September 15, 2009 Special Dispatch No. 2502

Hamas Official: We Should Learn Lessons - Not Delude Ourselves That We Won the War

September 15, 2009
Palestinians | Special Dispatch No. 2502

Senior Hamas official Ghazi Hamad, who in the past has not been reticent in criticizing his movement, wrote in a July 1, 2009 article on that the Arabs and Palestinians must stop depicting their defeats as victories - referring primarily to Hamas's claim that it won the December 2008 Gaza war. Hamad also called on the Arabs to establish investigative commissions like Israel does. [1]

The following are excerpts from his article:

"We Act out of a Partisan Strategy"

"It is always important to call things by their name, so that we do not blindly follow pompous slogans, fall victim to illusions, and then be shocked by reality. We really want victory over Israel. [We want] to defeat this hateful occupation and see it in retreat, under siege, and obliterated - but we want the facts and figures to speak for themselves.

"We do not want emotions and pompous slogans to push aside and take the place of facts, robbing them of their power to persuade [us] and to change the painful reality. Emotion and excitement, slogans, raucous voices, and rallies cannot create real victory - [only] an illusory victory.

"[We should remember] that Israel is not a weak state, but a state with material means, intelligence apparatuses, and international support, and it can handle many challenges. Thus, dealing with it demands immense effort, precise planning, and persistent activity, proportionate to the degree of danger [it poses].

"The need is not for improvisation or for [mere] reaction, because this path gives Israel supremacy in most arenas of the military and political conflict. It is clear that since its establishment, Israel has taken a permanent strategy (about which there is no dispute among Israel's political parties, despite the differences in their [political] inclinations). We, in contrast, act out of a partisan strategy, the main point of which is contradiction and bitter quarrels, not reconciliation or cooperation.

"For many decades, the Arabs have consistently made the mistake of falling for illusions. They deceived themselves and blindly followed nationalist slogans, raucous voices, and false justifications - until every claim to unity and steadfastness collapsed, and then all their strongholds and citadels collapsed [as well]."

We Called Our Defeats Victories

"...For years, we have been in a state of loss, living a life of illusory victory, until the small young state [Israel] dared to occupy Palestine, from the sea to the river. Then it bit off all of the Sinai, stole the Golan Heights from Syria, stole Lebanon's south, and stole part of Jordan's territory. Then, it destroyed the nuclear reactor in Iraq, and even infiltrated Tunisia by sea in order to harm the PLO leaders. Israel is still sowing mayhem and carrying out evil deeds.

"[All this time], we boasted of our glory and listened to raucous songs and revolutionary speeches that intoxicated us with the ecstasy of victory. Even when we sobered up and tasted the bitterness of reality, we became drunk on the song 'Where Are the Millions' [about the Arabs' failure to help the Palestinians].

"When Israel invaded Lebanon in 1982, reaching into the depth of the capital Beirut, and afterwards expelling the PLO, down to the last of its soldiers (as the entire world watched the ships carrying the fighters into exile) - we called it victory and steadfastness of mythological [proportions].

"When [Israel] impudently and arrogantly dared to invade Lebanon once again, in 2006, and destroyed infrastructure and forced Hizbullah to sign an agreement undertaking not to fire missiles into northern Israel (which it has also honored) - we [again] called this victory, and sounded the slogan, 'The era of defeat is past and the time of victory has arrived.'

"When [Israel] challenged the entire world and razed Gaza to the ground, committing grave crimes and then invading it by land and sowing in it destruction and ruin (just like in the 2006 Lebanon war), we called it victory.

"I don't want to get into numerical comparisons of the casualties on both sides (even though [the numbers] are significant), so as not to start an argument over the criteria for victory. The question that we must deal with is: What kind of victory do we want? Do we want real, tangible victory that will defeat the occupation with facts and figures? Or are we settling for a victory that strokes our [egos], quenches our thirsty souls, and provides us with wild ecstasy that fills our hearts, [so that] the walls are covered with pompous slogans and our streets are filled with raucous rallies...[?]"

Unlike Israel, We Haven't the Courage to Establish an Investigative Commission

"Oddly, we rejoiced greatly when we saw Israel establishing investigative commissions following every one of its wars in order to learn from its mistakes. The commissions summoned the prime minister, defense minister, and chief of staff and officers, to question them and to hold them to account. Moreover, Israel publicly acknowledges its mistakes and its failures - while we rejoice [its] 'failures'...

"We, [in contrast,] haven't the courage to establish such a commission - not a single one - to extract the naked truth from the fog of emotion and slogans, or to talk about it openly with the public. We haven't the real courage to acknowledge our mistakes; we cover them up with a sound and light [show]. Where is credibility, if truth is concealed or wrapped in cellophane?!

"When will we have the courage to be honest with this tormented people that yearns for it - particularly when its history is rife with pain, suffering and partisan and tribal schisms?

"The important question is how to defeat Israel. We all desire, and long with all our hearts, to see Israel beaten, destroyed, and humiliated. We all want the nightmare removed - but the important question (that has bedeviled us for 60 years) is - how? It makes no sense for us to continue to entertain ourselves with hopes of endless future victories..."

We Cannot Win When We're Divided

"It is true that we have stood fast and not waved a white flag; we have not broken in the face of Israel's might. But it is important to call things by their name, and not to float off into the realms of the imagination.

"Let's differentiate between victory and steadfastness or force of resistance. The many questions that always stir us up, keep us awake at night, and tear down our curtain of silence are: Can victory be won in a situation of hateful division and deep rifts? Anyone who thinks so is kidding himself. Anyone who thinks that victory is possible when partisan disputes overcome the national spirit will wait another 100 years. Anyone who thinks that victory can be attained by accusing others of treason, heresy, and [serving] a foreign agenda is like someone who weaves his home from spiders' webs...

"Victory over Israel will be won first of all by means of strong national unity that is cohesive and sincere (rather than contrived), and by means of a national vision of liberation and a clear plan (that combines resistance and political activity), in which everyone participates. It will be won by building the citizen and the society based on coexistence and tolerance, and on rejecting violence, hatred, partisan fanaticism, and incitement in the media - or else we will be spinning our wheels. We will spend the rest of our lives in illusion...

"We all know that our steadfastness, our strength, and our clinging to our land are a crushing blow to the Zionist enterprise that seeks to eradicate our identity and destroy our cause. We all know that the long and glorious history of the Palestinian resistance has greatly contributed to weakening and limiting the occupation - but we must use expressions that will increase our strength and our steadfastness, and will bring us to live in reality, not [in the realm of] exaggeration."

We Palestinians Cannot Win by Ourselves - We Need the Arab Peoples' Help

"We do not want the Arab peoples to live in illusion either. We do not want them to let the Palestinians fight and their blood be spilled [so that they can] then flood us with speeches, marches, rallies and humanitarian aid. Nor do we want to deceive them that everything is well with us in Palestine and that we can fight in their stead (as some ignorant people claim)... [The Arabs] must support us with greater force and boldness, going beyond marches, rallies, and funds.

"Unfortunately, some raucous and unacceptable speeches have misled the Arabs, exaggerating the victory that we [Hamas] achieved and lulling them to sleep with thoughts that [solving] the problem in Gaza requires only money, aid, rallies, and conferences. This is a grave mistake... because it has kept us in the same cycle now for 60 years."


[1], July 1, 2009.

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