Wednesday, December 15, 2004


Tensions between Hamas and Islamic Jihad

There has been a concerted effort in the Bush administration to think uncritically about terrorism. This is especially true in distinguishing and differentiating between different groups. Hizballah is no different from al-Qaeda which is no different from Hamas which is no different from Ansar al-Islam which is no different from the Chechens and on and on. Of course this is particularly true of those groups of a Muslim nature. The US media has done a very poor job of differentiating these groups as well and you have terms like "Islamic terror", "Islamic fundamentalism", "Jihadists", "Islamofascism", "Totalitarian Islam" (if I hear Peter Beinart say it one more time I'm going to explode), and so on floating about with no real attempt at taking a closer look. I don't think it's a helpful way to address the issue of terrorism, much less fight a "war on terror." In any case, this is my longwinded attempt at introducing this article by Arnon Regular (who I think is a great reporter) in Ha'aretz about recent tensions in the Palestinian territories between the Hamas and Islamic Jihad movements. Much of the tension is a result of the media coverage (many in Hamas are angered at the way that they and Islamic Jihad are put on an even footing in much of the media even though Hamas is a much larger organization than Islamic Jihad). But also in the article is this gem:
Beyond the issue of the media, there is an ideological abyss between Hamas and Islamic Jihad. While Hamas, an offshoot of the Muslim Brotherhood, believes in social activity to educate society and create an Islamic rule, the Islamic Jihad has always believed in a violent campaign to take over power centers, and its social activities were marginal.
Well, if we cannot differentiate the two, that is a problem. Not that Hamas are somehow angels because they look better on paper than Islamic Jihad - it's not about that. Simply put, it's a fact that different problems require different solutions. Right now we seem to be creating more problems than solutions.

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