Hamas attack was wrong

Israel/Palestine
on 46 Comments

The Hamas attack on settlers in the West Bank was wrong. The attack was wrong strategically, but more importantly, it was wrong morally.

The so-called peace talks aren’t going anywhere. But even if they were, executing civilians is always morally repugnant.

Colonized people have a moral right to armed resistance. That moral right only extends to legitimate targets. The Israeli army is a legitimate target. Civilians are never legitimate targets.

These murders were a strategic blunder, too. Hamas could have demonstrated its incontestable role in Palestinian political life by conducting a commando raid against Israeli troops in the West Bank. I would have protested in that case also, but not on a moral basis.

Instead, I believe that the time for armed resistance is over. The Palestinian struggle has transitioned from Abu Nidal to Mustafa Barghouti. Ours is now a peaceful civil rights struggle. Hamas undoubtedly has a role to play in that struggle, but Zionist civilian deaths do not.

About Ahmed Moor

Ahmed Moor is a Palestinian-American who was born in the Gaza Strip. He is a PD Soros Fellow, co-editor of After Zionism and co-founder and CEO of liwwa.com. Twitter: @ahmedmoor

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46 Responses

  1. jawad
    September 1, 2010, 9:05 am

    Of course, the stupid Obama admin has made it illegal to have this, or any other conversation with Hamas.

  2. potsherd
    September 1, 2010, 9:12 am

    I agree with the commenters who say that the shooting was primarily an internal attack on Abbas and the PA – a political murder more than an act of armed resistance. I agree with Ahmed that it was wrong, but the fact is that Abbas has collaborated with Israel in overthrowing the legal election of Hamas to head the PA, cutting them off from power and cutting off their voice. There is a legitimate concern that these surrender talks will forever deprive the Palestinian people of their land.

    The question is: what legitimate outlet has been left to Hamas to voice their legitimate concerns? What alternative to violence do they have?

  3. Justice Please
    September 1, 2010, 9:12 am

    Why don’t we call it a “extrajudicial assasination” of “individuals linked to terrorism”?

    That wouldn’t make it morally right, but if Obama and Netanjahu can whitewash their murder squads with such speech, why can’t Hamas?

    • lareineblanche
      September 1, 2010, 11:40 am

      You bring up a good point.
      Such an event, if perpetrated by Israelis, would be portrayed as a freak occurrence carried out by “fringe elements”, settlers, of society. In this case, however, it will tar the whole Palestinian population in the press. The greater irony is that, even though Hamas (who may or may not have perpetrated this murder) is not even invited to the show (“peace process”), it will nevertheless be touted as an example of how those Palestinians “just don’t want peace” – to thwart the peace process!
      More land anyone?

      The deeper lesson is that the powerful reserve the right to blur the distinctions between what is considered a “civilian”, an “enemy combatant”, and a “soldier” – the powerless do not.

      • Justice Please
        September 2, 2010, 2:21 am

        “the powerful reserve the right to blur the distinctions between what is considered a “civilian”, an “enemy combatant”, and a “soldier” – the powerless do not.”

        That’s exactly what I meant. It’s sad and frustrating.

  4. sensa
    September 1, 2010, 9:12 am

    Something weird is going on here. Either it is an attempt to scuttle the talks that are about to begin, or Hamas is losing control of its armed militia. However, I would tend to disagree with Ahmed about the morality of the act. Settlers are armed to the teeth and behave like goons. They attack Palestinians regularly, sometimes even killing them, yet they always claim the moral high ground.

    • Psychopathic god
      September 1, 2010, 9:54 am

      is it slam dunk beyond a doubt certain that Hamas committed these murders? And yes, I agree with Ahmed Moor that they were wrong strategically and morally; that’s why I raise the question whether the murders were a false flag operation:
      1. we know Mossad is capable of running such a false flag operation;
      2. frankly, I give Hamas more credit for behaving both “strategically AND morally” than I give to Israel;
      3. qui bono?
      4. the timing is just too too coincidental.

      • LanceThruster
        September 1, 2010, 1:31 pm

        I thought the same thing but read later they took credit for the killings (though as we know, this is also not always definitive — spokes-terrorist calls – “Hi, I’m from Hamas. Do you have Prince Albert in a can?”) .

      • Brewer
        September 1, 2010, 10:23 pm

        I have to agree that something about this affair does not add up. The links to Hamas are tenuous and contradictory.
        I must say that as someone who has studied Hamas in some depth, I still find it frustrating that so many minor figures seem to be spokesmen. Whether this is MSM bullshit or the difficulties Hamas has in preserving peace between the heterogeneous factions I really don’t know.
        The most solid quote is from Obeida who is Al Qassam Brigades, the militant group that Change and Reform prefer to keep at arm’s length. The only consistency in the various versions of what he said is ” a consequence of the occupation” or some such.
        I have nothing to go on but my gut feeling is that Dahlan is behind this somewhere. Fatah and the Israelis want Hamas out of the picture – gone finish as they say in pidgin. The subsequent crackdown (150 Hamas supporters arrested) seems to support this.

