Friday, July 24, 2009

Hamas Hippies: Shift From Rockets to Public Relations

From The New York Times, July 24, 2009, by ETHAN BRONNER:

(cartoon from the Cox & Forkum archives)
...Hamas has suspended its use of rockets and shifted focus to winning support at home and abroad through cultural initiatives and public relations.

The aim is to build what leaders here call a “culture of resistance,” the topic of a recent two-day conference. In recent days, a play has been staged, a movie premiered, an art exhibit mounted, a book of poems published and a television series begun, most of it state-sponsored and all focused on the plight of Palestinians in Gaza. There are plans for a documentary competition.

“Armed resistance is still important and legitimate, but we have a new emphasis on cultural resistance,” noted Ayman Taha, a Hamas leader and former fighter. “The current situation required a stoppage of rockets. After the war, the fighters needed a break and the people needed a break.”

...Increasingly, people here are questioning the value of the rockets, not because they hit civilians but because they are seen as relatively ineffective. “What did the rockets do for us? Nothing,” Mona Abdelaziz, a 36-year-old lawyer, said in a typical street interview here.

How long Hamas will hold its fire and whether it will obtain longer-range missiles — which it says it is seeking — remain unclear. But the shift in policy is evident. In June, a total of two rockets were fired from Gaza, according to the Israeli military, one of the lowest monthly tallies since the firing began in 2002...
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