Posted by Joshua on Thursday, April 17th, 2008
Here are two views on Hamas and its Struggle printed by the Washington Post today. One by Hamas' Foreign Minister and the other by the editorial writers of the Post
GAZA — President Jimmy Carter's sensible plan to visit the Hamas leadership this week brings honesty and pragmatism to the Middle East while underscoring the fact that American policy has reached its dead end. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice acts as if a few alterations here and there would make the hideous straitjacket of apartheid fit better. While Rice persuades Israeli occupation forces to cut a few dozen meaningless roadblocks from among the more than 500 West Bank control points, these forces simultaneously choke off fuel supplies to Gaza; blockade its 1.5 million people; approve illegal housing projects on West Bank land; and attack Gaza City with F-16s, killing men, women and children. Sadly, this is "business as usual" for the Palestinians.
Last week's attack on the Nahal Oz fuel depot should not surprise critics in the West. Palestinians are fighting a total war waged on us by a nation that mobilizes against our people with every means at its disposal — from its high-tech military to its economic stranglehold, from its falsified history to its judiciary that "legalizes" the infrastructure of apartheid. Resistance remains our only option. Sixty-five years ago, the courageous Jews of the Warsaw ghetto rose in defense of their people. We Gazans, living in the world's largest open-air prison, can do no less.
The U.S.-Israeli alliance has sought to negate the results of the January 2006 elections, when the Palestinian people handed our party a mandate to rule. Hundreds of independent monitors, Carter among them, declared this the fairest election ever held in the Arab Middle East. Yet efforts to subvert our democratic experience include the American coup d'etat that created the new sectarian paradigm with Fatah and the continuing warfare against and enforced isolation of Gazans.
Now, finally, we have the welcome tonic of Carter saying what any independent, uncorrupted thinker should conclude: that no "peace plan," "road map" or "legacy" can succeed unless we are sitting at the negotiating table and without any preconditions.
Israel's escalation of violence since the staged Annapolis "peace conference" in November has been consistent with its policy of illegal, often deadly collective punishment — in violation of international conventions. Israeli military strikes on Gaza have killed hundreds of Palestinians since then with unwavering White House approval; in 2007 alone the ratio of Palestinians to Israelis killed was 40 to 1, up from 4 to 1 during the period from 2000 to 2005.
Only three months ago I buried my son Hussam, who studied finance at college and wanted to be an accountant; he was killed by an Israeli airstrike. In 2003, I buried Khaled — my first-born — after an Israeli F-16 targeting me wounded my daughter and my wife and flattened the apartment building where we lived, injuring and killing many of our neighbors. Last year, my son-in-law was killed.
Hussam was only 21, but like most young men in Gaza he had grown up fast out of necessity. When I was his age, I wanted to be a surgeon; in the 1960s, we were already refugees, but there was no humiliating blockade then. But now, after decades of imprisonment, killing, statelessness and impoverishment, we ask: What peace can there be if there is no dignity first? And where does dignity come from if not from justice?
Our movement fights on because we cannot allow the foundational crime at the core of the Jewish state — the violent expulsion from our lands and villages that made us refugees — to slip out of world consciousness, forgotten or negotiated away. Judaism — which gave so much to human culture in the contributions of its ancient lawgivers and modern proponents of tikkun olam — has corrupted itself in the detour into Zionism, nationalism and apartheid.
A "peace process" with Palestinians cannot take even its first tiny step until Israel first withdraws to the borders of 1967; dismantles all settlements; removes all soldiers from Gaza and the West Bank; repudiates its illegal annexation of Jerusalem; releases all prisoners; and ends its blockade of our international borders, our coastline and our airspace permanently. This would provide the starting point for just negotiations and would lay the groundwork for the return of millions of refugees. Given what we have lost, it is the only basis by which we can start to be whole again.
I am eternally proud of my sons and miss them every day. I think of them as fathers everywhere, even in Israel, think of their sons — as innocent boys, as curious students, as young men with limitless potential — not as "gunmen" or "militants." But better that they were defenders of their people than parties to their ultimate dispossession; better that they were active in the Palestinian struggle for survival than passive witnesses to our subjugation.
History teaches us that everything is in flux. Our fight to redress the material crimes of 1948 is scarcely begun, and adversity has taught us patience. As for the Israeli state and its Spartan culture of permanent war, it is all too vulnerable to time, fatigue and demographics: In the end, it is always a question of our children and those who come after us.
Mahmoud al-Zahar, a surgeon, is a founder of Hamas. He is foreign minister in the government of Prime Minister Ismail Haniyeh, which was elected in January 2006.
Wash Post EDITORIAL: Zahar Is a Terrorist
The former president, on what he says is a road to peace, embraces Hamas terrorists.
Thursday, April 17, 2008; A22
ON THE OPPOSITE page today we publish an article by the "foreign minister" of Hamas, Mahmoud al-Zahar, that drips with hatred for Israel, and with praise for former president Jimmy Carter. We believe Mr. Zahar's words are worth publishing because they provide some clarity about the group he helps to lead, a group that Mr. Carter contends is worthy of being included in the Middle East peace process. Mr. Carter himself is holding what appears to be a series of meetings with Hamas leaders during a tour of the Middle East. He met one militant in the West Bank town of Ramallah on Tuesday and was reportedly planning to meet Mr. Zahar in Cairo today before traveling to Damascus for an appointment with Khaled Meshal, Hamas's top leader.
Mr. Zahar lauds Mr. Carter for the "welcome tonic" of saying that no peace process can succeed "unless we are sitting at the negotiating table and without any preconditions." Yet Mr. Zahar has his own preconditions: Before any peace process can "take even its first tiny step," he says, Israel must withdraw to the 1967 borders and evacuate Jerusalem while preparing for the "return of millions of refugees." In fact, as Mr. Zahar makes clear, Hamas is not at all interested in a negotiated peace with the Jewish state, whose existence it refuses to accept: "Our fight to redress the material crimes of 1948 is scarcely begun," he concludes.
In that fight, no act of terrorism is out of bounds for the Hamas leader, who endorses the group's recent ambush of Israeli civilians working at a fuel depot that supplies Gaza. The "total war" of which he speaks was initiated and has been sustained by Hamas itself through its deliberate targeting of civilians, such as the residents of the Israeli town of Sderot, who suffer daily rocket attacks.
These facts would hardly need restating were it not for actors such as Mr. Carter, who portray Hamas as rational and reasonable. Hamas is "perfectly willing" for Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas "to represent them in all direct negotiations with the Israelis, and they also maintain that they will accept any agreement that he brokers with the Israelis" provided a referendum is held on it, the former president told the newspaper Haaretz. Compare that claim with Mr. Zahar's own words on the opposite page. In fact, Mr. Zahar has called Mr. Abbas "a traitor" for negotiating with Israel — a label that is, in the Palestinian context, an incitement to murder.
Mr. Carter justifies his meetings with familiar arguments about the value of dialogue with enemies. But he misses the point. Contacts between enemies can be useful: Israel is legendary for such negotiations, and even now it is engaged in back-channel bargaining with Hamas through Egypt. But it is one thing to communicate pragmatically, and quite another to publicly and unconditionally grant recognition and political sanction to a leader or a group that advocates terrorism, mass murder or the extinction of another state. That is what Mr. Carter is doing by lending what is left of his prestige to an avowed terrorist such as Khaled Meshal — or Mahmoud al-Zahar.