Hamas Victory - The Reasons for Victory and the Perspective for Palestinians

Translated from Battaglia Comunista 2/2006. This article is only avalaible in the web version of RP38.

The data so far available (mid-February) show an overwhelming victory for Hamas. The victory, 75 seats out of 132, more than 50% of the votes, was widely predicted. The reasons for victory are to be found in a series of factors. Together they explain the political dominance of the fundamentalist movement, which was created in 1987 during the first Intifada, and the weakness of Al Fatah’s during the last decade.

The scenario in the midst of which Hamas forged its politics full of militant nationalism, violent fundamentalism and a theocratic political perspective, is represented by the failure of all attempts to regain possession of the occupied territories, the Camp David agreements and those of Washington, including the latest proposal of Sharon’s former party, which has mapped out with a wall of cement the future limits of a Palestinian area, in terms favourable to the state of Israel, which may be summed up in the phrase

We’ll concede Gaza to have a free hand in the West Bank, safeguarding the most important settlements, the control of water, with possible borders well short of those designated by the green line.

Hamas has also built up a consensus by offering everything which Al Fatah and the Palestinian National Authority (PNA) couldn’t or wouldn’t offer to the Palestinian masses. That small amount of welfare state that could be offered; pensions for the war widows, schools and nurseries for children and the minimum of social security. Whilst the PNA wasted its money, the Hamas leadership invested everything that came, and still comes; from Saudi Arabia, Iran and Syria, especially on arms and ammunition, which it has never been short of, in military training, whilst channelling the leftovers to a policy of helping the population, with the stated aim of challenging the competition of secular Al Fatah. With control of the Madrassas (Koranic schools) it has transformed the religious sentiment and political and social frustration, into an instrument for political recruitment. Hundreds of thousands of unemployed youth, of precarious workers, thousands of families who somehow get through the misery have been won over by the siren of reunification under the illusion that this is the only way to escape hunger and economic exploitation that, in the mind of the desperate, with no political guidance based on class, seems to be the lesser evil. In recent years, in the Gaza area and in the main Palestinian centres, there have been many strikes, due to the poor conditions at work and of life in general. There have been many demonstrations against the inefficiency and corruption of the leadership of the PNA. Behind all those demonstrations, there has always been the organisational structure of Hamas and its armed wing, Ezzedin al Kassam that has had an easy time in its confrontations with Al Fatah, abandoned, without its charismatic leader, who lost power, which he pursued and held for so long, only through his death.

Now, after the electoral victory, Hamas has achieved a period of power with few prospects, in the long or short term. Amongst the contradictory statements made by its main leaders, there stand out those relating to the posture to be taken regarding the conflict with Israel: We do not have the recognition of Israel nor the cancelling of our Statute for its destruction on the agenda. Shortly before the elections the discourse was slightly different: once the occupying troops are gone from Palestinian territory, then we will see. As regards the future institutional framework, the contradictions emerge yet more clearly_: first of all we are working for a Palestinian State, then we will establish through a referendum its secular or Islamic organisation and we will act according to the popular will._ With a rather different emphasis, some Hamas leaders, convinced that their future Palestinian government will be boycotted by the principal international powers, have expressed their confusion. If only the Saudis and Ahmadinejad’s Iran are aligning with Hamas and continue to supply it with finance and arms, there would be no referendum, the government and future State would be under Sharia law and all the baggage that comes with it, immersed in fanatical nationalist fundamentalism, like that of Iran, or inspired by the Taliban. There is yet another factor, that of Jihad. This, another unifying movement, not present during the elections, could be a further problematic element for the Islamic set up, unless there are agreements to integrate it within the organisational framework of the new government.

All those in refugee camps, in village ghettos, in daily desperation due to hunger, misery, lack of work, half of those Palestinians who live in unoccupied territory, who thought that Hamas’ electoral victory was the beginning of a solution to their problems, will have to think again. If the bourgeois faction firstly linked to the Al Fatah of Arafat and then of Abu Mazen, have shown themselves only capable of thinking about their own commercial and business interests, politically living only for the immediate, building around themselves a ring of social inefficiency and pragmatic corruption on all levels, the bourgeois fringe represented by Hamas, will be a cleaver in the head of the Palestinian proletariat. It is in the DNA of reunification to consider the capital - labour relationship in the most narrow terms. If an economic take off in the occupied territories were to materialise, and that is something more impossible than improbable, then capital’s laws would have to be extremely harsh. There would be no room for wage demands, the unions would be banned, strikers outlawed, civil rights non-existent, as is fitting for a theocratic regime which has inherited divine right from Islamic feudalism and the profit drive from modern capitalism. It would be like the Taliban’s Afghanistan or Wahabbism in Saudi Arabia, totally without any class organisation, which, if it did arise, would be regarded as the worst enemy.


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