ANTI ISRAEL FORCES TURN TO UNILATERALSIM: HEZBOLLAH AND HAMAS I. NEW ANTI-ZIONIST FORCES After Oslo, the chief anti-Zionist forces were groups which operated independently of the Arab government. The cost of the conflict was too high for the government. There were five ways in which these forces differed from its counterparts: 1. Until 2000, the chief non-state anti-Zionist force was the PLO. But now, two new organizations had replaced the PLO – the Hezbollah in Lebanon and Hamas in the West Bank and Gaza. 2. While Hamas, like the PLO was a Palestinian organization, Hezbollah was a Lebanese organization. Non-Palestinians were taking center stage for the first time. 3. For the first time a non-Arab state also became actively involved. Iran sponsored Hamas and Hezbollah. Under the Shah of Iran, Iran had defended Israel and the US, but now the new Islamist Republic was immensely hostile- called US the “great Satan” and Israel the “little Satan”. Reflected hostility but had genuine identification with the Palestinian cause. Shiite Iran wanted to overcome Shiite-Sunni differences and make itself a leader of the Muslim world. Shiites are only about 30% of Iran- there was a deep, ancient tension between Shiites and Sunnis. As long as this sectarian allegiance persists, Iran is always going to be isolated in the Muslim world. Iran argued that all Muslims should focus on their common enemies and unite against the US and Israel. In order to unite them behind its leadership, Iran sought every opportunity to kill peace negotiations which might support Israel. 4. The ideology of anti-Zionist forces changed. The Fatah movement and the Syrian Baathist government all followed secular ideologies. Along with western thinkers, secular Arabs assumed that political institutions derived from human __. In contrast, Hamas, Hezbollah and Iran based their vision on God’s plan for mankind. The Islamists reject secularism and liberalism, which, were all seen as western impositions and therefore culturally alien. They appealed to the poorest, least westernized sector of the population. There was a shift from secularism to Islamism. 5. The rise of Hamas produced an unprecedented split between it and Fatah in three ways- organizational, ideological and eventually territorial. This division exceeded anything in Palestinian nationalism. II. HEZBOLLAH’S RISE TO 2000 Hezbollah literally means “party of God” (Hezb+Allah). The organization arose among Shiite Muslims in Lebanon in the 1980s. In Lebanon, much like everywhere else, Shiites tended to be poorer and less politically powerful. They nurtured resentment against the Maronite Christians and the Sunni Muslims. They were originally a minority in Lebanon, but their population boosted during the 70s due to a high birth rate, making them one of the largest communities. This combination of historic resentment and their rapid population increase made the Hezbollah a destabilizing political force. After 1979, their self-confidence got a tremendous boost after the Arab movement. Iran is also a Shiite
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- Fall '11
- Hamas, Hezbollah