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Hamas and Sam Harris

 
David N Bradley
 
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David N Bradley
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19 November 2018 06:58
 

Hi all,

The other day I heard Sam Harris’ July 2014 Podcast called “Why Don’t I Criticize Israel?”, and it surprised me because every substantive statement he made was wrong.  So I started a blog called AReplyToSamHarris.com to correct the record.  You can go there if you like and I’ve got pages of well-documented essays showing how what Harris said is false.  I want to zero in, though, on what Harris said about Hamas.  Harris said that Hamas, like ISIS, wants to impose its religious view of the world on humanity.  That couldn’t be further from the truth.  Hamas has supported Christians for public office.  They’ve denounced calling people “false Muslims”.  Etc. Etc.  You can read more here:  https://areplytosamharris.com/2018/11/18/hamas-like-isis-wants-to-impose-its-religious-views-on-the-rest-of-humanity/

I just am surprised that Harris has not corrected the record.  So that’s what I’m trying to do.  Feel free to leave me some feedback.

All best,
David

 
Hesperado
 
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Hesperado
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19 November 2018 22:27
 

“Hamas has supported Christians for public office.  “

Yeah sure, Middle Eastern Christian Dhimmis who also hate Jews.

 
David N Bradley
 
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David N Bradley
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20 November 2018 02:41
 

Did you read what I wrote or are you, like Harris, responding out of ignorance?

 
icehorse
 
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icehorse
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22 November 2018 07:23
 

David,

Your blog post seems to boil down to a handful of quotes. For the sake of discussion, let’s say that official Hamas spokesmen actually said these things. Talk is cheap. Where are the actions to back up the talk? For example, if Hamas believes in a legislature, why don’t they have one?

 
 
David N Bradley
 
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David N Bradley
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22 November 2018 08:24
 

First, Sam Harris’ claim is that Hamas wants to spread its religious ideas all over the world.  Whether or not Hamas has a legislature doesn’t really bear on that.  It just shows that Hamas is moderate.  The quotes whose significance you’re minimizing are from Sara Roy, the world’s leading expert on Hamas and Gaza.  So they’re significant quotes.

Hamas participated in the Palestinian Legislative Council until it was disbanded in 2007.  Since then Hamas has been under relentless attack by Israel.  Mary Robinson, the former UN Commissioner for Human Rights aid of Gazans, “They’re whole civilization has been destroyed.  I’m not exaggerating.”  And the UN, which isn’t prone to hyperbole, says that Gaza will be “unlivable” before 2020.  So, you know, they’ve got some major problems, and I’m not going to be hard on them if they haven’t set up a legislature.

What I’ve shown is that they’re a moderate organization that doesn’t seek to dominate the world—or even Palestine—with its religious ideas.  I could give much more evidence, but I was being selective as good scholars are. 

If you have counter-evidence, feel free to show it.  So far no one has produced any.  Harris certainly didn’t produce any.

 
David N Bradley
 
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David N Bradley
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22 November 2018 08:28
 
David N Bradley - 22 November 2018 08:24 AM

First, Sam Harris’ claim is that Hamas wants to spread its religious ideas all over the world.  Whether or not Hamas has a legislature doesn’t really bear on that.  It just shows that Hamas is moderate.  The quotes whose significance you’re minimizing are from Sara Roy, the world’s leading expert on Hamas and Gaza.  So they’re significant quotes.

Hamas participated in the Palestinian Legislative Council until it was disbanded in 2007.  Since then Hamas has been under relentless attack by Israel.  Mary Robinson, the former UN Commissioner for Human Rights said of Gazans, “Their whole civilization has been destroyed.  I’m not exaggerating.”  And the UN, which isn’t prone to hyperbole, says that Gaza will be “unlivable” before 2020.  So, you know, they’ve got some major problems, and I’m not going to be hard on them if they haven’t set up a legislature.

What I’ve shown is that they’re a moderate organization that doesn’t seek to dominate the world—or even Palestine—with its religious ideas.  I could give much more evidence, but I was being selective as good scholars are. 

