Wednesday, March 01, 2006

The IRA and Hamas.

With Hamas's recent election there has been people comparing and contrasting the fortunes of the IRA v.s. Hamas. Some see the fact that the IRA to there credit moved away from violence, embraced democracy and proved John Hume right. As a sign that Hamas can do the same. However many disagree many think that the IRA were different, less violent then Hamas, therefore better and more likely to participate in democratic government. Now some of these people don’t know much about anything. For instance one American who I debated the issue disagreed with me and called me a liberal and blocked all comments on her site. She also thinks Liberal women can’t become leaders. So if any of my liberal feminist readers want to challenge that argument click here.

But anyway back to the argument Richard Waghorne and The Freedom Institute guys have produced a piece for the British Israel Communications and Research Centre called Why Hamas Is Not The IRA. Now I am a regular reader of his blog and think he is fairly decent guy and most of the people behind the Anti-Richard “Dick” posts on Fi Fie Foe Fum site really should get hobbies. That been said I rarely agree with what Richard says. And this is no exception

Surly I thought the Freedom institute an Irish organisation would have a basic understanding of Irish Geography. Alas they make the point that

while practising terrorism, the IRA never declared that it sought to destroy the British state. Hamas declares its aim not as seeking a negotiated settlement with Israel, but its destruction

Firstly the IRA is the Irish republican army. The state of Britian has never ever been the problem. It is British control on the island of Ireland that was the problem. Britain the state is of as much consequence to the IRA as the Jewish part of New York is to Hamas. I could draw a map but I presume the Freedom institute guys know the difference between Ireland and Britain (unlike some Americans). The IRA don’t want the destruction of the state of Britain they want the destruction of the state of Northern Ireland. Now I sure they will say that the IRA only want the equivalent of the West Bank. But Northern Ireland is not the equivalent of the West Bank. Northern Ireland is the equivalent of the Palestine that existed in 1945 under British Rule(i.e. West Bank + Israel) . The equivalent of the West Bank is Fermanagh, South Armagh, South Down, West Tyrone and Derry City. (The equivalent of the Gaza strip could be said to be parts of north East Antrim.). The places where nationalists are in the majority. But the IRA also lay claim to the entirety of Northern Ireland (i.e. West Bank plus Israel) even places they are not the majority where the majority are British. Thus the IRA and Hamas claims are of the same kind. (See this fascinating Top secret document the British Government produced in 1972 to see how they planned Northern Ireland to be split. It shows the areas of majority Nationalists. Click here for full document and scroll down to 22 July 1972)

Another point made is that of religion.

The Hamas Charter1, still operative, quotes extensively from the Koran and views the conflict between Israel and the Palestinians through an explicitly theological prism. As Article One affirms, “the movement’s programme is Islam.” While the IRA claimed to represent the Catholics of Northern Ireland, the group did not seek the establishment of a fundamentalist Catholic state.

Firstly the IRA claim to represent Irish people not Catholics. Many of their hero’s Wolfe Tone for instance were protestant. It is only centuries of history that Catholics in the North often are but not always equal Irish. Also for all the priests that condemned the IRA there were many priests that sheltered gun man. They say that the IRA did not want to set up a Catholic fundamentalist state. Which is true but the IRA’s religion was not Catholic it was communism. The Republican movement has always been fond of communism ever since Connolly. The “bibles” of communism probably has as many references to war as Koran (I have never read either so can’t give a number but you know your self, roughly) The battle between the classes has always been used by the IRA throughout history. Even now Sinn Fein still is against what they see as the “British Aristocracy”. Only under Gerry Adams leadership of Sinn Fein has the socialism that they preach been diluted.

IRA distinguished, at least rhetorically, between the British state and the Protestant population of Ulster, strategically targeting the former and tactically targeting the latter, Hamas makes little distinction between Israel and the Jewish people.

Firstly I would like to point out that protestants do not equal unionist which many people down south don’t seem to get. Anyway whether or not British people are strategically or tactically targeted they are still targeted. But considering that the IRA have killed more of their own then anyone else does that mean the IRA see no distinction between supporters and enemies?

