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Most of the terrorist groups out there are outright criminals and murderers, plain and simple: they use their so-called "political goals" as an excuse to murder innocent civilians in the mistaken belief that it will somehow strike a blow against their chosen enemies. But Hamas is different from most terrorist groups, because they follow a "hearts and minds" stragegy dictated by their interpretation of Islam that has won them a large following in the Middle East.

It's been said that the charitable works of Hamas comprise the majority of the organization's actions and its people, and its terrorist actions against Israel are supposed to comprise "only 15%" of its agenda. But of course this is what the vast majority of the world sees…even though it appears as though no one else is actually doing anything to aid the people of Palestine in their day-to-day lives. Islam's Five Pillars include a direct commandment from Allah to aid the poor, and Hamas is one of the few groups to acknowledge this.

However, I can't agree with the type of Islam put forward by Hamas, for the simple reason that it encourages the murder of innocents. "The end justifies the means" is the type of rotten excuse used for any despot to further his agenda, whether it's Pol Pot's killing fields of Cambodia, or George Dubya Bush's invasion of Iraq. For Hamas to use its charitable activities as a way to gain support and recruits for its suicide bombing campaign is one of the lowest acts of depravation that can be achieved – not to mention the unquestionable cult indoctrination procedures used by the organization to make its soldiers actually want to kill themselves in the name of Allah.

Besides, in a place like Palestine, young people are growing up with no hope whatsoever of escaping the day-to-day horror of war. Their choices all lead to a bad end – to accept Israel, which is currently headed by an stonewalling, stubborn idiot (Sharon) who's as blind to reality as George Dubya himself; to follow the Palestinian Authority, which seems to be (at least from our perspective) powerless in the face of Israel's incursions, and which can do nothing other than talk everyone to death; or to choose Hamas, which is at least (in their eyes) making a genuine effort to aid the poor and help people in Palestine. If the choice was as simple as that, then we might all want Hamas to succeed in its efforts. But the waters have been muddied and bloodied to the point where any of these roads will lead to despair and destruction, because Hamas' crimes far outweigh its good deeds (at least in the eyes of the outside world).

And as long as the Middle East stays on its current course, Hamas will continue to thrive and prosper. Through Hamas, the Conspiracy's goal is achieved: it turns men against men, in the belief that it will somehow accomplish something good.

Commentary on Hamas by nu-monet:

Well, let me give you a brief-brief on the picture as I see it, but I will not vouch for the accuracy of what is a friggin complex situation. First, here are a couple of links that might prove helpful:

Fatah is the parent organization among the Paleos. It rules most of the West Bank legitimately through the PA and illegitimately with its provisional wing, the al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigade. Loyalty is haphazard at best, with the few powerful hogging all of the resources for their foreign bank accounts. Treachery and homicide for power, ambition, money, and revenge are common.

Some time ago, it had a major violent schism, and Hizbullah broke off and went to Lebanon, where it remains with its power base in the Paleo refugee camps, with external support from Iran and Syria, via Syria.

More recently, Hamas emerged as a second schism to Fatah and became the power base in the Gaza Strip. Most of its support comes through Egypt, from the Moslem Brotherhood, though officially this is discouraged. With the Israeli departure from the Strip, it is anticipated that Hizbullah will want to re-enter and seize power from Hamas, which is a high-risk maneuver, if it gives the Lebanese the opportunity to kick them out. This will also present Iran with an opportunity to import lots of agents into the Strip. There is also planned a "bridge" to connect Gaza to the West Bank via a road through the southern Sinai, giving Fatah a chance to involve itself in the melee.

The Paleos who live in refugee camps in Jordan are somewhat neutral, as though they outnumber the Jordanians, they both prefer living under Jordanian, rather than Paleo rule, and know that any troublemaking will be crushed by the Jordanian Bedouins.

The most recent twist to the big picture is a discreet agreement by Israel and the PA to re-open a hotel in Jerusalem known as the "Orient House". A crafty deal if there ever was one.

To explain: Jerusalem is divided into quarters, with the eastern quarter traditionally Arab, and is what the Paleos would think of as their potential "capitol". As a city, Jerusalem has long been divided down to the square inch (literally) by a bunch of religious factions, and any effort to buy, beg or steal someone else's square inches creates havoc, riots and lawsuits.

The Jews have gotten around this problem, that is, making Jerusalem fully under Jewish control, by encircling the eastern quarter with Jewish settlements, outside of the traditional city limits. Then, of course, these settlements have to have a wall built around them, to protect them from the West Bank. And this in effect cuts off the eastern quarter Paleos from the West Bank. Strong encouragement for them to leave the eastern quarter, and their property can then be bought by Jews.

Orient House (hotel), in the eastern quarter, however, has been traditionally owned by Paleos, and used as a diplomatic center for them. Sharon ordered them out of Orient House a while back, and by letting them return creates an interesting situation.

While the de facto capitol of the PA is Ramallah, in the West Bank, Mohammed Abbas, President of the PA, can claim a great victory, that is, "returning the capitol of the Paleos to Jerusalem". This would mean using Orient House as the de jure capitol.

He and the Paleos could then meet foreign dignitaries and sympathizers in Jerusalem. It also gives the PA the chance to enlarge their Jerusalem capitol by begging, borrowing or most likely stealing other Paleo buildings in the eastern quarter, to use as government buildings. Best of all, by being totally surrounded by Israel, they are protected from all of the other Paleo factions, in a high security area that doesn't cost them a dime.

The advantage of this as far as the Israelis are concerned is that Abbas could be cut off from the rest of the Paleos at a moment's notice, or could be kicked out of Orient House with great loss of face. It would also be a lot easier to steal buildings owned by the PA than by Israeli Arab citizens.

But all told, the advantages both to Abbas and to the Israelis are far greater than the costs. But they are still being discreet about the deal for the time being.

So right now, in the near future, we are looking at a proxy war between the powerful Sunni Egyptian Moslem Brotherhood supporting Hamas, and the Shiite Iranian backed Hizbullah over the Gaza Strip. If either side starts lobbing rockets over the wall, the Israelis say they will respond with considerable force, even a military incursion.

This could result in several things. For example, if it gets too unstable, the Egyptians could send in their military to regain control of the Strip, which used to be a protectorate of theirs. The Israelis would not object to this one bit, and have even suggested that the Egyptians should do it, and stay to administer the Paleos. The Egyptians have said they would prefer not to.

If the Lebanese decide to deport ("right of return") the Paleos in refugee camps in Lebanon, this will further destabilize Gaza big time. And Israel has also been in lots of talks with the Jordanians about what can be done with their Paleos. (No idea on that one, except the Jordanians have mysteriously offered many of the Paleo leaders expensive houses in Amman, if they wish to move there. ???)

So anyway, Abbas, Fatah and the PA are looking at two of their schismatic enemies soon to be at each others throats, and at least technically to have the Paleo capitol restored to Jerusalem, though real management would stay in Ramallah.

The wall has been very effective at stopping suicide attacks and if the Israelis continue to build it, over time they can utterly divorce themselves from the Paleos, have effective control over Jerusalem, and live in relative quiet.

Phase I, the departure of the Israelis from Gaza, is going on as we speak.

This should prove to be interesting.