Disillusioned Arabs Looks at Gaza: ‘Disgusted’ With Hamas, Blame Iran

Disillusioned Arabs Looks at Gaza: ‘Disgusted’ With Hamas, Blame Iran

While much of the world watched in astonishment as gunmen from the rival Hamas and Fatah movements ripped through the streets of Gaza, terrifying civilians and tearing to shreds the myth of Palestinian unity, observers in Arab lands also found themselves mesmerized and horrified by what they saw. Among Arabs, the images packed a more visceral punch, leaving a sense of profound disillusionment.
After all, the West had always viewed Palestinians, with their armed gangs and suicide bombers, with a mix of fear, skepticism, and -- among some age groups and political persuasions -- a certain amount of admiration. Among Arabs, Palestinians have embodied a more romantic ideal. The Palestinian cause has always burned bright in Arab hearts. Those ubiquitous posters of young Palestinians, machine gun in hand, with the Golden Dome of East Jerusalem's Omar's Mosque over their shoulder, represented the aspirations of Arab pride redeemed, of nationalist dreams awakening to forge a new reality.

Commentators in the Arab media reported the implosion in the Palestinian territories and the horrible excesses on both sides with bitterness, sarcasm, and deep concern. The dominant newspapers used tones not unlike those of columnist Hussein Shobokshi in ASharq AlAwsat, who declared that the Palestinian leadership, "both Fatah and Hamas, has not only lost its political legitimacy; it has also lost its ethical and moral one." Recriminations came from across the globe. Hamas took the brunt of the criticism, but there was plenty to go around, as Ahmed Al-Rabei showed when he wrote in a sarcasm-drenched column, also in ASharq, "Many thanks to Hamas in Gaza, Fatah al Islam in the refugee camps and the Israeli Defense Forces (IDF) for their wonderful historical achievements!"

Many Arab observers noted with sadness how Palestinian gunmen tarnished what they view as an eminently just cause. And some, like Rami Khouri of Lebanon's Daily Star, were quick to blame not only the protagonists in the Gaza tragedy, but also key supporting players, such as Israel, the United States and Europe, for isolating Hamas. Khouri now predicts that the new strategy, isolating Hamas even more while embracing the West Bank government of Fatah's Mahmoud Abbas, "will turn the calamity into a full-blown catastrophe." The current approach, he said, will make Abbas even less credible, and will further radicalize Palestinians throughout the region.

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