Tuesday, June 26, 2007

Hamas, Israel and the Memory Hole

Left: Perhaps I misunder-stood what you meant by "cute".

Joel and I exchanged letters again. I caution that this exchange, like the last one, is not worth reading. You've been warned...

Joel writes...

Subject: And as regards your June 7 blog.2 messages
Wed, Jun 20, 2007 at 5:22 PM
Reply-To: XXX
To: feroze.sidhwa@gmail.com

In your June 7 blog you wrote:

"I think we were talking about Hamas and its previous offers to recognize Israel in return for an end to the occupation when Musa came back in. I told Aaron that despite common knowledge Hamas has been far more forthcoming in agreeing to recognize Israel than Israel has ever been in agreeing to recognize the Palestinians’ rights in the occupied territories. He said frankly and honestly that his understanding of the diplomatic history is the exact opposite and asked me to send him evidence of what I was saying"

Regarding Hamas 'recognition' of Israel, I respond by citing Hamas Minister Haniyah's statements during a recent interview with the Saudi daily paper Aljazeera (2 April ):

"As far as we're concerned, the issue of recognition of Israel has been settled once and for all. It has been settled in our political literature, in our Islamic thought and in our Jihadist culture, on which we base our moves. Recognition of Israel is out of the question. We have been advocating the establishment of an independent Palestinian state within the 1967 borders, with Jerusalem as its capital and the return of the refugees. In exchange for all that, we will declare a truce, but no recognition of Israel."
"The concept of a Palestinian state is clear in our view: 'Palestine' within its borders and its legitimate historical heritage. However, we don't have a problem with a unity government in this phase. We are in agreement with our brother Palestinians and Arabs about establishing a Palestinian state within the '67 borders with Jerusalem as the capital. We are telling everyone that we have an objective for this phase, as well as a national goal."

And from Damascus Hamas, in a January 2007 interview with The Guardian, Mr Meshal said: "As a Palestinian today I speak of a Palestinian and Arab demand for a state on 1967 borders. It is true that in reality there will be an entity or state called Israel on the rest of Palestinian land. This is a reality but I won't deal with it in terms of recognising or admitting it." Changing the Hamas charter (which calls explicitly for the complete destruction of Israel) was also a matter for the future, he said. "The distant future will have its own circumstances, and positions could be determined then," he said

Perhaps I misunderstood what you meant by 'recogntion'.

Pinpoint customers who are looking for what you sell.

I (hesitantly) respond...

Feroze Sidhwa
Sun, Jun 24, 2007 at 1:58 PM

Hi Joel,

First, my apologies for the delay in responding, I was visiting a friend in Nazareth-Illit this weekend.

Second, since I assume you don't read or speak Arabic, I'll assume you got that first quote from one of the thoroughly discredited groups that purports to translate the Arabic-language media for an American audience. For a good deal of enlightening information on the way these groups operate you should read the work of Dr. Nathan Brown, available at his personal website http://geocities.com/nathanbrown1/. The relevant papers are "Short summary of research on Palestinian textbooks", "The International Controversy Concerning Palestinian Textbooks", and "Democracy, History, and the Contest over the Palestinian Curriculum." A few years ago I corresponded with Dr. Brown extensively regarding these matters, he's very approachable if you have any questions about his work.

Finally, on the issue you raised: I didn't write that Hamas has agreed to recognize Israel, I wrote (as you accurately quoted me): "Hamas has been far more forthcoming in agreeing to recognize Israel than Israel has ever been in agreeing to recognize the Palestinians' rights in the occupied territories." The Hamas statements you provided in no way contradict the statement I made.

Israel steadfastly refuses to recognize that the Palestinians are the rightful sovereigns in the West Bank, Gaza and East Jerusalem. Never once in Israel's history has any Israeli government ever made any statement recognizing any Palestinian sovereignty or rights of any kind in the OT. Beyond that, Israel is not only denying Palestinian rights in the Occupied Territories in words, but is actively working to undermine them in reality by pouring billions of dollars into Jewish-only colonies in the West Bank, a gigantic multi-billion dollar wall running through the West Bank to integrate the settlements into Israel, a gigantic multi-billion dollar military presence in the West Bank, etc. That Israel is also actively and deliberately destroying Palestinian society by making life unlivable in the OT is another way of actively - not just verbally - denying Palestinian rights (or the "right to exist" of the Palestinians, to use the current and thoroughly idiotic terminology).

By contrast, Hamas has made ambiguous and halting offers of a long-term "hudna"; nobody alleges that they've come out singing the Israeli national anthem and wearing kippas. But these ambiguous offers and proposals are "far more forthcoming" than anything anyone can attribute to Israel on the issue of mutual recognition of rights, exactly as I stated. Furthermore, Hamas isn't actually doing anything to destroy the State of Israel or the Jewish people: there are no Hamas tanks outside Tel Aviv or Palestinian religious fanatics driving Israeli shepherds out of their homes near Haifa. One might argue that Hamas isn't doing any such thing because they have no capacity to do so, but that's conjecture. I can't blame you for being unaware of these Hamas proposals since they were barely (and sometimes not) reported on in the US and then dumped down the memory hole, but that doesn't mean they didn't happen.

Also note that even the statements you quoted (assuming the first one is an accurate translation, which is a poor assumption) as counterevidence to my assertion are far more forthcoming than anything Israel has ever proposed. They effectively amount to (repeated) Hamas offers to establish a Palestinian state in the Occupied Territories. That necessarily means not establishing a Palestinian state in Israel. Granted, the proposals (as you quoted them) do not offer Israel diplomatic recognition, perhaps because the idea of a "people" recognizing a state is meaningless in terms of international relations (as opposed to propaganda exercises meant to paint certain people as "moderates" and others as "extremists"). Still, exactly as I wrote, these proposals are far more forthcoming than any parallel Israeli statements.

And finally, it's no secret that the leaders of the Zionist movement planned to conquer Palestine in stages. David Ben-Gurion was especially adamant that the Yishuv should accept a state in Palestine, no matter how small, because once a state was established it could be expanded through violent means or trickery or legitimate means such as political discourse and accommodation. Quite obviously this conception of how Israel should act is still the operative one in the Israeli government. So again, no matter what one thinks of these Hamas proposals (whether or not they are serious, nobody has any way of knowing), they are more forthcoming than any Israeli proposals that have been made. I don't see how this point could be contested or what evidence you have provided to the end of contesting it.