President Obama is not letting the flotilla crisis go to waste. He is using it as a springboard to change U.S. policy regarding Hamas. In his words, uttered in a recent interview by Larry King, "Time to move forward and break out of the impasse," and "the status quo is unsustainable." Totally aside from whether it is really unsustainable, one need not wonder how Obama intends to break out of the impasse. He will bring Hamas in from the cold.
The group behind the Gaza flotilla that engaged in deadly clashes with Israeli commandos today counts among its top supporters the friends and associates of President Barack Obama, namely the founders of the Weather Underground terrorist organization, William Ayers and Bernardine Dohrn, as well as Jodie Evans, the leader of the radical activist organization Code Pink.
Barack Obama should be included in this cast of characters.
The anti-blockade movement was promoted by a Turkish "charity," IHH, which has been designated as a supporter of Hamas by both Israel and the U.S. One of the backers of this "charity" is Tariq Ramadan, who was banned from entering the U.S. due to his financial support of Hamas. Yet Obama believes that "Turkey can have a positive voice in this whole process." In April of this year, Obama's administration lifted the ban on Ramadan. A week ago, the Guardian ran this headline: "Hamas leader says American envoys making contact, but not openly." And this was before the crises.
But the Obama-Hamas connection goes way back.
Indeed, where does that leave Obama himself?
During his election campaign, Obama was aided by Hamas-controlled Palestinians manning a phone bank from Gaza. Al Jazeera reported on the story.
Seven days later, on January 27, 2009, Obama allocated $20.3 million for Palestinian migration and refugee assistance. Quite a reward. Why was he bringing Hamas terrorists to the U.S.? But Obama's gratitude didn't end there. One month later, in the middle of a great economic crunch, Obama sent $900 million to Gazans, or should I say Hamas. So how does Obama intend to end the impasse? An indication may be in President Carter's written initiative, which he delivered to Hamas a year ago. In it, he proposed talks between the Islamist group and the U.S. without Hamas having to accept all conditions previously laid out for dialogue by the American government.
After the Hamas takeover of Gaza three years ago, the U.S. and Israel decided to impose a blockade on Gaza to bring Hamas down. Hamas started firing rockets at Israel over the next few years to force a change in this policy. This resulted in Cast Lead, in which the IDF attacked Hamas and delivered a major blow. Israel shocked everyone by ending the operation before Hamas was annihilated. It was reported that she did so at the request of President-elect Obama, who was about to be inaugurated.
For the time being, the rockets being fired by Hamas are few and far between, perhaps because Hamas has a friend in the White House. Instead, Hamas has been planning, along with friends of Obama above mentioned and Brennan, deputy national security adviser for homeland security and counterterrorism, to break the siege with a flotilla...and to make sure to create a sufficient crisis to enable Obama to chart another course more favorable to them, they planned a violent confrontation.
"Ending the impasse" means lifting the blockade. Netanyahu in a recent speech gave Israel's bottom line, saying, "Israel cannot permit Iran to establish a Mediterranean port a few dozen kilometers from Tel Aviv and from Jerusalem." The same, I am sure, goes for an airport in Gaza.
Let's see how Obama squares the circle. No doubt he will propose some international inspection of cargo, certainly arriving from the Mediterranean and possibly from Egypt. But Israel need look no farther than UNSC Res 1701, which ended Lebanon War II. That resolution was to put a stop to the rearming of Hezbollah. It failed miserably. Why should better results be expected in Gaza?
Ted Belman is the editor of Israpundit. He made aliya from Toronto a year ago and is now living in Jerusalem.