The thirty-second anniversary of the founding of the Palestinian Islamic Resistance Movement, known by its acronym Hamas, has passed without much fanfare, apart from a festival in the Gaza Strip at which officials shared enthusiastic speeches. The event ended leaving very little trace, and was ignored by most media outlets, unlike similar programmes in the past. As for the Arab masses, no one paid attention to it, perhaps because they are drowning in their own sorrows and problems with their leaders. The Palestinian cause has taken a bit of a back seat, even on Facebook and Twitter. It is rare to find people remembering the cause in their writing as I do; indeed, I mention Palestine on my Facebook page daily, as I consider it a religious duty and guide to keep me away from what is wrong and point me towards what is right.
Hamas is the most important resistance movement in the modern era and has supporters around the world, who are optimistic that it will open the door to the liberation of Palestine from the River Jordan to the Mediterranean Sea and return us to Jerusalem and Al-Aqsa Mosque. Palestine will only be liberated through struggle; resistance is the solution; and the gun is the means to achieve this, not negotiations.
The movement was born out of the Muslim Brotherhood in Palestine by Sheikh Ahmed Yassin. He and his colleagues were members of the Brotherhood and followed the school of thought of the late Imam Hassan Al-Banna, the founder of the group. Hamas's approach came from the parent group's Charter, fuelled by the first Intifada which had just started when Hamas was announced to the world on 14 December, 1987.
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Dr Azzam Tamimi wrote in his book Hamas: Unwritten Chapters (Hurst & Company, London, 2007) that the movement's founding statement was written on 9 December, the day after the start of the first intifada. I do not know why the announcement was delayed slightly; perhaps it was for security reasons, potential harassment or hindrance from the late Yasser Arafat, who feared that his Fatah movement would have the rug pulled from under its feet. Arafat made many attempts to prevent the emergence of the Islamic Resistance Movement. Whatever his reasons were, its founding had an unparalleled international echo and shook Israel.
At the time, there was an increase in religious awareness among Muslims, an Islamic awakening, and a departure from the westernised secularisation in place for almost a century across the Islamic world. The growth and prosperity of Islamic movements witnessed a victory in Afghanistan against the Soviet invasion. Israel fears an enemy which fights its occupation with religious strength, and so it was fearful when the birth of Hamas was announced during the first intifada, which rocked the occupation state to its foundations.
The Brotherhood rallied behind the new movement, viewing it as its own resistance project for the liberation of all of Palestine, so its members adopted it and were followed in this by Muslim nations from the east to the west. They found in Hamas the missing piece of the jigsaw. The movement made a lot of sacrifices and has had its share of martyrs, including paraplegic Sheikh Ahmed Yassin, Dr Abdel-Aziz Rantisi and other leaders who were assassinated by the Israelis.
To this day, the movement insists that Palestine is the right of the Muslims first and their main cause, not just a Palestinian right. Since the start of the occupation in 1948, Israel has tried to make it a purely Palestinian issue in order to tackle the indigenous population only, but it cannot defeat an entire nation that agrees on one cause. However, to our shame, the Arabs have fallen prey to the malicious Israeli narrative.
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I have said before that ever since the Palestine Liberation Organisation was established in 1965 as the sole, legitimate representative of the Palestinian people, it has been cut down to size. From making the cause an Arab cause it became marginalised as a purely Palestinian cause. It was then lost in the Oslo Accords, when the Zionist occupation was granted the legitimacy it had always dreamed of, while the Palestinians walked away empty-handed. They have still not got the independent state that they were promised; instead, the Israeli colonial occupation has taken more and more of historic Palestine and Judaised landmarks and cities.
For the past 28 years, since Oslo, Israel has been trying through sieges, boycotts and all manner of exploitative means, to defeat Hamas. After removing the movement from the political scene — where it won the last Palestinian election in 2006 — the Israelis want to rein it in and disarm it. That's a prime aim of Trump's cursed "deal of the century", which legalises Israel's colonial-occupation, along with its theft of Palestinian land, resources and wealth. This was stated by the head of the delusional authority and president of security coordination with the Zionist enemy, Mahmoud Abbas, as part of Washington's "peace plan". A number of Arab states have basically normalised relations with Israel, which fits in nicely with the scenario envisaged by Trump's deal.
However, Hamas will not surrender; it will remain a thorn in Israel's side, so we must retain a very clear understanding that if it hadn't been for the Islamic Resistance Movement, Palestine would have been lost years ago, and the Palestinian cause would have vanished like Andalusia and others before it. Hamas is a beacon of hope for the rest of the Arab world; God willing, it will never die.
The views expressed in this article belong to the author and do not necessarily reflect the editorial policy of Middle East Monitor.