They are not formal expulsions. Hamas is not holding a gun to the middle class in Gaza and threatens its middle class Arabs to leave.
But it comes down to the same.
Start with the tragic story of Tamer al-Sultan, as reported by Associated Press’ Fares Akram and Mohammed Daragmeh.
Al-Sultan, a citizen of Gaza, owned a pharmacy, a two-story home and had a wife and children. Life was good, or at least it should have been. Enter Hamas. Al-Sultan, like many middle-class Arabs in Gaza, found life so oppressive under Hamas rule there that he decided he could no longer live in Gaza.
It wasn’t Israel. It was Hamas. It had nothing to do with Israel. Al-Sultan vented on social media about Hamas and joined rare protests against a Hamas tax hike in March. These protests were violently suppressed. Hamas operatives arrested al-Sultan thrice; al-Sultan said he was doused with cold water and beaten with plastic whips. Arab on Arab. Enough, al-Sultan said.
Reports AP: “So al-Sultan left, following in the footsteps of thousands of other educated, middle-class Palestinians. The exodus has gathered pace in recent years, raising fears that Gaza could lose its doctors, lawyers, teachers and thinkers, putting the Palestinians’ dream of establishing a prosperous independent state in even greater peril.”
No one knows exactly how many Palestinian professionals have left Gaza, but if evidence of flight were needed, one need look no further than some of the professionals one encounters right here in Denver. Al-Sultan’s story, however, ends differently. His story does not end well.
He headed for Belgium, where he had relatives, and hoped to bring his family there. But he died en route in Bosnia of an unknown cause, supposedly cancer. But his family said he was healthy when he left Gaza. He was buried in Beit Lahiya, northern Gaza, last Aug. 25. He was 38.
His brother said that al-Sultan left Gaza “because of the oppression.” A Hamas cleric recently issued a fatwa, or religious edict, saying, “those who leave our homeland with the intention of not coming back deserve the wrath of G-d.”
So much for political freedom under Hamas; so much for religious compassion in Gaza.
Tyranny and religious coercion are the order of the day in Hamas-controlled Gaza. Nothing Israel does, or does not do, can change that. Hamas hates its Palestinian rival movement, Fatah, which controls much of the Palestinian territory in the West Bank, as much as it hates Israel.
Neither Hamas nor Fatah are democratic political parties, nor do they run democratic governments. Fatah’s leader, Mahmoud Abbas, was elected to a four-year term 14 years ago —no respect for democracy there. Incensed that Fatah won, Hamas overthrew it in Gaza 12 years ago — no respect for democracy there.
These are realities worthy pondering one week before Israel’s election. Unseemly as this election seems — Israel’s second in six months —it is more evidence, if evidence were needed, that Israel does operate on qualitatively different political standards from all of the Arab peoples and countries that surround it: the Palestinians, Jordan, Egypt, Lebanon, Saudi Arabia, Iraq, Iran. If you think this is mere propaganda, ask Tamer al-Sultan’s surviving family.
Copyright © 2019 by the Intermountian Jewish News