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Monday, August 17, 2009

Arab analysts try to figure out why Gaza creates extremists

There have been a number of articles in the Arabic press that attempt to analyze why there is a proliferation of Al-Qaeda-oriented extremist groups in Gaza. Typical is this one from Al Arabiya [autotranslated]:
Palestinian analysts said that the Gaza Strip has turned into a breeding ground for the emergence of extremist Islamic groups, as a result of the growth of religious institutions, which created many roles and trends after the militant Hamas-controlled Gaza under the Israeli siege to be in a tight semi-isolation from the world, expecting the emergence of extreme manifestations of violence in it.

[A professor at Al Azhar University] pointed out that "the growth of extremism is a result of the spread of poverty, unemployment and the blockade."
Most articles of this type miss the read reason, but I saw one that touched upon it.
Hamas mobilized thousands in the Gaza Strip and the West Bank with a culture of the suicide bomber, and built a huge army of the martyrs who are racing to be the first to blow up their explosive belts in Israel to go to heaven by the shortest and fastest routes. It is natural that is a proportion of those frustrated by the current truce will search for other jihadist organizations, to transcend this situation and achieve their aspirations of martyrdom. It is not strange that there should be a component of the armed wing of Hamas among the Jund Allah' members, or that their leader is the nephew of Dr. Mousa Abu Marzouk, deputy head of the Political Bureau of Hamas.
This comes much closer to the truth. Hamas (as well as Fatah) has raised up generations of Palestinian Arabs with the idea that martyrdom is ideal, that Israel is anathema, and dying while fighting Jews is the shortcut to Paradise. Hamas added on a layer of supposed adherence to Sharia law and the concept of creating a unified 'Ummah.

For thousands of youths who have assimilated this message from Hamas itself, is it surprising that they cannot accept the current pause of terror attacks? Hamas' actions do not jive with their words and Hamas does not try very hard to justify their hudna in Islamic terms. This creates an ideological vacuum that other groups rush to fill.

The core of the conflict is incitement to terror. It takes decades to erase the effects of brainwashing kids to desire to blow themselves up, and Hamas media continues to glorify killing Israeli women and children. To a large swath of Arab Muslims, simple-minded dedication to violence is attractive and intuitive (not to mention natural,) and anything that obstructs their desire to murder is to be resisted.

It is easy to blame extremism on "occupation" and the "siege" and so forth, but the simplest explanation is the one that most people are not willing to face: extremism is taught, and that Pandora's box cannot be closed in this generation.