Friday, February 22, 2013

Hamas' Never-Ending War Against Israel

Israel & Its Neighbours

This article was written in November 2012, shortly after both Israel and Hamas agreed to a cease-fire. It looks at the politics of the irrational, that is, doing something for no rational reason. Such aptly describes both the Palestinian leadership and the Arab world, says George Jochnowitz: "Has there ever been an independence movement that rejected a state of its own because the territory was insufficient? The Palestinians are the first. They have been fighting against a state since the U.N. General Assembly voted to give them one in 1947. The Arab world rejected a state for the second time with the Three No's of Khartoum in 1967. It did so again and again, most notably at Taba in 2001, when President Clinton tried desperately to negotiate a deal between Yasir Arafat and Israel in the last days of his presidency."

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by George Jochnowitz

What's that? Hamas agreed to a cease fire? It seemed the opposite was true. "Invade us! Invade us!" That was the message being carried by the rockets launched by Hamas against Israel. Hamas was hoping for another Operation Cast Lead, during which Israeli forces entered Gaza—to the horror of most of the world.

Hamas leader Khaled Meshal went a step beyond simply sending rockets to provoke an invasion, and said in words, "If you wanted to launch it, you would have done it." He was trying to tease Israel into actually invading Gaza.[1]

Why should Hamas have wanted an invasion? We have to begin by saying they are not practical. The rockets serve no military purpose whatsoever. They certainly don't serve the political purpose of supporting a Palestinian state. In fact, they do precisely the opposite. They are a warning to Israel that any further withdrawals will simply provide more places from which to send more rockets.

Has there ever been an independence movement that rejected a state of its own because the territory was insufficient? The Palestinians are the first. They have been fighting against a state since the U.N. General Assembly voted to give them one in 1947. The Arab world rejected a state for the second time with the Three No's of Khartoum in 1967. It did so again and again, most notably at Taba in 2001, when President Clinton tried desperately to negotiate a deal between Yasir Arafat and Israel in the last days of his presidency. Did Arafat realize that there could never be a better deal? Probably. A deal wasn't what he wanted. It certainly isn't what Hamas wants, since the Hamas Charter rejects the idea of ever coming to an agreement with Israel—something Arafat had consented to.

Yossi Beilin, who has served as Israel's deputy foreign minister and minister of justice, believes that Israel should go along with the Palestinian bid for recognition that Mahmoud Abbas, leader of the Palestinian Authority, is introducing at the U.N.[2]

Abbas generally sounds rational; a two-state solution has been supported by a majority of Israelis, including Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu. However, he is pushing Israel to be irrational by trying to make recognizing Palestinian independence before it has come into being through a deal with Israel is much less rational. Israel would give up all its diplomatic advantages and territorial advantages if it recognized a Palestine that had no need to negotiate over boundaries. Israel would instantly turn into a country that is occupying another country—rather than merely occupying land it conquered in a war of self-defense. Abbas would be free to forget about negotiations, thus joining Hamas, whose charter excludes the possibility of reaching any deal with Israel—ever.

We should not assume that Hamas is rational. Hitler was not rational. He knew he needed Jewish scientists; instead, he killed them or forced them to flee. Former President Rafsanjani of Iran said in the annual Al-Quds (Jerusalem) sermon given on December 14, 2001 that if one day the world of Islam came to possess nuclear weapons, Israel could be destroyed. Rafsanjani said that the use of a nuclear bomb against Israel would leave nothing standing, but that retaliation, no matter how severe, would merely do damage to the world of Islam. That certainly was not rational, since Rafsanjani—and Iran—have no reason to oppose Israel. Why should one sacrifice the lives of one's people in order to destroy another nation that has never been an enemy? Since Iran has absolutely nothing to gain by destroying Israel, its intense and violent anti-Zionism has no tangible, comprehensible reason. As for Hamas, its passion has always taken priority over the goal of creating and building a state. Hamas is not only violent, it is gratuitously violent. Its only conceivable victory is the death of Israeli citizens.

How does one deal with an irrational enemy? There is no good answer. The United States and its allies managed to defeat Hitler through a long, costly, bloody war. Hitler kept killing Jews up to his last moment. Railroads were used to take Jews to Auschwitz instead of supplying soldiers (or evacuating them).