If you have counter-evidence, feel free to show it.  So far no one has produced any.  Harris certainly didn’t produce any.

 
icehorse
 
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icehorse
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22 November 2018 08:54
 

Well we could start with Hamas’ charter, which they updated in 2017. It continues to call for the total elimination of Israel. How is that “moderate”?

hamas charter: 2017

 
 
David N Bradley
 
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David N Bradley
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22 November 2018 09:04
 

“[W]ithout compromising its rejection of the Zionist entity and without relinquishing any Palestinian rights, Hamas considers the establishment of a fully sovereign and independent Palestinian state, with Jerusalem as its capital along the lines of the 4th of June 1967, with the return of the refugees and the displaced to their homes from which they were expelled, to be a formula of national consensus.”
—paragraph 20

This is in line with what Hamas has said in the past.  For example, here’s a quote from Hamas leader Khalid Mishal (I can provide a citation if you need):

“If Israel wants to end this situation it must agree to a fully sovereign Palestinian state. If this does not happen the conflict will continue. The solution is a sovereign Palestinian state encompassing the West Bank and Gaza Strip, with its capital in East Jerusalem. This does not obligate me to recognise Israel. The reality is that Israel exists and is a state recognised by many, and I have to deal with this.”

That is called a two-state solution and it is what the entire international community agrees to. 

Again, none of this bears on whether Hamas is a radical muslim organization which wants to take over the world.  Harris provided no evidence for that and neither have you.

[ Edited: 22 November 2018 09:12 by David N Bradley]
 
icehorse
 
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icehorse
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22 November 2018 09:17
 

I’m not defending the claims you said Harris made.

I’m debating your claim that Hamas is moderate. How has Hamas mostly spent the millions and millions (billions?) given as aid? Not on infrastructure or housing or agriculture or aid to its people. They’ve spent it attacking Israel.

 
 
David N Bradley
 
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David N Bradley
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22 November 2018 09:31
 

Icehorse,

Here are the other things I’ve written about Hamas on that blog:

https://areplytosamharris.com/2018/11/17/hamas-charter-is-evidence-of-their-genocidal-intent/

And this lengthy bit about how Operations Cast Lead (2009) and Protective Edge (2014) started:

Israel has also punished Hamas for engaging in “peace offensives”.  In 2008, after months of asking for a truce and being ignored by Israel, Hamas got what it wanted.35 On June 19th, 2008, Hamas and Israel agreed to a ceasefire.36 A semi-official Israeli publication notes that “Hamas was careful to maintain the ceasefire. . . .At the same time, [Hamas] tried to enforce the terms of the arrangement on the other terrorist organizations and to prevent them from violating it.”37 In other words, Hamas upheld its end of the bargain.

The ceasefire held for four and a half months.  As Amnesty International observed, it “broke down after Israeli forces killed six Palestinian militants in air strikes and other attacks on 4 November.”38 Hamas fired rockets and mortars into Israel in response.  Still, according to the former Israeli Defense Forces (IDF) Commander for the Gaza Strip, Shmuel Zaki, Hamas was interested in returning to the ceasefire.39

Another ceasefire wasn’t of interest to Israeli Prime Minister Tzipi Livni, though, who said that long term calm “harms the Israel strategic goal, empowers Hamas, and gives the impression that Israel recognizes the movement”.40 Instead of pushing for peace, Livni decided to launch Operation Cast Lead, a major military operation which killed over a thousand innocent Palestinians including hundreds of children.

Hamas was punished again for engaging in a peace offensive when, at the end of April 2014, they formed a unity government with their US-backed rival, Fatah.  In a reckless display of peacefulness, Hamas agreed with Fatah to “recognize Israel and condemn terrorism.”41 These were two of Israel’s long-standing demands, and Hamas’ acquiescence brought Israel dangerously close to resolving the conflict.


Israel retaliated in June 2014 when a rogue Hamas cell kidnapped and killed three Israeli teenagers in the West Bank.  It was obvious early on that Hamas’ leadership was not responsible for the crimes.42 Though Hamas’ leadership wasn’t responsible and the teens were dead, Israel launched a provocative attack, Operation Brother’s Keeper, ostensibly to search for the murdered Israelis.  During Operation Brother’s Keeper, Israel killed five Palestinian civilians, demolished many homes, raided businesses, and arbitrarily arrested hundreds.43 Hamas predictably responded with rocket fire.

Israel’s moment to strike came on July 17th when a missile downed a Malaysian airliner which was flying over Ukraine.44 This incident captured the world’s attention and supplanted news about Israel and Gaza.  It was during this time, when people, Americans especially, were distracted, that Israel decided to attack Gaza again.  After the attack, peace negotiations were off the table.

