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Hamas: Past, Present, and Future
Duration
0:00 / 33:50
Published
December 21, 2023

In this episode, Jewish Currents editor-at-large Peter Beinart speaks with two political analysts from Gaza living abroad, Khalil Sayegh and Muhammad Shehada. Sayegh and Shehada discuss what it was like growing up under Hamas rule, how Hamas governs, the motivations behind the October 7th attack, and what’s next for Hamas in Palestinian politics.

Thanks to Jesse Brenneman for producing and to Nathan Salsburg for the use of his song “VIII (All That Were Calculated Have Passed).”

Links and Further Reading:

Khalil Sayegh and Muhammad Shehada on X

The Palestinian Center for Policy Survey and Research poll


Transcript

Peter Beinart: Hello, and welcome back to On the Nose, the Jewish Currents podcast. I’m Peter Beinart, editor at large of Jewish Currents, and I’ll be your host for today. There has been an enormous amount of conversation since the attack on October 7 about Hamas: What it is, and what it represents. One of the things that I have found challenging is that, in what we could loosely call pro-Israel discourse, there’s a tremendous focus on Hamas, often in ways that I find obscure the underlying dynamics. It’s almost as if the Israeli/Palestinian conflict began with the creation of Hamas. And yet, in more pro-Palestine circles, I often have found, sometimes, there seems to be a reluctance to discuss Hamas—as if they’re irrelevant, almost, because the underlying factors about Israel’s treatment of Palestinians are all that one needs to know.

So I’m really grateful today to be able to talk to two folks who have an intimate understanding of Hamas’s rule in Gaza, and, I think, are able to talk about the organization in ways that recognize its very serious problems and atrocities, and yet also can put it in a larger context. So we talk about Hamas in a really honest way, but not in such a way that obscures the deeper underlying dynamics in Israel/Palestine that have existed since long before Hamas was created in 1987. Our two guests are Khalil Sayegh, who’s a Palestinian political analyst in Washington, and Muhammad Shehada, who’s also a political analyst. Both of them grew up in Gaza and so have a personal experience with Hamas rule on the ground that many people in the United States obviously don’t have.

So Khalil, maybe I’ll just start with you, if you don’t mind, and maybe I can ask about what it was like to grow up in Gaza under Hamas—what they were like as a governing entity and how their actions and ideologies affected your life.

Khalil Sayegh: Sure, yeah. First of all, thank you, Peter, for having me. It’s great to be with you and Muhammad. My story with Hamas and interaction with them started, actually, before they took power in 2007. I remember dealing with Hamas members in my school, called Al-Kutla al-Islamiya, or Hamas members, really members of the Student Association. And I always had this sense for myself as someone who’s tended to be more secular (I happened to be born to a Christian family) that on the one hand, I felt always that they’re the nicest people. They’re very kind, you know, they would always say “As-salamu alaykum” when they walk into the school, they never really got angry or frustrated like the other kids. On the other hand, I always felt there was a particular Islamization agenda they’re trying to push on everyone by them that also made me feel uncomfortable. I remember one of my neighbors, Muhammad, who happened to be a member of the military wing of Hamas. And I remember him being a nice kid, on so many different levels, but on the other hand, he is a member of this group that I happen to disagree with very deeply. So the story started for me before Hamas took over.

When Hamas took over, after 2007, things became different for me, because at the beginning we were wondering what Hamas would really mean. What does it mean to be a ruling party that had all these political or Islamist agenda—how much would they implement it? Would it be gradual? Would it be more forceful? There were so many questions about it, but I’ll tell one story that symbolizes, to me, the frustration I’ve had with Hamas since the beginning. I remember I had to go to one of my schools, which happened to be a government school. And at that time, Hamas sort of controlled it. I remember Hamas replacing the national anthem with a song, an Islamist song. And to me, this sort of symbolizes the internal struggle for someone like myself, who happens to be secular but also a Christian and a Palestinian, that the very thing that I treasure, the Palestinian national theme, to them has changed. That’s a small teaser of my sort of personal struggle with Hamas. On the one hand, these very nice people; on the other hand, people who I’ve disagreed with strongly ideologically.

PB: Muhammad, I’d love to ask the same question to you. What was your experience of interactions with Hamas and growing up under Hamas governance?

