Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Hamas Attacks UN Summer Camp For Not Being a Terrorist Training Camp

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By Barry Rubin

Hamas has twice violently attacked UN summer camps in the Gaza Strip in order to destroy them and intimidate kids from attending them. The goal is to force young people to go to Hamas summer camps where they will be given military and ideological training to teach them to be future terrorists.

The UN actually condemned the attacks and the Hamas regime for fomenting them.

I’m not complaining about this article—a small drop in the ocean of needed media coverage of Hamas’s repression and extremism—but one sentence caught my eye. The UN, “camps provide a rare distraction from the hardships endured by more than 250,000 Palestinian refugees that live in the Gaza Strip.”

Unlike many others, this article doesn’t blame Israel for all of these problems but it is also worth recalling why refugees still live in camps. Prior to turning over the Gaza Strip to rule by the Palestinian Authority in 1994, Israel at times tried to resettle the refugees in new housing. This step was not only opposed by the PLO—which wanted to keep the refugees in temporary housing until their triumphant return to a Palestine built on the smoldering remains of a destroyed Israel—but by a UN resolution. And so Israel abandoned the effort.

The Palestinian Authority (PA) ruled the Gaza Strip for more than a dozen years and received lavish aid funding, some of it specifically earmarked for new housing. But it was PA policy never to move refugees into new housing, for the same reason as before. Their suffering was good propaganda abroad and also was intended to keep the refugees in a dissatisfied state of mind so they would support continuing the battle until total victory and be willing to sacrifice their lives for the cause.

So why do refugees in the Gaza Strip and West Bank live in refugee camps today? For the same reason that there is no Palestinian state: Because of decisions made by the Palestinian leadership, both nationalist and Islamist.

There is no way anyone can refute these points, they can only ignore them.

The article also repeats another fallacy in referring to Hamas as “the Islamic movement that came to power through elections in 2007 and whose legitimacy the U.N. does not fully recognize….”

In fact, Hamas did not come to rule the Gaza Strip due to elections, which did give it a parliamentary majority, but through a bloody and unprovoked coup against the PA. If it had not seized power, it is likely there would be no embargo against the Gaza Strip today nor would there have been any war last year—with the accompanying destruction and loss of life--caused by a Hamas attack on Israel.

Again, I am not complaining about this specific article, which is far better than most, or about the UN response it reports, which should be far more common, but merely pointing out how difficult it is—and yet how important it is—to understand the context of the Gaza Strip today.
Let me repeat that the Gaza Strip is at present, albeit not internationally recognized as a state, a radical Islamist dictatorship run by a terrorist group seeking genocide, preaching antisemitism, suppressing women, forcing the departure of Christians, teaching its children to become suicide bombers, planning a future war with Israel, likely to subvert Egypt, acting as a client of Iran, and seeking to expel all Western influence from the region.

Any discussion about aiding the regime to stay in power or engaging it diplomatically should start by dealing with the previous paragraph.

And if all this is too heavy and somber for you, watch this funny—but very true—skit about how the UN usually works and deals with Israel. And here's a very cautious discussion by a Gazan woman activist on conditions where she points out that Hamas has not gone further because it is trying to win over Western support on the embargo and other issues.

Barry Rubin is director of the Global Research in International Affairs (GLORIA) Center and editor of the Middle East Review of International Affairs (MERIA) Journal. His latest books are The Israel-Arab Reader (seventh edition), The Long War for Freedom: The Arab Struggle for Democracy in the Middle East (Wiley), and The Truth About Syria (PalgraveMacmillan). His new edited books include Lebanon: Liberation, Conflict and Crisis; Guide to Islamist Movements; Conflict and Insurgency in the Middle East; The West and the Middle East (four volumes); and The Muslim Brotherhood. To read and subscribe to MERIA, GLORIA articles, or to order books. To see or subscribe to his blog, Rubin Reports.

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