Ancient and modern

Roman emperors understood more about democracy than Hamas

What responsibility do Gaza's rulers feel for its people? Very little, it seems

9 August 2014

9:00 AM

9 August 2014

9:00 AM

There must be some reason why Hamas seems to remain quite unfazed by Israel’s merciless slaughter of its people. Perhaps it is all part of a grand strategy.

The point about Greek democracy is that its purpose was to enable internal disputes to be settled peaceably, by argument and not recourse to arms, and for the most part that is what happened. The Roman republic was a res publica — the people’s property/business — while Senatus Populusque Romanus was displayed on army insignia and inscriptions all over the empire: the Senatus and the Populus were in it together. Even if this was slightly economical with the truth, Roman emperors knew that if the populus was unhappy, there was trouble ahead. The public servant Cornelius Fronto (c. ad 95–166) pointed out that the emperor Trajan was aware that the people were controlled principally by two things: free grain and shows (‘bread and circuses’, as Juvenal put it): general popularity was politically as important as effective policy.

However palsied western ‘democracy’ is compared with its ancient Greek equivalent, or even republican Rome, at least our governments understand that their sole raison d’être is to serve us, the people, and that if we do not like what they are doing, we can say so and peacefully get rid of them. The same is also true of Israel.

Nothing could be further from Hamas’s thoughts. For example, they proclaim the ‘right’ to resist. Since the price is 1,800 dead, mostly civilians, at the hands of a ruthless enemy, it sounds more like a right to be killed. Whose interests does that ‘right’ serve? Last week Israeli newspapers reported — for what it’s worth — that some Gazans protesting against the current war were simply shot in cold blood. No wonder people vote for Hamas. They know what will happen if they do not. Palestinians, in other words, are there to serve Hamas, not Hamas the Palestinians. It is not just Israel that is imprisoning this unhappy people.

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Show comments
  • FrankS2

    Hammas’s purpose is to keep Palestine an open sore, a useful propaganda weapon in the greater campaign to destroy Israel, a campaign in which the people of Gaza are pawns.

    • Matz Cohen


  • ReefKnot

    Hamas’s idea of democracy was to take opposition members to the roof of a high building and throw them off.
    I wonder if Jon Snow was in tears.

    • JB_1966

      Nah, he only cares about things his daft audience of credulous lefties like to cry crocodile tears over.

  • Peter Stroud

    As Hamas’s avowed aim is to kill every Israeli, it is small wonder that they are content for a few thousand Palestinians to die. It is excellent propaganda because it encourages Channel4, the BBC, the Guardian, Indy and the Sun, to say nothing of Lady Warsi, to act as its propaganda machine.

  • Baron

    The words ‘democracy’ and ‘Hamas’ in one sentence? How could you, Peter.

  • you_kid

    I live in a tiny flat (I don’t) right in the centre (not quite) of a densely populated English city (I do). Where am I supposed to go when they start bombing us? There is no cellar or air shelter anywhere, all were long turned into flats owned by BTL landlords …

    • Gafto

      Total nonsense, you moron.

      • you_kid

        … more empathy from you?

      • you_kid

        … more empathy from you?

  • Augustus

    “Palestinians, in other words, are there to serve Hamas, not Hamas the Palestinians”

    It’s known as dictatorship. Hamas carried out an armed military coup in 2007. The only reason their Fatah ‘partners’ weren’t all assassinated by Hamas was that the IDF was watching over them day and night. But according to much of the world’s media it’s been the Jews of Israel who are the barbaric and tyrannical ones for defending themselves and their Arab citizens against rocket attacks from Gaza; land given to the Palestinians by Israel in 2005.Those incessant attacks by Hamas penetrating more and more into Israel for months and months only got a very low level of coverage, but when Israel responded with Operation Protective Edge, it became front page news condemning Israel, even when the Gazans were forced by Hamas to serve as human shields for their rockets and their elaborate matrix of tunnels into Israel, which exist solely to carry out its goal of destroying it.

  • kingkevin3

    Oh lord. The Spectator really is a hopelessly Conservative live in the last century rag..and I’m a libetarian. I would make every journo jump through every hoop to get paid a dime a paragraph..Something this fuckwit couldn’t manage. Not even worth a cent. It’s called objectivity. The Spectator, like UKIP, reveals its true colours in times like this…Pitiful,biased…a thoroughly washed up Conservative rag.

  • kingkevin3

    and reading the comments here there are a lot of last century washed up conservatives contributing to this tripe. The same old victorian fuckwits with arts degrees that at most could get them a job in government, complaining about Hamas as if they even knew something about the middle east. No wonder we are fucked with talentless people like this. Die Zukunft gehoert Deutschland. Live with it you numnuts.

  • kingkevin3

    and reading the comments here there are a lot of last century washed up
    conservatives contributing to this tripe. The same old victorian
    fuckwits with arts degrees that at most could get them a job in
    government, complaining about Hamas as if they even knew something about
    the middle east. No wonder we are fucked with talentless people like
    this. Die Zukunft gehoert Deutschland. Live with it you numnuts.

    As we did before so will we in the future.

    • FrankS2

      You ain’t arf deep, Kev!

  • Mrs Josephine Hyde-Hartley

    I wonder if the “right to resist” that Hamas holds is really a perfectly legal position.Thus to directly hold one’s ground, including one’s personal window frame of opportunity amongst the slings and arrows of outrageous fortune hunters, is probably intensely realistic – and therefore not an “issue”.

  • The incessant, never-ending dueling between Hamas and Israel will be used by Arab governments to implement the next stage of their proxy war with Israel (and used to get rid of Hamas) …

    And everyone forgets the 1974 Turkish occupation of Northern Cyprus (the 40th anniversary being Sunday, July 20 ironically enough, as tens of thousands demonstrate in European cites citing the evils of Israel), a real occupation, where Greek Cypriots were driven from their homes. In the case of Gaza and the West Bank, Israel never gave up her claim to those territories when the 1949 armistice was signed with her Arab neighbors. In fact, the term “Palestinian” was resurrected in 1963* by Arab governments as a means to continue the war with Israel via proxy, since Arab nations could never again wage a war of annihilation against Israel due to Israel’s acquisition of the atomic bomb that year.

    To operationalize the new Arab strategy, Israel had to acquire Gaza and the West Bank, hence the explanation for the intentionally botched Arab governments’ Six-Day War (1967), where, now get this, Egyptian land forces cross the demilitarized Sinai all the way up to Israel’s border and stops in its tracks there, waiting for the inevitable IDF response! For those not attuned to military tactics, that’s called intentional sabotage for the purpose of losing the war, thereby allowing for the implementation of a more subtle strategy to defeat the “Zionist entity”. Every time I hear that phrase I have to chuckle. Arab governments need new script writers!

    So, what’s next you ask? Watch for “Palestinians” renouncing a ‘two-state option’ for a ‘one-state option’, the excuses given (1) that they’re tired of incessant conflicts that only results in massive numbers of “Palestinian” deaths; buttressed by (2) the sudden memory recollection that, in fact, they are also Israeli citizens! Of course, a ‘one-state option’ will mean the electoral defeat of the Jewish state, exactly what the new Arab strategy was implemented for!

    However, there is one card Israel holds that can nullify the Arab governments’ new proxy strategy vis-a-vis Israel, and that is Israel affording world Jewry the right of Israeli citizenship! This should have been policy back in 1948, but maybe Israel was holding in reserve this checkmate move until it was really needed.


    *History of Palestine:

    It was Emperor Hadrian who renamed the area Syria Palæstina, after the Second Jewish Revolt in 135 AD, merging the Roman provinces of Syria and Judea with several other formerly nominally independent territories…

    Before 135 AD, what is today Israel consisted of the nominally independent Jewish territory of Galilee and the Roman administered province of Judea, contradicting Arab governments’ propaganda that those areas were ever called Palestine.

    The Roman Latin word ‘Palæstina’ means Philistia, the arch enemy of ancient Israel, whose people, defunct by the 7th century BC, inhabited the southwest corner of what is today Israel…

    Knowing the historical accounts of the animosity between the two peoples, Israelites and Philistines, Hadrian chose the disagreeable name ‘Palæstina’ as a slight against the Jews for their revolt against Rome, which is why the name of the Palestine Mandated home for the Jews, Palestine, was changed to Israel upon the territory’s declared independence on May 14, 1948.

