Hamas Uses Words as Weapons
by Dan Israel
Atlanta Jewish Times
May 9, 2008
Hamas. Wikipedia tells us Hamas is a Palestinian Sunni Islamist militant organization founded in 1987 by Sheik Ahmed Yassin. In the Hamas charter, in public statements and in private encounters, the message of Hamas is the same: Its raison d'etre has always been and will always be the destruction of Israel.
Hudna. Wikipedia translates hudna to mean "truce," "armistice," "calm," "quiet," even "cease-fire." Other sites define hudna similarly, but nowhere did I find hudna defined as "peace."
What do Hamas and hudna have in common?
Since 2004, Hamas has stated its desire for a hudna with Israel, most recently with "private citizen" Jimmy Carter. According to published reports, Hamas has offered to establish a 10-year hudna with Israel, so long as Israel shrivels up to its pre-1967 borders and accepts the return of 2 million refugees to Israel.
The question is, even if Israel agreed to Hamas' conditions for a hudna, would Hamas abide by it? And does anyone truly believe that the Hamas leadership would suddenly become the poster children for the next generation of peace activists?
"A hudna may save some Israeli lives in the short term, but it does not deliver peace and stability in the long term," said Jonathan Schanzer, director of policy for the Jewish Policy Center and co-author of the forthcoming book Hamas vs. Fatah: The Struggle for Palestine.
Schanzer said history has demonstrated that Hamas typically enters these cease-fire agreements with the intent to break them.
According to Shoshanah Haberman from the Washington Institute for Near East Policy, Hamas has declared or offered no fewer than 10 hudnas since 1993. In the cases in which hudnas were established, Hamas broke all of them. Most recently, Hamas tore apart its hudna with Fatah last summer, when it took over the Gaza Strip in a violent coup that led to the deaths of hundreds of Palestinians.
Hamas' logic for a hudna is pretty simple: Use the hudna as an opportunity to regroup, then break it when the group feels strong enough to launch an offensive.
This is a perfectly acceptable interpretation of a hudna, according to Islamic law, as it can be dissolved at any time for any reason.
Even if one gives Hamas the benefit of the doubt regarding a hudna, one then has to believe that Hamas has the desire to change its charter. The facts on the ground don't support this notion.
Since its inception, Hamas has made the destruction of Israel the core of Palestinian identity. Like a sophisticated brand marketer, Hamas consistently reinforces to the Palestinian population the importance of the destruction of Israel.
Go to YouTube to see clips of Hamas rallies, television programs sporting a Jew-hating Mickey Mouse and even classroom sessions, and you will see the same message over and over again: A "real" Palestinian advocates for the destruction of Israel.
With this much vested in the culture it has cultivated, the only thing that legitimizes Hamas in the eyes of the Palestinians is a commitment to the destruction of Israel. And let us not forget the true puppet master behind Hamas, Iran. Despite the enmity between Shiites and Sunnis, Iran and Hamas hold fast to an age-old Middle Eastern proverb: The enemy of my enemy is my friend. As long as the mullahs control Iran, they will never allow Hamas to cut a deal with Israel.
As long as Hamas exists, there will never be peace. A Hamas hudna with Israel is only a cover for what Sheik Yassin once called a "phased liberation." Worse, any attempt by Hamas to rebrand itself would undercut its "credibility" and, ultimately, its grip on power.
The only path to peace is when Hamas, and for that matter Iran, has been shown that it cannot win. Without a sense of defeat, there will never be peace.
If Israel is lucky, Fatah will defeat Hamas. If not, Israel will have to do it for its own sake.
Dan Israel can be reached at ConservativeYid@yahoo.com.
Related Topics: Arab-Israeli Negotiations, Hamas
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