Monday, January 30, 2006

Hamas: Hitler or Mandela?

(Before I start this post, let me reiterate that this blog is about leadership, and is not a political blog. This is a controversial topic, and I don't want to get into a discussion about politics. I'm looking at the leadership qualities of everyone concerned.)

Quite some time ago, I said that now-former leader Mahmoud Abbas had a big job on his hands. That's nothing compared to the job now on the hands of the leadership - they have a virtual civil war on their hands.

Listening to a talkback show on the BBC World Service, I heard a wide range of views, but they came down to two basic positions - in fact, two comparisons.

The first, coming from a pro-Palestinian point of view, trumpeted the victory of democracy, and said that if , the USA and Europe don't like it they can shove it. The people have spoken.

I didn't hear anyone make the comparison, but there is some precedent for a former guerilla leader being a very successful leader of a democratic country: Nelson Mandela.

Once known as a terrorist, Mandela has virtually become a saint in the eyes of many people. Can Hamas do this? Do they have a figurehead who can achieve this?

Or is the second view correct - a view expressed by several Israeli callers into the talkback show, who compared Hamas with the Nazi party. A democratically elected party that says one thing to the world, and another thing to the people living within its borders.

I have my own views on which comparison is more accurate, but that's not the issue for this post. The issue is: what will Hamas leadership do with these comparisons? How will they balance world opinion, their own stated mission and the desires of the people they now have to lead?

It will be very interesting to see how this turns out.

German chancellor to meet Abbas
Wikipedia: Palestinian Election
Terror Hunter: Hamas not giving up violence
Hamas suggests using militants in army
Many Palestinians blame Fatah's loss on ineffectiveness, corruption
So what, Hamas have won the election?


At 10:49 am, Blogger Jack Yan said...

It almost is a branding exercise: is Hamas ready to live its brand, and its stated objectives from its web site? If it is, then any old, negative images might begin to erode.

At 11:02 am, Blogger Simon said...

It is indeed about branding. But do they have a website? When I googled Hamas I could only find other peoples' references to them.

They've also got to overcome the appearance of saying one thing in English, and another thing entirely in Arabic. That may be what they're doing, or that may just be what's being said about them. Either way, it's a significant perception problem for them.


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