        Something ain’t right. Just sayin’. The cui bono test doesn’t come up Hamas positive.

  5. Taxi
    September 1, 2010, 9:27 am

    Ahmed,

    When you yourself are physically living under the daily israeli boot, only then will I take this statement from you seriously: “I believe that the time for armed resistance is over.”

    It ain’t over. By a long and wide stretch it ain’t over. For obvious reasons.

    You’re out of touch on this point, Ahmed.

  6. Richard Witty
    September 1, 2010, 9:34 am

    Thanks for your civil voice Ahmed.

    For those that consider morality, there is action that one just won’t do.

    • Chaos4700
      September 1, 2010, 9:51 am

      Like shooting unarmed civilians in international waters? How about air strikes against hospitals and UN facilities against a population under total siege?

    • LanceThruster
      September 1, 2010, 1:26 pm

      Yeah, the “moral” kill from great distances using high explosives and incendiaries (white phosphorus) lobbed into densely populated civilian areas. That way, when there is a horrific and stomach churning picture of a dead toddler with her head poking through the rubble, we can all shrug and opine, “It can’t be helped.”

    • Sumud
      September 1, 2010, 2:41 pm

      What’s “moral” about your particular flavour of jewish supremacism Richard?

    • Chu
      September 1, 2010, 7:22 pm

      morali undertones from witty! What’s next?
      -you sold your soul for the state years ago…
      all that’s left is a shell of a human.

  7. James North
    September 1, 2010, 9:46 am

    Thank you, Ahmed. You are right in all respects.

  8. Colin Murray
    September 1, 2010, 10:03 am

    I agree that “these murders were a strategic blunder” and “that the time for armed resistance is over.” However, we should not, in our haste to dissociate ourselves from violence, let extremist Zionists spin the context of these murders.

    The distinction between military and civilians is not so clear cut when Israeli colonists form armed militias. Let us not pretend that the victims were completely innocent civilians, random passersby caught up in circumstances beyond their control. They were colonists living on stolen land in the Beit Hagai colony a stone’s throw south of Hebron, and were killed in the Hebron area.

    They were no more and no less innocent than German colonists in Poland during the Second World War. Some of these were murdered as well. Should I weep for them equally?

    Justified condemnation of the colonists’ murders should be followed by thoughtful reflection on the circumstances leading up to them, not just to clinical details about the crime scene and wailing and nashing of teeth about the unfairness of it all.

    I would like to know if these colonists were armed at the time of their murders. Were weapons found in their car? Did anyone bother to ask or look?

    Most importantly, it should be noted that they were killed on Palestinian land. What were they doing there in the first place? Surely a way to ensure that it doesn’t happen again is to remove Jewish colonists from land that doesn’t belong to them. Apparently pro-ethnic cleansing/colonization Zionists have a different solution in mind. “Knesset Speaker Reuven Rivlin also spoke at the ceremony and said new construction would be “a proper Zionist response to terror”. As if new construction wasn’t already happening right this minute …

    This incident was a strategic blunder because it will draw attention away from new construction and expansion of Israeli colonies, and hence delay the wakening of a politically effective majority of world opinion against Zionist dispossession and disenfranchisement of Palestinians. Let us not make the blunder worse by tolerating Zionist attempts to paint the victims as pure as driven snow.

    • LanceThruster
      September 1, 2010, 12:45 pm

      I tend to agree. I remember many years ago (before coming to a revised understanding of the conflict) reading a piece about an attack on a settler home where everyone in the house was shot and killed, even a baby in its crib. I thought how reprehensible, and violent, and brutal the act was and that it was clearly enough to determine that one side was nothing more than vicious, cold, merciless killers.

      I didn’t even know what a “settler” was. That the settlers, using force of arms and the power of the state drove someone else off (men, women, children, babies), deprived them of their homes, livelihood, and dignity, or killed them, or jailed them for protesting (or killed them), or condemned them for fighting back (or killed them), or for fighting back the wrong way (or killed them), or for not agreeing to the peace of the oppressor (who continued to kill them), or for electing those who the oppressor objected to (by killing them), or for complaining that the power structure that they had decimated could not control the more radical elements among them (so it killed more of them).

      Israel will not say definitively what part of the country is theirs (the default being pretty much all of it). Until they do, it is not unreasonable for the Palestinians to feel justified in attempting to repel the invader. It is even more clear cut in the case of the settlers. This is not some far flung outpost on the edge of the barbarian zone. This is a push to put down roots, and build homes and family in a not-so-slow-motion encroachment of land that is not theirs; Zionist lebensraum. The policy has for decades been, “steal first, apologize later” (with the “apology” portion being most often disregarded).

