It isn’t so much the fact of his advocacy of Hamas. There has always been a certain section of the British ruling class that has had a fondness for this organisation. As the founder of the Socialist Workers’ Party, Tony Cliff observed back in the late 1940s:
The British are… doing all in their power to foster the Moslem Brotherhood, a clerical-fascist organisation in Egypt, which is at present organising branches in Palestine. It was this organisation which succeeded to a certain extent in diverting the demonstrations against the Balfour Declaration which took place on 2 November 1945 in Cairo and Alexandria into attacks on the communal minorities, Christian and Jewish.
No, what is surprising about Greenstock’s argument is… well, its crapness.
Greenstock, as we know, is pushing Conflict Forum/Forward Thinking’s “Fluffy Hamas” thesis. In a nutshell, the argument is that Hamas is a much maligned organisation, which doesn’t really stand for any of the things that, erm, they say they stand for. Here’s the key sentence:
Hamas, which in fact has no deep-rooted argument with the west or Christianity, no political alliance with Tehran or Hezbollah, no respect for al-Qaida and no “charter” for the destruction of Israel in its political programme, just wants the Israeli occupation to end.
I don’t fancy doing a full fisk of this sentence. I don’t know what “argument with the west or Christianity” means. Certainly, Hamas subscribes to a Qutbist horror at modernity and liberal values. Christians are not argued with, as long as they accept their proper place within the Islamist state they have created: those who are thought to be too chippy have, however, been persecuted, attacked and in some cases killed. The thought that they don’t have a political alliance with Iran is laughable: although, certainly there are tensions between Iran’s role as funder and supplier of arms, and their guru, Qaradawi’s extreme anti Shiite bigotry. They’re in competition with Al Qaeda: although there are important elements of ideological similarity, they’re not takfiris. And yes, it wants the occupation to end: although it regards Israel’s very existence as “occupation”.
But, asks Clive Davis, is he right about the absence of a “”charter” for the destruction of Israel in its political programme”.
No, Clive. Sir Jeremy Greenstock is wrong.
The problem that Hamas supporters in liberal democracies have is the Hamas Covenant. The Covenant is a huge embarrassment, because it sets out very clearly, and in detail, the racist and genocidal nature of the organisation. It makes it very difficult for anybody but the most rabid nutters to support the organisation.
Therefore, Hamas supporters have been working hard to push the myth that Hamas has abandoned its Covenant. Here is Seauauauauamuas Milne doing it. The main source for the ‘Covenant is no longer current” myth is Azzam “Kaboom” Tamimi, who wrote a book that made this claim. But then, as he told us recently, Tamimi IS Hamas. So, of course, Sir Jeremy believes him.
The only problem is that senior Hamas figures have repeated on many occasions, their determination to conquer Israel and create a theocratic Islamic State in its place. But Sir Jeremy thinks he has a get-out. When Hamas ran for election, it did not include the explicit promise that “Hamas Will Destroy Israel” within its Manifesto. So what, you might think. A party constitution sets out the basic goals and principles of a political movement: a manifesto records what the party hopes to achieve in its term of office. Nevertheless, the absence of such a statement was seized on by Hamas advocates, to show that the organisation had changed.
Unfortunately, in response to the rumours put about by their western supporters, Hamas made it very clear that it was still committed to the aims of the Covenant, and – pace Tamimi – had no plans to redraft it:
After voting in the Gaza Strip, Hamas leader Mahmoud al-Zahar said the group “will not change a single word in its covenant” calling for the destruction of Israel.
I really hope that when Sir Jeremy Greenstock’s client was the United Kingdom, he did his job with a little more skill.