When did Hamas become secular?
Hamas’ exiled political leader, Khaled Meshaal, speaks to a conference of Islamists in Sudan as Israeli warplanes bombard Gaza on November 15. So-called Arab leftists support the ultra-religious Hamas but refuse to support Syria’s opposition for allegedly becoming too Islamist. This is a shameful double standard. (AFP Photo)
If one reviews the rhetoric of the liberal "resistance" supporters, especially after the escalation of violence in Gaza, you'd think that Hamas is a liberal or secular group, not an Islamic faction.
During the nearly two years of systematic and brutal killing by the Syrian regime of the Syrian people who are resisting tyranny, many Arabs preferred to remain silent, justifying their denial by fear of the Islamists. But suddenly, when Hamas decided to respond to the Israeli attack on Gaza, this reaction was cheered as the ultimate resistance. It didn't matter who is resisting here and why. The Islamic nature of Hamas does not matter, only because it is against Israel.
This juvenile attitude of having one enemy, Israel, and justifying all other kinds of brutality and tyranny in the name of resistance is very common among many Lebanese and Arab leftists and liberals.
Do they ask if Hamas has been the best example of governance in Gaza, the way they question the Syrian opposition day and night? Never. At least Hamas had the chance to demonstrate what kind of state it envisions, and it has been obvious that it is not the secular, civil state the opposition is demanding in Syria.
This is not fair to the Syrian people who are trying, while dying by the hundreds every day, to prove to the world that they are not crazy fanatics. But it is also unfair for the Palestinians in Gaza. Leftist Arabs are clearly fine with an Islamist rule in Gaza but not in Syria. So the Palestinians do not deserve a secular or civil rule as the Syrians do?
These double standards mean one thing: A tyrant like Bashar al-Assad is acceptable as long as his regime speaks against Israel. It doesn't really matter that Assad has never used his army and military capacities against the Israeli army, or that part of Syria is actually still occupied by the Israelis. All that matters is that he uses the same clichés and slogans as Hezbollah and Iran—and everyone ignores secret negotiations between Assad and the Israelis that only ended recently.
For some Arabs, there is one enemy, while our own demons can kill us, rape us and murder our dignity on a daily basis. They are excused, because they say they support a resistance that hasn't lifted a finger against Israel for years.
Have they heard that Hamas' offices in Syria have been closed for a while and that its leadership has moved to Cairo and Jordan? But of course this also doesn't matter.
What really matters is that most of Hamas' arms come from Iran. What matters is that they are being fired in the name of the resistance. And what matters is that they are overshadowing the hundreds of Syrian lives lost in the name of the same resistance. Hezbollah is happy and Iran is thrilled. That's what really matters.
The Islamist government in Egypt is being pressured to take action and resolve the situation. The Egyptians want serious support for the Palestinians while the international community expects a mediating role, and Egypt is supposed to deliver in both directions. However, neither Hezbollah nor Iran is expected to act. On the contrary, they are requested to stick to words, especially by the supporters of the resistance in Lebanon, because the latter do not war to come to them. They'd rather cheer this time for Hamas and lament the deaths of Palestinian children but certainly not go beyond words.
The Gaza war prompted these intellectuals and activists to wake up after months of silence and absurd absence from virtual and actual scenes. They saw in Gaza a chance to pamper their anxious consciences and weary judgments and come back to the scene with the same clichés and slogans. They should at least consider changing some of these clichés, just to acknowledge the Arab awakening and what it brought to people's lives.
Unfortunately, the Arab awakening did not eliminate these moral double standards. The Syrian opposition can resist Assad as much as they want, but their cause will not be recognized by these leftists as long as some Islamists have joined them. Meanwhile, Hamas and Hezbollah can be as Islamist as they want; they will be forgiven, as long as they resist, or say they are resisting, Israel.
Hamas has not gone secular, but the leftists have long ago lost their compass.
Hanin Ghaddar is the managing editor of NOW Lebanon