The general estimation of Hamas by the international community is something of a mystery. On the one hand, the group openly harbors an unwavering desire to ethnically cleanse Israel of its Jewish population through suicide bombings and rocket attacks in order to reclaim the land for their god and their prophet. On the other, a 2006 victory in a democratic election gave Hamas control of the Gaza Strip, so as the elected political body of its opposition, the international community somehow expects Israel to negotiate with this group to broker a peace. Benjamin Netanyahu, Prime Minister of Israel, does not currently seem content to sit down and speak with Hamas, however. Hamas recently released a statement committing to the "unofficial truce" if Israel will refrain from attacking Gaza. Netanyahu apparently finds the prospect of truce and negotiation with Hamas fruitless, so Israeli jets struck the Gaza Strip in response to a barrage of over 50 Palestinian rockets that found targets in Southern Israel.
To Palestinian supporters, this will undoubtedly be chalked up as more Zionist aggression against reasonable political opposition. Never discussed by this deluded demographic, however, is the real reason why Israeli leaders like Netanyahu lack the incentive to choose negotiation with Hamas over retaliation. Where Israel has in the past and would continue to bring to the bargaining table a desire for coexistence and the will to make concessions, Hamas has stated on the record, and has shown in its actions, that it would bring to negotiations nothing more than strategic lulls in combat and a suicide belt.
Westerners have an affinity for separating the notions of religion and politics. In fact, the design of our modern, liberal societies is predicated upon the belief that religion and politics must operate independently of one another, with a broad political structure safeguarding the individual practice of religion. This is why the West cannot grasp the ideology of fundamental Islamic groups like Hamas. For these groups, religion and politics must exist indivisibly, lest political policy be amended to contradict religious doctrine, and thereby suggest the imperfection of Islam.
To prove the fact that the religion of Islam has shaped the politics and practice of Hamas, one need look no further than their founding charter, the Hamas Covenant, written in 1988. Observe the slogan of Hamas, found in Article Eight: "Allah is its goal, the Prophet its model, the Qur'an its Constitution, Jihad its path and death for the case of Allah its most sublime belief."
Hardly a secular mission statement. So using the religious template of Muhammad, along with the teaching of standard Islamic jurisprudence, this charter goes on to issue a primary directive that is little more than an eternal threat to the state of Israel. Hamas' primary ambition is outlined as "discarding the evil, crushing and defeating it, so that... calls for prayer be heard from the mosques, announcing the reinstitution of the Muslim state."
And the text makes no bones about the identity of the evil that must be crushed, defeated, and discarded:
The Hamas has been looking forward to implement Allah's promise whatever time it might take. The prophet, prayer and peace be upon him, said: The time will not come until Muslims will fight the Jews (and kill them); until the Jews hide behind rocks and trees, which will cry: O Muslim! There is a Jew hiding behind me, come on and kill him!
From where does this example of hatred and bloodlust derive? In particular, this reference of Muhammad's teaching can be found in the widely observed Hadith (Islamic traditions) of Sahih Muslim and Bukhari. Though apologists may question of the context of these verses in the Hadith, there is no question about the context in which Hamas finds them, and therefore, it is undeniable that intolerance found in Islam has shaped the unshakable political creed of Hamas. So what does all this tell the Western world that struggles to understand Israel's opposition in the Middle East? It should tell us that Hamas is not a free-thinking unit that is able to amend its practice to meet the Western desires of peace with Israel, because its "constitution" of the Quran demands that there be no alternative path apart from jihad. It tells us that Hamas is as capable of compromise and negotiation as Osama bin Laden and al Qaeda, as they are both bound to the same steadfast ideological tether. But that conclusion raises an interesting question, doesn't it? If both Hamas and al-Qaeda share the same ideological source material, the same methods of terror and martyrdom to advance their agenda, and the same ambition as dictated in Islamic jurisprudence, why is it that one of these groups is looked at as a shadowy and rabid terrorist group while the other looked at as a defined and viable political player in establishing a Middle Eastern peace? Why should Israel negotiate with Hamas? Would America enter negotiations with al-Qaeda, a group which we understand reserves no alternatives to America's destruction or its replacement with an Islamic state? With a president who refuses to examine the link between core Islamic doctrine and global terrorism while establishing a platform to negotiate with hateful ideologues like Mahmoud Ahmedinejad of Iran, I shudder to think of the possible answer to that question. But aside from the blind and apologetic pacifism displayed by our president and our more ignorant citizens, the correct answer is: No, there is nothing to be gained by negotiating with terrorists. The West's delusional approach to groups like Hamas makes it, in part, culpable for the men, women, children, and babies who are routinely targeted and murdered in Israel by groups claiming Islam as their spurring motive. Rather than accepting Hamas as we would accept secular and peaceful opposition, the truth we must come to understand is that being a member of, or even a supporter of, groups like Hamas, Fatah, al-Qaeda, or Hizballah should be as clear a mark of fascism, intolerance, and hate as the wearing of a swastika remains today. These groups are merely the many heads of the hydra that is fundamentalist Islam, and it is to our detriment and to Israel's immediate danger that we choose to strike at one head while ignoring or pacifying all the others.
So when presented the option to either negotiate with or retaliate against a group that will accept no option beyond the destruction of Israel and its citizens, it is not only reasonable, but admirable and honorable that Netanyahu has made the decision to protect his people by choosing to press the Islamic terrorists of Hamas, as opposed to pacifying them and allowing them to feign politics to fulfill their stated religious conquest.