href=”http://www.nationalpost.com/opinion/story.html?id=4f995b6f-2153-455a-b633-a6ffbd75e8af&p=1″ target=”_blank”>What must change
Saif Dahlah, AFP, Getty Images
Who is winning in Gaza? Considering that every Hamas rocket fired at Israel does more damage to the interests of Palestinians than to the interests of Israelis, it’s tempting to say that Israel should encourage rather than hinder the terrorists. But saying so would be cheap sophistry. In the end, the interests of Palestinians and Israelis overlap.
The two people share the same small corner of the Earth. What harms one has to harm the other. Since they have to live together, unless they find a way to live together in peace, they’ll have to live in a state of perpetual war.
Three years ago, when Hamas achieved what some media reports described as a “stunning” electoral victory, the American scholar Judea Pearl — father of Daniel Pearl, the Wall Street Journal correspondent abducted and murdered by terrorists in Pakistan — delivered a speech at a United Nations briefing for nongovernmental organizations.
Few would blame Professor Pearl if he were intransigent, but he isn’t. He is, in fact, a particularly eloquent proponent of dialogue.
“It might come as a surprise to some of you,” he told the briefing session, “but after a century of bloodshed, several peace agreements, many negotiations and interfaith dialogues and countless UN-funded cultural programs, the majority of Muslims today still reject the idea that Jews deserve a state in some part of Palestine. Instead, Muslims perceive Israel to be a temporary outpost of Western colonialism, hastily created out of guilt or greed.”
This, I’ve long believed, is the crux of the matter. Until this changes, nothing can change. And unless this changes, nothing will.
When Hamas achieved control of Gaza, it had an opportunity to do something for its people. Many liberal commentators expected that it would, not only in the West but even in Israel. After all, some pundits wrote, Hamas won the election because it was less corrupt than Fatah. It was also better organized. Obdurate rhetoric aside, it would be mellowed by responsibility and power. Now that it had a mandate, Hamas would turn to building infrastructure and improving life in the region vacated by the Jewish occupier.
Hamas did nothing of the sort. It promptly smuggled weapons into Gaza and started lobbing rockets at Israel. Whatever power did to Hamas, it didn’t mellow it.
If the Arab/Muslim world had a fraction of the interest in creating a Palestinian state as it has in destroying a Jewish one, the Palestinians would have had their country long ago. They could have had one before the Jews did, if the Arab side had accepted the 1937 Peel Commission’s recommendations for the partition of Palestine. Or they would have had one 10 years later, in 1947, when the United Nations recommended a similar partition of the British Mandate. And, of course, they could have had one during the two decades of the so-called peace process — Madrid, Oslo, Wye River, Road Map, etc. — spanning three U. S. administrations that had little in common except their eagerness to pull a rabbit out of the Middle East hat.
But the Arab/Muslim world wasn’t interested in the Palestinians having a state. They were only interested in the Jews not having one.
Had partition been accomplished before the Second World War, European Jews could have found refuge from the Nazis in their ancestral, Biblical homeland. The Holocaust might have been averted. The Jews would have had a country, and so would the Palestinians.
As it is, 60 years after the birth of Israel, “home” is still a walled-in fortress for the Jews, and the squalour and corruption of refugee camps for the Palestinians. And for the last three years Palestinians in Gaza have also had Hamas.
What is Hamas and what can be done with it? Melanie Phillips, writing in The Spectator this month, quotes Farid Ghadry, president of the Reform Party of Syria:
“We Arabs must be the ones to stop Hamas and Hezbollah, rather than support their demonic and twisted logic of resisting development, enlightenment and progress of the region … [W]hile we abhor violence of all kind, Israel’s campaign against Hamas must continue to the bitter end not only for the sake of peace but also to help Arabs realize they have a choice: Destroy like Gaza or develop like Dubai… ”
Ghadry isn’t alone. Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak’s tough stance in the truce negotiations indicates that Hamas may have overplayed its hand in at least parts of the Arab world. Ironically, Hamas’s strongest supporters may be in the West, among left-wing activists and media types, who have been consistently wrong about everything in world affairs. I suppose it makes sense for terrorists to be sheltered mainly by terrorists in the end.