Summary: Reflects on the patriarchal motivations of Hamas and the imperialist delusions of Israel and the U.S. — Editors
In response to the IMHO Steering Committee statement on Gaza, “The Middle East and the World After October 7, and Israel’s War on Palestine,” which was published Oct 15th (https://imhojournal.org/articles/the-middle-east-and-the-world-after-october-7-and-israels-war-on-palestine/), I believe I have an answer to a question that was posed:
“But we need to ask another question too: What has Hamas actually achieved with its October 7 incursion, dramatic as it was? Did Hamas think it could defeat Israel in fighting on the streets of Gaza with its 35,000 disciplined fighters? Or did it think in the end that because its fighters were “godly” that they would win? Did it even weigh in its calculus the mass deaths of Palestinians sure to follow from a regime like that of Netanyahu?”
1) What if the goal wasn’t to win per se? I think maybe the Hamas members feel it is preferable to die as “martyrs” or die in resistance than to continue to live under occupation.
They are religious fundamentalists after all and perhaps in the version of Islam they subscribe to the afterlife sounds a lot better to them than the emasculated lives they are living under occupation as part of an oppressed people. Nihilistic fundamentalist thinking seems more appealing when you live in an open-air prison.
2) Throughout the bombing of Gaza this last month I occasionally had thoughts that Hamas is in essence not really all that different from an inner city street gang. I grew up in a so-called “ghetto” in Los Angeles, a place where poor ethnic minorities are isolated from wider society.
We were all raised in patriarchy and that includes poor men and men from oppressed & colonized ethnicities and nations. In patriarchy, most men base their masculinity around their status. Middle-class white men in the West are no less patriarchal than working-class men or men of color, but they are able to hold status in ways more acceptable to the mainstream. This occurs through careers, holding of power, and having a girlfriend/wife as promised by the patriarchy. So why do gangs exist then?
When men cannot have a good job that allows them to feel like a provider, they turn to other means to “feel like a man.” Sometimes, they turn to gangs where they find illicit means to get material wealth and use more general violence as a way to assert their masculinity under patriarchy. (Whereas most patriarchal violence is done in the shadows so it can be swept under the rug.)
Back to Hamas, it is emasculating to be part of a stateless people subject to blockade and trapped in a giant concentration camp. It is no surprise then that patriarchal men turn to violence to assert their masculinity and status. Not to mention that there’s long been a high unemployment rate in Gaza due to the economic blockade.
3) Just wanted to note that Israel’s likely plan of permanent occupation of Gaza is a fool’s errand. I remember when I was a child hearing about the era of suicide bombers in Israel in the late 1990s and early 2000s. This basically ended by the time I got to college in the late 2000s. If the IDF permanently occupies Gaza I believe they will face endless suicide attacks.
The Israeli government is delusional to think they will be able to impose a West Bank style occupation there. The history is very different there. West Bank Palestinians have not faced the level of death and deprivation that people in Gaza have. The West Bank Palestinians have had some level of autonomy and movement with the rest of the world, whereas the Gazans have lived under blockade for 18 years! They were already imbued with much less hope than their Palestinian counterparts before this genocidal war was launched.
In their bloodthirsty war of revenge, Israeli leaders fail to see they will have to deal with a lot of revenge in turn. The Israeli military has faced low casualties for many years, but this will not continue to be the case if they permanently occupy Gaza.
4) The Biden administration seems to be completely shocked by how much sympathy there is for the Palestinians and how far off the government’s position is from public opinion. I’m not sure if the White House is seriously considering that the Arab-American vote in Michigan is in jeopardy because of Biden’s unconditional support of Israel.
There are over 300,000 people of Middle Eastern descent in Michigan, which is a key swing state that went for Biden in 2020. There are more Arabic speakers in Detroit than in New York City! Biden’s aggressively pro-Israel stance may cost him the state and the election next year. Several articles in mainstream American media have come out about this: https://www.npr.org/2023/11/17/1213668804/arab-americans-michigan-voters-biden-israel-hamas-palestinians
5) Apparently, AIPAC plans to spend $100 million dollars to try to oust the Squad, progressive members of Congress including the socialists Alexandria Ocasio Cortez and Rashida Tlaib. Obviously, it is far-right billionaires funding this ultimately because they dislike the symbols these women represent, of socialists finally making it back into the halls of Congress after decades of being shut out. It is remarkable that so much money is going to be openly spent in this way.
This reminds me of an interview a few weeks ago of Israel’s president asking the British prime minister to please censor BBC coverage because he didn’t like how the BBC was portraying the war. Israel’s far-right leadership seems to have lost all sense of reality in terms of their place in the world and their relative power.
6) As of today, 14,000 Palestinians have been killed in Gaza. Israel raided and ended operations at Al Shifa Hospital, Gaza’s largest hospital. They had claimed Hamas had their command center under there and in four days of occupying the hospital have provided no evidence to back this up. Now there is only one hospital left in Northern Gaza. Who needs to bomb hospitals when you can just besiege them? The people who die because of lack of medical treatment aren’t being included in the war death count.
A particularly absurd piece of propaganda was staged when Israel brought incubators to the hospital. They already had incubators but they are useless without electricity which Israel continues to blockade.
Let’s continue speaking the truth comrades. Keep up the pressure.