Haidar Eid is a writer and activist based in Gaza. I met him there last year and his determination and passion was striking. He’s one of the key leaders behind the BDS movement.
His latest piece damns Hamas for failing, in his view, to prepare for a democratic future in Palestine:
Despite its somewhat fiery statements, Hamas’s impulse and willingness to deal with American propositions are indeed astonishing. Two letters were sent, as far as I know, to the new Obama administration after the term of former US President George W. Bush ended. The Americans emphasized that they declined to accept the first letter. However, it is the content of the letters and how they reflect the aspirations of Palestinians — both in all of historic Palestine as well as in the Diaspora — that is significant.
The content of these letters along with statements made by senior Hamas leaders indicate to the US Hamas’s acceptance of and commitment to the two-state solution; i.e. the creation of an independent Palestinian state on the territories occupied by Israel in 1967. Yet many Hamas leaders simultaneously accentuate their refusal to recognize the State of Israel and accept the two-state solution! Simply put, the Palestinian leadership elected by the majority of one-third of the Palestinian people, i.e. the population in the West Bank and Gaza Strip, is announcing its commitment to a racist solution that disregards the rights of 6-7 million Palestinian refugees, and the national and cultural rights of 1.4 million Palestinians in Israel.
The experience of Hamas rule in the Gaza Strip offers a miniature model of an Islamic state, whereas the West Bank stands as the Bantustan state to be declared in November 2011. It is common knowledge that Gaza has recently undergone ideological social transformations through laws that are enforced without being enacted. Such laws target individual freedoms, particularly those of women, who are no longer allowed to smoke water pipe in public or ride behind their spouses on motorcycles. Likewise, female students are now forced to wear the jilbab and the hijab, while female lawyers must wear the hijab. Of course, these practices claim to “protect our customs and traditions,” but is there a traditional text that bars women from smoking, for instance? The democracy that provided the foundation for the 2006 elections is based on guaranteeing individual freedoms. Many statements made by Hamas leaders inside and outside of Gaza before the elections emphasized that those leaders would respect such freedoms if elected.
The transformation of many members of the resistance, who are willing to sacrifice their lives for their homeland and who exerted impressive efforts to defend Gaza in 2009, into religious police like those in Saudi Arabia requires a serious and critical revision by Hamas.
Therefore, it is obvious that Hamas is unable to realize that the war on Gaza in 2009 has created a new political reality whereby Israel pulled the trigger on the racist two-state/two-prison solution. Hamas insists on adopting this approach and claims it is a temporary tactic until the balance of power shifts, as the movement assumes it will within the truce period of ten or twenty years. During this time, it plans to build a state after its model in Gaza. This only indicates the lack of a clear strategic vision to end the conflict, a vision that draws on past global struggles against colonialism, particularly against the abhorrent South African apartheid regime, which collapsed resoundingly in 1994.
Unfortunately, there has been no indication, based on my reading of many statements made by Hamas leaders, of a clear understanding within the movement either of the apartheid nature of the State of Israel or of the tools used by the South African anti-apartheid movement. One such tool is the international boycott campaign, without which the apartheid regime would not have ended. This demonstrates Hamas’s failure to understand the role of the boycott, divestment and sanctions movement (BDS). As a recent report by the Israel-based Reut Institute indicates, even the Israelis themselves are concerned about the momentum the BDS movement is gaining. There is no statement whatsoever, either in public speeches of Hamas officials or in its literature, which indicates an understanding of these efforts which, as Reut claimed, served to “delegitimize Israel” and “pose a threat to its very existence.”