Tuesday, June 17, 2003

In a commentary in today's Ha'aretz, "Truth serum on the tip of a missile", Yoel Marcus lays bare the true politics of Hamas -- not to establish a Palestinian state across the Green Line (in the West Bank and the Gaza Strip), but to destroy the state of Israel and create an Islamic state in all of the land west of the Jordan. This commentary ought to be required reading for all the sloppy journalists who lump Hamas (and for that matter, Islamic Jihad) together with Palestinian groups and figures (for example, Abu Mazen) that state that their goal is a Palestinian state in the West Bank and Gaza.

To paraphrase the old saying "Wine in, truth out," one could say about Abdel Aziz Rantisi: "Missile in, truth out." The Hamas leader, who escaped by the skin of his teeth from the bungled bombing mission of our Apaches last week, gnashed his teeth and promised that the armed struggle would continue until the last Jew was driven out. In his anger, he revealed the true goal of Hamas.

It's hard to believe that now, 55 years after the establishment of the state and decades after signing peace agreements with Egypt and Jordan, we are once again hearing threats of the kind made by Ahmed Shukeiry, secretary of the Arab League, 40 years ago. "We will send the Jews back where they came from," Shukeiry declared on French television at the time. Asked by the interviewer - and this is a scene I have never been able to forget - what plans he had for Jews who were born in Israel, Shukeiry drew a finger across his throat. In other words, we'll butcher them.

Unlike the PLO, which bills itself as a national liberation organization, Hamas is a fanatical religious terror network that is seeking to wipe out both Israel and secular Palestinian rule. In the attempt on Rantisi's life, one may disagree with the timing and the method, but there is no question that the heads of an organization which has been killing our people indiscriminately for well over a decade are terrorists who deserve to die.

Hamas was born in 1988, at the height of the first intifada, taking its cue from Khomeinism in Iran and Hezbollah in Lebanon. Hamas doesn't want conciliation or a return to 1967 borders. It will settle for nothing less than the obliteration of Israel. It's no accident that three of the most savage attacks on Israel's civilian population have taken place at the first signs of dialogue between Israel and the Palestinians.

Since the Oslo Accords in 1993 and negotiations at Camp David, Hamas has dispatched 113 suicide bombers, 72 of them after September 2000. In this span of time, 271 Israelis have been killed and 1,803 wounded in Hamas suicide bombings. And these statistics say nothing of the countless attacks that were foiled. Apart from the harm to our economy and personal safety, hundreds of thousands of Palestinians have lost their jobs in Israel. Unsurprisingly, the first attack after the Aqaba summit was carried out by Hamas at the Erez junction, on the very day Palestinian workers were allowed to return to work in Israel.

Rantisi once said that "the darker the night, the brighter the stars shine" - a Hamas version of the Marxist maxim that things will have to get a lot worse before they get better. This fusion of Islamic fundamentalism and Marxist theory is a lethal stew that threatens both the Palestinian Authority and Israel....

I wonder why Hamas' brand of lethal anti-semitism is not more widely acknowledged when discussing the Palestinian-Israeli conflict, especially in the leftist circles that I often find myself in. It's easy to blame Israel for the conflict -- after all, it is the more powerful party, with a strong army and coercive control over the Palestinian population in the West Bank and Gaza -- but in order to understand why Israel acts as it does, it's important to understand that groups like Hamas arouse deep fears of annihilation for Israeli Jews.

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