      Anybody’s life needlessly cut short is tragic, but though it is the Arabs about whom it is said, “the only thing they understand is violence”, it seems “pain compliance” (a police tactic used to get combative suspects to cease) has been more effective in forcing Israel to shed its delusions (that they can commit their theft bloodlessly), then playing into the rigged game of not wanting “peace” when it means surrendering to Israel everything it wants. The calls for peace and non-violence have provided cover to continue the theft. Attempts at non-violent activism are countered with violently dispensed death and maiming.

      If every single action is interpreted as proof of the desire to wipe Israel off the map, does it even matter what the action ultimately is?

    • Keith
      September 1, 2010, 3:28 pm

      COLLIN MURRAY- I agree and made a similar comment on another thread. Calling these people “settlers” is a propaganda victory for Israel. Many of these “settlers” are, in fact, heavily armed paramilitary occupiers who engage in terrorism and sabotage. They work hand in glove with the Israeli occupation forces to make Palestinian life miserable. They are part and parcel of a brutal occupation, not some benign civilians just trying to live and let live. Perhaps we should start referring to them as paramilitary occupiers rather than settlers

  9. eljay
    September 1, 2010, 10:09 am

    >> The Hamas attack on settlers in the West Bank was wrong.

    They were wrong but, as we all know, they were but a rock in the stream of progress which Israel will need to paddle around. Furthermore, those attacks are in the past, so fixing them will solve nothing. And, finally, those attacks make it very clear that Israel must make “better wheels” and try to “humanize ‘the Other’” because to do anything else would be revolutionary and maximalist.

  10. Miss Dee Mena
    September 1, 2010, 10:13 am

    I’ve just returned from the village of Bani Naim which is currently encircled by the IDF. The attack on the settlers was very stupid from a political point of view as it gives ammunition to both the intransigent Israeli government to sell itself once again as a “victim” in the P/A conflict. It also allows the settlers to pull the victim card.

    However, I don’t for a nano-second buy the theory of the settlers being “innocent civilians” apart from perhaps the women and children. The men carry weapons and they serve in the IDF. The settlements are quasi-military outposts. When you have seen a Palestinian village under curfew as six of these “innocent civilians” march through the streets armed to the teeth shooting randomly and often killing; burning fields; slaughtering livestock; vandalising mosques; poisoning wells; running over and killing many pedestrians in apparent “accidents” and stealing land and homes, the concept of “innocent” flies by the way.

    Although the shooting of the pregnant woman was indefensible, the huge outcry over the death of a few Israeli civilians compared to the almost daily killing of Palestinian civilians which hardly makes the news is nauseating in its hypocrisy. Spare me the double-standards already. It is high time these nasty, illegal squatters got the hell out of the West Bank and left the locals alone.

    If one wanted to be really vindictive one could argue that the Palestinians have a load of slaughtering to do to even begin to catch up fractionally with the large numbers of civilians killed by the IDF.

    • thankgodimatheist
      September 1, 2010, 7:11 pm

      “However, I don’t for a nano-second buy the theory of the settlers being “innocent civilians””

      I agree..I can’t believe Moor, of whom I had a very high opinion, has fallen to this “morally wrong” thing knowing very well what the those armed to the teeth, genocidal settlers are really about..Their crimes, with the active complicity of the IDF are well documented..
      But I agree that this operation is bad on other accounts as stated.

  11. Miss Dee Mena
    September 1, 2010, 10:16 am

    P/I conflict

  12. Mooser
    September 1, 2010, 12:41 pm

    Settlers are “civilians”? Now, there’s a laugh! Why, cause the settlers say “God told me to”?

    Damn, I shoulda gone to Israel. That God excuse never works for me here.

    They are not settlers, they are bandits. Or, you could more accurately call them “Israeli irregulars.” Since they have the full support of the Israeli government. Some of them are officers in the IDF, are they not?

    • Mooser
      September 1, 2010, 12:43 pm

      Yeah, that one ‘ll wait awhile, huh. Til I step out of Charon’s Chris-Craft on to a snowbank.

  13. ehrens
    September 1, 2010, 2:34 pm

    These gun-toting, rock-throwing, orchard-burning terrorists from H2 and Kiryat Arba do not belong anywhere near Hebron — even under Israeli law. These friends and mourners of Baruch Goldstein are not civilians if the government of Israel winks and looks the other way while they break Israel’s own laws.

    I don’t condone murder, but let’s not call them simple civilians.

  14. RoHa
    September 1, 2010, 8:01 pm

    Abu Nidal seems to have been working for Mossad.

    (And Mossad is probably responsible for that awful word ‘transitioned”, as well.)

