Using Bees To Effect Vengeance

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Wednesday, May 01, 2002
Hamas would accept Saudi peace plan, spokesman says / Group would stop attacks on Israelis if occupation ends

Am I horribly cynical for not taking these statements at face value? Forgoing the right of return? Guaranteeing Jewish access to holy sites in Jerusalem? Having "good neighborhood" with Israelis? Where the hell did this come from? It certainly contradicts everything stated in the Hamas Charter and belies the actions Hamas has taken to disrupt every promising negotiation of the last 15 years.

If Hamas does endorse this spokesman's comments, I imagine Israel will come under international fire for being skeptical, but can anyone really blame them? Hamas constitutes a totalizing ideology for its adherents, and to give credence to the idea that the poor Palestinians whom Hamas has radicalized will suddenly reject everything they've been brought up to believe about their right to control all of Palestine, the impossibility of living with Jews, the betrayal that a negotiated peace would represent, the absolute indispensability of a right to return to their ancestors' olive groves, is dangerously ignorant.

It will take years of good behavior for Hamas to earn any shred of credibility as peacemakers.

For what it's worth, I think Israel's long-standing policy of encouraging settlements in the West Bank is destructive -- and to be honest, I don't have an enormous amount of sympathy for the Israeli couple whose 5 year old daughter was recently murdered by militants (obviously murder is inexcusable, but what responsible parents would move with their young children to a West Bank settlement? They placed their desire to make an ideological point above the safety of their kids). And I'm not keen on Sharon -- while he's not the wild-eyed butcher some make him out to be, I don't fully trust him as a peacemaker either (particularly given his views on settlements).

On the whole though, I think Israel is getting a bad rap. They're right to point out that, where the US was content to indiscrimintately bomb Taliban strongholds from the air in order to root out terrorists, Israel is taking the harder road by going house-to-house in search of terrorists, in order to minimize the impact on innocent civilians. While I have no doubt the IDF have killed innocent people, I am also sure they have taken measures to avoid doing so ...unlike the Hamas, Al Aqsa, and Islamic Jihad militants, who intentionally kill as many innocents as possible.

It is an enormously depressing situation. On the whole, I would be in favor of a return to 1967 borders, a Palestinian state on the West Bank, and a heavy international presence to enforce the rules. Whether Sharon would go for it, I don't know. Whether Arafat would go for it, I don't know...especially since he rejected the best offer he is ever likely to get when he walked away from the table in early 2001. What really concerns me is whether the Palestinians would abide by the terms of any agreement -- Arafat's actions often run counter to his rhetoric, and Hamas, Islamic Jihad etc. hardly appear to be committed to peaceful co-existence with Israel, the above article aside. I don't have the same concerns about Israel's willingness to abide by any agreement. Why? Partly because I'm Jewish, I suppose, but also because Israel has abided by agreements with other Arab nations in the past (Egypt, Jordan), because it is a democratic state whose leaders ultimately answer to the will of the people, and because Israelis have not been bred to work for the destruction of any Palestinian state.


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