February 25, 2009
Hamas and JihadismBy Moshe Dann
Problems without solutions are frustrating, especially when the disputes are between warring groups and countries; so politicians, diplomats and envoys spend their time negotiating and trying to hammer out a deal, anything that will show progress.
Sometimes it works, at least temporarily, and sometimes it's just a prelude to confrontation. That's the quicksand of the Middle East.
Attempts to resolve conflicts based on false assumptions, inadequate information, and denial are doomed to failure. That's why American foreign policy in the Middle East, especially concerning the Arab-Israeli dispute, has been a disaster costing thousands of lives and wasting billions of dollars.
The "peace process" that began in Oslo, through Camp David and Annapolis, via agreements and "Road Maps" was based on the "two-state" solution. Reasonable in theory, it failed in practice. Now, with a self-declared jihadist regime in Gaza, even the theory has collapsed.
Efforts to resuscitate the "peace process" by Pres. Obama's envoy, Sen. George Mitchell, will fail again because there seems to be no awareness of what Hamas jihadism means. [Read Hamas' Charter: "all Israeli territory is irrevocably Muslim land; Israel must be destroyed; the struggle against the Jews is a religious obligation for every Muslim."]
Although focused locally, Hamas is linked with every other jihadist group and terror-supporting countries, especially Iran.
Jihadists are not attacking "infidels" like Israel and Americans because they want justice, equality, more freedom, higher standards of living - or even land. They are engaged in a religious struggle to annihilate the enemy, 'the other,' non-Moslems, their entire societies and cultures.
Jihadists don't represent another culture or civilization. They are a world-wide movement that includes Al Qaida and the Moslem Brotherhood. Their goal is the destruction of all cultures and civilizations that are different as a prelude to the Caliphate, the End of Days.
Jihadists, therefore, can't compromise, reconcile, or accommodate because that would deny their reason to exist. Apocalyptic, they yearn for the end of everything - which is why - for them -- life means nothing.
Jihadism is a form of nihilism, the negation of pluralism and progress, the end of notions of good and evil. Hurtling towards a void in which nothingness is everything, martyrdom and death is the ultimate fulfillment.
This is why negotiations with Hamas are futile; any deviation from their Covenant violates their identity. Concessions are a betrayal of Islam. 'Peace-makers' are traitors.
"But," many argue, "Hamas was democratically elected, and therefore has legitimacy."
Although Hamas rules with the consent of many Palestinians, that does not give it the right to commit terrorist attacks. Nor does it mean that Israel must refrain from self-defense. Hamas cannot claim the right to rule without being held accountable.
To suggest that Hamas may change with sanctions or appeasement, or that the people will rise up against the regime is absurd. Hamas controls all schools, media and mosques. This is a locked-down society.
Where then does that leave us? A stand-off can only be resolved within Gaza, not by any outside force, but with caution and patience. Although not an ideal position, it is realistic and offers clear policy guidelines.
Making a resolution of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict a precondition for rapprochement with the Muslim/Arab world and developing a coalition to confront Iran forces Israel into an untenable position and prevents any realistic alternatives.
The Arab-Israel conflict is not a territorial dispute; every Palestinian leader has said this for the last 70 years and we must believe them.
Ending the addiction to "the two-state solution" -- a quick fix that only makes the problem worse - opens the door to new and more creative possibilities. Not everyone who wants a state deserves one; a privilege, it must be earned. Neither Hamas nor Fatah have shown that they are capable of governing responsibly, maturely or wisely. Why then should they be offered a state?
The author, a former assistant professor of History, is a writer and journalist living in Jerusalem.