«Lisa van der Hulst lisavanderhulst s0914959 MA Thesis International Studies Prof. mr. dr. Berger January 2015 10380 words Table of Contents ...»
Resistance An answer to the question that Knio’s work evokes (why Hezbollah wants a status quo and how this connects to Hezbollah’s relation to Iran and Syria) is resistance as a binding and key element in the identities of Hamas and Hezbollah. Whereas Knio only highlights resistance against Western interference as an excuse by Nasrallah to block an international tribunal and to paralyze national politics20, El Husseini21 and Sadiki22 adopt more of an insider view. This is relevant to my research in which the ways Hezbollah and Hamas present themselves is more relevant than how outsiders profile them, as this self-identification influences how they see each other.
Both organizations refer to their own identity as being muqāwama. This means resistance, opposition, fight, firmness.23 Hezbollah’s resistance is directed against imperialism in the Middle-East;
Hamas’ resistance specifically targets the colonization of Palestine. Hezbollah perceives Israel and the United States as contemporary imperial powers that need to be opposed. It might therefore be possible that Hezbollah is more keen to back Assad in order to counter Western powers who want to intervene in Syria and thereby maybe try to enlarge Western influence in the region. According to Sadiki we should treat resistance against imperialism as the main characteristic of Hezbollah’s and Hamas’ identity, from the time of their formation.24 This does not mean that Hezbollah did not go through the three phases that Knio mentioned: resistance can be expressed in different ways. When Lebanon was occupied, liberating Lebanon was its priority; now that the border is restored, Hezbollah can afford to focus on the liberation of Palestine.
The notion of muqāwama for Hamas and Hezbollah however means more than just resistance against Israel; they have created a culture of resistance (thaqāfat al-muqāwama) which comprises disobedience and boycott of the unjust world order.25 As Nasrallah puts it, resistance is
20 Knio 2013:867,869.21 2010.22 2010.23 Wehr 1979:937.24 Sadiki 2010:357-60.25 Shaykh Qasim in Shamsuddin (1998):5.
7 ‘not only a hand that bears the rifle and a finger that pulls the trigger. Resistance is a complete organism with a thinking brain, eyes, veins, ears that listen, a tongue that utters, and a heart filled with affection or full of anger.’26 This culture implies total civil resistance27, so it is not just for armed militias. Resistance, nationalism and Islam are all linked together in the ethos of resistance.
Resistance for Hezbollah is an order by God, and in Qur’ān V: 56 it was revealed that ‘Those who ally themselves with God and His Messenger and the believers must know that God’s Party [Hizb Allah] is sure to triumph.’ In line with Shia ideological tradition Hezbollah also regularly invokes the tragedy of Karbala and Hussein’s martyrdom in the context of self-sacrifice for the sake of resistance.28 So resistance is part of Hezbollah’s theological doctrine.
Also Hamas’ resistance is informed by a normative, religious imaginary. Freedom through self-sacrifice is an Islamic belief that Hamas’ muqāwimūn can hold on to. As Usama Hamdan, Hamas
representative in Lebanon, says:
‘The Muqawim, or resistant, defies the stereotype [of] creatures soaked in blood and gore, some kind of bloodthirsty ‘ghouls’ lurking to massacre Jews, crusaders and Westerners… He or she are ordinary human beings not motivated by hatred or violence. They are motivated by love of God, community and the quest for freedom from colonialism.’29 Therefore, although fed by different religious sources, Hamas’ and Hezbollah’s ideologies have evolved into the same culture of resistance. The identity of resistance does not make the organizations less Islamist; Islamism and resistance are compatible and intertwined to the extent that one cannot differentiate between them.
Furthermore, the ethos of resistance transgresses the national space, as both Hamas and Hezbollah are non-state actors and therefore not the sovereign over a certain territory. In the absence of sovereignty, Occupied Territories like Palestine, Iraq and in 2011 Syria became an extended homeland for Hezbollah,30 united by the need for resistance against the foreign oppressor. Nasrallah argued that this responsibility is reciprocal.
‘We carry a responsibility towards them; we bear this responsibility towards their liberation in reciprocity to their wish for us to be free, and towards their dignity just as they wanted ours to be intact… This in earnest is part and parcel of the ethos of resistance’.31 This border-crossing unity also transgresses religious sect. Lebanese ayatollah Shamsuddin applies the
typically Shiite Karbala’s meaning to all Islamic resistance:
‘Karbala does not concern the Shiites alone. Hussayn’s revolution, sacrifice and martyrdom are articles [of faith] that represent in the Islamic conscience the apex of self-sacrifice for the [greater] sake of Islam and humankind.’32 26 Nasrallah, Keynote speech as quoted by Sadiki 2010:359.
27 Coined by Muhammad Mahdi Shamsuddin, Lebanese ayatollah and scholar.
28 Shamsuddin (1998):7.
29 Interview with Usama Hamdan, Sadiki 2010:359.
30 Sadiki 2010:364.
31 Nasrallah,‘First Radwan [Pleasing of God] Anniversary Speech’, quoted by Sadiki 2010:364.
32 Shamsuddin (1998):362.
8 Hence, there seems to exist an ’umma-like Islamic solidarity between Hamas and Hezbollah according to the literature that describes them largely from the inside and this goes directly against the hypothesis that the Middle-East is divided by a Shia/Sunni axis. The connectedness between Hamas and Hezbollah appears to go so deep, that it seems different opinions on the Syrian civil war would not divide them.
