Over the last few days, a clip from Piers Morgan’s interview with Jeremy Corbyn on Talk TV went mega-viral on Twitter.
In the clip, Morgan repeatedly asks the former Labour leader whether or not he believes Hamas are a “terror group” – to which Corbyn steadfastly refuses to give a straight yes or no answer.
Piers Morgan asks Jeremy Corbyn 15 times whether the former Labour leader thinks Hamas is a terror group.
— Piers Morgan Uncensored (@PiersUncensored) November 13, 2023
Hamas are the militant Palestinian organisation responsible for the killing of around 1,200 people near the Israel-Gaza border on October 7th – an atrocity which was met with immediate and devastating retaliation by Israel that has so far killed aproximately 10,000 Palestinians, including around 4,000 children.
Many have used Talk TV’s short clip to attack Corbyn and label him a “terrorist sympathiser’ – amongst many other things.
However the question as to whether or not Hamas are in fact a terror group is nowhere near as black and white as Piers Morgan and the headline-chasing tabloid media would like you to believe – and here’s why:
Are Hamas actually a “Terrorist” organisation?
The question is not as simple as just yes or no.
In an video article published last month, the BBC’s John Simpson explained the Corporation’s reasoning for not using the term:
“Terrorism is a loaded word, which people use about an outfit they disapprove of morally. It’s simply not the BBC’s job to tell people who to support and who to condemn – who are the good guys and who are the bad guys.
“We regularly point out that the British and other governments have condemned Hamas as a terrorist organisation, but that’s their business. We also run interviews with guests and quote contributors who describe Hamas as terrorists.
“The key point is that we don’t say it in our voice. Our business is to present our audiences with the facts, and let them make up their own minds.”
The BBC also point out that they applied the same principle to the IRA, stating:
“It was hard to keep that principle going when the IRA was bombing Britain and killing innocent civilians, but we did. There was huge pressure from the government of Margaret Thatcher on the BBC, and on individual reporters like me about this – especially after the Brighton bombing, where she just escaped death and so many other innocent people were killed and injured.
“But we held the line. And we still do, to this day.”
Whilst there is no internationally recognised definition of the term “terrorism”, it is widely accepted to mean the use or threat of violence by a non-state actor in order to achieve a political goal.
Whilst this definition clearly applies to groups such as the IRA or ISIS, who are non-state actors, it is widely disputed as to whether or not Hamas are in fact a state-actor.
This is because Palestinian politics is incredibly divided, with two main organisations – Hamas and Fatah – laying claim to different parts of the Palestinian territories.
The biggest political difference between the two parties is that whilst Fatah accept Israel’s right to exist, Hamas refuse to.
But, in 2006, tensions between the two factions boiled over after Hamas narrowly beat Fatah in nationwide elections – votes which were widely recognised as free and fair by around 900 independent international monitors as well as the United States government.
Following the closely fought election, the two sides failed to reach a compromise on power sharing accept the results, and they effectively went to war with eachother.
Ever since, Hamas have ruled over the Gaza strip, whilst Fatah – under the leadership of President Mahmoud Abbas – have controlled of the West Bank.
Despite the complicated politcal situation, Palestine was officially accepted to the United Nations as an Observer State in 2012. But currently, only 138 UN member States officially recognise it as a legitimate state – with 55 others, including the UK and the US, refusing to.
(For context, whilst Israel was oficially accepted into the United Nations as full member state in 1949, 28 UN Member States also still do not formally recognise it to this day.)
In addition to these arguments, there’s also the fact that the Palesinian people have a legal right to resist Israel’s illegal occupation and colonisation of their territory.
International law enshrines the right of any occupied peoples to resist their colonisers, via any means necessary, including armed struggle.
So, even according to the Geneva Convention, much of what Hamas does could be construed as exercising their right to freedom and self-determination.
This exact same principle is why the West is currently arming Ukraine to the teeth in their struggle against Russia’s illegal invasion.
However, in intentionally massacring innocent civilians on October 7th, Hamas clearly committed a truly horrific act – but it is an act which can, legally speaking, can either be considered terrorism or a war crime.
It should also be noted that the British government have a long history of both supporting and opposing equally barbaric resistance movements such as Hamas.
For instance, believe it or not, it wasn’t so long ago that Margeret Thatcher’s Conservative Party and her mates in the media were labelling freedom fighters such as Nelson Mandela as a “terrorist”, whilst simultaneously backing the Jihadist Mujahadeen of Afghanistan – a forerunner to the Taliban – as our allies!
The difference being that, whilst Mandela’s cause opposed British interests in South Africa, the Mujahadeen were allied with our fight against the Communist Soviet Union.
The whole situation between Israel and Palestine is clearly incredibly complex, but the question of whether or not Hamas are “terrorists” is basically just a game of semantic namecalling that only serves to further enflame a highly fraught situation, a tactic that’s clearly designed to try and deligitimise the Palestinian cause and further the interests of the other sides.
Because, if you’re going to label the killing of around 1,200 Israelis by Hamas as “terrorism”, then surely the killing of 10,000 Palestinian civilians, including thousands of innocent children, as Israel have done, is surely something even worse?
Does committing war crimes by cutting off their water, food, and electric not terrorise the Palestinian people?
Does indiscriminately bombing hospitals, schools, and even actual UN refugee centres across Gaza not terrorise the Palestinian people?
Does bulldozing Palestinian homes and continually stealing land in the West Bank, in clearly contravention of International Law, not terrorise the Palestinian people?
Of course it does. Yet only one side are labelled as “terrorists”?
The fact is that, to the tabloid media, it’s all just a game. They don’t care about peace, and they certainly don’t care about telling the truth – they simply want to grab cheap headlines and to assert their dominance over the narrative.
It really is fascinating, this.
What we are seeing is, literally, a clash of cultures: the culture of warmongering and the culture of peacebuilding.
Peacebuilders never enter into the game of jingoistic name-calling when discussing conflict resolution because it is… https://t.co/P3ljtxr7GO
— CrémantCommunarde🦋☀️🖐️ (@0Calamity) November 14, 2023
And, when it comes to the current UK government, they couldn’t care less about actually doing the right thing.
Maintaining Israel as an ally allows the West an invaluable strategic outpost in the oil-rich Middle East, and as a geopolitical bargaining chip amongst the region’s crucial naval trading routes.
Britain literally oversaw the creation on the carnage we see today between Israel and Palestine, but – despicably – what’s clear is that both the media and our government have absolutely no interest in resolving the mess that they caused.