as a resolutely pro-israel, pro-peace arab i have been drawn into countless middle east debates over the last few weeks.

the most interesting insight (sigh of relief) has been discovering how little support hamas has and that whatever support exists is usually shallow and cosmetic (i.e. not at all hard to break down). there is plenty of distrust for hamas who are often blamed (alongside israel of course) for the current / recent bloodshed. they are generally perceived as a self-interested political party too happy to sacrifice their own people’s lives for political gains. this ignores in my opinion the important social work the organization does in filling the social vacuums left by the hopelessly corrupt and incompetent pa (fatah), but is in line with my views on the destructive politics of hamas.

so even if, as nathan field says, hamas do emerge stronger, politically, in gaza, it is encouraging to see that the moderate, educated classes of the middle east are thinking deeper about the issues and resisting the knee-jerk anti-israel reaction that could have pushed them into hamas’ arms.

there is of course no doubt that as most commentators have noted the two recent wars have helped to radicalize mainstream, moderate moslem / arab opinion. the very thin silver lining is that the anti-israel sentiment is not necessarily translating into pro-hizbulla / hamas movements.

most people i have spoken to agree (when prodded) that hamas’ refusal to acknowledge and engage with israel is self-defeating vacant posturing. unfortunately there seems to be little sign of that stance changing anytime soon.

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