Hamas is not alone in its irrationality. A month ago, 15 leaders of Christian churches in the United States signed a letter urging Congress to reconsider giving aid to Israel. They think Israel is the worst country on earth. They are insensitive to the possibility of genocide. What could be more stupid than that?[3]

The United States and the Soviet Union went to the brink of war at the time of the Cuban missile crisis. Fortunately, they weren't irrational. They wanted to live. Hamas wants to kill, and it wants to die in order to kill. It is ready to turn all of Gaza into a suicide bomb.

Members of the Japanese Red Army Faction, on May 30, 1972, went to Israel so that they could achieve martyrdom while killing Jews. Seventeen of their victims were Puerto Rican Christian pilgrims, but that is beside the point. Perhaps they were the first suicide murderers to choose to die in order to kill Jews. Perhaps they were inspired by the Japanese kamikaze pilots who flew their planes into allied naval vessels during World War II.

Kamikaze is Japanese for "divine wind." The association of holiness with suicide killing makes us think of Islam rather than Shintoism. Suicide bombers have become the rule in all Islamic countries, where people blow themselves up in marketplaces and mosques for no logical reason.

Half a world from Japan, here in the United States, the Nation of Islam (NOI) argues that the Jews are not Jews at all, thus denying their right to Israel. Cynthia Ozick, in Partisan Review (1994, p. 384), quotes Khalid Muhammad (a former national spokesman for the Nation of Islam, who died in 2001) as saying: "You know nothing about bathrooms and toilets and restrooms and sanitation systems. You did your Number One and your Number Two, your pee-pee and your doo-doo . . . right in the caves and hills of Europe. You slept in your urination and your defecation, generation after generation, for two thousand years. . . . You knocked animals in the heads with clubs and boulders and bricks . . . and all of you would just gum them and eat the fur, the filth, and suck the blood from the raw meat, and you still eat your meat raw, to this very day." Like all anti-Zionism, the NOI position has no content--other than racism.

Khalid Muhammad's words were idiotic. Unfortunately, clerics in Gaza nowadays often refer to Jews as apes and pigs. [4]

This is equally idiotic, but Hamas believes it is what the Qur'an says. The current beliefs of Hamas are becoming ever more widespread among Muslims. This strange form of faith is the best explanation for why Hamas launched rockets into Israel.

Leftists all over the world have been united against Israel ever since the Bandung Conference, which took place in Indonesia in 1955. Rightists, who have an old tradition of anti-Semitism, have been less visible in recent years. This is changing. Hungary, in particular, is the scene of anti-Israel demonstrations by the ultra-rightist Jobbik Party, whose members recently burned an Israeli flag in front of a Budapest synagogue.[5]

Hamas is now supported by a left-right de facto coalition in Europe. Then why did they agree to a cease fire? Their situation must have been dire. They need time to rebuild. Why did Israel agree? Because an invasion of Gaza would have cost the lives of many soldiers. A life is infinitely valuable to the Israelis. Choose Life!


Footnotes
[1] http://www.nytimes.com/2012/11/20/world/middleeast/israel-gaza-conflict.html?pagewanted=1&adxnnl=1&adxnnlx=1353373405-oImeql16vHQuPUye5YnXfQ

[2] http://www.nytimes.com/2012/11/26/opinion/support-palestinian-statehood.html?ref=opinion

[3] http://www.nytimes.com/2012/10/21/us/church-appeal-on-israel-angers-jewish-groups.html?_r=0

[4] http://www.palwatch.org/main.aspx?fi=786

[5] http://www.presstv.ir/detail/2012/10/25/268630/israel-flag-burned-in-hungary-capital/

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George Jochnowitz was born in New York City, in 1937.  He became aware of different regional pronunciations when he was six, and he could consciously switch accents as a child. He got his Ph.D. in linguistics from Columbia University and taught linguistics at the College of Staten Island, CUNY.  His area of specialization was Jewish languages, in particular, Judeo-Italian dialects.  As part of a faculty-exchange agreement with Hebei University in Baoding, China, he was in China during the Tiananmen Massacre. He can be reached at george@jochnowitz.net.

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Copyright ©2013. George Jochnowitz. All Rights Reserved. This essay appeared in Think Israel (November/December 2012) It is republished here with the permission of the author.

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