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Parties of the Same God - Finding Commonality between Hezbollah and Hamas - Neil Hilton

Parties of the Same God - Finding Commonality between Hezbollah and Hamas - Neil Hilton

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Published by Political Islamism
The author attempts to draw on common goals, methods and ideologies to compare the Sunni Islamists of Hamas and the Shi'ite Islamists of Hezbollah.
The author attempts to draw on common goals, methods and ideologies to compare the Sunni Islamists of Hamas and the Shi'ite Islamists of Hezbollah.

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Categories:Types, Research, History
Published by: Political Islamism on Mar 02, 2010
Copyright:Attribution Non-commercial


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 Neil HiltonPSPA 296Professor Farid el KhazenMay 27, 2009
Parties of the Same God: Finding Commonality BetweenHezbollah and Hamas
Political scientists and theologians alike are continuously attempting to understand the background, methods, and role of political Islam in the Middle East. This phenomenon has been studiedextensively since the formation of the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt in the 1920s and before, but manystill fail to understand modern groups. The most prominent of these organizations in modern politicaldiscourse and global events are Hezbollah and Hamas. This paper will demonstrate that the two have onekey fundamental difference in their operational framework, but are otherwise remarkably alike. Byexamining separately their origins, mission statements compared to recent proclamations, tactics andsocial participation, and then looking into their current situations, we can attempt to understand moreabout these groups that are still enigmatic to many despite their prominence in daily news.Hezbollah’s secretary-general, Hassan Nasrallah, stated in a 1996 interview that “The
raison d ´etre
for [Hizbollah’s] formation was the [Israeli] occupation…Jerusalem and Palestine was on our minds,culture, thoughts and conscience. But Palestine had been occupied and Hizbollah had not been formed.What led to Hizbollah’s inception was the invasion of Lebanon in 1982”
In June of that year, the IsraeliDefense Forces first occupied southern Lebanon, then pushed north to fully enter the fray that was theLebanese Civil War. Over the next three years, members of the Amal militia and other militant Shiagroups coalesced into a faction that was “neither East nor West,” acting as an anti-imperialist force basedoff of the example provided by the Iranian Revolution of 1979. It wasn’t until 1985 that a cohesive
“Interview with Nasrallah.”
The Middle East Insight.
May-August 1996. Pg. 38.
organization named Hezbollah became a noticeable force in the violence across Lebanon.
Hezbollah wasthen and remains today a Lebanese national group. As will be discussed, it exists within the framework of the Lebanese Republic as a legal political party that participates in the confessionalist parliamentarygovernment. This is what differentiates it most from Hamas.Hezbollah’s “charter” lays out an interesting introduction to who the organization is composed of as well as what its goals are. Citing Ayatollah Khomeini as their sole leader, Sheik Ibrahim al-Amin wrotean “open letter to the Downtrodden in Lebanon and in the World” in 1985 that is today considered moreor less the founding document of the organization. The letter makes a mixture of moderate and extremistclaims. On one hand, the letter stresses that its authors
want all the oppressed to be able to study the divine message in order to bring justice, peace and tranquility to the world. This is why we don't want to imposeIslam upon anybody, as much as we [oppose] others that impose upon us their convictions and their political systems. We don't want Islam to reign in Lebanon by force as is the case with the Maronites today.
Furthermore, it stresses the commonality that all oppressed peoples have, Muslim and otherwise,and tells the Christian community that their “fears are unjustified” in relation to Shia retaliationfor crimes committed. Simultaneously, though, al-Amin makes it clear that military action will be an essential part of their movement. Defensive jihad is openly called for in order to realize thegoals of the organization.
 Additionally, he and his colleagues include some harsh vitriol directedtowards the West—“We combat abomination and we shall tear out its very roots, its primaryroots, which are the US.” The document goes on to make clear Hezbollah’s commitment to thedestruction of Israel by stating that “our struggle will end only when this entity is obliterated. We
Norton, Augustus Richard.
 Hezbollah: A Short History
. Princeton: Princeton University Press, 2007. Pg 36-38.
 An Open Letter: The Hizbullah Program. 1985.
Qassem, Naim.
 Hizbullah: The Story from Within
. Beirut: Saqi Books, 2005.
recognize no treaty with it, no cease fire, and no peace agreements, whether separate or consolidated.”
More recently, however, Hezbollah has been forced to compromise some of what could beinterpreted as its basic tenets. It has existed in a state of off-and-on conflict with Israel since the IDF pulled out of southern Lebanon in 2000, punctuated by short wars or incursions and periods of cease fires.A series of “understandings,” written or not, have been agreed upon by the two parties, such as those thatended Israel’s 1993 Operation Accountability invasion, or the 1996 Grapes of Wrath Understanding.During the 2006 July War, which will be discussed in slightly more detail later, Hezbollah officials werethe ones to request an unconditional ceasefire.
 That war was ended with UN Resolution 1701 and aninternationally-brokered ceasefire between Israel and Hezbollah, including mediation from the UnitedStates. The party refuses to use such terminology, but in effect it presently advocates for a two-statesolution to the issue of Palestinian sovereignty—as long as it can do so without officially recognizingIsrael’s right to exist.
This contradiction obviously makes their goal difficult to achieve, but it is at leastmore judicious and cogent than a policy of continual war with no possibility for peace. Also, it has beenwidely reported that Hassan Nasrallah himself admitted that an Islamic state in Lebanon would probablynever happen, and the party has made little note of that goal recently.
In fact, Hezbollah favors a moresecular state, as spiritual leader Sayyed Fadlallah stated as far back as 1998 that “the sectarian system bars the feeling of national unity" and leads to “short-sighted policies merely aimed at consolidating the powerbases for the governing elites and their client networks.”
"Hezbollah wants an unconditional ceasefire,"
17 July 2006. 18 May 2009.<http://www.ctv.ca/servlet/ArticleNews/story/CTVNews/20060716/mideast_template_060717/20060717? >.
Dilanian. Ken. "Iran: 2-state solution possible,"
USA Today
27 April 2009. 20 May 2009.<http://www.usatoday.com/news/world/2009-04-26-iran-us_N.htm>.
Shatz, Adam. "In Search of Hezbollah."
The New York Times Book Review
Vol. 54 No. 7. 31 March 2004. 20 May2009. <http://www.nybooks.com/articles/17060>.
Fadlallah, Sayyed. Personal interview with Mats Wärn. 8 June 1998.

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