Indeed, it would have been unthinkable for the organisation to declare war on adherents of Protestantism

Again they seem not to be able to separate religion from Unionism. Israel was created as a Jewish State. It is a Jewish state. Unionism is about being British not Protestant. Also the willingness to attack places like Gibraltar showed they were willing to attack British people outside of Britain.

Whereas the IRA was required to strategically limit the level of its violence, a structural element of Hamas’s increasing support is approval of the group’s success as the most effective among the terrorist groups in inflicting high-casualty suicide attacks against Israeli targets.

The reason the IRA limited its level of violence was strategic. Most of the money came from Irish American’s. Where they could tolerate attacks on British Army installations and buildings if they saw major attacks like Omagh on a daily basis the money would have soon disappeared. Also with the money they get they can afford to launch “spectaculars”. The list of IRA weapons revealed around the time of decommissioning was spectacular. The likes of SAM missiles and major machine guns. Since the fall of the Soviet Union Hamas have not had the same support. If you don’t have the technology you can’t do certain missions. You go for “soft” targets. While Hamas might go more readily for people rather then military and buildings. It is wrong to merely suggest that this is due to the IRA having more morals then Hamas it is a lot more complicated then that. And I think the numerous bombings the IRA show that they did not exactly above targeting civilians.

First, the IRA maintained a division between its military wing and its political wing, Sinn Fein.

Funny in pervious Freedom Institute posts they have said “Sinn Fein retains a private army, to which it answers” . They have also allueded to Gerry Adams being the Chief of Staff of the IRA how is that “division”.

Third, there existed a basic consensus among Northern Irish nationalists as to their vision for constitutional talks on the future status of the territory. This mainstream provided an opportunity for Sinn Fein and the IRA to increase their influence by joining a unity front of nationalist opinion. No such consensus exists amongst the Palestinians. The secular nationalists of the PLO and the Islamists have long fought each other.

Through out much of the troubles SDLP members such as John Hume have been attacked. How is that different the Hamas attacking the PLO. Are we talking numbers is it ok to attack 5 members of the opposition but not 6. Are we talking methods. Surely numbers and methods do not matter once you go over the line you are over the line.

Hamas has recently stated that even if it were to undertake superficially similar moves to those adopted by the IRA, these would be taken for self-interested tactical reasons and not because of any moderation in their strategic objectives.

I really do not understand this point. Did I miss the memo that said the Sinn Fein no longer want a 32 country republic. Surely they still have the same strategic objective they have just changed their methods. Who is to say Hamas will not change its objectives.

One of the big differences between Hamas and the IRA is the use of suicide bombers. Suicide bombers are maytrs to the cause. Considering that today 25 years ago Bobby Sands started his hunger strike. It shows that the IRA too had people willing to be maytrs to the cause.

Now if any one is still reading this post after over a 1000 words I will leave one point. Hamas were formed in 1989, the Provisional IRA in 1969. 17 years after their formation Sinn Fein / PIRA began the movement towards peace with the famous 1986 Ard Feis. Why is it so difficult for people to believe that Hamas’s winning of the election 17 years after its formation can not be the first step in the journey to peace that Sinn Fein/IRA started 20 years ago.

2 comments:

Jo said...

An interesting post.

I would worry about the bloggess that you linked to as by her own admission she is insane.

Others are not so gifted with insight :)

Anonymous said...

Life is precious, a gift to be treasured, regardless of whom
one is. Manipulations for power
are the ruin of a serene world.Many Arab Israeli acquaintences , Christion , Moslem, agree that without outside machinations Israeli Jews could enjoy their presence among us.........many of us already have had such friendships for generations. My mother-in-law was born in Hebron,a Jew, she spoke fluent arabic and was warmly friendly
with her Arab neighbours. The clever , but terrible policy of
the English ( who I love as a people ) Divide and rule, still has the effect of having created hate between peoples. May we all know peace.
Muriel Moo ( 75 yrs young )