Some may say that it’s unfair to accuse Israel of being so conniving.  Israel’s Prime Minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, though, has shown that his mind works in just such a devious fashion.  In 1989 he told students at Bar-Ilan University that Israel had missed an opportunity during China’s Tiananmen Square protests to carry out “large-scale” expulsions of Palestinians.  Netanyahu said that because the world was focused on China, “the damage [to Israel] would have been relatively small.”45 A careful study of Israel’s operations by researchers at the University of Chicago confirms that “Israeli attacks are more likely to be carried out when U.S. news are expected to be dominated by important. . .events on the following day.”46 In fact, Israel breaking the 2008 ceasefire with Hamas before Operation Cast Lead was just such a calculated attack.  Israel broke the ceasefire on November 4th, 2008—election day in the United States.

To see the footnotes, go here:  https://areplytosamharris.com/2018/11/17/if-palestinians-could-kill-all-jews-in-israel-they-would/

What do you have to say to that?

 
icehorse
 
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icehorse
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22 November 2018 09:43
 

I’ll concede that Israel makes missteps. Perhaps some of your examples would qualify as missteps. But there are millions of individual incidents and it seems to me that you’re looking at a vast and complex situation through a microscope.

I would say that if “Palestinians” dropped all of their war efforts, Israel would never attack them again. And the converse is simply not true. If Israel abandoned its military, all of its regional neighbors would destroy it immediately. Since the 1967 war, Israel has given back a lot of territory that it won during the war. Fairly recently it gave Gaza to the “Palestinians”. Near as I can tell, that generous gesture didn’t but them any significant good will.

 
 
David N Bradley
 
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David N Bradley
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22 November 2018 09:45
 

Icehorse, I get why you’re saying what you’re saying.  It’s the common perception.  It’s not true, though.  Check out my blog posts on these topics.  Check out the footnotes.  What I’ve written is scholarly and true.  I’ve done the research to make my case.  After you read them, get back to me.

https://areplytosamharris.com/2018/11/17/if-palestinians-could-kill-all-jews-in-israel-they-would/

https://areplytosamharris.com/2018/11/17/israel-is-surrounded-by-people-who-have-explicitly-genocidal-intentions-toward-them/

 
icehorse
 
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icehorse
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22 November 2018 11:40
 

Summarize for me why I shouldn’t take Hamas’s recently updated charter on face value?

 
 
David N Bradley
 
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David N Bradley
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22 November 2018 12:21
 

You should.  I don’t think you understand it, though.  Hamas is agreeing to a two-state solution on the pre-June 1967 border.  Hamas has said that Israel is a reality that Hamas must negotiate with.

Hamas has also agreed to numerous ceasefires and it’s almost always Israel which breaks the ceasefire.  A ceasefire was just broken in the last two weeks.  Did you see who broke it?  That’s right.  Israel.

Hamas also has no means with which to wipe out Israel.  Go examine some time how big these “rockets” are.  They don’t even have explosives on them most of the time.  Israel on the other hand is actually wiping out Gaza.

Israelis and their supporters amplify threatening Palestinian rhetoric while strategically ignoring peace offers.  That has been the theme of the conflict.  What more do you want?

 
icehorse
 
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icehorse
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22 November 2018 14:02
 

An excerpt from Hamas’s own charter:

The Land of Palestine
2. Palestine, which extends from the River Jordan in the east to the Mediterranean in the west and from Ras al-Naqurah in the north to Umm al-Rashrash in the south, is an integral territorial unit. It is the land and the home of the Palestinian people. The expulsion and banishment of the Palestinian people from their land and the establishment of the Zionist entity therein do not annul the right of the Palestinian people to their entire land and do not entrench any rights therein for the usurping Zionist entity.

3. Palestine is an Arab Islamic land. It is a blessed sacred land that has a special place in the heart of every Arab and every Muslim.

Am I not supposed to take that at face value?

 
 
David N Bradley
 
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David N Bradley
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22 November 2018 15:31
 

I think you’re supposed to agree to a two-state solution and see what happens after that.  Hamas has agreed to a two-state solution repeatedly.  Israel has not. 

Supporters of Israel who use Hamas’ words as a reason to not agree to any peace are being more problematic than Hamas is being.  Hamas has complied with ceasefires and during the 2014-2015 unity government with Fatah, Hamas did not stop the government from (1) recognizing Israel, and (2) renouncing violence.  So Hamas has acted in ways which are quite conciliatory.  Why, unless you don’t want peace, wouldn’t you take advantage of that?

Again, the thing to do is to take Hamas up on its offer for a two-state solution, and see if that moderates them.  If it doesn’t, Israel has every right to defend itself.

 
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