About Israel and Palestine and Hamas.

I know that for many people in the blogosphere, the issue of what’s going on in Israel is black-and-white, a struggle for freedom by a subjugated people against a big bad nasty evil government that has superior firepower and military strength. Subjugated people in the form of Palestinians in Gaza: check. Evil government in the form of the Israeli government that is dropping bombs on innocent civilians in Gaza: check. Hamas as freedom-fighters for the subjugated Palestinian people in Gaza and the West Bank: check. That’s the narrative. Oh, and let’s add in here: Israeli government refusing to negotiate with those freedom-fighters, which makes it even worse and more despotic and so forth. Check.

If you read most news right now, that’s the story you’re being told about what’s going on in Gaza.

But let me ask you this: does the fact that nearly all of the nations which surround Israel (except for Egypt and, possibly, Jordan) want Israel wiped off the map because it is a Jewish state matter in this black-and-white debate? Hamas is yet another iteration of Arabic terrorism against Jews and another attempt to eliminate Israel as a nation. Does that matter? Does it matter that Palestine was offered 95% of the land they wanted as well as independent statehood, and rejected it because the offer did not include the elimination of Israel as a nation?

Also, please note the distinctions between “Israelis” and “Jews,” as well as the distinctions between “Hamas” and “Palestinians.” If you fail to make these distinctions, I’m going to dismiss what you have to say. Not all Israelis are Jews. Not all Jews are Israelis. Not all Jews who are Zionists are okay with what’s going on in Gaza. Not all Palestinians are supporters of Hamas.

This is not a black-and-white issue. It can’t be.

There’s also the fact that Hamas is hiding munitions in civilian spaces on purpose, to create civilian deaths when Israel moves to eliminate those munitions, as good, bloody, splashy, horrific PR for Hamas’ side.

I am NOT okay with civilian deaths in Palestine. I am not okay with death generally. I am not okay with war. But I don’t see a way out of this that preserves Israel as a state and also preserves the lives of the people in Gaza unless Hamas agrees to stand down and get out of Gaza, which it’s already made clear that it will not do.

I also see this as fundamentally different from other scenarios where a small group of “freedom fighters” fight against a large, established nation. Normally, that nation is not surrounded by other nations that want it to disappear. Israel is. You can blather on that Hamas is fighting the big bad Israeli monster, but that monster pales compared to the monsters Israel has to fight (every Arabic nation except Egypt and possibly Jordan, for starters).

Let’s be clear, here: Hamas is not a set of freedom fighters struggling to liberate a subjugated people. It is an opportunistic terrorist group that is using a subjugated people as cannon fodder to make itself look like a set of freedom fighters. The Palestinians are the main victims here – that’s not in dispute. But Hamas also has Israel over a barrel because Hamas will not negotiate.

Meanwhile, the international community is coming down on Israel for not being open to a peaceful solution. Well, until Hamas (and the neighbor Arab states surrounding Israel) give up their demand that Israel cease to exist, there can be no peaceful solution here. And folks, that is not Israel’s fault. If I told you “The only negotiation token I’ll accept is if you agree to commit suicide and cease to exist,” it’s not your fault if you reject it. You would be crazy if you didn’t.

There is no good, 100% clean place to stand here. I cannot support the elimination of Israel. But by supporting Israel’s right to exist, I appear to also support the deaths of Palestinian civilians who have been placed in harm’s way by Hamas. I do not support their deaths. But those who support the Palestinians also, by definition, appear to support Hamas.

Let’s be clear here. Hamas is to blame for this entire situation. It is Hamas and its supporters who could easily end this if they would accept the presence of a Jewish state in the region and a two-state solution for Gaza and the West Bank. It is not the Palestinians’ fault. They don’t deserve what’s happening to them. But what is happening to them is Hamas’ fault (and the fault of all of its supporters in the area).

So, don’t be a supporter of Hamas, please. If you are, I will think less of you. Support the Palestinians all you like and I’ll agree with you. I support a two-state solution in Gaza and the West Bank. But be aware that Hamas does not support a two-state solution, and it never will support a two-state solution. And factor that fact into your position when you post on this topic.

So, given that Hamas will not negotiate – keep that in mind, now – and that their ultimate goal is the elimination of Israel as a politically recognized state – again, for Hamas this is not negotiable – what, exactly, would you do as the Israeli government? Before you answer, consider that most of the Arabic states that surround Israel also want Israel wiped off the map. Also consider that many Israelis are not Jews.

Tougher than it looks, isn’t it?

