The BBC website explains that “there are several different sorts of pacifism, but they all include the idea that war and violence are unjustifiable, and that conflicts should be settled in a peaceful way”. This is exceedingly naïve, especially if one happens to be the target of a blood-thirsty and irrational organization such as Daesh. Despite its naivety, pacifism is a well-meaning and egalitarian philosophy based on the belief that all humans are inherently good, and that they naturally revolve towards peaceful coexistence and mutual respect. Hamas’ philosophy however is Islamic supremacy, tyranny, oppression, anti-Semitism, homophobia, misogyny, and the glorification of death and violence. Anyone who believes in pacifism would naturally mistrust and denounce Hamas in the strongest possible terms.
And despite its naivety, pacifism makes sense when used with democratic governments. Such governments are highly vulnerable to accusations of human rights abuses if those who are abused are non-violent and non-threatening. For this reason, pacifism worked against the British regime in India.
An ideal strategy for pro-Palestinian peace activists
One place in the world where the naïve pacifist approach would make good sense is in the Palestinian conflict with Israel. If Palestinians used non-violence (not just in words, but in deeds), there is no doubt that they would achieve far greater gains in their conflict with Israel. All the objections cited by Israel against the creation of an independent Palestinian state would melt away. Israel would feel compelled to relax security checks, stop building fences, and end the blockade of Gaza. Israel would have no one to jail for terrorist attacks, and Israel would have no choice but to agree to a peace deal, most likely on terms very favorable to the Palestinians.
Pro-Palestinian peace activists have therefore two very strong reasons to denounce Hamas and to advocate a strategy of non-violence with Israel: The fact that Hamas’ ideology is contrary to theirs and the fact that Israel is an ideal candidate for non-violent strategies. If Pro-Palestinian peace activists were able to convince Palestinians to use non-violent methods, it would be a win for their otherwise largely discredited pacifist ideology, and it would greatly benefit the Palestinians.
The self-proclaimed peace activists
The good news is that there is no shortage of activists who identify themselves as pro-Palestinian peace activists, but the bad news is that anyone trying to find evidence of them promoting pacifism and condemning Hamas would be out of luck. Here are some examples:
- Act Now to Stop War and End Racism (ANSWER), an American peace advocacy organization, defends Hamas and denies that Hamas is a terrorist organization.
- Alexei Sayle, a British stand-up comedian, says that he has “no particular affection for Hamas” but then goes on to excuse their actions using irrelevant facts (such as that Arabs were victims of “hundreds of years of colonialism”, of which Jews were also victims) and lies, including the lie that “Israel is an extension of the developed West”.
- Avi Shlaim, a professor at Oxford University, makes the mind-boggling claim that “Hamas is not a terror organization though it does resort to terrorist attacks on Israeli civilians”, and for further effect, he adds “nor is it a jihadist movement”. He then insults all Arabs and Muslims by saying that “in the eyes of ordinary Arabs and Muslims worldwide, it is a patriotic group which fights with commendable courage”.
- Bay Area Women in Black, an American peace advocacy organization, promotes the myth that Hamas is a national liberation movement fighting against “Israeli local proxies (Fatah)”.
- Brian Eno, a British musician, laments the situation in Gaza, blaming Israel and the U.S., but he makes no mention of Hamas.
- Canadians for Justice and Peace in the Middle East (CJPME), a Canadian peace advocacy organization, implicitly endorses Hamas’ demands for a 10-year truce with Israel even though these demands include the unconditional lifting of any restrictions on imports, including weapons.
- Code Pink, an American peace advocacy organization, wants Hamas taken off the U.S. terrorist list, and it fully supports the Hamas demands for “a long-lasting truce”, calling the proposals “very reasonable”.
- David Heap, a professor at Western University and a member of the Canadian boat to Gaza steering committee, could not get himself to admit anything more damning than that he is “not a friend of Hamas”.
- Desmond Tutu, a retired South African Anglican bishop, urges the recognition of Hamas and draws parallels between Hamas and Nelson Mandela’s anti-apartheid African National Congress.
- Frankie Boyle, a British comedian, gives Hamas a free pass by making the anti-Semitic analogy between Israel defending itself against Hamas and a cake “being punched to pieces by a very angry Jew”.
- George Galloway, a former British Member of Parliament, delivered money right into Hamas’ hands. Not surprisingly, Hamas considers him a hero.
- Greta Berlin, a co-founder of the Free Gaza Movement (FGM), was asked, “Israeli Prime Minister went so far [as] to state that the Jewish state is a victim of an Iran-backed campaign to arm the Hamas rulers of Gaza with missiles that could hit Tel Aviv and Jerusalem. What is your position on that?” to which she dismissively replied “Silly man”.
- If Americans Knew (IAK), an American peace advocacy organization, welcomed the election of Hamas and now claims that “Hamas is not the issue”.
