This commentary was published in Asharq al-Awsat on 10/05/2011
In an interview with our newspaper (Aharq al-Awsat), Khaled Mishal, Chairman of the Hamas Political Bureau, coined new definitions for the concepts of "objectionism" and "moderation". These two terms have been passed around intensively over the past five years, and have been used as a weapon to discredit reputations in the region, both states and individuals alike.
In the interview, Khaled Mishal, who is currently in Cairo, said that he looked forward to the end of division of the Arab world into moderate states and objectionist states, adding: "what I want is for the entire Arab nation to show positive moderation and openness to the world, but at the same time not neglect the forces of resistance. What I mean simply is that we arrive at a new political map in the region, and everyone is united in the same trench, standing together to come up with unified decisions to reflect the success of the Arabs, in domestic and foreign policy".
Well, let us believe Mishal, even if only this once, as the intention here is not to attack him. Yet Khaled Mishal's interview contradicts everything that has been said by Mishal himself in the past, as well as his associates and other advocates of the so-called "axis of objectionists". They attacked those who supported moderation, despite the fact that moderation is the basis of everything, and not a form of working as agents of others or betrayal as they used to say, especially those who called for objection and resistance. These people did not prevent anything except change, and that is the basis of life. They did not resist anything except their own people, and this is what we have seen over the past five years. We see Mishal today at the forefront, especially in Syria, and we saw him the day Hezbollah turned its weapons on the Lebanese people.
Thus, although we will believe Mishal this once, this is not easy, especially as his "moderation" comes when Syria is weakening, Gaddafi is at breaking point, and a crack has occurred in Iran between the religious leader and the Iranian President. Mishal's words about positive moderation should mean that our states no longer come behind militias, groups and parties. Rather the state – even if it is a proposed state such as Palestine – is bigger than anybody who is speaking in its name, taking individual positions, and distorting and destroying the concept and prestige of leadership. Leadership is not about authoritarianism, but discipline. We saw this in Lebanon, the day that Iranian-backed Hezbollah decided to drag the country into a war based upon Iranian considerations, rather than Lebanese considerations. We also saw this from Hamas, when it brought misfortune upon Gaza, not for the first time or the last. We have never heard of any coup d'état taking place under occupation, except for that carried out by Hamas, and until now we do know what possible benefit was had from the recent Gaza war. At the time, I wrote an article entitled "The blood of Gaza…A business venture" [28/12/2008] in which I criticized and insulted Hamas [for precipitating the Gaza War], and was accused of treachery for this.
Mishal today is not just moderate, but a member of this "axis of moderation", in other words, he believes in this self-coined concept of "positive moderation." If Mishal is sincere in his moderation, then such moderation has certain conditions. Firstly, it involves discipline, rather than "gambling" or "misadventure", as well as not falling into the arms of Iran once again. Mishal must remember that the unlawful marriage between Hamas and Iran has resulted in offshoots, and what will Mishal do with them now?
As I said, we will try to believe Khaled Mishal, but his task is to prove what he has said, and the road is long.