Please stop making sweeping condemnations of Israel for what’s going on in Israel. Yes, what is happening to Palestinians should not be happening. Yes, it’s awful. But the fact is, Hamas will not negotiate, and Hamas is setting Palestinians up to be targeted by using civilian locations like schools, and hospitals, and mosques for the storage of arms and armaments, while also telling Palestinians to ignore Israel’s bombing warnings and refusing to give Palestinians any sort of safe shelters (although it could have and has not). Short of a full-on ground invasion of Gaza and the arrest of every last member of Hamas (which is kind of like trying to spear every last bit of Jell-O with a fork – try it sometime), what else is Israel supposed to do here? Roll over and die? I have not seen any viable suggestions, only condemnations. A suggestion that they should negotiate with Hamas fails from the get-go because HAMAS WILL NOT NEGOTIATE HERE.

So given that Hamas will not negotiate, what’s your solution? When you have one, let me know.

And in the meantime, please acknowledge the full reality of the situation, instead of supporting a terrorist group that created this situation in the first place.

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7 Comments

Filed under Israel

7 responses to “About Israel and Palestine and Hamas.

  1. OldCutterJohn

    An’ the tar baby, he doan say nuthin’!

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  2. There is no question that Hamas is a vile, corrupt, hateful, and terrorist organization. That said, I am not sure where you are getting the idea that they refuse to negotiate. Even the right-leaning Jerusalem Post has reported on Hamas’s proposal for a ten-year ceasefire (http://www.jpost.com/Operation-Protective-Edge/What-are-Hamass-conditions-for-a-cease-fire-363011). Ten years is a far-cry from a permanent solution or recognition of Israel’s right to exist. But a lot can happen in ten years. Especially if Hamas allows the PA to negotiate with Israel on behalf of the unity government, as was agreed in the unity agreement that the two factions signed months ago.

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    • If they are willing, why isn’t it happening? I’ve had people say that Israel is not interested in a two-state solution, which horrifies me.

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      • Like you wrote, the issue is not black and white. But here’s my take: Netanyahu has made clear that he will not negotiate with Hamas as long as they refuse to recognize Israel’s right to exist. So the question is do you negotiate with terrorists or not? I don’t believe there’s an easy answer, but I think labels, like “terrorist,” (as applicable as they may be) are not helpful when determining what is best for a country’s security and future. America has learned this in Afghanistan as it has realized the necessity of negotiating with the Taliban.
        As to your point about Israel not being interested in a two-state solution, there are certainly Israelis that are interested in it and certainly Israelis that are not. I definitely believe (and I think the facts show) that a majority of Israelis are interested. The more important question, however, is what concessions are they willing to make for such a state: How many settlements are they willing to withdraw from? Are they willing to recognize a symbolic Palestinian right of return with monetary compensation for those not actually entitled to return to their homes in Israel? Are they willing to allow part of East Jerusalem to be part of a Palestinian state?
        I think it is much less clear how many Israelis are willing to compromise on these points. It is one thing to say you want a two-state solution. It is quite another to make the tough compromises it will take to get there.

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        • I’m certainly not denying that it’s tough. But it’s the only realistic way to solve this, I think. And I don’t see Hamas budging on the issue of recognition of an Israeli state. It’s got too much invested in refusing that recognition. And that’s the cornerstone on which all the rest of this rests, isn’t it?

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          • I personally don’t think so. As much as I hate Hamas, I don’t think there is anything that unreasonable in their conditions for a 10-year ceasefire: lifting the blockade on Gaza; freeing the hundreds of released prisoners who were rearrested after the heinous killing of the three teenagers; and opening up the Gaza seaport with international supervision, all seem like reasonable requests to me. If Israel is able to achieve a 10-year truce with Hamas and in that time negotiate with Abbas, representing the entire unity government, I think there is room for a real two-state solution.
            I think, equally importantly, there is a question of what you can legitimately do just because someone doesn’t recognize your right to exist. Many Native Americans don’t recognize the United States’ right to exist, but that doesn’t give the US the right to blockade their reservations. If Hamas is willing to cease attacking Israel, I am not sure that its rhetoric gives Israel the right to blockade 1.8 million people.
            Also, just like Hamas doesn’t recognize Israel’s right to exist, the Likud party, Yisrael Beiteinu, and Habayit Hayehudi — three of the four largest parties in the current Knesset — all do not recognize the right of Palestinians to a state west of the Jordan River. Just important to remember when it comes to the official positions of the different parties in this whole mess.

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