Sunday, May 12, 2013

The Talibanization of Gaza

by P. David Hornik


What a relief that Israel withdrew from Gaza, liberating the Palestinians there.

Well, not exactly. As summed up on Israel National News, this week the pan-Arab daily Al-Hayat reported that
Hamas is lobbying for a stricter enforcement of Islamic law in Gaza—including provisions to cut off the hands of thieves, and execution of individuals who cheat on their spouses…. Hamas expects the new regulations to take effect in the coming months, after introduction of the legislation in the PA parliament.
The report notes that “Existing laws mete out the death penalty to individuals convicted of murder, spying, homosexuality, or selling land to Jews” and that the new legislation will also include “lashes for a large number of ‘crimes,’ including drinking alcoholic beverages and gambling.”

And furthermore, “Hamas has a large majority in the PA parliament, with 74 of the 134 parliamentarians belonging to the Islamist party,” and the new legislation
is expected to easily pass. Once it does, the laws will be extant in both Gaza and Palestinian Authority-controlled areas of Judea and Samaria, but it is not clear if they will be enforced there.
It is also not clear at this point whether the Palestinian Legislative Council, which for the time being has ceased to function, could be reconstituted for such a vote.

What is clear, though, is that horrific Islamic abuses are already occurring in Gaza. Last week the UK’s Telegraph told this harrowing tale:
It’s three weeks since his arrest but Ismail Halou still has streaks of purple bruising on the soles of his feet. The 22 year-old was filling cars at his family’s petrol station in Gaza City at 5 pm on April 4th when a black jeep pulled into the forecourt, plain-clothed police stepped out and ordered him into the car. He was blindfolded and driven to the nearest police station.
“I could hear the screams of people being beaten in the rooms next to me. Two men held my legs down and tied them together on a wooden board then they beat the soles of my feet with a plastic rod. They beat me for at least five minutes. I was crying and screaming with agony. It was the worst pain I’ve ever felt,” Mr Halou recalls.
It was only after the beating that police officers set to work trying to shave off the one-inch fin of gelled hair that was the cause of his arrest.
“At no point did they tell me why they had arrested me. I found out from neighbours when I got home that it was because of my hair,” Mr Halou explains, running a hand over the fuzzy regrowth on his head. He could not walk for three days after his release.
April, to paraphrase T. S. Eliot, was indeed a cruel month:
Police in Gaza…arrested at least 41 men on charges of immodesty this April.
Most of them were beaten, all of them had their heads forcibly shaven. Some were shaven because their haircuts…were deemed culturally inappropriate, others because their trousers were either too low-slung or too fitted…. Gaza is gripped with a palpable fear that Hamas is driving the population towards unapologetic, militant, Islamic fundamentalism.
It was, of course, the Palestinians of Gaza and the West Bank who overwhelmingly chose Hamas in parliamentary elections in 2006. Presumably, they knew something about this movement’s nature. They may not have thought, though, they were getting something that looks increasingly like an Arab version of the Taliban.

Which is not to say Fatah, the relatively secular movement running the West Bank, is a bed of roses. At the end of March the UK’s Daily Mail published a hair-raising report on its use of torture. Last week when an Israeli father of five was stabbed to death, Fatah’s Facebook page erupted in praise and celebration.

By and large, the same people who have made the Palestinians and their alleged rights a cause célèbre for decades cannot be gotten interested in these realities. There are certain to be more Israeli Apartheid Weeks next spring, but there will be no Gaza Torture or Gaza Sharia weeks. Back when waves of Palestinian suicide bombers were strewing body parts all over Jerusalem and Tel Aviv, it was Israel’s checkpoints and separation fence that became the focus of—supposed—moral concern.

Meanwhile, Secretary of State John Kerry has launched yet another major diplomatic initiative aimed at restarting Israeli-Palestinian negotiations that are supposed to lead to “peace.” The ongoing refusal to internalize the problematic nature of the “Palestinian people”—who exhibit the same afflictions so evident in Syria, Egypt, Iraq, and elsewhere in the region—is stunning to behold.

P. David Hornik


Copyright - Original materials copyright (c) by the authors.

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