip, killing one civilian and wounding 16 on Sunday, police said.

“One civilian was killed and 16 were wounded when a suicide bomber blew himself up when he rode his bicycle into the middle of an anti-Israeli demonstration in the city,” local police Major Wael Rasheed told AFP. …

Mosul, the country’s second largest city, is believed to be the last urban stronghold of Al-Qaeda in Iraq, which has been behind hundreds of bombings since the 2003 US-led invasion to topple Saddam Hussein.

It makes sense in a bizarre kind of way. In the terrorist calculus, attacking one crowd is as good as another. It garners the same amount of publicity and sows the same amount of terror; greater even for being so unpredictable. To paraphrase Crosby, Stills and Nash — when you can’t kill the one you hate, then kill the one you’re with.

Although it is no longer widely believed that sharks during a feeding frenzy actually bite themselves, it is well documented that when terrorist organizations are not otherwise occupied they continuously fight for power among themselves. Sharks are less bloodthirsty than men. Readers are invited to closely examined the caption on the photograph below. It depicts a Hamas facility used to “interrogate” Fatah men and those suspected of cooperating with Israel.

And interrogation probably doesn’t simply mean asking questions over a cup of tea and biscuits. The Palestinian Center for Human Rights reported that in one seven day period alone, between June 7 and 14, 2007 internecine fighting between Fatah and Hamas killed 161 Palestinians, including 7 children and 11 women. Nor has it stopped. In June of 2008, human rights groups reported that both Fatah and Hamas were engaged in kidnapping and torturing each other’s operatives. The hammer of violence and repression falls on everyone. Just this month, the Jerusalem Post quoted the London-based Arab daily Al Hayat as reporting that

the Hamas parliament in the Gaza Strip voted in favor of a law allowing courts to mete out sentences in the spirit of Islam … such punishments include whipping, severing hands, crucifixion and hanging. The bill reserves death sentences to people who negotiate with a foreign government “against Palestinian interests” and engage in any activity that can “hurt Palestinian morale.” According to the report, any Palestinian caught drinking or selling wine would suffer 40 lashes at the whipping post if the bill passes. Thieves caught red-handed would lose their right hand.

Any worse and Hamas jails might get to be as notorious as the US prison in Guantanamo Bay. Yet they enjoy surprisingly good PR. Hamas operative Musa Abu Marzouk — who broadmindedly declares that he “for one” is willing to let Israel exist — recently used Jeremiah Wright’s church newsletter to explain how his organization, Hamas the “Islamic Resistance Movement”, was soley engaged in convincing Israel to allow Palestinians back to their lemon and olive groves “and be whole again”. He didn’t say say whether the right hands of convicted theives would be reattached.

One doesn’t have to love Israel to recognize Hamas for what it is: a repressive, murderous and theocratic organization which will kill many more Palestinians with knives, guns, clubs, whips and acid than the entire IDF ever will with smart bombs. But then one didn’t have to believe in the virtue of Lon Nol to recognize that Pol Pot was a homicidal maniac — and look where that got us. The western intelligensia often ignores these facts, not because they don’t know, but because in some supercilious way, they don’t care. Caroline Glick described the strange way in which Western opinion leaders acted out their moralistic fantasies upon the world stage, a platform in which real human victims go unrecognized if it is inconvenient to acknowledge them.

The reason that the West remains ignorant of the views and goals of the likes of Hamas and Iran is not that the latter have hidden their views and goals. It is because the leading political leaders and foreign policy practitioners in the West refuse to listen to them and deny the significance of their actions.

As far as the West’s leaders are concerned, Iran and its allies are unimportant. They are not actors, but objects. As far as the West’s leading foreign policy “experts” and decision-makers are concerned, the only true actors on the global stage are Western powers. They alone have the power to shape reality and the world. Oddly enough, this dominant political philosophy, which is based on denying the existence of non-Western actors on the world stage, is referred to as political “realism.”

That’s why Israel alone and never Hamas will be guilty of crimes against the Palestinian people. We’ve tuned out the cries of the victims of terror; tuned them out because it’s for a good cause. They suffer, but what of that? Andre Malreaux’s eulogy for resistance leader Jean Moulin described the fate of those who condemned to die forgotten.

enter now, Jean Moulin, with your terrible cortège. With all those who, like you, died in the cellars without breaking; or even, perhaps more atrocious still, those who did break … enter here, accompanied by a people born of the shadow and who disappeared with that shadow – our brothers in the order of the Night.

Moulin had Malreaux to speak for him, but who speaks for the victims of Hamas?

This video from the Jerusalem Post shows an Israeli strike on a low-rent rocket silo being fired from underground. The strike causes the rocket to impact short of Israel, but perhaps, not short of some home. Underground warfare, indeed a troglodytic existence has become a feature not only of Gaza-style warfare, but Gaza life itself.

A video from Journeyman pictures describes how children are used to dig these and other tunnels. “Most of Hamas’ weapons are smuggled in through tunnels between Gaza and Egypt. These tunnels are usually dug by children, who know they could be killed at any moment.”

That’s not the only danger. “Sometime the Egyptians shoot gas into the tunnel that might kill us”, states Ramdan. “There are risks of electric shocks and the Israelis might bomb the entrance”. Since Hamas seized control of Gaza, the borders have been closed. The tunnels are the only way to import goods into the territory. “They’re a gold mine!” states Said. But to his disgust, most of the profits go to other people. “We do all the work, then they swindle us”, he complains. Once the tunnel is nearly ready, “other people will open it, do the trafficking and make more money than us”. The money he does make will enable Said to support his entire family. But everytime he goes into the tunnel, he knows: “You are digging your own grave”.

A commenter point out that I’ve misattributed to CSN what should rightly be credited to Stills. Thanks for pointing out the mistake. Here’s my excuse.

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