- International Women’s Peace Service (IWPS), a multinational peace advocacy organization, extensively demonizes Israel but denies any wrong-doing by Hamas, even for the kidnapping of three Israeli teenagers in the West Bank in 2014 which Hamas explicitly admitted responsibility for.
- Jeremy Corbyn, a British Member of Parliament and a candidate for the Labour Party leadership, invited Hezbollah and Hamas terrorists to the British Houses of Parliament, and he referred to them as “our friends”.
- Jewish Voices for Peace, a mostly-American peace advocacy organization, tells us reassuringly that Hamas “has always shown a willingness to adapt to changing circumstances”, and it “is the legitimately elected party in power”.
- Jimmy Carter, a former President of the United States, far from condemning Hamas, demands instead that its “legitimacy” be recognized.
- Ken Loach, a British film and television director, accuses Israel of “great crimes”, but says absolutely nothing about Hamas.
- Mary Hughes Thompson, a co-founder of the Free Gaza Movement (FGM), has no words of condemnation for Hamas, but she routinely equates Israel with Daesh by referring to Israel as JSIL (Jewish State in the Levant).
- Miriam Margolies, a British actor, defended Hamas by saying, “I loathe Hamas, but they were democratically elected”, as if being elected excused tyranny and terrorism. By such logic, one would also say “the Holocaust was loathsome but the Nazis were democratically elected!”
- Naim Ateek, the founder and head of the Christian “peace” group Sabeel, considers Hamas a “liberation theology movement”.
- Naomi Wolf, an American author and former political advisor, wrote on Facebook, “I stand with the people of Gaza exactly because things might have turned out differently if more people had stood with the Jews in Germany”, therefore equating the relationship between Israel and Palestinians to the relationship between Nazis and Jews, and consequently elevating Hamas to the same moral standard as the Jewish resistance that fought Nazis.
- Natalie Bennett, leader of the British Green Party, refuses to blame Hamas for rocket attacks on Israel, but instead calls for “Israel to immediately cease its offensive, and for the firing of rockets at Israel to cease” (as if rockets are firing on their own).
- Noam Chomsky, a professor at MIT, defends Hamas and denies that it is “dedicated to the destruction of Israel”, blaming all violence in Gaza on Israel and the U.S.
- Norm Finkelstein, a professor at DePaul University, insists that contrary to what Human Rights Watch (HRW) says, “Hamas’ use of indiscriminate projectiles and its targeting of Israeli civilians” is not a war crime.
- Roger Waters, a British entertainer, defended Hamas at the UN, presenting it as a legitimate entity that just wants peace with Israel.
- Russell Brand, a British comedian, denies that Hamas is engaged in terrorism, but instead qualifies their terrorist acts as “what we would perceive or term as acts of terror”.
- Stop the War Coalition, a British peace advocacy organization, not only refuses to condemn Hamas, but even goes as far as claiming that “Hamas are utterly incapable of ever using ‘human shields’”.
- Students for Justice in Palestine (SJP), a multinational peace advocacy organization, provides absolutely no criticism of Hamas but keeps repeating that Hamas was “democratically elected”, as if being elected at some point in the past absolved a party of all crimes for all of eternity.
- Tony Greenstein, a British writer and a founding member of the Palestine Solidarity Campaign, absolves Hamas of all crimes using the deflection tactic that supposedly “Israel created Hamas”.
How can this be?
These so-called peace activists are not economically challenged, naïve, uneducated teens who do not know what Hamas really is. They are highly educated and highly paid individuals. What reason could there be for them to do exactly the opposite of what their stated philosophy and supposed support for the Palestinians would dictate?
- Are they anti-Palestinian activists wishing to keep Palestinians from achieving peace and dignity? If so, they certainly fool a lot of people.
- Are they not peace activists, but disciples of the warmongering philosophy of Hamas? That is possible.
- Or have they reached such deep levels of hate of the Jewish state that they are unable to see that theirs actions go against the very essence of being a peace activist, and that they are hurting those that they claim to support? That in my opinion is the most likely explanation, and it is consistent with the general frame of mind of “pro-Palestinian” activists, who are in fact not pro-Palestinian in any practical sense.
Non-violent tactics have of course been contemplated by some Palestinians. As far back as April 2001, Palestinian human rights activist Bassem Eid advocated non-violence as a means of achieving better success for the Palestinians. Eid also frequently denounces Hamas which he holds largely responsible for the deteriorating situation in Gaza. “Pro-Palestinian” peace activists therefore have a choice. They do not have to support Hamas. They can support peace-oriented Palestinians, but they freely elect to endorse, defend, and excuse Hamas. These “peace activists” are in fact not peace activists at all. They are champions of terrorism, in deed if not in thought.