What You Need To Know About Playing Hamas

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--To play Hamas correctly you must enter into a completely different mindset from a traditional country or political party. Hamas represents a religious movement as much as it does a political one, and this means that Hamas is not as ideologically flexible as many of its rivals; Hamas will not compromise its morals to achieve political ends. This means that Hamas is not about to renounce Islam or call for peace with Israel just to make the west happy: Ismail Haniya has repeatedly stated that the Hamas charter has not changed just because Hamas is now running a government, and this means that the goal of Hamas is still the complete expulsion of the Israelis and the creation of an Islamic state in the land of Palestine.

--Hamas is not as diplomatically skilled as its Fatah rivals, particularly because it is so ideologically inflexible. This means that Hamas cannot interact with most western governments at all, and even working with other Middle Eastern governments is often a tricky proposition. This means that Hamas is forced to work through Mahmoud Abbas more often than it would like—even if Hamas has received a clear mandate to govern, Fatah’s help, if not allegiance, cannot be thrown aside lightly.

--Hamas is supposed to be community-centric, and it is supposed to be incorruptible. Hamas came to power because it was able to provide community services the Palestinian Authority could not, and it is also perceived as being a much more honest organization than Abbas’ group. This means Hamas must keep a strong grassroots foundation for its platform to survive. Community services must be provided, and above all you cannot allow power to corrupt your leadership or damage your reputation.

--Hamas is not simply a political party: it is an armed liberation movement. Even if the Israelis invade Gaza, even if the Israelis build a security wall, even if Hamas has been ostracized by the international community, it must still resist the Israeli occupation. This obviously puts Hamas in an awkward position, because even while Hamas attempts to run a day to day government, it is also responsible for carrying out or failing to prevent terrorist attacks within Israel, and open warfare with Israeli soldiers, some of which the government doubtlessly knows nothing about, but must nonetheless take credit for. The struggle cannot be abandoned, even if it is politically desirable.

--All of this means that the challenge of Hamas is not to conform to international opinions, but to force the world to accept Hamas on its own terms; it must be accepted as a national government which still maintains the zeal of a resistance army. This will not be easy. It might be impossible. But it must be done, because Hamas is nothing without its iron will to resist until Palestine is freed.

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