Muhammad Shehada: Sure. Thanks so much, Peter and Khalil. So basically, my experiences with Hamas before they took over government was this excluded, persecuted minority (at least that’s how they presented themselves). They couldn’t meet in public, they couldn’t organize their activities. They were not allowed to get any Palestinian Authority jobs; even Hamas doctors were not allowed into the PA. And that sort of exclusion enabled them to harness it as an asset, to present themselves as clean from the failures of the Oslo process. And the more Oslo failed, the more Hamas was catapulted to prominence on the street. There was another element to it, that by virtue of their exclusion, they had credence to be spoilers in the process. The way that I remember that is when we tried to travel from Gaza to Egypt in the early 2000s, every time the border crossing opens up—I’m not sure if it’s Hamas, in particular—but a Palestinian armed group would fire improvised projectiles that never caused any sort of substantial damage, but it would immediately cause shutting down the border. So this spoiling aspect was clear.

But come 2005, and that becomes a huge turning point. When Israel pulls out of Gaza unilaterally, it was done in a specific way: Number one, to humiliate the Palestinian Authority and to freeze (if not destroy) the peace process. So there were signs hung up on the streets that said, “Negotiations led us nowhere; Our arms liberated Gaza.” And there were statements in Israel attesting to that nature, saying that [they] pulled out of Gaza for reasons of security, that lent credence to Hamas’s rhetoric. The other dimension of it is that the withdrawal from Gaza destroyed its economy because it was coupled with cutting the Gazan labor force from Israel. The plan was to cut it until it ceases completely. And the complicated overlaps between the Palestinian and Israeli economy means that it caused the worst economic depression in modern history. That plays to Hamas’s advantage. So we have elections in 2006, and that’s when Hamas campaigns, cleverly, not on two-state versus one-state versus liberation, not on, quote unquote, the “monstrous Zionist occupation agenda”; they campaign purely on economics and reform. So they say, Look, the PA has become dysfunctional, incapacitated, and our economy is in tatters; we’re gonna fix all of that. Ismail Haniyeh would come to our neighborhood, move from home to home, and say: I promise I’m never going to have an office, my office is going to be the mosque. And Ahamad Bahar, who became deputy speaker of parliament, would drive around in a Subaru from the 1970s, very old vehicle, and would tell people: If you ever see me change the vehicle, know that I had a change of heart, I’ve been corrupted, I’m never going to change this. And it touched people’s hearts, in a way. It was a clever strategy.

But as soon as Hamas wins, it becomes clear that Hamas is politically inexperienced. They are the most fit for acquiring authority but the least fit for exercising it, because they didn’t have experience with actually running the country. And as they jump into government, they make a lot of mistakes that they themselves admit later on. For instance, trying to monopolize power and trying to have a Hamas government and Hamas control of the PA. Later on, they say that this was a mistake; they should have engaged and drawn partnerships with other groups—not necessarily Fatah, but the Popular Front, Democratic Front, all the other Palestinian groups that are under the umbrella of the PLO. And Fatah, under the encouragement and influence of some elements of the international community (particularly the US and, more so, Israel), they start to spoil and ruin Hamas’s government. They even start creating a security force to undermine it. And what that meant for me as a child going to school—suddenly, as soon as you get off the bus to school, you immediately hear gunshots and fire exchanges. And it turns into this very dark and ugly episode of civil war for a few months that ends with Hamas’s takeover of Gaza.

So Hamas, after that, signifies four things to people in Gaza: a government, a militant wing, a political party, and a charity provider (they still maintain their charities that gave them eminence in the 90s and 80s). So basically, as a government, their performance descends into a form of autocracy, a very clear, autocratic nature. They also display and exhibit signs of political inexperience in many ways. It always becomes a fight, internally, between the different wings of Hamas’s political party. So there are the moderates: people that are considered leftists in Hamas. There are the hardliners famous for the antisemitic and lunatic trends, and there are the pragmatists in between, like Ismail Haniyeh, whom we say manages to hold the stick from the middle here. They try to appease everyone. Pragmatists in Hamas work with what actually works, not what is ideologically valid. So the ends justify the means, whether non-violence or violence, as long as we provide results. And it becomes a competition between these wings.

