January 5, 2009:
The current fighting between Hamas and Israel is only big news because the Israelis are trying to defend themselves. Months of Hamas rocket attacks on Israel, or years of Palestinian terrorist attacks inside Israel, were not news. But this time around it's different. In the past, the Palestinian terrorists were given a pass, because the media in the Moslem world, and many parts of the West, consider the Palestinians victims of Israeli aggression and, therefore, victims no matter what they do. But this time around, it's different. Many Arab governments are openly criticizing Hamas for bringing on the Israeli offensive. Even public opinion in the Arab world is hostile to Hamas, and not as sympathetic to their plight as during past Israeli military operations.
Hamas appears to have used up all its "victim" cred due to their long history of aggression, and unwillingness to negotiate in good (or any) faith. This all began back in 1994-96, when Hamas suicide bomb attacks inside Israel derailed peace negotiations with the Palestinians, and began turning Israeli public opinion against the idea of a peace deal with the Palestinians. Then, in 2000, when a peace deal seemed at hand, Hamas took the lead in launching a massive campaign of terrorist attacks on Israel. These were defeated after a few years, as Israel developed new tactics that kept the terrorists out of Israel. But not before Hamas carried out about 70 percent of 150 suicide bombings that killed a thousand Israelis (mostly civilians, although Hamas didn't care who they killed, even if they were Arabs, as long as it was inside Israel.)
For many Arabs, the line was crossed in 2007, when Hamas launched an attack on its Fatah rivals in Gaza. Nearly 200 Fatah members were killed. In the past, Fatah and Hamas would arrest each others people for a few days. But deliberately killing rivals was considered something only the Israelis did.
Finally, Hamas angered the majority of moderate (culturally) Arabs by attempting to impose lifestyle rules on Palestinians. This was done in the name of Islam, a Hamas effort to impose their vision of how a Moslem should live. While this plays well in places like Saudi Arabia and Iran, it was never what Palestinians believed in, not most Moslems in general. Finally, Hamas has angered most Sunnis (who comprise 80 percent of all Moslems) by accepting military aid, and guidance, from Iran. At the moment, there is growing hostility to Shia (ten percent of all Moslems) Iran because of an increasingly hostile atmosphere between Iran (which believes it should lead the Moslem world) and Arabs (who believe Sunnis should bow to no one in terms of religion). It doesn't help matters that Iran is not an Arab country (they are Indo-European) and have dominated the region for thousands of years. Iranian encouragement of Hamas aggression is seen directed at Arabs as much as Israel.
Many Arabs, while voicing some support for Hamas, are not-so-secretly hoping that Israel will smash this arrogant, pro-Iran organization.