What to speak with Hamas about
By Shlomo Avineri
Recently, more and more voices have been heard saying that the only way to reach an Israeli-Palestinian accord is by talking to Hamas. These voices are not only in Europe but also in the United States. New York Times columnist Roger Cohen, for example, and Brent Sowcroft, who was national security adviser to the first president Bush, have said that without a dialogue with Hamas there will be no peace between Israel and the Palestinians. And if Israel refuses to do so, the Europeans or the Americans should begin a dialogue with Hamas.
Similar statements can also be heard in the margins of Israeli politics.
I believe they are right, but not for the reasons they cite. The question is what to talk to Hamas about. It is clear we have to talk with them - and Israel indeed does speak with them indirectly - about freeing kidnapped soldier Gilad Shalit and achieving calm.
I believe we must talk to Hamas about other things too, like about what is written in their founding covenant. Most Israelis, as well as the Europeans and Americans, know that Hamas espouses the destruction of Israel. What most of them do not know is that Hamas' founding document includes a much more comprehensive attitude, not merely to Israel and Zionism, but to the Jews.
The prologue to the covenant states that Hamas' aim is a war - not against Israel or Zionism but against the Jewish people at large, since the Jews, and not merely Israel and Zionism, are the enemies of Islam.
And in order to remove any doubt, the entire chapter 22 is devoted to detailing the iniquities of the Jews.
According to Hamas, the Jews are responsible for all the ills of modern society - the French Revolution; the Communist revolution; the establishment of secret associations (Freemasons, Rotary and Lions clubs, B'nai B'rith) designed to help them gain control of the world by secret means. They control the economy, press and television; they are responsible for the outbreak of World War I, which they initiated in order to destroy the Muslim caliphates (the Ottoman empire), to get the Balfour Declaration and set up the League of Nations with the aim of establishing their state. They also initiated World War II in order to make a fortune from selling war materials; they use both capitalism and communism as their agents.
Sound familiar? Yes, some of it is taken directly from "The Protocols of the Elders of Zion," and some, particularly the parts dealing with the world wars, is original.
Don't tell me that these are merely words and Hamas must not be judged only on the basis of its covenant. Would anyone dare say that if a similar movement were to arise in Europe or America and, in addition to statements like these, was busy killing Jews?
Compared with what is written in the Hamas covenant, Austria's Joerg Haider and Jean-Marie Le Pen in France are moderates.
It is clear that if a movement like this were to come out of Europe, no one would even imagine proposing that negotiations be held with it, or that it be asked to join a government. It would not merely be declared illegal but denounced by humankind. An abomination like that has no place in any political discourse.
But perhaps it is nevertheless worthwhile talking to Hamas - not about its contribution to peace but rather about what is stated in its covenant. Perhaps those who espouse the view that we must talk with Hamas will first talk with it about these subjects? Who knows, perhaps it will change its principles? I do not expect this to happen exactly, but I am certainly curious to know what those who think Hamas is the key to peace in the Middle East will say about these things.
And perhaps they are actually correct, perhaps Hamas is the key. If that's the case, it's difficult to expect that peace can be established in our region.
Monday, April 06, 2009
Hamas and the Jews
I totally agree with the following op-ed by Shlomo Avineri (Hebrew, English):