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Vas Shenoy

From Pakistan to Palestine, extremism has one face

Beeri in 1948. No copyright claims, https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Beeri_1948.jpg free use.

On the 10th of October 2023 Daniel Pearl would have turned 60. For those that don’t remember his name, he was a brilliant reporter for the Washington Post who was lured to Karachi where he was kidnapped by Pakistani terrorists. On the day of Eid al-Adha in 2002 he was slaughtered by decapitation in the most horrific manner. This was the first time an execution was recorded by terrorists and made public, as a recruitment video for the jihad, as a taunt to the west.

As his friend Asma Nomani reminds us in a beautiful tribute to Daniel, among his last words captured in the video were these 11 words: “My father is Jewish. My mother is Jewish. I am Jewish.” The same 11 words for which the Hamas savagely attacked a rave in Israel, several kibbutzim. They slaughtered men, women, children and old people. They raped, maimed, plundered. They took civilian hostages to Gaza like trophies of a medieval conquest.

From Pakistan 21 years ago, to Palestine in 2023 nothing has changed. For the Wahabi-Salafi groups such as ISIS, Hamas, Hizbul Mujahidden and Taliban operate, this was a wonderful achievement which they all celebrated. In streets of London and Amman there were celebrations supporting Hamas, in Milan and Rome pro-Palestine demonstrations.

Among the non-Muslims, several stood unconditionally with Israel. Many more condemned Hamas’s actions but asked for Israel’s restraint. There were those that justify this savage attack, where Israel is still counting its dead and missing as “Palestine’s liberation struggle” and a result of Israel’s apartheid policies.

Mustafa Barghouti of the Palestinian National Initiative or al-Mudbara, not affiliated to Hamas nor to the Palestinian Liberation organization, squarely blames Israel. Abu Mazen, the 87 year old weak and tired autocrat who succeeded Yasser Arafat piped in from Ramallah that Palestinians have a right “to defend themselves against the terrorism of settlers and occupation forces,” after a discussion with security officials.Abu Mazen is worried that Hamas will use its newly found popularity to encroach on his dwindling West Bank domains. 

Hamas, the terrorist group which was quickly losing relevance is now at the center of the Islamic world again. This attack has become its new recruitment video with former leader Khaled Mashaal calling for muslims worldwide to join the struggle. In a recent message broadcast by Al Jazeera he has called for violence on Friday in the US, Europe and Israel. Women and men, Arabs and muslims,from India to Germany, openly express joy at Hamas’s attack, but are quick to be concerned about Palestinian civilians as Israel has cut off Gaza completely-with no electricity, water or food. 

The Wahabi-Salafi strain of Islam which was a small minority decades ago now has fully gripped the Muslim ummah worldwide. Muslim leaders are unable to use simple words to condemn the barbaric nature of the violence, afraid of losing their standing in the ummah. The only leader courageous to stand with Israel directly and unconditionally is the UAE’s President Mohamed bin Zayed.

Even the educated Palestinians, who should be condemning the violence justify it as a response for Israel’s blockade of Gaza. The Palestinian argument is that for 50 years Israel has colonised and occupied their lands and this is the only way they will achieve independence.

 The argument is flawed. The men who danced on the body of a dead soldier and dragged a woman by her hair in the Gaza market place were not anybody’s freedom fighters. They were simply terrorists. Those that murdered children in their bed, burnt people alive, raped women next to their dead friends, none of these are freedom fighters of any cause, just savages.

It’s surprising that Palestinians and Muslims in general believe that such men can actually establish a just state where they will prosper and be able to live happy lives. Especially the women. There is clear evidence of the suffering of women under ISIS and Taliban rule. Both organizations follow similar theological schools to Hamas. 

The argument that Hamas does not represent Palestinians, just some of them. If Hamas does not represent the Palestinians and just a part of them it’s even worse. Not one Palestinian leader has tried to gather consensus and stand up to Hamas. Not one has tried to ensure that the women, children and wounded were returned immediately. Not one has tried to  ensure the safety and care of Israeli soldiers that were captured. Not one.

Instead they have lined up to glorify Hamas or justify its actions, in order to not miss the bus. 

The same leaders expect Israel to care for the safety of 2 million civilians in Gaza and use this as an indicator to discuss a free Palestinian state. Even the Taliban find this argument ridiculous.

In all these actions of Hamas last weekend, where is the political struggle for Palestine’s freedom? Both Gandhi and Mandela fought non violently against colonisers who were established in their country for hundreds of years and won a political battle-freedom- with little or no bloodshed. So how, according to the Palestinians, is the blood of innocent Israelis the recipe for freedom?

There are no functioning Wahabi-Salafi democracies. They are all failed states. The only Sunni-Arab countries with functioning governments are monarchies, dictatorships or in the case of Afghanistan, a theocracy. Any other form of Wahabi-Salafi Arab government only produces disaster, a volatile state or a terrorist state. The reason for this is to create institutions these leaders have to address social change. To discuss and implement social change in these societies one must discuss religious change. A prime example of this is Saudi Arabia where the Crown Prince Mohamed bin Salman has taken a huge risk by forcing religious change which has then resulted in social change.

For all Sunni-Wahabi-Salafi societies discussing religion is a blasphemy, stepping away from their rigid interpretation of the Quran is a sin punishable by death. The formula works well to keep the population oppressed and a bigoted ruling class that lives in luxury, like the Hamas leadership in Doha.

Congresswoman Rashida Tlaib, a regular anti-Israel voice in the US congress could not find words to condemn Hamas’s barbaric slaughter. Qatar, which hosted the Taliban and hosts the Hamas leadership has laid the blame squarely on Israel. Turkish dictator Erdogan waxes and wanes on whom he must support, but has declared that he is already starting to negotiate a release of hostages. Turkey also hosts several Hamas leaders and terrorists.

Gaza’s civilians will bear the brunt of Hamas’s savagery. The cowardice of Palestine’s leaders will haunt them for generations to come. Except for MbZ, every muslim leader is handling this with kid-gloves, this will cost the Muslim ummah dear in the years to come. Brutality such as this damages the core of humanity. Nothing good, no freedom, no gain can come of such dastardly acts.

While the state of Israel will avenge every Jewish and non-Jewish soul that perished in this massacre, there is no one to speak for those Palestinians who have been scared into silence. Those that want to stand up to Hamas, Fatah and all those groups which now vye for TV time. Those that want to cry with their Israeli neighbors for the dead, those that want to help them find their kidnapped dear ones because they believe that no good will come out of all this. Those that hoped for an independent, civilized, free Palestine where their children could prosper in peace. I still want to believe that there are Palestinians and muslims who want to stand up to Hamas and condemn with no conditions this horrific violence and remedy it.

With the Israelis who perished, those are the only victims.

About the Author
Vas is a political researcher, consultant and entrepreneur who has worked in Europe, Middle East and Africa for two decades. He has had the privilege to interact with leaders, decision makers and work closely with people from all walks of life, all over the middle east. www.shvas.co
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