    With the fall of Syria (inclusive of the region east of the Mediterranean Sea, west of the Euphrates River, north of the Arabian Desert and south of the Taurus Mountains) to the Ottoman Sultan Selim I in 1516, we have one province (though divided into various administrative districts by Selim I), where the citizens before the conquest of Selim I already call themselves Syrian…

    There never was a “Palestinian” nationality in the Ottoman Empire (“Palestinian” was a new nationality created by the League of Nations for the Jewish Homeland when the area was carved out of Ottoman Syria). The area of Ottoman Palestine was a part of the Ottoman province of Syria (akin to Central Park in New York City), where the inhabitants called themselves Syrian. That’s why after World War I Arabs living in Palestine wanted to merge the area with Syria…

    “The First Congress of Muslim-Christian Associations (in Jerusalem, February 1919), which met for the purpose of selecting a Palestinian Arab representative for the Paris Peace Conference, adopted the following resolution: ‘We consider Palestine as part of Arab Syria, as it has never been separated from it at any time. We are connected with it by national, religious, linguistic, natural, economic and geographical bonds.'” — Wikipedia, “Palestinian People”.

    The “Palestinian People” of today are a fiction, officially created at the first Arab League summit held in Cairo, Egypt in January 1964, where the Palestine Liberation was also created. The acquisition of the atomic bomb by Israel in 1963 spurred Arab governments to hold not only the league’s first summit in January of ’64 (the Arab League was founded in 1945), but its second summit that September in order to regroup and implement a new strategy towards Israel…

    After World War I the Allies/League of Nations demarcated areas of the former Ottoman Middle East for national homes of the various ethnic groups residing in the region. Arabs received what’s today called Syria, Iraq and Jordan; the Druze were provided with the defunct Jabal al Druze; the Alawites were provided with the defunct Alawite State; the Jews were provided Palestine (which territory under the Ottoman Empire was also composed of the southern half of Lebanon, ending just south of Beirut. After World War I the southern Lebanon portion was given to France, and Ottoman southern Syria was given to Britain and merged with the Palestine Mandate for the Jewish Homeland. One month later the British remove from the Jewish mandate the area of Palestine east of the Jordan River–Ottoman southern Syria–giving the area to Saudi Hashemites instead.); the Maronite Christians were provided with Lebanon. The Kurds and Armenians too were allotted their national homelands, but before the League of Nations could legalize the mandates, Turkish military forces moved back into those territories. Those Arabs living in the new mandated homeland for the Jews–Palestine–called themselves SYRIAN, and wanted to merge Palestine into the newly reconstituted nation of Syria; they detested the concept of a “Palestinian State” for Jews and Arabs, because the new “Palestinian” nationality included Jews who would have the upper hand, naturally, in the future new Jewish nation.

    As the successor organization to the League of Nations, the UN initially followed the League of Nations Palestine Mandate of 1922, and the territory of Palestine under the mandate includes Gaza and the West Bank. The non-binding 1947 UN Resolution 181 sought to divide Palestine into two states, one for the Jews, and one for the Arabs, which the Jews accepted, but Arab governments rejected…

    Note: Arab GOVERNMENTS rejected, not Arabs living in Palestine!

    Note that UN Resolution 181 mentions a state for the Jews and a state for the Arabs. Nowhere in the document does it mention a state for the “Palestinians”. Why? Because there was no indigenous Arab Palestinian ethnic group, simply the existing new Palestinian nationality that was created by the League of Nations in 1922 for the Jewish Homeland…

    “Independent Arab and Jewish States and the Special International Regime for the City of Jerusalem, set forth in Part III of this Plan, shall come into existence in Palestine two months after the evacuation of the armed forces of the mandatory Power has been completed but in any case not later than 1 October 1948. The boundaries of the Arab State, the Jewish State, and the City of Jerusalem shall be as described in Parts II and III below.”

    UN Resolution 181 mentions “Jewish” for the ethnic Jews of Palestine, but not Palestinian for the ethnic Arabs of Palestine. It calls Arabs–Arabs, and the League of nations created many Arab nations in the former Ottoman Middle East after World War I, where Gaza and West Bank Arabs can move to if they don’t like Israel. That’s precisely why so many nations were created by the League of Nations in the Middle East after the collapse of the Ottoman Empire–to act as a remedy for persecuted groups. Why would Arabs living in Gaza and the West Bank want to be persecuted and killed in large numbers there, when they can move to neighboring kindred Arab nations? Oh, I forgot. Those kindred Arab neighbors won’t allow such relocation, because that would (1) be a recognition of Israel’s right to exist; and (2) make Israel stronger.

