The Brotherhood and the Gaza Crisis
|Thursday, January 29,2009 23:21|
|By Khalil Al-Anani|
Despite the fact that the Palestinian cause is pivotal in the discourse of violent and moderate Islamist movements, their discourse is not too different from that of the official Arab elite. This fact came across very clearly during Israel’s war on the Gaza Strip.
Overall, the Islamists’ attitude towards the Gaza massacres was like other political trends such as the nationalists and leftists: spontaneous reactions reflecting an inability to turn Israel"s "barbarism" against Palestinian civilians into a global issue that can garner the same degree of attention the Jews received for the Nazi Holocaust.
Moreover, many Islamists, especially those belonging to the Muslim Brotherhood, committed the same mistakes made by the Palestinian Islamic Resistance Movement Hamas, that is, they were incapable of addressing or convincing global public opinion of their just cause on the one hand, and of the brutality of the Israeli occupation on the other. We never even felt any active and organized Islamic move to build bridges with international organizations concerned with human rights and issues with humanitarian dimensions.
On the contrary, the Islamists" positions were identified with that of Hamas throughout the war, not only through the adoption of the resistance option, regardless of casualties, but also in terms of the miscalculation and misunderstanding of the regional and international game.
Many of these movements placed their position on the conflict on regional axes, even if it contradicted with the national interests of their own countries.
This was evident in the position of the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt, which seemed to be moving in the opposite direction as the Egyptian regime, harshly attacking and accusing the country of complicity in the Gaza crisis, criticizing Egypt"s ceasefire initiative, demanding the adoption of the Doha Summit resolutions (a summit in which Egypt refused to participate) rejecting the resolutions of Sharm El-Sheikh Summit, and staging mass demonstrations to exert pressure on the regime and demand it open the Rafah crossing.
The dilemma of the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt is that it still adopts the mentality of its founder Hassan Al-Banna, which was rooted in its confrontation with the West and the United States regardless of the circumstances and the passage of time.
During Brotherhood protests condemning the Gaza war, the group not only aimed to show support for Hamas but also to embarrass the Egyptian regime before public opinion to avenge its repressive policies towards the group over the last two years.
The group would have done better to make a distinction between its conflict with the regime and its attempt to blackmail it over the Gaza issue on the one hand, and Egyptian national interests, which must rise above partisan differences, on the other.
I see no justification for the group"s attack on the regime except from two perspectives: either the group is either part of a regional Iran-led game against Egypt; or it does not understand the nature of the game and it was roped into it unconsciously.
This is a disaster. In both cases, the group is responsible before its members and Egyptian society for what it has displayed over the past three weeks.
Even young reformists within the group disapprove of what it has done and have had reservations about Hamas’s strategy in the conflict with Israel. Some of the ones I’ve spoken to say that they have not adopted the same vision of their leaders.
It is surprising that the group has not staged similar protests to demand political reform, or mobilized public opinion against the government regarding the regime"s authoritarian policies. This is the dilemma of the political thought of the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt.
Khalil Al-Anani is an Egyptian expert on political Islam and democratization in the Middle East and is a senior fellow at Al-Ahram Foundation. E-mail: [email protected].