Tomorrow’s “meeting” in the House of Lords with Khalid Meshaal is apparently not limited to “Parliamentarians”. Anybody can attend this meeting.
I very much hope that some of you will attend this public meeting, ask the questions that the Hamas supporters won’t be posing, and report back to us.
(I shall be going to watch “In The Loop” instead.)
Original article: 16.4.2008
I have received a nice invitation from Clare Short:
JOHN, LORD ALDERDICE
extends an invitation to Parliamentarians
TALK WITH HAMAS
At 6.30pm on 22 April 2009
in the Grimond Room, Portcullis House
Most serious commentators now believe that there can be no peace in the Middle East without talking to Hamas. In addition, we may be facing the last chance for a two state solution.
In 2006, Hamas won more than 65.2 per cent of the vote in the Palestinian parliamentary elections. Since then, Gaza has been besieged, boycotted and bombarded. There has been great human misery, but no progress and no improved security for anyone, including Israel, which is still the target of missiles.
Khalid Meshaal, Chief of the Political Bureau of Hamas will be available on a video link from Damascus. He will explain Hamas’s position and answer questions.
Office of Clare Short MP
House of Commons: 020 7219 4264/4148
The involvement of Lord Alderdice marks this out as a Conflicts Forum event.
The purpose of Conflicts Forum is to rehabilitate Hamas. They recognise the enormity of the task. The major problem that Hamas faces is that:
(a) They are a genocidal racist terrorist organisation which seeks to impose a regime on the Middle East in which women and non muslims will be subjected to a constitutionally entrenched apartheid, in which gays and religious dissenters will be executed, in which democracy will be subverted by theocracy, and in which fundamental human rights will be destroyed.
(b) They insist on telling anybody who will listen that this is what they want to achieve.
So, obviously, Conflicts Forum has its work cut out. Who would support engagement with such an organisation?
Their solution is twofold:
(a) Rebrand this political programme as ‘Resistance‘.
(b) Try to convince everybody who you can get to listen that Israel-Palestine is basically just like Northern Ireland, that Khalid Meshaal is Gerry Adams with a slightly thicker beard and accent, and that until the Good Friday Agreement, the IRA were working towards the creation of a Roman Catholic theocracy, complete with the Inquisition, and burnings at the stake, but we still managed to sort things out by compromising with them.
Here is Conflicts Forum programme for changing public perceptions of Hamas. I don’t think I’ve put it up on Harry’s Place before, but I strongly recommend you download it and read it in full. You’ll see a very frank and open discussion of precisely what Conflicts Forum has been up to for the last few years. Most people I’ve shown it to have been pretty shocked at its… well… brazenness.
Here’s a taster:
A subsidiary, but equally important, objective in seeking to invest Islamist concepts with a new significance and meaning was seen to be the shifting of Muslim discourse in the West from the defensive – arguing the right to wear hijab; or countering Islamophobia – to a positive assertion of values – albeit values expressed in words that will evoke recognition and a positive response from Western audiences.
Just as Sinn Fein in Ireland dropped the language of nationalist victim-hood in favour of formulations such as “Sinn Fein is in favour of peace … what’s wrong with that? And if you are in favour of peace too … what are you going to do about this?”; so, why not … “Islamists are in favour of reinstating the complete human being at the centre of society … what’s wrong with that? If you agree, what are you going to do about this?”; or… “Islamism seeks to place justice back on the political agenda … what’s wrong with that?”, etc.
Here is what Conflicts Forum is trying to do, in part by putting on this meeting at the Houses of Parliament.
The aim of this project is to explore the possibility of a link-up between activist groups and mobilisers of opinion in order to shift the debate on Islamism from a predominantly defensive posture to a positive assertion of Islamist values and thinking. One aspect of this has been to develop ways to challenge the defamation and distortion of Islamist identity that has arisen as a result of framing the debate on Islamism in the West with the language of ‘terrorism’, ‘hostility towards modernity’, ‘cultural backwardness’ and ‘hatred of Western values’. Language has been deployed in this way not to inform or communicate. It is language misused as a tool of power and domination in order weaken Islamist identity and to present it as something repellent, irrational and threatening to the West.