To conclude with one sentence: Hamas did not achieve economic reform, or fight off corruption that they promised, but they achieved something alternative, which is restoring security to Gaza, something that they are very proud of. Before they took over. The Palestinian Authority did not have a mandate to maintain security in Gaza, so there were a lot of armed families and gangs. And Hamas goes out against those families immediately after its takeover, in a bloody fight, disarms all gangs and groups and maintains a very solid atmosphere of security. But it comes at a price: the way that they exercise authority in an authoritarian fashion. Now, the last thing is the armed group that, to people, it might be controversial how they act and the timing of their actions. So you would see a lot of protestation about: Why do they fire rockets now? And what do we stand to gain out of it? But the existence of the armed group enjoys, to some extent, solid support. And the reason for that is people in Gaza see it as a deterrent, to prevent Gaza from becoming a clone of the West Bank, where settlers can set entire towns ablaze and go shoot people, and the army can raid people’s homes and terrorize children in the night. So that becomes another asset that Hamas plays on to obfuscate its other shortfalls in the government and its military actions.

PB: Thank you. I wanted to pick up on this. I think one of the things people talk about in the United States a lot is asking how people in Gaza feel about the fact that Hamas has been launching these rockets—and now after October 7, done much more than launch rockets, done this ground incursion, which has killed lots and lots of Israelis—and then Israel’s response is always overwhelming, and now, since October 7, is just utterly catastrophic. So I think many people, looking at the United States, would say something like: Aren’t people in Gaza furious at Hamas for launching these attacks on Israel that then produce these military responses that kill so many ordinary civilian people in Gaza? Muhammad was suggesting perhaps it’s not that simple in terms of the way in which people in Gaza see Hamas’s violent armed actions. But what’s your sense?

KS: Yeah, this is a good question. And there no easy answer, because the Palestinian society is quite diverse politically. People think differently about these things. I mean, I agree with Muhammad in the sense that Palestinians generally tend to look at the idea of armed resistance, which, for the last 20 years or so, Hamas has been the most associated with it. Before that, Fatah was the prominent resistance. Actually, a fun fact: Before 1987, when Hamas was established—actually, Hamas has existed before, but in a different form, as the Muslim Brotherhood branch in Palestine, and it was a joke in Gaza among people like my father, who was more associated with Fatah, who was like: These people are like the traitors who are not fighting. They’re all about, you know, Dawa, and preaching Islam. And they were making fun of them.

PB: You’re saying they were considered not militant enough?

KS: Yeah, to the idea of armed resistance and that this is something positive in the Palestinian sense, has been there all this time. And I agree with Muhammad, in the sense that for the last 20 years, there was a sense, in the Palestinian society—and I felt it, actually, I was in the West Bank last year, before Israel banned me from entering—and I was attacked by settlers on the way to Nablus and almost got killed, and I felt like: Wow, the Hamas appeal makes sense. At least in Gaza, I’m not worried about my father or my mother being killed in Gaza by an Israeli settler. So that appeal is there. But within the Palestinian political culture, there are people who would say: Well, listen, Hamas has been waging war after war, bringing only destruction to Gaza, bringing about nothing positive out of it. Why shall I keep supporting Hamas? That’s the people who are not really members of Hamas, et cetera. People who are identifying more with “resistance” or Hamas—the more war happens, the more they become more hawkish, and they become more supportive of Hamas’s militancy. So there is a nuance there. What is interesting, the opposition toward Hamas and toward even its attack on October 7, is significantly higher in Gaza than in the West Bank. Despite that the people in Gaza are living under a tremendous repression by the Israeli army and war crimes that are happening right now, but people realize that perhaps the Hamas’s way is not really leading anywhere.

There is also growing frustration with the way they govern Gaza. I agree with Muhammad in the sense that Hamas succeeded, to an extent, to limit crimes in Gaza—these gangs and families—but Hamas did it at a very high cost. They did it at a very high cost with the Palestinian blood. They did it at a very high cost with them imposing an authoritarian regime, where in Gaza, when you speak at your home, you’re scared that mukhabarat or shabab al-masjid or Hamas’s other local youth in the area would listen to you and would complain about you. So the price was very high. Another thing that is important to mention: A lot of these gangs and families were actually associated with, quote unquote “muqawama,” the resistance. So the idea of the PA dismantling these—it would be seen as the PA going after the resistance. Hamas didn’t care about it because they had the mobilization, they had the legitimacy, and they didn’t mind running a fully-authoritarian regime in Gaza—something that the PA in the West Bank, are unable to consolidate power completely. For example, in Hebron, still, the big clans have their guns and have their power, and the PA’s unwilling to crack down.