Method In this research I will test the hypothesis that Hamas’ and Hezbollah’s perceptions of each other have deteriorated as a result of the Syrian civil war. To this end I will do two kinds of analysis: on the one hand a discourse analysis of publications by Hamas and Hezbollah members, and on the other hand an analysis of the decision-making process within Hamas to explain how and why the organization decided to support the Syrian opposition. Hamas’ behavior is at any rate anomalous in the neorealist perspective, as it needed almost a year to decide which side of the balance of power it would join.
In order to be able to analyze pieces of Hamas’ and Hezbollah’s discourse, I will look for references the organizations make to each other as signs of their degree of interconnectedness. These references can be traced through the anthropological concepts of narrative and representation.
Representations consist of names and metaphors; nouns and adjectives that one chooses to describe one another. Narratives are the stories one chooses to tell and the stories one chooses not to tell about the other.
In order to operationalize interconnectedness between organizations accurately, I want to distinguish between different categories. A thorough look at the literature and some newspaper articles on Hamas-Hezbollah relations made me expect to find three types.
Three types of interconnectedness The most obvious form of interconnection is perceivable contact. A representative did or did not pay a visit to the other group; the groups did or did not fight each other, etcetera.
A spiritual interconnection cannot be perceived from the outside and therefore needs an operationalization. In order to measure a spiritual connection between two groups, one needs to take into account a group’s self-identity. Although I will not try to get involved in theoretical discussions in the domain of psychology, the difference between collective and transcendental self-identity may be helpful. Collective self-identity arises from intergroup comparisons: one can prefer a certain group when compared to other groups in some situation. A spiritual interconnection results from a transcendental self-identity, that integrates the self and others into a ‘coherent wholeness’ that transcends the categories of ‘us’ and ‘them’. ‘At this highest level of spirituality, an individual has the widest and the most inclusive self-identity and defines the self and others in a “God’s eye view”.’33 Whereas empathy and compassion are the result of emotions, spiritual interconnection goes beyond emotions and is therefore more permanent. So whereas collective interconnectedness is a variable relation that depends on comparisons to outsiders, transcendental interconnectedness is a more or less permanent conviction that the two organizations belong together before God.
33 Liu&Robertson 2011:37.
10 Finally, two organizations can be connected through the degree in which they resemble each other. Although this study is not about whether Hamas and Hezbollah are social movements, social movement theory can in this case indicate how identical the two movements are. A social movement by definition tries to alter a certain norm that it considers problematic.34 In social movements theory reaching the goal consists of three phases: identifying the (sources of) the problem; designing a solution; and dealing with the consequences of this solution.35 Therefore I will search for narratives and representations signaling these three phases for both organizations and compare them.
In conclusion, my data are narratives and representations that signal (the absence of) direct, physical cooperation; a deeper spiritual interconnection and mutual understanding by resembling each other or being in the same situation. Each of these can be present or absent in a different intensity, as indicated in Fig. 1. Using these three types of interconnection will help me categorize the references to each other, but this does not exclude the possibility that I will encounter other, perhaps more important types of connectedness. Therefore I will use them as a tool but I will not anxiously hold on to them.
Fig. 1: Model for mapping representations and narratives.
Legend Colleagues: friendly physical contact, like gatherings, dinners, phone calls, invitations etc.
Allies: physical contact that shows one is ready to make sacrifices for the other, like providing military training, financial support and providing goods, fighting alongside the other.
Indifference/autonomy: denying physical contact; or stressing autonomy or insignificance of contact.
Interrupting physical cooperation: signs of consciously avoiding the other or even physical violence.
Collective self-identity: seeing the other as part of the self in relation to other groups, but not necessarily eternally. It can be the result pragmatism, so it could change as a result of a major difference of opinion like supporting different sides in a war.
34 Touraine 1985.
35 Fuller&Myers 1942, Blumer 1971, Mauss 1975:57-70, and Spector&Kitsuse 1977.
11 Transcendental self-identity: seeing the other as eternally part of the self in relation to other groups and before God, for example signs that the other fulfills a role in one’s divine cosmology, that one believes his fate is connected to the other, that one believes it is God’s will that they be connected, etc.
No spiritual connection: signs that the other does not have a special place in one’s self-identity.
Spiritually inspired hate: contradicting divine cosmologies; that one believes it is their fate or God’s will to be opposed to each other, etc.
Mutual understanding: understanding or respecting the other’s view, but not necessarily empathizing with the other.
Sameness: having the same characteristics or ideology, so that it empathizing with the other is not difficult.
Being/becoming different: having different characteristics or views or ideologies, or developing these over time.
Incomprehensibility: having different characteristics or ideologies, to the extent that it is no longer possible to respect the other’s view.
Sources For my discourse analysis I need primary sources in particular. I selected articles, speeches and interviews that have been published from 2008 onwards in which the organizations refer to either
- each other
- their position on the Syrian War
- in the case of Hamas: its relation to Iran, Egypt or Qatar
- broader ideas about connectedness to others Written and oral publications by Hamas and Hezbollah can be found on the official websites of the organizations, their Youtube and TV channels and their Twitter accounts. Hezbollah operates different media channels: al-Manar (www.almanar.com.lb); Electronic Resistance (www.electronicresistance.net) and the Electronic Resistance TV and Youtube Channel. Iranian channel Press TV and Shia TV also broadcast speeches by Nasrallah.
Hamas owns different websites as well: www.hamasinfo.net, www.alqassam.ps by its military wing, and www.islah.ps by its parliamentary bloc Change and Reform. The publications are numbered A1A19 for Hezbollah and B1-B14 for Hamas.
Incidentally other news agencies also publish interviews with and quotes of Hamas and Hezbollah officials. These secondary sources are labeled A-H.
Because my data contain original texts and their translations with the signal words and their interpretations, I put these in the appendix.