    • Baron

      An excellent posting, Dean, but you shouldn’t dismiss the one state solution so easily provided Israel does what you suggest, offers citizenship to all world Jews, giving them a vote, and also places some temporary restrictions on the new non-Jewish citizens of the construct. That could be the best fix for the never ending boil in the region if the Islamic states in the region were after a lasting solution. Baron fears they are not, and will not for their aim is but the same as that of Hamas, only the tactics differ.

      • “An excellent posting, Dean…”

        Thanks! Notice how The Spectator quickly removed the article from its front page!

        “but you shouldn’t dismiss the one state solution so easily provided Israel does what you suggest”

        I didn’t! That’s what will take place.

        • Baron

          Not the place, not enough time to go through all the points you raise on the collapse of the Red Menace Empire except to say Baron slices this issue very differently.

          Towards the end of existence of the RED Menace thuggery, nobody any longer believed in the creed, Dean, the red party card, however, was a must if one had the ability, felt the desire, found an opportunity to better himself. To do what you suggest, the de-Comm, de-mob, would have resulted in an outcome as bad if not worse to what happened in Iraq where we god rid of Saddam’s police force, the Army, the Civil Service.

          If you disagree, sit down, pour yourself a drink, ponder the following. If this country were to turn to dictatorship, do you genuinely believe those serving the dictator would be different people and not some if not most of the ‘democratic’ politicians, policemen, Army officers ….. of today?

  • Matz Cohen

    We can all feel sorry for the Palestinians but must remember that their leaders since 1948 had to make some life changing decisions and chose the worst possible choice every time

    • The “Palestinians” were Jews, Arabs, Christians and Druze of the Palestine Mandate, the new nation created in 1922. On May 14, 1948 the “Palestinian” nationality was dropped for the new Israeli nationality (I explain why in my comment below).

      By using the term “Palestinian” you are inadvertently (I assume) promoting the Arab governments’ proxy strategy against Israel, as formally adopted in 1964, the year after Israel acquired the atomic bomb.

    • The “Palestinians” were Jews, Arabs, Christians and Druze of the Palestine Mandate, the new nation created in 1922. On May 14, 1948 the “Palestinian” nationality was dropped for the new Israeli nationality (I explain why in my comment below).

      By using the term “Palestinian” you are inadvertently (I assume) promoting the Arab governments’ proxy strategy against Israel, as formally adopted in 1964, the year after Israel acquired the atomic bomb.

      • Matz Cohen

        point taken

  • Kennybhoy

    “…Israel’s merciless slaughter of its people…”

    The only “merciless” one’s here are Hamas you fucking loon!

  • Jacobs_43

    While I agree with the premise that Hamas does not care for the Palestinian people (one only need to look at the fact that it willfully turns schools and hospitals into military targets), labeling Israel as “merciless” and “ruthless” is hardly fair.

    Although Israel is better equipped and therefore more effective in combat, it is a reluctant respondent in the face of repeated aggression by the Palestinians. Israel constantly sends out reminders of when and where its attacks will occur, for the sole purpose of not injuring civilians. Hamas is the merciless and ruthless party, who forces its civilians to remain at the targets so it can wage a PR campaign against Israel.

  • Marcus ALexander

    Does any one really think the Jewish Empire will end at the boarders of Palestine? The writer of the article , uses Roman and Greek democracy as a comparison , well the same is true for Empires, Rome was a town, who after dominating the locals, went on to bigger things .

    Israel has America and UK, its not going to stop in Gaza , it is in their Nature

  • Denny

    Welcome to the spectator your home of sensationalist propoganda. You know when i see daily mail headlines i shudder less than when i read the bollocks you right wing lunatics post. Instead of just blindly following your ridiculous agenda (which helps nobody) why not report the news. It’s great and all having a point of view but it helps nobody trying to sell it. I mean seriously this is just poor, you need better support for your claims than an Israeli news paper said. My dad said that he could lift a car! This just in if you read this bull shit and get sucked in by it you need to give your head a wobble. Israel are obliterating the people of Gaza that we know for a fact. We also know that not one Rocket fired by hamas had killed a single civilian, so where is the justice in this mass murder. Not one verified source of hamas using human shields has been found either. It’s just horse shit seriously a massive joke. You know what my favourite thing about all this is? the reason Israel are in Gaza this time round in the first place? They faked a kidnapping and murder of three Israeli’s as an excuse to go massacre them all. I actually agree what Hamas does is wrong BUT this is not an acceptable response from Israel and if you think it is then sort yourself out.