Osama Hamdan is the supposeldy moderate face of Hamas. The organisation’s representative in Beirut, he has met with Michael Ancram and is viewed as the kind of man we can—and should—do business with.
Alastair Crooke, formerly the EU’s fixer in the Middle East who now runs an influential think tank advocating engagement with groups like Hamas, wrote a very positive piece about Hamdan for Prospect last year. After talking to him, Crooke concluded that Hamas “will be pragmatic in signalling that it seeks a state on land occupied in 1967 and is not pursuing any destruction of Israel.”
Yet, this was not the message that Hamdan was giving out in an interview with the Iranian Arabic channel Al-Kawthar. He said:
“the final goal of the resistance is to wipe that entity off the face of the earth. This goal necessitates the development of the resistance until the entity has been destroyed.”
Hamdan’s comments raise the question of what there is to talk about with him? They also demonstrate how Hamas tailors its message to the audience it is speaking to. Any supposed statements of moderation are meaningless if they are just made to Western ears.