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January 26, 2006

Hoods Off To The Victors?


The most striking symbolic and not-symbolic question following the Hamas victory in Palestine is what will become of those masks?  To see how the associations resonate back and forth, consider this web citation to a story announcing this morning’s victory:

Hamas Without Veils

CBS News – 1 hour, 46 minutes ago

Hamas? Victory in the Palestinian parliamentary elections has forced the terrorist group into a tough spot, writes The National Review Online. The win means they have to govern, which means they must now show their true face.

I can’t speculate as to the future.  However, when I look through the newswires today, I see new visual permutations.  I see crowds of Hamas youth with headbands; I see clusters (and in some instances, oceans) of those green baseball-style caps; and I see plenty of unadorned faces.

And, in spite of the scary new cover of The Economist, which (perhaps unfortunately) went to press almost simultaneously with the election results, what is most noticeable is the absence of the hood.

(image: Khalil Hamra/A.P. January 26, 2006.  Rafah refugee camp, southern Gaza Strip.  Via YahooNews)

  • floopmeister

    So a political party has won an election, and now must unveil its true agenda?
    I think I’ve heard this story before… :)

  • readytoblowagasket

    to continue floopmeister’s sentence: . . . and the story didn’t have a happy ending.

  • PTate in Mn

    It’s damned awkward moment for the whole “freedom is on the march” crowd. I wonder how the Bush WH will explain it away.
    This particular picture reminds me of the famous WW2 picture from Iwo Jima–perhaps the flag rippling in the background, the militant context and the rather pyramidal shape of the men.
    Such different context and meanings. The one inspiring, the other ominous.

  • jt from BC

    Very scary, divide/rule tactics/always time sensitive:
    Israel and Hamas may currently be locked in deadly combat, but, according to several current and former U.S. intelligence officials, beginning in the late 1970s, Tel Aviv gave direct and indirect financial aid to Hamas over a period of years.
    Israel “aided Hamas directly — the Israelis wanted to use it as a counterbalance to the PLO (Palestinian Liberation Organization),” said Tony Cordesman, Middle East analyst for the Center for Strategic Studies.
    Israel’s support for Hamas “was a direct attempt to divide and dilute support for a strong, secular PLO by using a competing religious alternative,” said a former senior CIA official 6/18/2002

  • ummabdulla

    Isn’t that what they call “blowback”, jt? But whatever the origins of Hamas, I don’t think they or their supporters are controlled by Israel anymore.
    When Iraqis had an election, they overwhelmingly elected religious parties. When Iran had an election, they did, too. When Egypt had an election, the religious parties won most of the seats they contested (despite candidates being detained, voters being kept from voting, etc.). Kuwait’s National Assembly has a large Islamist bloc, and I’m guessing it will be just as strong, and probably stronger, after women vote. If Saudi Arabia had elections, the same thing would happen.
    I see that the Islamic factor is being downplayed, as if voters were simply punishing Fatah for its corruption and incompetence. That’s certainly a factor, but most of the pictures of Hamas supporters show them holding up one finger, and I don’t think they mean, “We’re number one”; this gesture represents the most basic belief in Islam: that there is only one God.
    If any of this is a surprise, it’s only because the U.S. government and many journalists are so completely ignorant of the Arab and Muslim worlds. Their contacts are the “secular elites” who they feel comfortable talking to, and they just assume that since they agree with them, everyone else must, too.
    You gotta love democracy, don’t you, President Bush? Government of the people, by the people, for the people…

  • jt from BC

    UMMABDULLA, its definitely “blowback” that’s the point I wanted to underscore and that Israel cannot now claim to be a historical victim without accepting responsibility for executing this earlier strategy, which is a common tactic throughout history when lands are contested, occupied or Empires created.

  • Simon

    “what will become of those masks?”
    I believe the military wing are the ones who wear the masks.

  • readytoblowagasket

    I think the masks will soon be for sale on eBay.

  • Mad_nVT

    Ummabdulla writes of the religious parties winning elections in parts of the mid-East. It seems to be happening in the US also, with the Godly GOP whipping the godless Dems.
    In the photo, what are the young boys in the truck learning? Most of the people in the truck are young– sort of like a mixed “Boy Scout” and “church” group joint training, with guns. Does that happen in the US?

  • jt from BC

    For students of history who enjoy being challenged have available reading time and a particular interest in The Middle East and The United States of America heres, “Hoods Off…” for just about every buddy;
    Achcar on Hamas: Guest Editorial January 28, 2006

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