Hamas is not a partner for peace. We need to stop pretending it is, writes Stephen Hoffman.
One of the most naive refrains I constantly hear on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict is the idea that Hamas in its current incarnation is an organisation that is a peace partner for Israel. This view is equivalent in its stupidity to those who still believe despite all the evidence to the contrary that the earth is flat. People with these views are either politely called ‘eccentrics’ or given the more fitting name ‘crackpots’. We should therefore give those who advocate Hamas as a partner the same treatment, rather than treating their claims as credible, as a number of people currently do.
It is important to remember that Hamas is not part of the solution for peace in the Middle East, but is in fact part of the problem. One only has to see Hamas Charter that it has not repudiated, to be reminded that its raison d’etre is destroying Israel and it makes numerous statements that highlights this. For instance. in 2006 Hamas leader Khaled Mashaal said, “Hamas will not change a single words in its covenant [which is calling for the destruction of Israel] “. These words have been backed up by numerous other statements from leading Hamas officials including Mahmoud Zahar who stated in 2011 that ” Palestine is Islamic, and not an Islamic emirate, from the river to the sea, that unites the Palestinians. Jews have no rights in it, with the exception of those who have lived on the land of Palestine before World War 1″. This followed on from statements that Zahar made in 2010 that “Hamas must lay the foundation for a tomorrow without Zionists”. One doesn’t have to be an expert on international relations to see that Hamas is hellbent on ending Israel’s very existence. Since any peace between Israelis and Palestinians involves Israel remaining as a country in the Middle East, there is no way that Hamas in its present form can be seen to be interested in peace.
Hamas does not act by mere words though, it actively tries to destroy Israel through violent terror including suicide bombings, car bombs, bus bombs and launching thousands of rockets into Israel from the Gaza Strip, all with the intention of terrorising Israeli civilians and killing as many of them as possible. During the second Intifada that started at the turn of the millennium, Hamas launched numerous terrorist attacks including suicide bombings at towns across Israel. Many Israeli civilians died from these attacks. Again these terror attacks were backed by statements from Hamas officials, including from Hamas Prime Minister in Gaza, Ismail Haniyeh who said “This is the time for the third uprising… Resistance will continue through suicide missions”. From this once can clearly see it is committed to vile acts of terror that significantly harm the peace process.
In addition, it has been in charge of the Gaza Strip since Israel pulled out of it in 2005. During this time Gaza has become a playground for numerous international terrorist groups, which has led to a situation where since 2005 over 8,000 rockets have hit Israel from the Gaza Strip. Either in firing these rockets, smuggling in the weapons materials that make the firings of these rockets possible or allowing them to be fired on territory they control, Hamas is directly responsible. This is certainly not the actions of a group interested in peace. Indeed, it cares more about endangering the security of Israelis, then taking practical steps to build a Palestinian state could live side by side with Israel.
Hamas is also a virulently anti-semitic group whose charter quotes from the notorious anti-semitic Tsarist forgery The Elders of Zion. In addition, many of its members indulge in Holocaust denial. For example, Ismail Haniyeh stated in 2011 that “The Jews are the most despicable and contemptible nation to crawl upon the face of the Earth”. These are not the rantings of just one Hamas official either. In fact, in 2011 Hamas’s former Minister for Culture, Attal Abu Al-Subh said, ” We cannot agree to a programme that is intended to poison the minds of our children… Holocaust studies in refugee camps is a contemptible plot”. It is no surprise therefore that most of the money Hamas’s spends on education is on materials that preach hatred against Jews. Clearly, this is not a group seeking to accommodate with Israel, which would involve difficult compromises by both sides. Instead, Hamas is intent on removing any semblance of the Jewish faith in the Middle East. Consequently, there is no way that Israel can talk to Hamas as a peace partner. Would you after all seek to negotiate with a person who is intent on killing you, by asking them how would you like to kill me? So why should Israel endanger its very existence to a group who wants to destroy the peace process.
Some try to compare talking to Hamas as the UK did with the IRA/Sinn Fein. The comparison is completely inaccurate. For a start, whilst the IRA was a disgusting terrorist group, which has the blood of many UK civilians on it hands, it never called for the destruction of Britain and the British people. Contrastingly Hamas calls for the destruction of Israel and all the Jewish people living in Israel. The IRA through its political wing Sinn Fein has shown signs that it is seeking to end violence. All wings of Hamas still actively target Israeli civilians.
It is time that the sanitisation of Hamas stopped. Hamas is a disgraceful anti-semitic terrorist organisation, which harms the chances of peace between Israelis and Palestinians, which are in the interests of both peoples. Hamas has currently not shown any evidence that it is changing its ways and until it does we should not promote or give credibility to this group, at the expense of moderates in the region. If some people continue to whitewash Hamas’ crimes in the misguided belief that they are promoting peace, they are in fact harming it by giving succour and credibility to an extremist group that has hate not peace in its heart.
Stephen Hoffman is a campaigns officer at the Zionist Federation. He tweets as @thehoff102