Saturday, January 28, 2006

Hamas Leader Sees No Change Toward Israelis

Despite the hopeful statements on the Hamas victory that I've been hearing from commentators on the radio and reading in the newspapers, Hamas Leader Sees No Change Toward Israelis.

The political leader of Hamas, Khaled Meshal, in Damascus, said that Hamas would not "submit to pressure to recognize Israel, because the occupation is illegitimate and we will not abandon our rights," nor would it disarm, but work to create a unified Palestinian army. He defended attacks on Israeli civilians.
....arguing against any fundamental changes are Hamas's deeply held religious views, as expressed in its charter, sermons and election platform. Those views suggest that the kind of transformation that the secular P.L.O. took 25 years to make will be highly unlikely for a fundamentalist religious organization that regards all Israeli territory as irrevocably Muslim land.... Yossi Alpher, co-editor of, said ""I think we have to take Hamas at its words and assume that as Islamicists, they have some core beliefs that won't change."

The most fundamental of those beliefs, says Hisham Ahmed, a political scientist at Birzeit University in Ramallah and a student of Hamas, is that the entire land of Palestine belongs to Allah and is Muslim holy land. The 9,000-word Hamas charter, written in 1988, is explicit about the struggle for Palestine as a religious obligation. It describes the land as a "waqf," or endowment, saying that Hamas "believes that the land of Palestine has been an Islamic waqf throughout the generations and until the Day of Resurrection, no one can renounce it or part of it, or abandon it or part of it."

In the charter, Hamas describes itself as "a distinct Palestinian Movement which owes its loyalty to Allah, derives from Islam its way of life and strives to raise the banner of Allah over every inch of Palestine."

It calls for the elimination of Israel and Jews from Islamic holy land and portrays the Jews as evil, citing a bizarre anti-Semitic version of history going back to the Crusades. It also includes a reference to the noted czarist forgery of a plan for world domination called "The Protocols of the Elders of Zion" and condemnation of supposedly Zionist organizations like the Rotary Club and the Masons. It describes the struggle against the Jews as a religious obligation for every Muslim, saying, "For our struggle against the Jews is extremely wide ranging and grave, so much so that it will need all the loyal efforts we can wield, to be followed by further steps and reinforced by successive battalions from the multifarious Arab and Islamic world, until the enemies are defeated and Allah's victory prevails."
While the Hamas election platform did not refer to seeking the destruction of Israel, this does not mean that the organization's goals have changed.
Despite the platform's relative moderation, a Hamas spokesman, Sami Abu Zuhri, vehemently denied any contradictions with the charter. "The platform refers to details and implementation methods for the next four years, while the charter lays out our permanent strategic views," he said....

But no Hamas leader or candidate is on record as sanctioning a permanent recognition of Israel's right to exist side by side with an independent Palestinian state, which has been the cornerstone assumption of peace negotiations since the Oslo accords in 1993. As Mr. Zahar also said, "We do not recognize the Israeli enemy, nor his right to be our neighbor, nor to stay, nor his ownership of any inch of land." Nor is any Hamas leader on record as expressing a willingness to disarm or to stop attacks on Israel and Israelis, or to make a distinction between Israeli soldiers and civilians, especially settlers living on occupied land, however defined.
Thus, I don't understand why people continue to be so optimistic that Hamas will moderate and be willing to speak to Israel. I don't see any evidence for this, unfortunately.

1 comment: