Thursday, 19 May 2011

Largest Student Union in Europe Joins Boycott of Israel


BDS Movement

The University of London Union (ULU)  has voted 10-1 to institute and campaign for Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) in support of Palestine. The motion called for “thorough research into ULU investments and contracts” with companies guilty of “violating Palestinian human rights” as set out by the Palestinian Boycott National Committee (BNC). 

Ashok Kumar, Senate member for LSE, speaking in favour of the motion, argued, “We have precedents for boycotting campaigns at ULU, especially with South Africa and the boycott campaign over  Barclays bank, that supported the Apartheid regime. We are now responding to the Palestinian call for civil action in support of their fight against racism.”
The motion also called on other students’ unions to join in the campaign for Palestinian human rights. ULU is the largest students’ union in Europe with over 120,000 members from colleges across London. ULU senate consists of the presidents of the 20 students unions reprsenting every University of London University.  James Haywood, President-elect at Goldsmiths Students’ Union, stated, “We are delighted that this motion has passed, and with such a clear vote as well. We have seen throughout history that boycotts are a crucial nonviolent tactic in achieving freedom, and target institutions, not individuals.”
Sean Rillo Raczka, incoming ULU Vice President, “I’m delighted that ULU has passed this BDS policy on Israel.  We stand in solidarity with the oppressed Palestinian people, and as Vice President next year I will ensure that the University of London Union does not give profit to those denying the human rights of the Palestinians”
The text of the motion passed is as follows:
Union notes:
1) to boycott is to target products, companies and institutions that profit from or are implicated in, the violation of Palestinian rights
2) to divest is to target corporations complicit in the violation of Palestinian human rights, as enshrined in the Geneva Convention, and ensure that investments or pension funds are not used to finance such companies
3) to call for sanctions is to ask the global community to recognise Israel’s violations of international law and to act accordingly as they do to other member states of the United Nations
4) that in 2009 the The Human Sciences Research Council of South Africa released a report stating that Israel was practising a form of apartheid in the occupied West Bank, (
5) that Israel continues to build a 8 metre high “annexation” wall on Palestinian land inside the post-1967 occupied West Bank, contravening the July 2004 ruling by the International Court of Justice (the highest legal body in the world, whose statutes all UN members are party to) and causing the forcible separation of Palestinian communities from one another and the annexation of additional Palestinian land.
6) that within the occupied West Bank and East Jerusalem, Israel continues a policy of settlement expansion in direct violation of Article 49, paragraph 6 of the 4th Geneva Convention which declares “an occupying power shall not deport or transfer parts of its own civilian population into territories it occupies.” 6) that the Gaza Strip continues to face a suffocating siege from land, sea and air by Israel, and continues to suffer military incursions into the territory by the Israeli army
7) that Palestinians living in Israel continue to suffer third-class citizenship and are heavily discriminated against from healthcare, education, landownership and in many cases having ‘unrecognised’ villages completely demolished
8 ) that there continues to be millions of Palestinian refugees throughout the world who are racially discriminated against by not being allowed to return to their homes in Israel and the Occupied Territories, which is legally recognised under international law, including United Nations resolution 194.
9) that ULU and the NUS nationally adopted the call for BDS in the 1980s when it was called for by South Africans fighting racism and apartheid
10) that Ronnie Kasrils, the Jewish South African Minister of Intelligence said “The boycotts and sanctions ultimately helped liberate both blacks and whites in South Africa. Palestinians and Israelis will similarly benefit from this non-violent campaign that Palestinians are calling for.”
11) that the call for BDS has come from over 170 Palestinian civil society organisations, including student organisations, as well as organisations within Israel and across the global; and that the campaign is founded on the basis of anti-racism and human rights for all
Union Believes:
1) that unions should work to support the Palestinian people’s human rights and uphold international law
2) that BDS is an effective tactic, which educates society about these issues, economically pressures companies/institutions to change their practices and politically pressures the global community
3) that unions have a moral responsibility to heed the call of oppressed peoples, like we did so proudly during the BDS campaign to end South African apartheid
4) that the BDS movement has united human rights campaigners from different nationalities, races, religions and creeds across the world
Union Resolves
(1) Institute thorough research into ULU contacts with investments and companies,including subcontractors, that may be implicated in violating Palestinian human rights as stated by the BDS movement
(2) Pressure University of London universities and affiliate students’ unions to divest from Israel and from companies directly or indirectly supporting the Israeli occupation and apartheid policies;
(3) Promote students’ union resolutions condemning Israeli violations of international law and human rights and endorsing BDS in any form;
(4) Actively support and work with Palestine solidarity organisations such as the BDS Movement, Palestine Solidarity Campaign, Jews for Justice for Palestinians, British Committee for Palestinian Universities , Israeli Committee Against House Demolitions
(5) Affiliate ULU to the Palestine BDS National Committee and engage in education campaigns to publicize the injustice of Israel’s discriminatory policies against the Palestinians and its illegal occupation

Sunday, 15 May 2011

Remembering the Nakba

By Hesham Zakai 
(London Student Editor) 
“We must expel the Arabs and take their place”
David Ben-Gurion, letter to his son Aron, October 5 1937

“The old will die and the young will forget”
Ben-Gurion’s diary, July 18 1948

The current period is “the second half of 1948″
Ariel Sharon’s description of the Al-Aqsa Intifada

Port City of Jaffa
 I could really have stop writing here and allowed the words of the former Israeli Prime Ministers to speak for themselves – and how candidly they do. In fact, if one were to look through the annals of history, one would discover how remarkably punctuated by frank admissions of Zionist intent it is. Just ten days ago, for example, the Commander of Operation Cast Lead, Major General Yoav Galant, openly said that Gaza was an ‘ideal training ground’ for Israel where new weapons could be tested because it lacked the capacity to inflict any serious damage in retaliation.

But the three epigraphic quotes are more than just immoral gloating. All interlinked, they represent a tripartite process which is incomplete: 1- The plan; 2- The hope; 3- The continuation. I refer, unmistakably, to the intention to diminish the number of Palestinians in historic Palestine, which is undoubtedly what the spectre of 1948 entails for a war criminal like Sharon.
In 1948, Jaffa was the most populous of the Palestinian cities, with over 70,000 inhabitants, as well as the most commercially developed. Whilst researching its history, I encountered tales of hope and tragedy; it being the eve of Yawm al-Nakba (Day of The Catastrophe), it is inevitably the latter I shall briefly rest on here. In spite of the fact that the mayor of Jaffa, Yussuf Haykal, tried to negotiate a peace deal with David Ben-Gurion, and in spite of the fact that even under the UN Partition Plan Jaffa was assigned an Arab-controlled city, the Stern Gang, Irgun and Hagana (the latter of which was the forerunner to the IDF) conspired to terrorise the city and its citizens.
Four days into 1948, a lorry was filled with explosives by the Irgun gang and left in central Jaffa, killing dozens of people and injuring hundreds, many of whom were children visiting the Welfare centre of the town hall. In Abu Kabir, a village which had seen clashes between Arabs and Jews increase, the Zionist terrorist gangs blew up 15 Arab houses in a single day during a process of systematic terrorisation. The villages around Abu Kabir were also attacked and occupied by terrorist gangs, leaving Jaffa effectively under siege whilst it was indiscriminately shelled using British weapons which had been looted by the Zionist gangs from warehouses. Armies attacking besieged populations using British weapons has a sorry ring of familiarity to it.
The Hagana’s Plan Dalet meant that Palestinian villages were to be taken over and subjected to: ‘occupation, and if the Jewish forces encountered resistance, the takeover would be followed by the annihilation of the resisting force; the deportation of the population; and the destruction of the village. If there were no resistance, a defensive force would remain in the village or nearby to make it secure’ (War in Palestine, p. 88). After sustained bombardment, Jaffa was eventually ‘cleansed’ of 97% of its indigenous Arab Palestinian population. Tragically, many of those who attempted to flee by sea in the final days of the catastrophe out of sheer terror and desperation drowned and died.
Similar processes happened across Palestinian villages. But the key point is that these are not merely historical events – they continue today: forced evictions, house demolitions, agricultural destruction, apartheid walls, sailors shot at sea &c. The four words highlighted above which characterised 1948 are just as applicable today: Occupation, Annihilation, Deportation and Destruction The Nakba was not a fixed historical event, static in time that happened and is now over; it is a process of continued exclusion, expulsion and destruction. During Operation Cast Lead alone, over 4,200 homes were demolished; since Israel’s military occupation in 1967 nearly 25,000 homes have been demolished; and all whilst Israel’s illegal colonial expansion in the Occupied Palestinian Territories continues, standing at over half a million settlers at present. This is what Ariel Sharon meant when he said that 1948 was not over and the second half of it was underway.
Yet from the dust of the rubble of demolished homes the International Solidarity Movement is growing bigger and bigger. Against the grain of Ben-Gurion’s hope that ‘the old will die and the young will forget’, the young are not forgetting at all; in fact, those who had forgotten have been reminded and those who did not know are learning. Whilst we must always remember and commemorate the Nakba, to be conscious of something is not enough. To actually affect change, we must translate remembrance into deeds: we must strive to ensure the return of the Palestinian refugees to their homelands. It is an inalienable human right enshrined in law and affirmed annually. ‘There is no greater sorrow on earth’, wrote the Greek tragedian Euripides, ‘than the loss of one’s native homeland’. The Nakba will be truly over when the Palestinian sorrow is ended, and Arabs and Jews can once more live together in a land they can both call home.

Saturday, 14 May 2011

Unprecedented BDS Victory in Germany: Deutsche Bahn Pulls Out Off Illegal Israeli Rail Project

Financial Times 

Deutsche Bahn, the German railway operator, has pulled out of an Israeli project that cuts through the occupied Palestinian West Bank, after pressure from activists and Berlin.

The move marks a victory for pro-Palestine Campaign groups and their boycott, divestment and sanctions campaign, which tries to use economic pressure on Israel to help the Palestinian cause.

Campaigners were angered by the activities of Deutsche Bahn’s international consulting arm, which provided advice on the electrification of the new track linking Tel Aviv and Jerusalem. The high-speed line, due to be completed by 2017, has attracted sharp criticism from Palestinian officials because a 6-km    stretch cuts through the West Bank.

Opponents said the project was illegal because it used occupied Palestinian territory for a project that would be used primarily, or solely, by Israeli citizens. They also argued that the new line could have easily been built on Israeli territory alone, making land confiscations in the West Bank unnecessary.

Deutsche Bahn, which is state-owned, declined to comment on the reasons for the pull-out but said: “We told Israel Railways in February that we would not provide further services for this particular project.”

The operator added that the involvement in the Tel Aviv-Jerusalem line had been “modest” and that DB International, its consulting subsidiary, would continue to provide services to the Israeli rail operator elsewhere.

According to a letter sent by Germany’s ministry for transport to a member of parliament, the operator faced criticism for its involvement from the government itself: “The federal government pointed out [to Deutsche Bahn] that the project of the Israeli state railway is problematic from a foreign policy point of view and potentially breaches international law,” it said. The letter added that the German operator confirmed “in writing” that there would be no further involvement of its international subsidiary in “this politically very sensitive project”.

The document, dated March 11, was published on Monday on the website of, a campaign group.
Merav Emir, an activist with Who Profits, the campaign group that leads the lobbying effort against the rail project, welcomed the decision. “I want to congratulate the German government for making such a clear and bold statement about the illegality of this train route under international law,” she said. “We call on other European governments to follow suit in making sure that companies in their countries abide by international law.”

The Israeli transport ministry did not return calls for comment.

Friday, 13 May 2011

Doors & Keys of Truth


By Abd Migdad
Student In Palestine

Heavy when compared to an ordinary key like the ones we know and use today, simple in creation, safety is the reason of its formation, and it symbolizes the past. Tangibly maybe useless today, ok, but of means they are, for those keys symbolize the truth and hold the past that lives deep in the hearts of millions; the past that they have lived and died to erase, but mission impossible and will remain impossible; and they, they will live and die and continue that way, though the past they have been trying to eliminate will remain in their hearts and souls, and out of their will never disappear, for if that happens they win and we loose. The right could be lost when its not protected or not believed in. However, truth loosing is absolutely impossible in the Palestinian case; it is not an option. For the reason that we believe in, and we protect, so live and die, and live and die, and as long as the right is not retained, it will remain in our souls and hearts.

That truth is the key and the key is the truth; the key to Africa and the key to Asia, and just imagine what treasures each contain. Ask yourself why would someone want to steel the truth? Those keys open doors for houses, villages, and cities. They weren't able to steel the keys; however, mattering is of less to them. The keys they don’t need, for the door could be broken into, and as that happens the hearts of their owners break. "How come?", you may think. I say that their hearts with their homes are connected, so again they might have taken the homes, but the truth will remain in the hearts and connected to the souls, and as long as the truth is not retained, and it shall, they will remain living, dying, and failing.    

 Last year I remember my mother and her brothers opening an old room for their parents that had became too old and unsuitable to stay in beside the family villa, but the villa, for the old couple, was that room, and the so-called villa was what is not suitable to stay in. In the room were trays, plates, cookers, clothes, furniture, and balls. All old and beautiful, all fabricated and decorated beautifully. Everything was hand-made and hand-carved. I imagined a picture where everything is in nature, from nature, and natural is how it is done.

 I love my mother, for she cares about every thing that means to her the connection to the land, and desire for return, and the soul connections to the parents. While they thought of most of the stuff in the room to be old and useless she took her share and the things they didn’t want. She sat in the room with a story to tell about each piece she holds between her arms, and all I did was dream standing, flashes of pictures crossed my inner-eye. My thoughts were like something recorded and I was going back in memory but it stopped at a very near point and how could it still rewind in the past and all I have lived was as if it was yesterday. I listened and stored her words that described the village and the house while holding decorative plates made of wood or aluminum between her arms as if there was a map she follows, she could see, but we could not.

Each piece had a story behind it to be told. She stood up, there was a cupboard, wooden and old, but I could swear that it is stronger than similar ones done today. She opened it, and inside there was the Palestinian thaw, I remember asking about its cost in a store, and it was worth more than a thousand Shekels. For god's sake, even the clothes told stories; however, the story to be actually told was beneath the clothes where the keys laid for years. Of no use they said those keys are; my sister grabbed them as if they're gold, of use they are to me, she said. To her, it is as if they were spoils of war. Happy was my mother to see the daughter carrying such concern, and in such speed reacting to save such treasure from extinction. Of no tangible use, that could be true, but the lesson I say, is what's of use for youth to learn, that we have a land we are obliged to return to, if not soon in real, then now in thoughts and soul.    

That was a year before, and now and I swear: the taste is different, the smell is different, the dream is absolutely different, and let me tell you, the eye eats before the mouth and so does the nose, so if food looks and smells good the taste would be guaranteed; great. Last year when we brought some plates and cookers home from that old room of my grandparents, I used nothing but those old wooden bowls with this wooden stick to make my salad with some olives and its oil. With bits of salt sprayed I eat my salad, I live the dream, the dream that will become true. The truth will prevail because it’s a promise, not from me and not from you, but from our creator, so let's obey the Might to the truth.

Being A Gazan ...


By Ruba
Student in Palestine 

In Cairo Airport

20 years have passed since I was born, but it seems that I have never known what does being a Gazan mean till I left Gaza in 24th July last year.
It was 4:30 AM when we left the home going to Rafah border. We had to wait for 5 hours till the border was opened and we were allowed to cross it .Anyway, it  was a long day, finished when we finally arrived Cairo airport at 1:30am the day after, putting in our minds that it is only one hour and a half waiting for the plane arrival ! However, those 90 minutes have become 14 hours..!

Being a Gazan means that you have to stay there for a period of time, without knowing how much long this period will be! You should not be that optimistic person to think that every thing will be okay, and it will be only 90 minutes...

Being a Gazan in Cairo airport means that you don’t have to ask about the exact time of the plane, or even if there will be a plane or not...

It means that you will not be allowed to buy any thing to eat, to drink, or even to go to the toilet with no security man walking beside you, looking at you as if you are a time bomb that will blow itself up in the middle of the other passengers ...

Yes, in Cairo airport, you are a time bomb. You are a great danger that must be kept away from others for “security reasons”. I just wonder what could those “security reasons” be when dealing with some exhausted, hungry, and thirsty travelers and depriving them of having any thing to eat...

What could those “security reasons” be when dealing with old men and women having nothing to sit on but the floor. Or what could they be when dealing with some children who are prevented from going to the toilet...

Being a Gazan means that I have to see that helplessness and perplexity that I have never seen before in my father’s eyes, asking himself how could he bring us something to eat...

My sister suddenly exploded with tears, as she was very hungry and tired. Finally, the security forces allowed us to buy some food, but sure, with being accompanied by a policeman...

Being a Gazan in Cairo airport means that you should “practice your hobby” of demonstration even when you are a traveler, in order to have a plane! Anyway, it was effective...

It was a-fourteen-hour imprisonment, with no guilt, no lawyers, but with dozens of jailers spitting abuses on some helpless Gazans, just because the security reason of being Gazans...

Being a Gazan means that they will insult you to the level that makes you forget about something called dignity, or even humanity !
However, being a Gazan also means that they whatever they do to insult you, you will never go down, and will keep your dignity!

On Hamas: Fresh Academic Analysis on an Old 'Problem'

By Nadia Marques de Carvalho 
LSE Palestine Society

Hamas[1] is the natural product of an unnatural circumstance: “it is a response like in the chain of cause and effect arising from the cruel circumstances of life under occupation.”[2] However it is a new link in the chain of the Palestinian struggle or as Dr. Hisham Sharabi articulates, Hamas is the “true fida’i (self-sacrifice) resistance in Palestine since the outbreak of the Palestinian intifada.”[3] In quintessence its supporters consider Hamas a vanguard of emancipation, a multidimensional organisation of pious, upright citizens who defend the interests of their grassroots constituency and is celebrated for their readiness to consult its support base and its emphasis on self-sacrifice.[4] Ergo it is a combination of two things; religious drive and a political drive for liberation, and it is in turn the context that decides which takes the lead: a context which is created by Israel. This essay shall endeavour to challenge the Western perception of Hamas as a ‘terrorist organisation’ through a critical and objective analysis of its history, ideology and politics. The Western framework has created a discourse where Hamas is caricatured as a “terrorist organisation” pursuing a Taliban-styled theocracy and thus the primary obstacle to peace; Steadman has even depicted it as a “total spoiler”.[5] This dominant Western rhetoric enforces the portrayal of Hamas as a static organisation, its violent and ‘fanatical’ behaviour rendering it as innately characteristic while contradictory evidence is marginalised as irrelevant. This is why Hamas is worthy of study – the exhausted myopic approaches have failed to understand Hamas and for peace ever to be achieved this paradigm must be broken so that there can be communication: after all communication is the genesis for change.


Understanding the history of Hamas and its evolution through time provides the conceptual structure needed to then understand its ideology and politics to then determine whether it is an organisation of terror. Hamas’ history shall be explored within three main parts: the Muslim Brotherhood (Al-Ikhwan Al-Muslimun), 1970s/80s and the restructuring of the Brotherhood, and the emergence of Hamas. Hamas is an offshoot off the Muslim Brotherhood and according to the Hamas Charter (1988) considers itself part of the Palestinian Brotherhood, despite being a natural extension of Palestinian resistance in its various manifestations Hamas’ characteristics; ideology and structure are a reflection of the Brotherhood. The Brotherhood in turn is Egyptian in origin and founded in 1928 by Hassan Al – Banna; the organisation combines the spiritual element of the Hasafiyah Sufi order with the teachings of Islam from the Salafi School. The Brotherhood was concerned with the Palestinian struggle; this was evident in their abundant show of support during the Arab Revolt of 1936 where moral and material aid was provided, i.e. the issuing of declarations and pamphlets attacking the British for their policies and the ordering of a boycott of Jewish magazines in Egypt.[6] The movement had a popular appeal especially in Palestine where by 1943 it had formed a branch in Gaza called the Makaren Society of Jerusalem, however the ultimate expression of the Brotherhood’s concern was its active participation in the 1948 Arab-Israeli war. Thus the Brotherhood appeared sincere in its religious conviction for the liberation of Palestine, it consequently grew because of this. Hamas mirrors the essence of the Brotherhood which took to the masses the concerns of the intellectuals and transformed it into a grassroots movement; it was an organisation that transcended the mosque-goers but one that appealed to all parts of civil society in order to rehabilitate and create a renaissance of the Ummah.

The organisational challenges of the Palestinian Muslim Brotherhood and its consequent restructuring laid the groundwork for the Brotherhood’s appeal and growth. For example Sheikh Yassin established the Islamic Centre in 1973 (al-Mujamma al-Islamia), which allowed for all the religious organisations and institutions to be dominated by the Brotherhood, this in turn permitted for a more united Brotherhood of the Gaza Strip, West Bank and Jordan. Thus the strengthening of the Palestinian Brotherhood triggered for it to become more amenable to political and ideological approaches and coupled with the success of the Iranian Revolution, the Brotherhood stepped up its political activity especially in Palestinian universities. The Brotherhood unlike now was able to spread its influence without Israeli interference and rally support for the Islamic movement. Ziad Abu-Amr describes it doing so in two specific ways: Zakat – alms giving which helped thousands of needy families, Waqf – the Brotherhood had control of this religious endowment which gave it significant access to the population and the use of mosques for political activity and to recruit[7]. Despite its restructuring there was still dissatisfaction within the Brotherhood for its failure to engage in fighting the occupation and this remained its weakness against the nationalists until the Likud Party came to power in 1977. Likud sought to weaken the Palestinian Liberation Organization (PLO) by decapitating its leadership and suspending municipal elections, moreover it advocated an explicitly religious claim to the West Bank and Gaza and began the immediate expansion of Jewish settlements. Coupled with Egypt’s 1978-9 decision to make peace with Israel leaving the PLO, which rendered Fatah’s lack of success more glaring, the appeal of a religious response increased hence the growth of the Brotherhood. The Brotherhood capitalized on this new arena of political contestation and discontent, with its insistence on a one-state solution, a return to Islam and on meeting people’s social needs the Brotherhood’s popularity grew – dominating student politics through the 1980s. Hence the emergence of Hamas was in part a direct result of the continuing rivalry between the Brotherhood and other factions.

Hamas meaning “zeal” was born of the Intifada, which “marked the beginning of the true political revival of the Islamic forces.”[8] The First Intifada was a result of a myriad of socio-economic and political causes e.g. the economic growth of the 70s which was eroded by the recession of the 80s where only 20% of graduates were able to finds jobs[9] thus causing frustration and the rise and drop of expectations that provides fertile ground for political violence. The uprising was triggered by the tension created by many tit-for-tat murderous actions such as an Israeli troop raid of the Islamic University of Gaza (IUG) wounding dozens, which was in turn avenged by an Israeli settler being stabbed to death in Gaza’s town square, this furor prompted an Israeli truck to “accidentally” run down four Palestinians on the 8th December 1987. This elicited demonstrations all over the Occupied Territories. Nonetheless the establishment of Hamas was not a clear cut and instantly conscious decision but one which evolved over time, as during the outbreak of the Intifada the Brotherhood was faced with an ideological problem as it could no longer sit on the sidelines especially with regard to its bitter rivalry with the PLO. The wave of religiosity, which it had ignited during the 80s, created a united Islamic nationalist dimension of armed struggle and it could not afford to lose the younger strata of the Brotherhood who were eager to participate in the uprising. The solution was the creation of an ostensibly separate organization out of the Muslim Brotherhood to take responsibility for its participation in the Intifada – so if the Intifada failed the Brotherhood could disclaim Hamas[10].  However with its success Hamas became a credible and convenient name for a rehabilitated Muslim Brotherhood enabling it to attract new followers. After the Intifada Hamas’ influence spread, its military and social operations increased and the Brotherhood’s shift from pan-Islamic to Palestinian nationalism and its commitment to armed struggle won the loyalty of many Palestinians.


Neither Hamas nor its ideology is static; both are affected by political chance, nonetheless certain ideological troths have remained the same - ideology is malleable but not infinitely so. Many perceive Hamas’ ideology and political worldview to be a narrow doctrinaire struggle; one between Islam and Judaism[11], but closer studies of its communiqués, memoranda and charter show a more multi-dimensional view. Historians such as Matthew Levitt concentrate solely on Hamas as an establishment to “eliminate the state of Israel”[12]; there may be a doctrinaire flavour as the movement does use an Islamic discourse to galvanise the masses but there is an oscillation between Hamas depicting the struggle as a purely ideological one and a resistance to a foreign occupying power. Then again this, as Hroub argues, creates a dilemma in its ideology: does it “give precedence to Islamicizing Palestinians or Palestinianizing Islam[13]?”

Hamas’ aims, strategies and philosophy are spelled out in the Charter it issued on 18th August 1988 where it notes its rationale and position on central issues such as the Palestine problem. Article 14 of the Charter for example claims the solution of the Palestine problem is the uprooting of the State of Israel and the establishment of an Islamic State in its place[14]. Thus undeniably religious discourse is dominant, although there is a focus on fighting for one’s rights, land, values and justice the Charter does this all with an underlying spirit of Islamic Jihad and its potential to galvanise support. A key word is “Jihad” which literally translates to “struggle” however the Qur’an notes two types of Jihad: the non-violent personal struggle for virtue and morality and the lower Jihad of self-defence which can involve taking up arms in a “holy war”. The Western perception of Hamas as a “terrorist organisation” is only advocated by a narrow interpretation of Article 8 of the Charter that lists its motto where “Jihad is its methodology”[15]. It is important that this is understood in the context of Al Banna’s purpose of the Brotherhood, which was the rehabilitation of the Ummah, “beginning with the individual, then family, then society”[16] in order to combat the colonial hegemony as united and cohesive. Thus in the context of Hamas, Jihad is the struggle and the art of resistance. Husam al-Nasir advocates that Jihad “must be understood in the broad sense of the word, fought on many fronts, it is a military, political and ideological Jihad to liberate the Ummah and its heart, Palestine.”[17]

 The Charter candidly portrays the centrality of the doctrinal basis of the struggle, but we cannot subsume the entire struggle under this rubric. Hroub argues that “Hamas’ doctrinal discourse has diminished in intensity since the mid-90s and references to its charter by its leaders have been made rarely, if at all,”[18] and recently we have seen Hamas focusing more on the multidimensional issue of the usurpation of Palestinian land and how to end the occupation. Moreover Hamas’ ideology lists a fundamental strategy of “the Three Circles”[19] where it claims there is a division of responsibilities between the Palestinians, Arabs and Muslims to fighting “world Zionism and imperialism”[20], and that for Palestine to be free it must be done in “tandem with the liberation of neighbouring parts of the Islamic Ummah.”[21] Furthermore Hamas has proven itself able to free itself from dogmatic ideology, Abu Marzoup claims that Hamas really understands that the liberation of Palestine is organically lined to a level of political development and cultural resurgence of the Umma as a whole, not just Palestine.[22] This is why Jihad is not just armed violence or to articulate in Western parlance – “terrorism”, it involves a cultural and political struggle. Nonetheless the Hamas Charter has been used to propagate a view of a “terrorist organisation” bent on being a hindrance to peace, although Hamas has claimed that international conferences are a “waste of time, a king of child’s play”[23] Zaid Abu-Amr has argued that Hamas does not wish to project itself as an obstructive force “may there by a chance, however slim of finding a solution.”[24] Ergo Hamas’ ideology is vexed and complimentary: it must not be viewed as static or stamped as terrorism, as like Hamas it evolves over time and its Charter is understood differently within the context created by Israel.

Hamas & the Art of Resistance


Hamas may be a self-consciously ideological organisation, which paints itself as the vanguard of the Islamic state, however like all organisations it is confined by necessity and opportunity where its politics become defined by political theory and pragmatism. Hamas since its birth has sponsored forums, political gatherings and Islamic exhibitions especially in university campuses that serve as its vehicle of influence. It issues statements, brochures and commemorates martyrs as well as organising demonstrations and strikes[25]. Hamas’ politics of charity and educational work however has been claimed by the West as merely ways to promote “driving Israel into the sea.”[26] Levitt has claimed its politics are all part of an “apparatus of terror”[27] and any view that conflicts with this stereotypical image is brushed off an ill informed “anti-Israel diatribe.”[28] Levitt has also accused Hamas of having blurred the lines between political/charitable work and terrorism but this essay maintains that no line has been blurred but a new line of resistance has been created by Hamas. Levitt along with the Western paradigm have forgotten that it is not the “battery of mosques, orphanages, summer camps” that are “integral for incitements and the radicalisation of society” to “brainwash Palestinians to die as martyrs” but it is the context. A context created by Israel where there is 33.5% Palestinian unemployment, where 75% of the population lives below the poverty line of $2/day and where 30% of Palestinian children under the age of 5 have chronic malnutrition[29]. Hamas is not the art of terrorism but the art of resistance: “Palestinian people have the right to have Hamas fulfil its role defending them, politically, socially, financially and in terms of security.”[30]

Hamas’ politics of resistance since winning 44.5% of the vote in 2006 has manifested itself in many ways primarily the regularisation of the informal economy. Although the Hanieh government was expected to crumble under the weight of a continuous siege, ironically Gaza’s markets and cash flows have actually grown since Operation Cast Lead[31]. This “new” economy is organised tightly by Hamas where it maintains a high level of internal discipline that has greatly limited the possibility and scale of irregularities, it also counterbalances the dysfunction of the administered economy thus keeping a lot of its supporters loyal. The “new economy” also permits for Hamas to “look after its own” for example the 5000 tunnel owners and its 32 000 civil servants[32]; this level of organisation is reflected in its ministries and agencies which is in turn complemented by the grassroots organisation of Hamas (i.e. its Mass Action Apparatus).  Hamas politics of resistance have demonstrated its ability to not only survive but also to rebound and even innovate.

The Dual Contract also delineates Hamas’ politics, where on one hand it defends the right of people to express their opinions and select their leaders and on the other hand it insists politics must be safeguarded from self-interest. This contradiction is at the very heart of Hamas’ political theory: a contract between the people and their representatives (safeguarding free will) and one between the people and God (safeguarding divine design). This contract is the foundation of Hamas’ political theory as it is neither a theocracy nor a democracy but a hybrid of both, where humanity according to Hamas is to be free – “to do as one wishes and submit oneself to God’s will”[33]. This may in turn appear contradictory in a ‘secular’ context but for Hamas there is no contradiction; freedom is in a sense rising above one’s baser instincts to fulfil ones destiny; by being God’s agent one is fulfilling one’s destiny and is thus free[34]. Hamas translates this into two words that sums up its decision-making: Shura (consultation) and Ijma (consensus). To legitimise the authority of a state it must consult the people, hence elections, and there must be consensus on decisions made. Ergo Hamas’ political theory echoes notions of popular will, social contracts and representative authority but notions that are all tempered by God.


Hamas has found itself in a world of contradiction between ideology and political reality, rhetoric and decision-making, commitment to its constituency and a religious militant doctrine. However we too have found ourselves studying Hamas through a Western social science shaped deeply by binary opposites, or as Derrida would describe – “traces”: modern – traditional, democratic – terrorist, these in turn suppress cross-over elements (traces) of the opposite term. They are also associated in clusters which obscures ‘traces’ e.g. ‘modern’ is associated with terms such as ‘liberal’, ‘democratic’ and ‘non-violent’ which encourages us to assume that the sighting of one element of a cluster of binary pairs means that the whole cluster must apply. This approach to the study of Hamas only hinders our understanding of the organisation: we must move beyond this dichotomy. This is what this essay has endeavoured to do, to observe it’s evolution through the Muslim Brotherhood, to appreciate its adaptions to a context created by Israel, to argue that its ideology is not static nor one of “terrorism” but a politics of resistance sobered by religion. Injustice naturally gives rise to resistance (self-determination by armed struggle is permissible under the United Nations Charter’s Article 51) but the distortion of the Palestinian resistance has clouded all reasonable dialogue and created a Western public consciousness casting the Palestinian as a “terrorist” when all he is, is searching for his freedom. Under these circumstances it is difficult for the prose of reality to conquer the poetry of dogmatic ideology.

[1] Hamas is an acronym for arakat al-Muqawamat al-Islamiyyah
[2] Hroub, Khaled, Hamas: Political Thought and Pracitse (America: Institute for Palestine Studies, 2000), p 5.
[3] Sharabi, Hisham, “That the Palestinian Entity May Be a Democracy, Not A State [Run] by the Security Services”, Al-Quds al-‘Arabi (London) 8th December 1993.
[4] Gunning, Jeroen, Hamas in Politics (London: Hurst Publishers, 2007), p 95.
[5] Ibid 2.
[6] Hroub, Khaled, Hamas: Political Thought and Pracitse (America: Institute for Palestine Studies, 2000), p 12.
[7] Abu-Amr, Zaid, (1993) Hamas: A Historical and Political Background, Journal of Palestine Studies, 22(4), 5 - 19.
[8] Ibid.
[9] Gunning, Jeroen, Hamas in Politics (London: Hurst Publishers, 2007), p 35.
[10] Ibid.
[11] Hroub, Khaled, Hamas: Political Thought and Pracitse (America: Institute for Palestine Studies, 2000), p 43.
[12] Levitt, Matthew, Hamas (Virgina: The Washington Institute for Near East Policy, 2006), p 8.
[13] Hroub, Khaled, Hamas: Political Thought and Pracitse (America: Institute for Palestine Studies, 2000), p 44.
[14] Hamas, The Hamas Charter, Article 14, 1988, available at: [accessed 8 April 2011]
[15] Ibid. Article 8.
[16] Tamimi, Azzam, Hamas: unwritten Chapters (England: C. Hurst & Co. Ltd, 2007), p 4.
[17] Al-Nasir, Husam, Harakat al-muqawama al-Islamiyya (Hamas): Islamic Resistance Movement, (London: Muslim Palestine Publications, 1990). Pp. 18 - 22
[18] Hroub, Khaled, Hamas: Political Thought and Pracitse (America: Institute for Palestine Studies, 2000), p 44.
[19] Hamas, The Hamas Charter, Article 14, 1988, available at: [accessed 8 April 2011].
[20] Ibid.
[21] Hroub, Khaled, Hamas: Political Thought and Pracitse (America: Institute for Palestine Studies, 2000), p 47.
[22] Ibid 48.
[23] Hamas, The Hamas Charter, Article 13, 1988, available at: [accessed 8 April 2011].
[24] Abu-Amr, Zaid, (1993) Hamas: A Historical and Political Background, Journal of Palestine Studies, 22(4), 5 - 19.
[25] Ibid.
[26] Alexander, Yonah, Palestinian Religious Terrorism: Hamas and Islamic Jihad (America: Transnational Publishers, 2002), p 9.
[27] Tamimi, Azzam, Hamas: unwritten Chapters (England: C. Hurst & Co. Ltd, 2007), p 2.
[28] Ibid.
[29] Levitt, Matthew, Hamas (Virgina: The Washington Institute for Near East Policy, 2006), p 5.
[30] Ibid.
[31] Sayigh, Yezid, (2010) Hamas Rule in Gaza: 3 Years On, Crown Center for Middle East Studies, 41(4), 1 - 9.
[32] Ibid.
[33] Gunning, Jeroen, Hamas in Politics (London: Hurst Publishers, 2007), p 63.
[34] Ibid 64.