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Peace? A Joke! Hamas Cannot Comprehend 'Moderation'

May 4, 2006 By:
Barry Rubin
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At last, the ideal slogan for the Hamas government has been given us by one of the group's main leaders, Mahmoud Zahar, buried in a speech he gave at a rally in Damascus: "Palestine in its entirety is our land." Not much new there.

But then he continued with a marvelous turn of phrase that explains the Hamas government and strategy, as well as the limits of its phantom "moderation."

"This does not mean that if they [Israel] withdraw from any inch of land, we will refrain from spreading our rule over it. 'Every inch of land, without relinquishing an inch.' This is our goal and our motto. We will never give it up."

Those who don't get the point might consider the pristine irony of the following transposition.

In late April, Palestinian police near the Israel-Gaza Strip border got into a battle with gunmen in two cars trying to cross the border for a terrorist operation. Three police and two gunmen were wounded, and three terrorists were arrested.

The terrorists shooting at Palestinian police and trying to murder Israeli civilians were members of the Popular Resistance Committees.

What a coincidence. For that organization is headed by Jamal Abu Samhadana, who's also the man chosen by the Hamas government to run all the Palestinian security forces. In other words, the terrorists and police firing at each other - the regime supposedly maintaining a cease-fire and the terrorists breaking it - are all part of one big happy family.

And even there it doesn't end.

For the same Popular Resistance Committees are the group that three years ago deliberately attacked a U.S. diplomatic convoy in the Gaza Strip (which was there to interview Palestinians for scholarships), killing three American security officers.

The U.S. government demanded that the Palestinian Authority arrest and punish those responsible for the terrorist attack, but it never even tried. Here's a crime-solver's tip for P.A. detectives. If you want to track down the main culprit, take a look in the Ministry of Interior office.

Finally, after an April 18 terror attack in Tel Aviv - in which nine people were killed and about 60 wounded - Hamas and P.A. officials publicly endorsed the murders.

The situation makes the P.A. the only open and direct terrorism-sponsoring regime in the world.

By showing its true face, Hamas is sabotaging its own public-relations campaign. For example, The Washington Post and The New York Times, which have tried desperately at times in editorials to find some way to declare Hamas moderate, condemned it.

It has to be understood, however, that Hamas' goal is not to raise Palestinian living standards or create an independent state, but to fulfill the kind of program presented by Zahar. Even the Europeans have had to acknowledge this reality.

In terms of domestic Palestinian politics, tensions between Hamas and Fatah are rising. The Hamas regime can avoid problems pretty easily on this front, but the price will be doing very little. For instance, it cannot fire any of the estimated 60,000 employees of the security forces since they are virtually all Fatah supporters. The same applies to the media and all other institutions the P.A. controls, which in some cases have been grabbed by Fatah and P.A. leader Mahmoud Abbas, despite the complaints of the Hamas-dominated parliament.

This is part of the logic of Abu Samhadana's appointment. His group seems to be a coalition of Hamas and Fatah gunmen, and it is no doubt hoped that he will persuade the latter to accept Hamas leadership. But that ploy will not work.

It would be nice to say no one would be stupid enough to fall for this type of transparent trick. There are still plenty of Western politicians and intellectuals who belie that hope, but far less - and certainly far fewer national leaders - than there might be had Hamas taken lessons from Yasser Arafat on the cultivation of useful idiots. We already knew there was little likelihood of Hamas changing its ways. Now we know it is not very good at even appearing to be moderate.

Barry Rubin is director of the Global Research in International Affairs Center of the Interdisciplinary Center in Herzliya, Israel.

 

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