Hamas condemns the Holocaust
We are not engaged in a religious conflict with Jews; this is a
political struggle to free ourselves from occupation and oppression
May 12, 2008
As the Palestinian people prepare to commemorate the 60th anniversary
of the Nakba (“catastrophe”) – the dispossession and expulsion of
most of our people from our land – those remaining in Palestine face
escalating aggression, killings, imprisonment, ethnic cleansing and
siege. But instead of support and solidarity from the western media,
we face frequent attempts to defend the indefensible or turn fire on
the Palestinians themselves.
One recent approach, which seems to be part of the wider attempt to
isolate the elected Palestinian leadership, is to portray Hamas and
the population of the Gaza strip as motivated by anti-Jewish
sentiment, rather than a hostility to Zionist occupation and
domination of our land. A recent front page article in the
International Herald Tribune followed this line, as did an article
for Cif about an item broadcast on the al-Aqsa satellite TV channnel
about the Nazi Holocaust.
In fact, the al-Aqsa Channel is an independent media institution that
often does not express the views of the Palestinian government headed
by Ismail Haniyeh or of the Hamas movement. The channel regularly
gives Palestinians of different convictions the chance to express
views that are not shared by the Palestinian government or the Hamas
movement. In the case of the opinion expressed on al-Aqsa TV by Amin
Dabbur, it is his alone and he is solely responsible for it.
It is rather surprising to us that so little attention, if any, is
given by the western media to what is regularly broadcast or written
in the Israeli media by politicians and writers demanding the total
uprooting or “transfer” of the Palestinian people from their land.
The Israeli media and pro-Israel western press are full of views that
deny or seek to excuse well-established facts of history including
the Nakba of 1948 and the massacres perpetrated then by the Haganah,
the Irgun and LEHI with the objective of forcing a mass dispossession
of the Palestinians.
But it should be made clear that neither Hamas nor the Palestinian
government in Gaza denies the Nazi Holocaust. The Holocaust was not
only a crime against humanity but one of the most abhorrent crimes in
modern history. We condemn it as we condemn every abuse of humanity
and all forms of discrimination on the basis of religion, race,
gender or nationality.
And at the same time as we unreservedly condemn the crimes
perpetrated by the Nazis against the Jews of Europe, we categorically
reject the exploitation of the Holocaust by the Zionists to justify
their crimes and harness international acceptance of the campaign of
ethnic cleansing and subjection they have been waging against us – to
the point where in February the Israeli deputy defence minister Matan
Vilnai threatened the people of Gaza with a “holocaust”.
Within 24 hours, 61 Palestinians – more than half of them civilians
and a quarter children – were killed in a series of air raids.
Meanwhile, a horrible crime against humanity continues to be
perpetrated against the people of Gaza: the two-year-old siege
imposed after Hamas won the legislative elections in January 2006,
which is causing great suffering. Due to severe shortages of
medicines and food, scores of Palestinians have lost their lives.
It cannot be right that Europeans in general and the British in
particular maintain a virtual silence toward what the Zionists are
doing to the Palestinians, let alone supporting or justifying their
oppressive policies, under the pretext of showing sympathy for the
victims of the Holocaust.
The Palestinian people aspire to freedom, independence and peaceful
coexistence with all their neighbours. There are, today, more than
six million Palestinian refugees. No less than 700,000 Palestinians
have been detained at least once by the Israeli occupation
authorities since 1967. Hundreds of thousands have so far been
killed or wounded. Little concern seems to be caused by all of this
or by the erection of an apartheid wall that swallows more than 20%
of the West Bank land or the heavily armed colonies that devour
Palestinian land in a blatant violation of international law.
The plight of our people is not the product of a religious conflict
between us and the Jews in Palestine or anywhere else: the aims and
positions of today’s Hamas have been repeatedly spelled out by its
leadership, for example in Hamas’s 2006 programme for government.
The conflict is of a purely political nature: it is between a people
who have come under occupation and an oppressive occupying power.
Our right to resistance against occupation is recognised by all
conventions and religious traditions. The Jews are for us the people
of a sacred book who suffered persecution in European lands.
Whenever they sought refuge, Muslim and Arab lands provided them with
safe havens. It was in our midst that they enjoyed peace and
prosperity; many of them held leading positions in Muslim countries.
After almost a century of Zionist colonial and racist oppression,
some Palestinians find it hard to imagine that some of their
oppressors are the sons and daughters of those who were themselves
oppressed and massacred.
Palestinians had nothing to do with the Holocaust but find themselves
punished for someone else’s crime. But we are well aware and warmly
welcome the outspoken support for Palestinian rights by Israeli and
Jewish human rights activists in Palestine and around the world.
We hope that journalists in the west will begin to adopt a more
objective approach when covering events in Palestine. The
Palestinian people are being killed by Israel’s machine of
destruction on a daily basis. Nevertheless, we still see a clear
bias in favour of Israel in the western media.
The Europeans bear a direct responsibility for what is befalling the
Palestinians today. Britain was the mandate authority that handed
over Palestine to Israeli occupation. Nazi Germany perpetrated the
most heinous crimes against Jews, forcing the survivors to migrate to
Palestine in pursuit of safety. We, therefore, expect the Europeans
to atone for their historic crimes by restoring some balance to the
inhuman and one-sided international response to the tragedy of our
Bassem Naeem is the minister of health and information in the
Hamas-led Palestinian administration in Gaza.