The New Hamas Charter Is About West Bank Politics, Not Ideology

April 14 2017

Earlier this month, the terrorist organization’s recently revised charter was published in the Lebanese media. The document, according to Pinḥas Inbari, moderates some of the original version’s most strident and hate-filled declarations, but doesn’t indicate any change in the movement’s goals. Even so, however, it has been rejected by Hamas leaders in Gaza:

To understand [the controversy], we must go back to the Seventh Fatah convention, where Jibril Rajoub—a senior operative in Fatah’s Tanzim militia—placed first [in elections], just behind the honorary place reserved for Marwan Barghouti, who is currently [in an Israeli prison] serving five life sentences for murder without the possibility of release. The convention was funded by Qatar, which harbors Khaled Meshal, the chairman of Hamas’s political bureau. The intent [of the convention] was for Rajoub to inherit the leadership from Mahmoud Abbas and invite Meshal to lead with him, thereby allowing Hamas access to the West Bank via the PLO.

Indeed, a significant part of the new Hamas charter discusses rehabilitating the PLO and Hamas joining it. . . . However, Hamas in Gaza is unwilling to recognize the PLO . . . and thus is not willing to recognize the new Hamas plant.

Many Israelis who are seeking any sign of Palestinian moderation will be delighted that such a document has been published at all. Yet, even in this new guise, Hamas is still sworn to Israel’s destruction, even without explicitly saying so. Hamas is devoted to war with Israel and therefore is opposed to any security cooperation with it. But all this is said in softer words than the old, blatantly anti-Semitic charter.

Read more at Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs

More about: Fatah, Hamas, Israel & Zionism, Khaled Meshal, Palestinian Authority, West Bank


The Future of a Free Iran May Lie with a Restoration of the Shah

June 25 2018

Examining the recent waves of protest and political unrest in the Islamic Republic—from women shunning the hijab to truckers going out on strike—Sohrab Ahmari considers what would happen in the event of an actual collapse of the regime. Through an analysis of Iranian history, he concludes that the country would best be served by placing Reza Pahlavi, the son and heir of its last shah, at the head of a constitutional monarchy:

The end of Islamist rule in Iran would be a world-historical event and an unalloyed good for the country and its neighbors, marking a return to normalcy four decades after the Ayatollah Khomeini founded his regime. . . . But what exactly is that normalcy? . . .

First, Iranian political culture demands a living source of authority to embody the will of the nation and stand above a fractious and ethnically heterogenous society. Put another way, Iranians need a “shah” of some sort. They have never lived collectively without one, and their political imagination has always been directed toward a throne. The constitutionalist experiment of the early 20th century coexisted (badly) with monarchic authority, and the current Islamic Republic has a supreme leader—which is to say, a shah by another name. It is the height of utopianism to imagine that a 2,500-year-old tradition can be wiped away. The presence of a shah, [however], needn’t mean the absence of rule of law, deliberative politics, or any of the other elements of ordered liberty that the West cherishes in its own systems. . . .

Second, Iranian political culture demands a source of continuity with Persian history. The anxieties associated with modernity and centuries of historical discontinuity drove Iranians into the arms of Khomeini and his bearded minions, who promised a connection to Shiite tradition. Khomeinism turned out to be a bloody failure, but there is scant reason to imagine the thirst for continuity has been quenched. . . . Iranian nationalism . . . could be the answer, and, to judge by the nationalist tone of the current upheaval, it is the one the people have already hit upon.

When protestors chant “We Will Die to Get Iran Back,” “Not Gaza, Not Lebanon, My Life Only for Iran,” and “Let Syria Be, Do Something for Me,” they are expressing a positive vision of Iranian nationhood: no longer do they wish to pay the price for the regime’s Shiite hegemonic ambitions. Iranian blood should be spilled for Iran, not Gaza, which for most Iranians is little more than a geographical abstraction. It is precisely its nationalist dimension that makes the current revolt the most potent the mullahs have yet faced. Nationalism, after all, is a much stronger force and in Iran the longing for historical continuity runs much deeper than liberal-democratic aspiration. Westerners who wish to see a replay of Central and Eastern Europe in 1989 in today’s Iran will find the lessons of Iranian history hard and distasteful, but Iranians and their friends who wish to see past the Islamic Republic must pay heed.

Read more at Commentary

More about: Iran, Nationalism, Politics & Current Affairs, Shah