The Palestinian Klan
Israelis desperately want peace, but that goal may be beyond their reach and out of their control. Even the so-called hardliners in Israel have come around to accept Yasir Arafat as a negotiating partner. This is problematic for a number of reasons. First, he has demonstrated through word and deed that he is unwilling to fulfill his commitments or honor his promises. Second, he does not have complete control over his constituents and, even if he had the best of intentions, he could not change the minds of radical Islamic fundamentalists who do not hide their contempt for Jews and their determination to destroy Israel.
In America, we have a tiny minority of bigots who harbor similar hatred. They are known as the Ku Klux Klan. In “Palestine,” they are known as the Islamic Resistance Movement or, more commonly, by the acronym Hamas. This group of militant Arab bigots is opposed to Israel's existence in any form. Its platform states that "there is no solution for the Palestinian question except through jihad (holy war)." The group warns that any Muslim who leaves "the circle of struggle with Zionism" is guilty of "high treason." Hamas' platform calls for the creation of an Islamic republic in Palestine that would replace Israel. Muslims should "raise the banner of Allah over every inch of Palestine," it says.
Frequently Arabs claim that they cannot be anti-Semitic because they too are Semites. They say that they don’t have anything against Jews, it’s just those horrible Zionists. "Anti-Semitism" means hatred of the Jewish people. The claim that Arabs as "Semites" cannot possibly be anti-Semitic is a semantic distortion that ignores the reality of Arab discrimination and hostility toward Jews. Arabs, like any other people, can indeed be anti-Semitic.
As far as restricting their hatred to Zionists, one need only read what Hamas says to see that they are no less anti-Semitic than the KKK. The Hamas covenant, for example, says that Jews control the media and declares that Jews were behind the French Revolution, the Communist Revolution, World War I and World War II. If this is not absurd enough, the covenant goes on to claim that Jews were responsible for the creation of the United Nations (which has its own legacy of anti-Semitism most recently evidenced in the “Racism” Conference in Durban). According to Hamas, “There is no war going on any where, without [the Jews] having their finger in it.” Also, like the Klan, Hamas believes in the veracity of the Protocols of the Elders of Zion, considered the classic text in paranoid, racist literature.
One of the most clever Palestinian public relations gambits has been to publicize the desire to create a secular democratic state. First, no such thing exists in the Arab world and there is no reason to expect the Palestinians to adopt such a government (the Palestinian Authority is essentially a dictatorship). Second, this phrase is solely for PR purposes and is rarely, if ever, expressed in Arabic. It is a slogan designed to attract American sympathy for their cause. Third, the majority of Palestinians would never accept a secular state since they are Muslims and their religion recognizes no distinction between mosque and state. Hamas makes no bones about its opposition to the idea. The covenant says it “completely contradicts the idea of religious ideology.”
Hamas does not hide its intentions behind slick PR campaigns. Just go to its web site (http://www.palestine-info.com/hamas/) and you can read in the introduction that its goal is the “liberation of Palestine from the river to the sea.” The site acknowledges that a political settlement would entail recognition of Israel’s right to exist “on most parts of Palestine” and declares this to be “contradictory to human and international values and traditions” and “forbidden under the Islamic jurisprudence.”
The site also contains a list of Hamas operations, what it calls “The Glory Record.” This record lists 85 terrorist operations from 1988 to 1994 (the site hasn’t been kept up to date otherwise dozens more would be listed). To give a sense of what Hamas considers glorious, check out numbers 82 and 85. The first operation involved bombing an Egged bus, killing five Israelis and seriously injuring more than 32. The second was the bombing of a bus in Tel Aviv that killed 22 and injured 47.
Note that Hamas’ idea of glory is not to fight soldiers but to blow up innocent men, women and children. And their “fighters” are people who believe that killing themselves, as long as they take Jews with them, insures them a place in “Paradise.” This is perhaps one of the few differences between the KKK and Hamas. Klansmen also tend to be cowards in whom they choose as their targets, but they aren’t willing to give their lives for their beliefs. This makes Hamas much more dangerous and difficult to stop.
Not all Muslims are as extreme as those in Hamas. Many would probably be willing to live in peace with Jews. Unfortunately, enough Muslims subscribe to the views of Hamas to make long-term peace with the Islamic world unlikely. In the short-run, one question is whether Arafat can rein in the militants to create an opportunity for negotiations. Skeptics say Arafat can’t control them, but the evidence is to the contrary. When Arafat wants quiet, he gets it. When he decided to mount a campaign against Palestinians who “collaborated” with Israel, he had five people arrested in one week and immediately sentenced to death. If he had the will, he could crack down with the same ferocity on Hamas.
Up until now, Arafat has not wanted to stop Hamas because he believes the group will help him achieve some of his goals. By committing heinous terrorist attacks, Hamas guarantees Israeli retaliation, which Arafat wants so he can attract international sympathy. More important, he hopes the world will see the poor Palestinians need protection and the UN will send a peacekeeping force to shield them. Of course, such a force would inhibit Israeli retaliation, but would not stop the Hamas bombers.
Not a pretty picture is it? Welcome to the real world of Middle East politics.