PB: Muhammad: Since October 7 in particular, there’s been a lot of comparisons made between Hamas and ISIS or Al Qaeda, and often, it’s called a theocratic organization. I wanted to ask you, Muhammad, first of all: Did Hamas impose Sharia law—like, Islamic religious law—in Gaza? And how much of its motivation or its worldview do you think is fundamentally religious versus just another version of Palestinian nationalism?

MS: That’s a very good question. To start with the ISIS comparison, I would say, in one word, it’s dumb. In another word, it’s dangerously counterproductive. That’s why you see Israel, for instance, around the time that they held negotiations with Hamas about the hostage release, they stopped using the words “Hamas is ISIS” momentarily because it reflected badly on them to be negotiating with ISIS publicly. But the reason why this is very damaging is because if you look at Hamas through a counterterrorism lens, then you should settle for no less than eradicating them completely. Not a single Hamas militant should survive. And that’s an impossible task, as even Israeli general Yair Golan (who became a sort of a celebrity since October 7) admitted recently that it’s not practical or possible to destroy Hamas. Even if you destroy them in Gaza—which means destroying Gaza itself—because it’s an embedded group within an orderly space, they will show up stronger in the West Bank, in Lebanon, in Syria, in Iran, in Algeria, and other places. So it’s a very unpractical goal, and therefore, the counterterrorism lens is very damaging.

But on the comparison between the two, I’ll start with the Sharia law aspect, because that’s a very interesting one. In 2006, Hamas sort of implicitly promised its members and popular base that Islam is part of Palestinian society and they would move towards implementing Sharia law, but they did not. As soon as they held government, they exercised authority in exactly the same way as Fatah, in terms of this secular nationalist identity. And that upset a lot of their members that defected and dissented en masse and formed their own Salafist jihadist groups. And Hamas went on the offensive, in a very bloody and ugly way, against these groups to kill it in the bud, against its own former members. At some point, there was a mosque that this group has declared their own, and they’re based in Gaza. Hamas went and razed the mosque to the ground, killing the leaders of that group while it was still small. And they regularly and routinely arrested people in Gaza who espoused the Salafist jihadist ideology. So in 2015, that’s when it becomes most pronounced: ISIS tries to gain a foothold in Gaza, and Hamas goes on the offensive to destroy any attempt in that direction, and they arrest any people that are sort of sympathetic to that group.

On the other hand, the relationships between the two groups are very toxic. I think 2016 or 17 (you can read it in the New York Times), ISIS executing Hamas members in Sinai and going on the offensive against them, denouncing and condemning the group. And it was the other way around, as I mentioned, with Hamas arresting, and shooting, and killing ISIS members. It’s not just domestic disagreements between what people would naively or superficially dismiss as jihadist groups fighting each other. It’s a very deep issue because Hamas, once it was in government, it realized that rhetorics are easy and being in opposition is much easier than being an authority. They had to run the sewage system, the health department, schools, et cetera, and that did not prove to be an easy task, which sort of, in many ways, humbled Hamas’s aspirations to impose Sharia law (if they had any at some point), and sideline any leaders that would call for this, because it was not feasible.

PB: Thank you, Muhammad. That was very, very helpful. Khalil, I’ve heard you talk about the role that religious prophecies played in the thinking of some Hamas fighters and members. And I’m curious just to ask if you can speculate or imagine—these young men, these young fighters who crossed that fence and then found themselves in southern Israel, and then some of them killed the soldiers, some of them killed civilians—if you can try and maybe help us understand a little bit what their mentality might have been, what their ideology might have been, what they would have been told and how they might have seen this action. Because, for many of us, beyond being appalled by the killing of civilians, it was just struggling to understand what would have been going through these young men’s minds.