  15. Joseph Glatzer
    September 1, 2010, 8:16 pm

    When it comes to violence: it’s not fair to hold occupied people to a higher standard than their occupiers.

    • thankgodimatheist
      September 1, 2010, 11:29 pm

      “When it comes to violence: it’s not fair to hold occupied people to a higher standard than their occupiers.”

      Joseph..This should be a post in it’s own right. A sticky ..You’ve said in few words what usually is said in hundreds..

    • mig
      September 2, 2010, 1:11 am

      Same in vice versa. And of course, international law gives right to resist occupation by arms. Killing civilians is another matter.

  16. jimby
    September 1, 2010, 8:36 pm

    Ahmed, I notice you seem to promote Mustafa Barghouti. How do you feel about Marwan Barghouti? I have a feeling that he might be the best chance for a realistic peace that satisfied the Palestinians. He seems to galvanize people from disparate sides in the Palestinian landscape.

  17. wondering jew
    September 1, 2010, 11:01 pm

    Ahmed, thank you for this post.

  18. the pair
    September 2, 2010, 12:02 am

    “The Palestinian struggle has transitioned from Abu Nidal to Mustafa Barghouti. ” Nice one.

    While reading this and many other posts/articles/etc., (including several that make me wonder how direct the connection is to any top Hamas leadership, but that’s another subject for another time) I did see one silver lining to the ugliness of it all…

    Israel kills civilians aid workers – Israeli response (along with most in the West): “They were terrorists and had it coming! You’re all out to destroy us and we must smite you!” No regret, no awkward discomfort…other than the Gideon Levys and Jonathon Cooks, of course. The media takes all Israel lies and excuses at face value and cares oh-so-much about context and deeper issues of security. Never Forget!

    An arm of Hamas kills civilians – the response I see here and on several other pro-peace/pro-Palestinian sites: “What were you thinking? This is wrong whether they belonged to a group that is in the wrong or not. Collective punishment can never be excused.” Or, as a Hamas spokesman said, “why would you need to throw a wrench in the works? There’s already a big, fat wrench named Bibi that’s been doing a fine job for several years now.” (Paraphrased, obviously.)

    The media (and Obama, who basically functions as an extension of the media’s overall purpose) say “Hamas killed them: Cased Closed. Move along, nothing to see here. Evil Muslim Terrorists existing in a vacuum with no context.” Never Remember!

    This attack was unfortunate but it is telling how those on the opposite side of the Avigdor Kahane mentality are willing to show empathy and regret when someone they might normally support commits a crime against even the most vile adherents of said mentality (and I’ve seen and heard enough second or first hand accounts to believe the settlers in Hebron are a foul bunch.) Supporters of Israel never cease to amaze me with their hunger for death and lust for revenge but it seems most on the non-Right* side of the Palestinian movement can see the context while taking the high ground when someone on either side is killed and that gives me some small satisfaction.

    *Right meaning garden variety Jew haters and random Salafist factions like those that recently caused trouble in Gaza.

  19. Richard Witty
    September 2, 2010, 6:40 am

    Maybe this is a “distraction”. Maybe it is essential news to be aware of.

    link to haaretz.com

    • eljay
      September 2, 2010, 9:16 am

      >> Maybe this is a “distraction”. Maybe it is essential news to be aware of.

      It is essential news and I, for one, condemn the killings.

      This is also essential news:
      link to maannews.net

      I, for one, and without qualification, condemn the illegality and the blatant provocation. Do you?

      • Richard Witty
        September 2, 2010, 7:35 pm

        I agree that continued settlement construction is immoral, inciting, opportunistic, unnecessary.

        It is currently legal in Israel and under their jurisdiction, and that is something that should be changed.

      • Chaos4700
        September 2, 2010, 8:01 pm

        Oh ethnic cleansing is legal in Israel? It’s legal, huh?

      • Chaos4700
        September 2, 2010, 8:02 pm

        Should I be worried about my parent’s home, Witty? I mean, granted, it’s in Wisconsin but clearly, since it’s legal for Israelis to bulldoze any home no matter how far outside Israel’s “borders” they’re located, I figure I should take adequate precautions.

      • Bumblebye
        September 2, 2010, 8:48 pm

        Settling an occupied land over which the occupier does not have sovereignty is illegal. If the Israeli legislature has passed laws in contravention of international laws, then it too is a criminal body, no?
        Is it too difficult to condemn the illegality that leads to the frustration & rage that brings about a killing like this? From top to bottom?

      • eljay
        September 2, 2010, 10:10 pm

        >> It is currently legal in Israel and under their jurisdiction, and that is something that should be changed.

        The Occupied Territories do not belong to Israel; therefore, the “legalities” do not apply. But, yes, it is something that should be changed, isn’t it.

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