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Breaking Open Debate About Palestine and Hamas at a Community Event

Letter from a reader in the Northwest

Editors’ note: We found this letter interesting and insightful and we encourage our readers to write in with your experiences in the struggle to stop the genocide in Palestine

I went to a meeting of a pro-Palestinian group in my town, not knowing what to expect. There was to be a presentation by a Palestinian guy from another city. There were about 50 people, young and middle aged with a sprinkling of more senior citizens. I recognized a few people: a woman from the Gaza Flotilla who I met, briefly, in about 2014, and an anti-Zionist Israeli woman who led the fight—unsuccessful and at a high personal cost to her—to get Israeli goods out of a local grocery store and who came to a presentation I gave for a few friends about Palestine at our house. 

The official presentation was the Palestinian guy's personal history. It was open for questions and I wish I’d written them down to better remember the whole tenor, but the two statements from the presenter that got my attention were: Hamas are the good guys” because they had the support of 90 percent of the Palestinians, and that the right-wing Zionists would be sent back where they came from.”

My question was on Hamas and involved the following: Hamas is anti-women, anti-science and not a vehicle for Palestinian liberation; the fact that 90 percent supported them (I’m doubtful support is that high) doesn’t mean it’s true, 50 percent of the U.S. supports Trump, does that mean he’s 1/2 right?; Hamas isn’t ISIS but isn’t that where theocracy leads?; aside from all the b.s. and lies about rape, mutilation, etc., Hamas did murder civilians and take civilians hostage and these are war crimes (I obviously should have added the point that as horrible as these crimes were they don’t hold a candle to Zionist or U.S. crimes).

Some Basic Truths About the U.S.-Supported Israeli War Against Palestine, by Bob Avakian


The presenter acted a little shocked that I would criticize Hamas and mused over where I "got my information.” Then he nattered on about how Hamas was a social service organization that, again, had overwhelming support. He also didn’t believe that Hamas committed the war crimes and gave a very garbled description of what their mission” was. Not believing I’d be called upon again I shouted out, Would you want to live under Hamas?” When he said yes, I asked if his wife would want to live under their rule, to which he again answered yes. Then one of the facilitators said that he’d lived under Hamas rule when he headed up some UN school there and came to a rapprochement with them where they kept hands off. Then some woman said I had to decolonize my mind,” which I guess was a critique. There were definitely Hamas supporters in the room: they wiggled their fingers when Hamas’s name came up!

Afterwards it got more interesting. The anti-Zionist Israeli woman definitely wanted to get together, and her husband suggested several books I should read and texted me a bunch that evening. One very thoughtful younger guy thanked me for asking and said he had similar questions. The presenter didn’t want to shake my hand but there were others around and he felt he must, and I asked him what he meant when he said the right-wing Zionists would be sent back. I asked where? He said, Poland or wherever they come from.” I said they’ve been there for generations, and wasn’t sending them back where they came from like ethnic cleansing? He bristled at that and mumbled something about reeducation.

I’m sure I’ll follow up with some of the folks I met.

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