KS: Sure, yeah. I think the important distinction to make here and to understand is that there is a disconnect between—many times the fighter is 21 years old, or 22 years old, or 25—and leaders such as Ismail Haniyeh, let’s say, or Khaled Mashal, (who, as Muhammad explained, tends to be pragmatic), and then you’ve got other leaders such as Osama Hamdan who are really messianic in their views and they believe in all the prophecies and the crazy stuff. It seems like the members generally tend to believe, at some point, and the prophecy was that in 2022 the end of Israel would come. This is a prophecy based on a quote unquote “calculation” from the Quran that Sheikh Bassaam Jarrār, who was a prominent member of Hamas in Ramallah. Another prophecy that was made by Ahmed Yassin, who is the founder of Hamas, claims that the end wouldn’t come in 2022—it will come in 2023. So there is this messianic nature and beliefs amongst some of Hamas’s lay members or members of the military wing.

On the other hand, I think there are also the grievances. I mean, most of these people are refugees, like myself, who were kicked out from their homes in 1948. And a big part of what they were thinking and feeling as they were crossing the border is that: We’re back to Palestine, we’re back to our land. Actually, a lot of these fighters, and even civilians, were screaming as they were crossing the borders and saying: We liberated Palestine. They literally just believe that by the act of crossing and what they’ve done in the kibbutzim, the horrible killing—they liberated the land. It’s theirs, they’re going back, and they’re going to take it. So there’s also a level of simplicity, that to me, to be honest, I feel sad for these people. Honestly, what they’ve done is horrible. There’s no justification for it. But on some level, imagine yourself born to this place, for 20 years, you’re under siege, and all you hear from Hamas’s members as a young person is that the prophecy is going to be fulfilled: We’re going to reconquer the land, the enemy will disappear, et cetera. You’re going to believe it. And to an extent, I think a mirror image of that is religious Zionism. They’re really convinced that the prophecy will be fulfilled. Now, the difference is, in religious Zionism, at least they have the power right now, right? But on Hamas’s end, every battle that happens: Oh, it’s close, we’re getting there. But things are not moving in that quote-unquote “prophetic” direction.

MS: On October 7, there are a lot of interesting dynamics about how it unfolded. There is one element with members and how they were able to conduct themselves this way. There’s another question: How did Hamas’s top leaders decide on this operation? Each one reveals a totally different universe. For the leadership, they went there not out of a strategy but deliberately and precisely because they didn’t have any strategy. It was basically a process of elimination, of them saying that the peace process is a failure. It proved to be inefficient. It proved to be nonresponsive and a nonstarter to Netanyahu’s government, negotiations, even nonviolence. Any other alternative Palestinian strategy—advocacy? That’s diplomatic terrorism. A boycott is economic terrorism. Construction is constructing terrorism. And then it goes on, with any sort of Palestinian action at all being delegitimized, checked and banned. So rockets become sort of the exception rather than the rule. And when Hamas engages with them, it happens with a specific goal in mind: to draw the attention of the international community, because they’re efficient. As soon as rockets start, the international community starts running immediately to Gaza to try to restore quiet and calm and pacify the population again, and it’s been very clear that that was the dynamic for at least the last 17 years. When rockets are not being fired, Gaza is forgotten. The international community pretends it’s not there. But Hamas’s leaders say that even that has failed, so then all of these failures lead up through a process of elimination for Hamas’s leaders to say that we need to put all the eggs in the cart.

Now, with the group’s members: Why did they do what they did in that specific way? They are two main reasons from a Gazan perspective for that. Number one is that the blockade does not only dehumanize people in Gaza to Israelis; it also dehumanizes Israel and Israelis to people in Gaza. Because our only ability to conceive of what Israel is, is pure, brute violence. It’s the tanks, the drones, the soldiers, the fence—you saw a lot of people celebrating the collapse of the fence on October 7 out of sheer disgust and horror of the existence of the fence, because if you try to get too close to it, you’d get shot by a sniper immediately. It symbolizes pure horror and violence. And that’s what Israel becomes: a symbol for the majority of people in Gaza, the younger generation that’s never stepped foot outside, never had an interaction with it. So there was a dehumanization process was realized by the existence of the blockade that prevented people from interacting.

The other dimension is people in Gaza seeing their lives being completely destroyed—or not even being allowed to have lives—for the last 17 years. So no past, no present, no future. You find young people our age in Gaza, who reach the age of 35 without being able to afford to start a family and fall in love, to move out of their parent’s homes, to get a job, to put food on the table, to contribute. Their daily life is pure shame, because they have no purpose, no life, and no prospects of getting any. And that creates immense rage, that—on October 7, some of the worst atrocities that were attributed to Hamas collectively, if you look more closely at it, some of them were permitted by non-Hamas members. That’s because once the fence collapsed, all the other militant groups burst in. So for instance, there were two verified incidents of beheadings. I’ve seen the footage and verified it. One was committed by the Palestinian Islamic Jihad, and one was committed by Kataib Mujahideen because, as Amira Hass said in an interview with Democracy Now!, she said that pressure must have been so monstrous to have enabled such monstrous attacks. So that’s the other dynamic.

