Thought Catalog: You wrote me regarding the interview I conducted with Dina, a self described advocate for Israel. What is your experience with the Palestinian/Israeli conflict and what do you make of it as a Kuwaiti Arab?
Abdulrahman: First of all, thanks for this. My experience goes way back in time since I was a small child. I grew up reading and hearing about Palestine, growing up in a moderately religious household, Palestine was never absent in my exposure. Growing up to the footage of “Mohamad Al-Durra” and the “second Intifada” when I was a teenager, of course I had to be part of it, although not directly participating, but at least observing.
Thought Catalog: Hamas has spent a lot of money (millions of dollars) building tunnels to infiltrate Israel and a lot of money on weapons including rockets that have been nearly completely ineffective for attacking Israel. Would this money have been better spent on providing services and education to the Gaza populace the way that Hezbollah has in Lebanon?
Abdulrahman: First, Hezbollah has much more influence in its government and country and much more peaceful surroundings to work with compared to Hamas. Secondly, how can you work on schools and services if you can’t protect yourself? It is similar to the logic of having a house without having walls and asking not to be disturbed/annoyed if you lose anything. Security of self is a basic human instinct and history and psychology and sociology have shown us that. *Think Maslow’s hierarchy* Third point, as Hamas is a “resistance group” it has the legal right to resist according to the Geneva Fourth Convention. I quote here Richard Fark, a professor at Princeton, and a UN Rapporteur on Palestinian human rights:
“Though the Israeli government and the US media persist in describing the second Palestinian intifada as a security crisis or a disruption to the ‘peace process,’ in international law, Palestinian resistance to occupation is a legally protected right…Israel’s failures to abide by international law, as a belligerent occupant, amounted to a fundamental denial of the right of self-determination, and more generally of respect for the framework of belligerent occupation — giving rise to a Palestinian right of resistance.”
Thought Catalog: There are several Arab nations, Saudia Arabia, Jordan, and Egypt in particular, who have a history of supporting the Palestinians. Why do they seem to be supporting Hamas less than they might have supported such an organization 15 or even 20 years ago?
Abdulrahman: Hamas shares the same background as the “Muslim Brotherhood”, the most organized Islamic movement in the Arab world right now. The rise of Islamic groups in Libya, Tunisia, Egypt, and Turkey, and also the popularity of these movements is causing a stir in Saudi Arabia, UAE, and Egypt to the extent of calling the “Muslim Brotherhood” a terrorist organization! Any rise of any Islamic based movement powered by the people in the area means danger to the status of Saudi Arabia as an influential power, and what happened in Egypt is clearer than the sun; a coup officially backed by Saudi Arabia and UAE. These countries do not want any “people powered” Islamic or non-Islamic increase in power for the people in the region. This is unfortunate considering Saudi Arabia and UAE profess to be Muslim countries.
Thought Catalog: Do Arabs, Kuwaitis in particular, believe that Israel has a right to exist? If so, then what form should Israel take?
Abdulrahman: There are only two Arab countries that recognize Israel: Egypt and Jordan. I can’t speak for all Kuwaitis or Arabs but I know that for me Israel is an occupying power and the occupation must end. The British government promised to the land of Palestine to Zionists and it was not their land to give. Before colonialism and the Zionist -not the Jewish- movement into the holy land of Palestine, Jewish people were less than 10% of the population. In short, Israel is an invading entity and the invasion must end. A side note is Saladin Al-Ayyubi who freed Jerusalem from the crusaders back in 1187 had a Jewish scholar as his counsellor and personal doctor. That man was the famous “Maimonides,” the most important Jewish figure during the European Middle Ages. So, the problem is never with the religion, it’s with the terrorist state.
Thought Catalog: Is hoping that there will be a large change to the way Israel is currently organized a realistic ideal to achieve a lasting peace? If it’s not then what other options are there for Palestinians to achieve their aims?
Abdulrahman: You can’t seek peace with an entity that is totally militarized. All of the Zionist entity is a military base, all the population must go through conscription, and when this is the case I personally cannot expect that such an entity will in any case look for a lasting peace. Unfortunately, The UN and the West are not interested and actually backing Israel because it serves their imperialistic goals and purposes to prevent any power rise in the area. As I said earlier, Palestinians must claim their own land. They deserve it.
Thought Catalog: One point that Israelis make regarding Israel is that it is historically their land. Palestinians make much the same argument. However, the history is that the land has been handed back and forth through war for 10,000 years. Does anyone have a claim they can make on historical grounds?
Abdulrahman: The “religious right” of Israel to exist is nothing but a cover for political propaganda. Balfour’s declaration was obviously in the interest of Britain “and the West” in the post-WW1 era as professor James Gelvin writes. Logically, even if the Jewish scripture claims a land to be the land of the Jews, Palestinians, mainly Muslims, are not obliged to follow this scripture. Additionally, the basis of the foundation of the state of Israel violates the 10 commandments, which are the essence of Judaism. You can also refer to Professor Yeshayahu Leibowitz who is an Israeli philosopher and read his opinions of the non-existence of any religious significance to the state of Israel. He even went further to describe the Zionist entity as a “watchdog to the American interests in the Middle East.”
Thought Catalog: How do various Arab groups, Gulf Arabs, Egyptians, those in Shi’ite countries, Jordan, view Hamas? Is Hamas a proxy for Arab frustration or something else?
Abdulrahman: I recently read in a survey that said almost 90% of Saudis consider Hamas a legitimate resistance group. The official stand in the kingdom is a little bit more reserved. But, for the majority of the Arab world, all the Palestinian resistance groups are defending their own rights and their own land and that right is granted by international law.
Thought Catalog: Mahmoud Abbas, Chairman of the Palestinian Liberation Organization (PLO) seems to advocate for a more peaceful approach to Israel and the West Bank is far more peaceful than the Gaza Strip. Do you think that Gaza should follow this model and what happens to Hamas in such a scenario?
Abdulrahman: Name one peace truce or treaty or peace talks where the result hasn’t been further Israeli settlements being built on Palestinian land. This has increased the occupation of Palestine by the Zionist entity. There have been more Palestinians displaced and more homes demolished. Every peace treaty signed with the Zionist entity has done nothing but allow more settlements and more occupation to the extent of the Zionist government approving 14,000 new settlement homes during the last peace talks with Abbas last April. Abbas is nothing but a disgrace in my opinion, to his own land and people.
Thought Catalog: Currently, Israeli forces seem to be doubling down on their offensive in Gaza. If they attempt to eliminate much or most of Hamas’s offensive capabilities then where does this leave Hamas as a political party and Gazans as people?
Abdulrahman: Regardless of what we think of Hamas, Hamas is an official majority of the Palestinian parliament and holds 74 out of 132 of seats (56%), so its representation of Palestinians is unquestionable. Hamas is not only a military group and as the siege keeps tightening Hamas is getting stronger. They have built their own rockets, they have trained their own soldiers, and they have successfully legitimized their efforts as a rightful resistance group. Hamas is part of the Palestinian nation but is also an idea more than just a political party. It is the idea of “rightful resistance” of an occupied nation. And also it is gaining recognition and sympathy from around the world as we are watching on the news while Israel’s image is suffering. You can see this from the protests all across the world. “You can kill a man, but you can’t kill an idea”, says Medgar Evers, and the idea of the land of Palestine belonging to Palestinians cannot be taken away unless you wipe out every Palestinian human being.
Thought Catalog: Point blank, what do you think will end armed conflict in Israel and lead to a lasting two-state solution?
Abdulrahman: Personally, I don’t see a two-state solution and I don’t recognize it as a just concept. If you occupy my land for any period of time, you would still be called an invader to a land that is not rightfully yours till the end of time or the end of that occupation. A two-state solution won’t happen unless all Palestinians are allowed to return to their land after being illegally expelled from it and granted the freedom of movement and the freedom of use of their land. Looking at the current situation, it doesn’t seem likely to happen. India got its independence, the Republic of Ireland and Bosnia and Herzegovina got theirs, so will Palestine.
Abdul can be reached on Twitter at @7amanito.