New leader, same old terror

On leadership and management.

Contact Editor
Dr. Mordechai Kedar,

Islamic Jihad rally in Gaza
Islamic Jihad rally in Gaza
Reuters

A manager is not a leader.  The first is a professional whose field is management and whose job it is to see to it that an organization's activities are run intelligently and rationally, allowing the organization to reach its goals as efficiently as possible and achieve optimum results with minimum use of resources. A manager is an employee whose services are hired by the stockholders (in a financial organization) or appointed (in a public or governmental organization). He is appointed for a certain period of time, and if successful, those responsible for the organization will try to extend his term. If he fails, it is their duty and responsibility to fire  him and hire another manager.

A leader is a manager whose role has much more significance. He has to manage the organization as does the professional manager described above, but his mission is of much greater scope: his character must act as symbol and role model, his behavior is an example to his subordinates and to those observing the organization. He is the source of vision, hope, encourages those who have given up, supports those who are failing, and his role as leader has many personal, mental and psychological aspects that are much more important than those making up a manager's mainly technical duties.

An organization with a calm and tranquil work environment, whose goals are financial, involve engineering or technology and whose achievements are measured in monetary or defined tangible terms (such as the construction of a bridge) - requires a manager. In contrast, an organization that works in a crisis-filled environment, whose goals are religious, ideological, national or public-oriented, will have objectives determined by emotions, beliefs, feelings and impulses. Its role would be to keep up a long and exhausting struggle, filled with victims. It needs a leader, because the demands of its members - its fighters - are religious, ideological or national in nature and are far from attainable.

It is for this reason that the success or failure of a manager is measured by whether he has reached the goals of the organization using the available materials at minimum cost, while the success or failure of a leader is measured by the answer to the question of whether he has managed to draw the organization's members after him and whether they have reached the level of willingness for sacrifice that the objectives require. The manager is measured by results while the leader is measured by how he tried to reach his goal - especially if he did not achieve it.

A country at peace needs a good manager, while a country at war needs a real leader.

Hamas: Torn between management and leadership

Hamas wrested control over Gaza about 10 years ago, in June 2007, in a stormy religious and ideological struggle with Fatah and the Palestinian Authority. Much bloodshed accompanied the Hamas takeover, with tens of member of the PA security forces killed in shootings and thrown off the roofs of buildings. Hamas managed to establish the first Sunni Islamist country run according to the revolutionary school of the Muslim Brotherhood, acting a a role model for other Muslim Brotherhood branches in Egypt,Tunisia, Syria, Jordan and other locations.

For the ten years of its existence, the Hamas state was run by two opposing forces: On the one hand, the Jihadist ideology whose goal is to free all of "Falestin from the river to the sea," totally eliminating the Jewish State, and establishing an Islamic state whose capital is "Al-quds Al-sharif" on its ruins. Until this cause is realized, according to Jihadist ideology, fighting is to continue  non-stop. One the other hand, there was the need to run a country, supply food, water, electricity, gasoline, employment, health and economic development for the good of the residents. This is a goal that forces Hamas to continue maintaining a ceasefire with Israel.

These polar opposites are reflected in the two parties in the movement's leadership: 

On the one hand, the Hamas army echelons demand permission to continue and even enlarge the scope of the Jihad against Israel, to invest in rocket development, purchase weapons and intelligence equipment, to continue digging attack tunnels and to continue training a fighting force ready to fire on Israel anytime its actions are not in line with the Hamas military's expectations. On the other hand, the political echelons, whose more mature members prefer political activity, development of the Gazan state, including the infrastructure and services that can strengthen its economic, civil and organizational viability. Naturally, the political echelons would like to postpone the Jihad - in which they wholeheartedly believe - to a later, more suitable and non-defined future period.

Ismael Haniyeh, during the ten years he was acting prime minister of Gaza, was the connecting link, the bridge between the political and  military echelons. He acted as a middleman and found the balance between launching and ceasing battles against Israel and building the state at whose helm he stood. In his stirring speeches and calculated harangues, he knew how to satisfy the deep-rooted inherent Jihad lust that characterizes Hamas due to its Muslim Brotherhood antecedents, as well as the desire to see a functioning state in Gaza, one that provides education, electricity, law-enforcement and health. He created a Jihadist image while forging agreements with Israel - making him the subject of no little criticism from extremist quarters.

Without a doubt, Haniyeh succeeded in his ambition to run the Gaza state, establish its institutions and see to its day to day functioning. He established a wonderful state, managing to force Israel to feed it, water it and provide it with electricity and oil. He led three wars against Israel (2008-09, 2012,2014), but brought Gaza destruction, suffering and death. From the point of view of results, Haniyah was a successful politician but a failed leader of Jihad, because he did not break Israel's fighting spirit, defeat it militarily or destroy its morale, so that he did not advance Hamas' goal - destroying Israel. Even worse, he was careful to observe the ceasefire with Israel, arrested and tortured Salafists who were against the ceasefire, so that many - within and outside of Hamas - saw Haniyeh as a tool of Israel. Haniyeh succeeded as a manager but failed as a leader of Jihad and the time had come for him to vacate his seat for someone else, someone of a different type.

Yahya al-Sinwar 

The Hamas organization searched for a leader, not a manager, someone with charisma and the ability to sway crowds, bring back the spirit of Jihad, someone to fill the need for a role model who inspires Gazans with the will to sacrifice their lives to attain the supreme goal. The man that was chosen this week is Yehya al-Sinwar  ("Abu Ibrahim"), a former inmate of the Israeli prison system, sentenced to four life terms and freed in the Shalit deal. Since his release, he has joined he military echelons and given the title "Israel's chief enemy in Gaza." It is important to note that his having been sentenced to life imprisonment, especially his four lifetime sentences, granted him the status of a truly authentic and legitimate leader, someone who sacrificed his freedom for the general public and for the Jihad.

Al-Sinwar was born in 1962 in the Khan Younis refugee camp to a family that lived in today's Ashkelon before 1948. He was a pupil of the UNRWA schools in the camp, a fact that shows once again - if anyone is still in need of proof - that UNRWA, the UN agency funded in part by the US taxpayer, only perpetuates the Arab-Israel conflict and intensifies terror. His academic background is from the Islamist University of Gaza, another Muslim Brotherhood Jihadist institution, where he stood out as an important activist in several student unions. 

Starting in 1982, when Israel still controlled Gaza, he was put in administrative detention several times, accused of establishing the Hamas security organization, Majad (honor) and eventually sentenced to four life terms. Palestinians tell that he told his Israeli judges that he prefers the death sentence to a prison terms. In prison, he was one of the most prominent leaders of Hamas prisoners, while his opinions on various matters were sought after by those outside. In order to lower his status among Hamas members, the prison service kept shunting him from one prison to another, sometimes putting him in isolation, but none of this affected his status.  He tried to escape several times and was punished by being put in solitary. There is no doubt that he is a revered model of the ideal Jihad fighter.

His brother, Muhammad al-Sinwar, is a leading figure in the Hamas military wing, and took part in the Shalit kidnapping in an attempt to free his sibling.  Recently, he was appointed head of southern Gaza instead of Raad al Atar, killed in the 2014 Operation Protective Edge.

Once freed in the Shalit deal, Al-Sinwar joined the political arm of Hamas as the military wing's representative, along with his prison friend, Ruhi Musteha, and the two militants strongly influenced the Hamas movement's political echelons. Al-Sinwar has portrayed himself, for the last few years, as a man who combines uncorrupted military leadership, prepared for self-sacrifice, with far-reaching political leadership. During the Protective Edge Operation, he was one of those who influenced the war's management and the decisions made, both during the fighting and once it was over. His opinions, stubbornness and powerful personality were clearly seen during the operation, and in 2015 he was appointed to be in charge of the issue of Israeli prisoners in Hamas hands and the negotiations with Israel on the subject. His job was to exhaust Israel, to make its leaders crawl to him and accept conditions such as freeing murderous terrorists in exchange for the body parts of Hadar Goldin and Shaul Oron, Hy"d, as well as the living prisoners, Avera Mengistu and another whose name has not been publicized. 

Yahya al-Sinwar's power base among the military as well as the political wings of the Hamas allowed him to open an investigation of Hamas fighters' of all ranks performance during Operation Protective Edge. He did not hesitate to settle accounts with those accused of functioning that was not up to par. A Hamas member, Muhamad Alshtiyi, was punished by death recently after being found guilty of financial and administrative corruption, and his family claims that Yahya al-Sinwar is responsible for imposing the death sentence. Sinwar avoids the media, for security reasons as well as personal ones, and this gives him even more power and enhances his image as a charismatic leader who does not seek publicity, microphones and lights.

His activities since being released from prison have given him wide support from both the military and political arms of Hamas. Choosing him to lead after Haniyeh was the natural result. It is important to mention that Sinwar's deputy is Khalil al-Hayya, a well known leader in Hamas military circles and one whom Israel has attempted to eliminate several times.

Forecasting the future

There is no doubt that the choice of Yahya al-Sinwar and his deputy signal Hamas' desire to return to open Jihad against Israel and to raise the level of violence, while protecting Gaza's independence and total separation from both Fatah and the PLO. 

Hamas looks forward to raising the level of Jihad - the Islamic war ideology set down in the 7th century - against Israel from Gaza, in a takeover of Judea and Samaria when a Palestinian State is eventually established. Control of Gaza, on Israel's western flank, and on Judea and Samaria on its eastern one, will allow Hamas to attack Israel in pincer fashion, and the Zionists will then be inundated with Jihad missiles from every direction.

From Hamas' point of view, since Israel's defensive systems cannot stand up to a multi-rocket and missile attack launched from close range and from every direction, the strategy that Hamas has chosen will sooner or later lead to victory over Israel and the elimination of the Zionist project. Yahya al-Sinwar will be the leader, not manager, who will bring the Palestinian, Arab and Muslim masses after him to a major, final battle that will bring Israel to its knees and scatter the 21st century Jews to all corners of the earth, to the exile that Allah prophesied for them because of the their sins as enumerated in the 7th century Koran. 

All that is left for Hamas to do, in addition to military preparations, is to encourage other forms of Jihad - economic, media, political, public and academic, so that Israel's international standing becomes shaky and its name is vilified around the world, while Hamas calls for the world to abandon and boycott Israel, punish it and pull all investments out of it using BDS. It intends to buy politicians, media and academic personalities using money from its Qatari friends, encourage the world to prevent moving embassies to Jerusalem and advance BDS decisions in international bodies that will proclaim that Jerusalem does not belong to Israel.

All these actions are intended to turn Israel into easy prey for military Jihad that will lead to its final destruction, to occur under the wise leadership of Yahye al-Sinwar and his deputy Khalil al-Hayya. Now that Hamas' sinister plans are clear as day, Israel - if it wants to survive - must challenge the new Hamas leadership in every way that can convince them and those who will be left after them to give up the dream of eliminating Israel. This is not an easy objective to attain, but it can be done using good Intelligence, exact measures and a firm decision by an Israeli leadership that looks ahead to what lies in store in the future.

In the Middle East, peace is granted only to those who are not vanquished and succeed in convincing their enemies that it worth their while to leave them alone. Hamas knows the rules of the game, and the question that is left open is whether the Israeli pubic realizes that the Middle East is not a place where acting according to the rules of the games played in other cultures allows for survival.