The secondary purpose of the use of such language in the West is to erase the intellectual content of Islamist thinking in its challenges to modernism and contemporary Western society that has sought to provide another vision for the global future based on reason and the philosophical traditions of Islam.
Little of this Islamist intellectual challenge is heard in the West however as the public discourse suggests that there is no intellectual Islamist case to hear – Islamists are parodied as irrational luddites fighting against the inevitable march of progress and modernity, in a futile attempt to shape society in the mould of seventh century Arabia.
Secondly, the Islamist intellectual response is rarely heard in the West because its metaphors, its iconography and its category of reasoning, as presently formulated, find little resonance in secular societies. It simply does not generate the ‘oh, I get it now!’ response from audiences.
This is specifically what they’re trying to do:
We need to construct a different dialogue, reframe language, political philosophy and concepts – new language as starting place? We need to think critically how the West can learn from the values and the notion of society that Hezbollah and Hamas have at the centre of their philosophy – how can we re-formulate Islamist thoughts and ideas in a way that will resonate with people in the West who see shortcomings in their own society?
We need to think not just about changing words used, but to think critically about the significance and meaning of words and concepts – need to develop appropriate metaphors for Islamism that will work in the West and then focus on coming up with new terminology and an alternative narrative and language.
Resistance movements need solidarity movements to put the message across – therefore we need to build links between the different movements and groups. The weakness and failure to do this leads to the focus being predominantly on these movements’ armed resistance capacities whilst ignoring or having a complete lack of awareness of mainstream Islamist movements’ wider social, political and cultural agendas.
Examine how and why Western violence is made invisible whereas violence practiced by others is labelled as terrorists and criminal – and to develop slogans and statements to rebut current terminology on this in the West.
“We are against terrorism but we are also against state terrorism”
Need to make visible, articulation of Hamas’ and Hezbollah’s values, philosophy and wider political and social programmes – for example, being more proactive in statements and re-phrasing discourse to focus on the positive aspects of Islamist ideology.
“Muslims now view Islam as the principal element defining their futures – what is wrong with this?”
“Islamists are in favour of putting justice at the centre of politics – what is wrong with this?”
“Islamists are in favour of global democracy and reject ‘special rights’ claimed by some states”.
“Islamists want to shape their own future; they are breaking past patterns of subservience and domination, and developing a new vision for their societies and communities”
“Islamists believe that economic progress and economic markets should not be at the expense of family, country and social structure – what is wrong with this?”
We need to develop language and slogans that we pro- XXX and not always anti- XXX.
Need to make this project transcultural – and the need to work with mainstream Islamist movements to feed ideas for a new discourse and language into their language and media as well as taking a lead from their ideas.
Suggested use of the concept of apartheid more explicitly – and linked to this, the concept of racism and institutionalised racism – with a focus on deploying this in a more aggressive fashion.
The “peace process industry” and its associated discourse has caused major problems for activist movements – We need to expose the terminology and discourse of the ‘peace process industry’ – to expose its inherent racism, neo-colonialism and the fact that it seeks to camouflage underlying Western domination.
Need to legitimise the concept of ‘resistance’ and an occupied people’s right to resist – as is enshrined in international law. We need to expose the discourse against resistance for what it is – resistance is always delegitimised.
… there’s much more.
And here is how they’ve been doing it:
Use independent base of media, academics to articulate and disseminate a new narrative/discourse – and identify how to co-ordinate/create links between people who are currently working alone on similar issues by effecting introductions and connections.
Look at how the West uses means to reach the masses – Hollywood – think of means of
Use influential individuals – key Muslim personalities e.g. Djab Abu Jajah; Salma Yacoub – use the internet, dvd, interviews, podcasts; get people like Professor John Gray involved
Link with mass organisations in western countries – social movements, trade unions – to challenge hegemonic discourse.
