Nothing could be easier in the present atmosphere than to accuse anyone who calls for recognition of and dialogue with Hamas, Hezbollah and other Islamist movements of being closet supporters of reactionary “extremism” or naive fellow travelers of “terrorists.” This tactic is not surprising coming from neoconservatives and Zionists. What is novel is to see it expressed in supposedly progressive quarters.
Arun Kundnani has written about a “new breed of liberal” whose outlook “regards Muslims as uniquely problematic and in need of forceful integration into what it views as the inherently superior values of the West.” The target of these former leftists, Kundnani argues, “is not so much Islamism as the appeasing attitudes they detect among [other] liberals.”
Such views are now creeping into the Palestinian solidarity movement. MADRE, an “international women’s human rights organization,” presents one example. In the wake of the Hamas election victory and takeover of Gaza from US- and Israeli-backed Fatah warlords, MADRE declared that the challenge for Palestine solidarity activists is “how do we support the people of Palestine without endorsing the Hamas leadership?” Calling for what it terms “strategic solidarity” as opposed to “reflexive solidarity,” MADRE defines Hamas as a “repressive” movement “driven by militarism and nationalism,” which “aims to institutionalize reactionary ideas about gender and sexuality,” while using “religion as a smokescreen to pursue its agenda.” Similarly strident and dismissive claims have been made by a Washington-based pro-Palestinian advocacy group. [complete article]