Why would someone like Edward Said give his life to intellectually opposing a majoritarian Jewish state if its successor was to be a majoritarian Muslim nation? Why would the Palestinian struggle have a claim on our solidarity, if it’s only goal was to create yet another denominational state?...A radical friend of mine objected to my characterization of Hamas as a fundamentalist and sectarian party. Think of its extraordinary record of public service, he said, the schools it runs, the hospitals and orphanges that it has built, the commitment it has shown to constructively improving the lot of the Palestinian people. I had to point out to him that the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh could claim credit for exactly the same achievements. And since he wouldn’t want Indian Muslims, Christians and Sikhs to live in an India defined by Hindutva, we should be wary of a party like Hamas that would have Christians, Jews and Muslims live in a state defined by political Islam. Paradoxically, then, even as we empathize with the sufferings of Palestinians in Gaza and admire the fortitude of their leaders in their rearguard action against the Israeli assault, we should hope that when Palestine comes into being, it will leave behind it the narrow, sectarian nationalism of Hamas.
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