Approach editors of established journals – e.g. Race and Class, Granta, New Statesman – with a view to the possibility of them doing a special issue on Islamist thinking or on particular issues.
Think about utilising visual messages e.g. posters, video conferencing, DVDs, you tube etc.
Campaign using key symbol – stencil graffiti campaign.
Unfortunately, it looks very much to me as if this meeting is open only to ‘Parliamentarians’. I think that excludes bloggers and their readership.
Nevertheless, you could mail this invitation to your own Member of Parliament, and encourage them to ask Khalid Meshaal a few questions.
1. Hamas members signed the Istanbul Declaration, which contained the following resolutions:
7. The obligation of the Islamic Nation to regard everyone standing with the Zionist entity, whether countries, institutions or individuals, as providing a substantial contribution to the crimes and brutality of this entity; the position towards him is the same as towards this usurping entity.
8. The obligation of the Islamic Nation to regard the sending of foreign warships into Muslim waters, claiming to control the borders and prevent the smuggling of arms to Gaza, as a declaration of war, a new occupation, sinful aggression, and a clear violation of the sovereignty of the Nation. This must be rejected and fought by all
means and ways.
In January 2009, Hamas leader Mahmoud Zahar said:
“They have legitimised the murder of their own children by killing the children of Palestine…They have legitimised the killing of their people all over the world by killing our people.”
Can Khalid Meshaal tell us when precisely these actions are to be taken against British citizens, so that they can prepare themselves by getting bombproof glass fitted.
2. Can Khalid Meshaal confirm that, Mahmoud al-Zahar has declared, Hamas “will not change a single word in its covenant”?
In which case, in relation to the Hamas Covenant, can he explain:
(a) Whether they believe that God will allow them to reach a permanent peace with Israel, and a repeal of the following provision:
The Islamic Resistance Movement believes that the land of Palestine is an Islamic Waqf consecrated for future Moslem generations until Judgement Day. It, or any part of it, should not be squandered: it, or any part of it, should not be given up. Neither a single Arab country nor all Arab countries, neither any king or president, nor all the kings and presidents, neither any organization nor all of them, be they Palestinian or Arab, possess the right to do that. Palestine is an Islamic Waqf land consecrated for Moslem generations until Judgement Day. This being so, who could claim to have the right to represent Moslem generations till Judgement Day?
(b) With respect to the following passage, who precisely is “They”?
For a long time, the enemies have been planning, skillfully and with precision, for the achievement of what they have attained. They took into consideration the causes affecting the current of events. They strived to amass great and substantive material wealth which they devoted to the realisation of their dream. With their money, they took control of the world media, news agencies, the press, publishing houses, broadcasting stations, and others. With their money they stirred revolutions in various parts of the world with the purpose of achieving their interests and reaping the fruit therein. They were behind the French Revolution, the Communist revolution and most of the revolutions we heard and hear about, here and there. With their money they formed secret societies, such as Freemasons, Rotary Clubs, the Lions and others in different parts of the world for the purpose of sabotaging societies and achieving Zionist interests. With their money they were able to control imperialistic countries and instigate them to colonize many countries in order to enable them to exploit their resources and spread corruption there.
You may speak as much as you want about regional and world wars. They were behind World War I, when they were able to destroy the Islamic Caliphate, making financial gains and controlling resources. They obtained the Balfour Declaration, formed the League of Nations through which they could rule the world. They were behind World War II, through which they made huge financial gains by trading in armaments, and paved the way for the establishment of their state. It was they who instigated the replacement of the League of Nations with the United Nations and the Security Council to enable them to rule the world through them. There is no war going on anywhere, without having their finger in it.
3. Would Hamas ban Page 3 of the Sun? Would Clare Short be permitted to forgo the hijab?
Let me know if your Member of Parliament agrees to go. And let me know whether they manage to ask these, or any other important questions of the big feller.
And feel free to suggest a few more yourself.