The Associated Press story yesterday on Salafi groups in Gaza directing their burning hatreds at the “blasphemous” government of Hamas was both chilling and delightful.
Chilling, obviously, because of the venom and extremism fueling these groups, and because of the thoughts of what damage they could cause to Israeli civilians by continuing to fire rockets at the towns just outside the Gaza Strip.
Delightful, though, because of the prophetic words of one Anna Geifman.
Geifman, a Russian-born history professor at Boston University, specializes in understanding the use of violence in the Russian Revolution. She draws parallels between Bolshevik and anarchistic terrorism and the policies and actions of Hamas — which, as she told me in 2008, actually made her optimistic regarding the eventual demise of the Gazan terrorist group. She said:
“One of the basic characteristics of violence in culture is that it is like a living organism, in that it is mobile, and it must remain in motion in order to survive,” Geifman explains. “So long as the violence is directed externally, it can maintain its momentum – but once it is prevented from that goal, if you wall it off, it can’t stop. Like any organism, it must keep moving. So the violence turns on [its originators]. Consider the Nazis: When they could no longer kill others, they killed themselves.”
If history is a guide, she says, Hamas ought to pay attention.
“[Terrorist] leaders think that they control death, but in reality they are merely agents of death,” she says. “That is why every revolution ultimately swallows itself.”
In other words, an ideology of violence is a Frankenstein’s monster that is destined to turn on its master. This was the case with Hamas in its rivalry with Fatah, and it may now be the case with the Salafi groups in their rivalry with Hamas.
Viva la revolucion!