PB: Muhammad, I wanted to ask you—this is speculation because it’s about the future, but do you have any thoughts about what kind of politics will come out of this catastrophic destruction that Israel is producing in Gaza? We’ve already seen that—I think Khalil was mentioning—that Hamas is more popular in the West Bank, a lot more popular, but not necessarily in Gaza, where its popularity seems to be about the same. Let’s say Hamas is deposed somehow, and some new force runs Gaza, whatever that is. What do you think the consequences for Palestinian politics will be?

MS: The way things look, if Israel goes fully in with the concept that they are now propagating, with maintaining operational freedom in Gaza (so, being able to go in and out)—even if they destroy Hamas completely, a single soldier going inside Gaza would push people in Gaza to create their own Hamas. Even if Hamas is gone completely, people in Gaza would have nothing to lose and would be so immensely traumatized that the sight of a single Israeli soldier or vehicle inside Gaza would push people to form their own armed resistance groups again—or even individually, what is referred to as honorable suicide or death by the hands of the army. And the other dimension is that now, almost every single person I know in Gaza (or at least the people that I managed to get ahold of) had their homes bombed. A friend of mine had his home burned to the ground by soldiers—way, way, way more vicious than their side.

And what that means for someone in Gaza, to lose a home—these homes were built generationally, not one person having enough wealth to buy a house. It’s basically people that were kicked out in the Nakba putting the first brick, and then their children putting the other on top of it, and so on. Because the median income in Gaza would be annually about $1,200—in a whole year—and the House would cost around maybe $50,000. So it takes decades to build a home. To have it destroyed, to have no prospect of getting a home again? I remember a friend in 2014, a classmate at my university. Every day, he came there after his home was bombed by Israel. He was consumed by rage and pure hatred: to Hamas, to Fatah, to the Palestinian Authority, to Israel, the Egyptians, the Americans, the Europeans, whatever, you name it. He would look us in the eye and say: Every single one of you, after this lecture, you go to a home. You have a roof over your head. I go and sit on a piece of rock and wait in a tent until they give me something that never happens.

So Israel has created enormous enmity with the population in Gaza. And you can take it for granted that Israel will not try to put a single shekel or dollar into fixing what they destroyed. My university was completely bombed. My high school, my elementary school, primary school, the shop where I go to buy groceries, the restaurant where I go to buy food. My family’s home, every home of every single member of my extended and immediate families were bombed. There is nothing that I would recognize in Gaza if I walked down the street. There’s nothing left. And, if that remains so, the population already has nothing to lose, and so much to gain from death—relief, and just putting an end to the pain. Being traumatized for so long in these last two months, being moved around like chess pieces. If Gaza, by the end of this war, is not opened back again to the world and the blockade is lifted, you’re creating a way, way worse radicalizing environment than the one that led to October 7.

PB: Khalil, I want to give you the last word, just anything you’d like to add about the potential futures that come out of this

KS: Truly, the situation is dire. I mean, I myself too lost friends, we lost our home, we lost everything. I was telling someone that my grandpa came in ’48, he lost two of his jewelry shops, and he lost his land and his private home there. And he worked hard to get a new shop in Gaza. He worked hard to get a home. And he worked hard to just rebuild our lives. And my father continued this business. Now, we lost the shop, we lost the home again. It feels that we’re back in 1948, and it’s really hard.

When it comes to the future, there are all sorts of conversations about what the future looks like. There are talks about the PA being restored to Gaza. They’re talking about Arab forces being there. Hamas continues to refuse these things. Interestingly, the other partner who also refuses the return of the PA or Arab forces is the Israeli government. Netanyahu yesterday said: There’s no way on Earth I’ll allow the Palestinian Authority back. Now, the public opinion today shows that the support for Hamas in the West Bank is at 85%. In Gaza, it’s at like 51% or something—that’s really low. The support for the PA’s return in Gaza is about 42%, which is really tremendous compared to the years before. So all sorts of things are happening. Ismail Haniyeh (who’s the head of Hamas) just gave a speech in which he said many things, among which is: We accept a political solution with Jerusalem as the capital. He was vague not to use two states, or one state, or anything, but just a Palestinian state with Jerusalem as its capital. Or East Jerusalem, he didn’t mention it.

The one thing I got from the message is emphasis. Ismail Haniyeh warns the following: There is no future or political congregation in Gaza in the future that does not include Hamas and the resistance. So Hamas continuously saying that any plan you have in DC, or any plan you have in Tel Aviv, or Ramallah that does not include Hamas wouldn’t work, wouldn’t materialize, and one can translate that they will be a spoiler that wouldn’t allow it. It’s very clear from the language that Hamas is unwilling to have any political congregation in which Hamas does not belong. My personal opinion that Hamas, at least the political and constituent part of Hamas, should be part of any political future because they are part of the Palestinian people. But I don’t think Hamas’s military wing should be allowed to continue to be in Gaza, given the disastrous things that they have caused for Palestinians. And that does not mean that I am against resistance as a concept, but I’m against the form through which Hamas conduct its own resistance.


PB: Khalil and Muhammad, thank you so much for such a rich conversation. I learned a great deal. And I want to say thank you to everyone who listened, that we hope you enjoyed this episode of On the Nose, and we’ll see you next time.

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Sep 28 2023
Elon Musk, the Jews, and the ADL, with Know Your Enemy (01:05:14)
Alex Kane, Mari Cohen, and Peter Beinart discuss the contradictions of the Anti-Defamation League with Know Your Enemy’s Sam Adler Bell.
Sep 14 2023
Trans Halakha (44:24)
Nathan Goldman talks to three members of SVARA’s Teshuva-Writing Collective—Laynie Soloman, Alyx Bernstein, and Rabbi Xava de Cordova—about reimagining halakha for trans life.
Aug 31 2023
Nosegate (28:36)
Arielle Angel talks to Rebecca Pierce, Jody Rosen, and Alisa Solomon about Bradley Cooper’s turn as Leonard Bernstein—wearing a prosthetic nose.
Aug 17 2023
The Jewishness of Oppenheimer (47:05)
In an episode presented in partnership with The Nation’s podcast The Time of Monsters, Mari Cohen, Jeet Heer, David Klion, and Raphael Magarik discuss Christopher Nolan’s new biopic about the infamous physicist.
Aug 3 2023
Camp Kinderland at 100 (57:18)
Judee Rosenbaum and Mitchell Silver talk to Arielle Angel about the storied summer camp, founded by Jewish unionists in 1923.
Jul 20 2023
Chevruta: Be Fruitful and Multiply? (30:26)
Torah scholar Laynie Soloman and feminist theorist Sophie Lewis study a Talmudic text that complicates the biblical injunction to procreate.
Jul 6 2023
What Indian Ethnonationalists Learned From Israel Advocates (35:10)
Aparna Gopalan, Azad Essa, and Nora Caplan-Bricker discuss how the hasbara playbook offers a template for defenders of supremacist politics everywhere.
Jun 22 2023
The Struggle to Stop Cop City (38:01)
Micah Herskind, Keyanna Jones, and Josie Duffy Rice join Claire Schwartz from Atlanta to talk about the fight to prevent the destruction of the Weelaunee Forest and the construction of the US’s largest police training center.
Jun 8 2023
The Plight of Masafer Yatta (26:57)
Alex Kane talks to Palestinian journalist Basel Adra about the West Bank hamlets where over 1,000 Palestinians live in fear of being expelled by Israel.
May 25 2023
The Agony and the Ecstasy of Jewish Matchmaking (47:09)
Arielle Angel, Nathan Goldman, Mari Cohen, and Aparna Gopalan discuss Netflix’s Jewish Matchmaking and the questions it raises about contemporary Jewishness.
May 11 2023
Still No Justice for Shireen Abu Akleh (25:19)
One year after her killing, Jewish Currents examines the life and death of Palestinian journalist Shireen Abu Akleh and the broader context of Israeli assaults on press freedom.
Apr 27 2023
Fighting Anti-Trans Legislation in Missouri (38:38)
Editor-in-chief Arielle Angel speaks with Rori Picker Neiss about what it's like to advocate for a trans child in a red state.
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