Monday, 10 March 2008

Inside Hamas

Massively off topic but I finally got around to watching the Channel 4 programme Inside Hamas last night, having recorded it a few weeks back. I was interested to find out a bit more about what Hamas is like in power. Unfortunately I am not convinced that this was a great exploration of the issues concerned.

The central message was pretty simple - Hamas is having a lot of trouble transitioning from an armed resistance movement to an administering party in government. This transition includes Hamas politicos having to decide how tolerant they want to be of political opponents, and there was quite a bit of footage of Hamas security beating up Fatah supporters and harrassing other critical voices (like unemployed Palestinian workers).

There were a couple of interesting interviews. One was with a demonstrator who was beaten by Hamas security. Afterwards he explained that all his family were Hamas supporters and had urged him join, but had decided to join Fatah instead. The other was with the mother of a Hamas "martyr" who said the movement kept asking for more sacrifices, but never got any results. This seemed to be message two - the Palestinian population is turning against the Hamas government.

But after watching the programme I feel little more informed. My limited knowledge of Hamas is that they built up support amongst the local population in part because they provide welfare schemes, in addition to attacking Isrealis. Surely then they do have administative experience, and are not simply the fighters-turned-politicos portrayed. In addition the Hamas election victory was widely interpreted as being in part due to the fact that Fatah was regarded by many voters as corrupt. So if people are now fed up with Hamas are they turning back to Fatah, or looking elsewhere? It wasn't made at all clear.

So overall the programme came across as a simply negative snapshot of Hamas in power. Maybe that is enough, and certainly I am sympathetic to the views expressed. But I think it was a bit of a missed opportunity to explain what is really going on.

No comments: