Sunday, December 28, 2008

Palestinian Leader Condemns Hamas: That's Something You Don't Hear Every Day

Actually, you're not likely to hear it now. The remarkable statement of Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas was carried on NPR's All Things Considered, and I've found an extended quote on some somewhat obscure news sources.

A Palestinian President Blames Hamas?!

NPR's All Things Considered said that Mahmoud Abbas "...came to Cairo and dismayed his Arab audience by blaming Hamas for the bloodshed in Gaza.

" 'Let me say this clearly. We contacted Hamas and spoke to them bluntly. We spoke to them on the phone and pleaded, "Please do not end the cease-fire. Let it continue, so we can avert what has now happened." And how I wish we had,' Abbas said...."
(NPR) had this to say: "...Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas, who said he'd implored his political rivals to avert an Israeli attack by agreeing to extend a six-month cease-fire that expired earlier this month, echoed the criticism of Hamas.

"Speaking to reporters after consultations in Egypt, Abbas suggested that Hamas was to blame for the Israeli attack.

" 'We pleaded (with Hamas): Please do not end the cease-fire. Let it continue so we can avert what has now happened,' Abbas said. 'And how I wish we had.'

"The president's stance was a further sign of the internal strains that have fractured Palestinian politics ever since Hamas won free, U.S.-backed democratic elections in 2006...."

---And the Jews are to Blame

Israel is at fault, apparently: judging from the standard-issue demonstrations in places like London.

"...Angry protests also took place in several cities around the world on Sunday against Israel after its air strikes in Gaza killed at least 270 people and wounded hundreds more. In London, hundreds of demonstrators battled riot police in an attempt to enter the Israeli Embassy, according to media reports...."
Aimed at Jews, Hit Palestinian Girls
What set off the current attack on the Gaza strip was what happened last Friday, December 26, 2008. "Palestinian militants" fired rockets - presumably at Israeli targets.

They did manage to hit three people: cousins, girls, age 5, 7, and 12. The two older girls are dead, the third was in critical condition, the last I heard. Since Hamas says it may resume suicide bombings, the five-year-old may have a chance to avenger her cousins' deaths. Unless she grows up with good sense.
With Friends Like These ---
I'm not 'against' Palestinians. But their supporters make it hard for me to be gushingly supportive of the land dispute they have with Israel. Earlier this year, after Osama bin Laden defended their cause, I wrote:

"...I think I understand now. Palestinians blow up strategic schools and students, attack tactical markets, and the Jews are to blame for it. That makes outfits like Hamas 'national liberation movements.' When the Jewish military takes down rocket launchers hidden inside someone's home, that's terrorism.

"Goofy, but pretty straightforward: and quite simple to understand, once you learn to look at the world that way."
(May 16, 2008)
A Question of Targets
What seems to be getting lost in some of the coverage this weekend is that Israeli forces are destroying military targets: ammunition dumps, command centers.

My guess is that 'civilians' - Palestinians who don't work directly with Hamas and the like - are getting killed. That's hardly surprising, since "Palestinian militants" have learned that they get propaganda fodder by putting their equipment next to, on, and in, civilian targets.
The Jews Bombed a University!
The BBC lead in one article is "Israeli air force jets have bombed the Islamic University in the Gaza Strip, a significant cultural symbol for Hamas...." (BBC)

To be fair, the BBC does acknowledge, in the fifth paragraph, that "...The university is a centre of support for Hamas - the Islamist militant group which controls the Gaza Strip. Many of its top officials graduated from there...."

Was the university a legitimate target? Offhand, I think that, although I have a soft spot for colleges and universities, the bombing might have been justified. However, I don't know about how thoroughly the university served as a recruitment and support unit for Hamas, and so I won't form a definite opinion.

Is the Israeli response to the Hamas attack disproportionate? Maybe. But the recent cease-fire gave Hamas a wonderful opportunity to stockpile weapons - and I can understand Israeli leaders not wanting to wait until all had been used.

Hope for the Palestinians

One good thing came out of this weekend's military action: Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas said, publicly, that Hamas was responsible for this appalling violence.

That's an enormous break from the standard-issue 'it is the fault of the Jews' line that I've become drearily familiar with over the decades. I think that Palestinians need a leader like that, who is able to understand killing Jews may not be the only answer to Palestinian problems. And, I hope that Abbas is very careful about preserving his life.

After that statement of his, I'd say its only a matter of time before someone tries to kill him.

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Note! Although I believe that these websites and blogs are useful resources for understanding the War on Terror, I do not necessarily agree with their opinions. 1 1 Given a recent misunderstanding of the phrase "useful resources," a clarification: I do not limit my reading to resources which support my views, or even to those which appear to be accurate. Reading opinions contrary to what I believed has been very useful at times: sometimes verifying my previous assumptions, sometimes encouraging me to change them.

Even resources which, in my opinion, are simply inaccurate are sometimes useful: these can give valuable insights into why some people or groups believe what they do.

In short, It is my opinion that some of the resources in this blogroll are neither accurate, nor unbiased. I do, however, believe that they are useful in understanding the War on Terror, the many versions of Islam, terrorism, and related topics.