Today, I’m prompted by the New York Times. Steven Erlanger writes In Gaza, Hamas’s Insults to Jews Complicate Peace.
Since Hamas took over Gaza last June, routing Fatah, Hamas sermons and media reports preaching violence and hatred have become more pervasive, extreme and sophisticated, on the model of Hezbollah and its television station Al Manar, in Lebanon.
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"If you take a sample on Friday, you’re bound to hear incitement against the Jews in the prayers and the imam’s sermon," said Mkhaimer Abusada, a political scientist at Al Azhar University here. "He uses verses from the Koran to say how the Jews were the enemies of the prophet and didn’t keep their promises to the prophet 1,400 years ago."
Some people tell us that Hamas is ready to negotiate peace with Israel, and clearly recognizes Israel's existence. This notwithstanding the fact that the only evidence offered is part of an op-ed by a senior Hamas official that talks, in sugar-coated terms, about the destruction of Israel via implementation of the claimed Palestinian Right of Return to sovereign Israel (not just a state of Palestine in the West Bank and Gaza Strip, with its capital in East Jerusalem).
Erlanger is quite clear, however, that, although Hamas sometimes talks about a temporary truce with Israel, because "Muhammad made a temporary hudna, or truce, with the Jews about 1,400 years ago,"
[N]o one in Hamas says he would make a peace treaty with Israel or permanently give up any part of British Mandate Palestine. "They talk of hudna, not of peace or reconciliation with Israel," said Mr. Abusada, the political scientist. "They believe over time they will be strong enough to liberate all historic Palestine."
Indeed, as Erlanger notes and anyone who cares to be informed already knew, "The [Hamas Covenant] is a deeply anti-Semitic document and cites a famous forgery, the Protocols of the Elders of Zion, as truth." Here's a representative selection:
* "Israel will exist and will continue to exist until Islam will obliterate it, just as it obliterated others before it" (The Martyr, Imam Hassan al-Banna, of blessed memory)." (al-Banna founded the [Egyptian] Muslim Brotherhood, of which Hamas is an offshoot) * "'The Day of Judgement will not come about until Moslems fight the Jews (killing the Jews), when the Jew will hide behind stones and trees. The stones and trees will say O Moslems, O Abdulla, there is a Jew behind me, come and kill him. Only the Gharkad tree, (evidently a certain kind of tree) would not do that because it is one of the trees of the Jews.' (related by al-Bukhari and Moslem)." * "Palestine is an Islamic Waqf land consecrated for Moslem generations until Judgement Day. . . . This is the law governing the land of Palestine in the Islamic Sharia (law) and the same goes for any land the Moslems have conquered by force, because during the times of (Islamic) conquests, the Moslems consecrated these lands to Moslem generations till the Day of Judgement." (A waqf is an inalienable religious endowment in Islam. * "Initiatives, and so-called peaceful solutions and international conferences, are in contradiction to the principles of the Islamic Resistance Movement." * "The day that enemies usurp part of Moslem land, Jihad becomes the individual duty of every Moslem. In face of the Jews' usurpation of Palestine, it is compulsory that the banner of Jihad be raised." * "Zionist organizations under various names and shapes, such as Freemasons, Rotary Clubs, espionage groups and others, . . . are all nothing more than cells of subversion and saboteurs. These organizations have ample resources that enable them to play their role in societies for the purpose of achieving the Zionist targets and to deepen the concepts that would serve the enemy. These organizations operate in the absence of Islam and its estrangement among its people. The Islamic peoples should perform their role in confronting the conspiracies of these saboteurs. The day Islam is in control of guiding the affairs of life, these organizations, hostile to humanity and Islam, will be obliterated." * "With their money, they took control of the world media, news agencies, the press, publishing houses, broadcasting stations, and others. With their money they stirred revolutions in various parts of the world with the purpose of achieving their interests and reaping the fruit therein. They were behind the French Revolution, the Communist revolution and most of the revolutions we heard and hear about, here and there. With their money they formed secret societies, such as Freemasons, Rotary Clubs, the Lions and others in different parts of the world for the purpose of sabotaging societies and achieving Zionist interests. With their money they were able to control imperialistic countries and instigate them to colonize many countries in order to enable them to exploit their resources and spread corruption there." * "They were behind World War I, when they were able to destroy the Islamic Caliphate, making financial gains and controlling resources. They obtained the Balfour Declaration, formed the League of Nations through which they could rule the world. They were behind World War II, through which they made huge financial gains by trading in armaments, and paved the way for the establishment of their state. It was they who instigated the replacement of the League of Nations with the United Nations and the Security Council to enable them to rule the world through them. There is no war going on anywhere, without having their finger in it." * "The Zionist plan is limitless. After Palestine, the Zionists aspire to expand from the Nile to the Euphrates. When they will have digested the region they overtook, they will aspire to further expansion, and so on. Their plan is embodied in the "Protocols of the Elders of Zion", and their present conduct is the best proof of what we are saying."
Erlanger provides examples of Hamas television programs directed at children. Many of these can be viewed, along with transcripts, at The Middle East Media Research Institute TV Monitor Project. Erlanger mentions MEMRI, about which he notes, "no one disputes their translations[.]"
As I wrote yesterday concerning the Palestinians, "I am not ignoring the problems caused by various [Israeli] actions and failures to act. But so long as it is fair, not every diary needs to focus on both sides. Accordingly, unless anti-[Palestinian] Kossacks choose to use the comments to try to delegitimize [the creation of a state of Palestine as part of a "two states for two peoples" peace settlement], I urge friends of [Palestine], among whom I count myself, not to attempt to balance a discussion of [Hamas's] defects with comments pointing out problems on the [Israeli] side."
That said, I am not against Israel talking to Hamas. If Hamas follows the PLO in back-channel talks with Israel, as in the original Oslo process in Yitzhak Rabin's day, then, perhaps, Hamas can become a negotiating partner. (It would then no longer be the "Hamas" of its origins and the present day.) But public participation in peace negotiations reasonably requires that those participating accept that the end in view is a peace settlement that leaves both sides -- Israel and a nascent state of Palestine -- in existence.
Also, again as I wrote yesterday, I hope that "supporters of Senator Obama, among whom I count myself, will encourage him to make a priority of working for a "two states for two peoples" peace settlement between Israel and the Palestinians, and that supporters of Senator Clinton will encourage her, in the spirit of President Bill Clinton's important efforts to achieve such a peace, to be as forthright as Obama has been." That, Barack Obama recognizes both that "Israel's security . . . is non negotiable" and that being pro-Israel does not mean being pro-Likud.
In this spirit, I hope that American and Israeli policies will aim, so far as possible with safeguarding Israel's security, at improving the daily lives of ordinary Palestinians in both Gaza and the West Bank, as well as holding out a clear and credible promise of a state of Palestine alongside Israel, with its capital in East Jerusalem, provided the Palestinians are able to come together to agree such a "two states for two peoples" peace settlement. In those circumstances, I am reasonably confident that Hamas either will accommodate itself to the new realities -- perhaps splitting -- or will be bypassed by the Palestinians themselves.