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The people of Gaza are also hostages of Hamas

Noam Greenberger
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The people of Gaza are also hostages of Hamas

Published: 24 October 2023

Last updated: 5 March 2024

In propping up Hamas, the progressive West has become Hamas’s useful idiots, writes NOAM GREENBERGER.

Calls to "end the war in Gaza" appear to represent what any decent person should want – an end to the bloodshed and destruction. If the war in Gaza ended right now, the threat of a regional war may be averted (for now), and Gazans and Israelis would focus on rebuilding.

So would Hamas. Having successfully invaded Israel but failed to seize control of the land bordering the Gaza Strip, it would learn from its mistakes and work with its regional partners (Hezbollah and Iran) to commence recruitment and planning for its next murderous mission. Its notoriety would encourage greater participation by ordinary Gazans and further cement its control over the Strip as it continues the 18th year of its four-year term.

Would this increase the prospect of further bloodshed and destruction in Israel and Gaza? Most likely. It would also be devastating for the people of Gaza, who are the longest-held captives of Hamas. Hamas and Hezbollah sympathisers around the world would be spurred into action, sensing their moment had arrived. Both of these movements have global aspirations. 

In a recent speech to Australia’s House of Representatives, Greens leader Adam Bandt called for an end to war in Gaza, as did thousands of pro-Palestine protesters over the weekend. They didn’t call for the end of Hamas. This highlights the clash of values for some people – it’s difficult for them to separate Hamas from the Palestinian people.

The Greens also voted against a motion recognising Israel’s right to defend itself. How could this most fundamental right be contentious? Only if you believe that Israel is entirely and fundamentally illegitimate. To do so you need to deny Jewish indigeneity in the Land of Israel (as Hamas and the Palestinian Authority regularly do) and the UN Partition Plan, which recommended the establishment of the modern State of Israel. If one selectively respects indigeneity, then it is likely just thinly veiled prejudice. (As an aside, the Partition Plan was rejected by the Arab countries including the Palestinian leadership – otherwise, a two-state solution would have been in place from 1948).

Hamas’s use of progressive buzzwords is a cynical exploitation of Western naivete.

The progressive left and militant Islam are unlikely bedfellows. Hamas uses buzzwords (such as “colonialism”) that trigger Western guilt to seduce progressives.

But its human rights record on any issue of interest to progressives is appalling - without political rights, freedom of media, freedom of religion or legal due process in Gaza. According to Hamas’s Charter, a woman’s role is “looking after the family, rearing the children and embuing (sic) them with moral values. Homosexuality is a crime in Gaza punishable by imprisonment or execution by Hamas, while Israel offers asylum to LGBTQI+ Palestinians. Of course, it affords no rights to Israel which, according to the charter “Islam will obliterate”.

The moral relativism of Westerners who refuse to condemn Hamas is either deeply condescending to Palestinians, whose rights in all these areas apparently don’t matter, or biased against Israel.

Hamas’s use of progressive buzzwords is a cynical exploitation of Western naivete. Hamas also exploits the Arab street with the canard that "Al-Aqsa is in danger", which has been weaponised against Jews since the 1920s. The October 7 massacre committed by Hamas was code-named “Operation Al-Aqsa Flood”. A public statement made afterwards by Hamas commander Mohammed Deif explained that a central motivation was Israel “crossing all red lines” vis-a-vis the Al-Aqsa mosque. Interestingly, Deif’s statement doesn’t mention “Gaza”. Meanwhile, the Al-Aqsa mosque has been administered by a Jordanian waqf (Islamic trust) since 1948. The Israeli government does not permit Jewish or Christian prayer on the surrounding Temple Mount/Haram al-Sharif complex for fear of provoking violent riots.

Hamas’s use of civilians as human shields is well documented. On October 13, Israel warned north Gazans to flee to the south due to an impending ground offensive. In response, Hamas told north Gazans to stay put and set up roadblocks to stop them evacuating. Israel seeks to minimise Gazan casualties, and it is hindered by Hamas. On October 15, Hamas stole fuel and medical equipment from the UN, which were to be used for humanitarian purposes.

Israel has said that its siege on Gaza will ease when all Israeli and non-Israeli captives (referred to by Hamas as “guests”) held there are freed. Hamas has the power to determine whether the lives of about 200 captives matter more to it than 2.3 million Gazans. It’s staggering that this is proving to be a tough decision.

Overthrowing Hamas sadly and inevitably puts some Gazan civilians at risk. If Hamas had its way, all Gazans would be at risk – its slogan is "death for sake of Allah is the loftiest of wishes". In other words, civilian casualties in Gaza are not to be avoided – they are to be welcomed. Israel’s desire for normalisation and eventually peace led to its under-estimation of Hamas’s commitment to its beliefs. If Israel can’t achieve peace, then it can settle for no less than general deterrence and the defeat of the enemies at its gates. The least we could do is stand up against a cruel regime that plagues Israelis and Gazans alike, rather than continuing to be Hamas’s useful idiots.

About the author

Noam Greenberger

Noam Greenberger is an Australian lawyer based in Jerusalem with a deep interest in Israeli and Jewish affairs. He has written articles for LegalVision and the Law Institute Journal.

The Jewish Independent acknowledges Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples as the Traditional Owners and Custodians of Country throughout Australia. We pay our respects to Elders past and present, and strive to honour their rich history of storytelling in our work and mission.

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