"Last year, I was among a small group of Palestinians that met Elliott Abrams, President George Bush’s deputy national security adviser. He was blunt that the Hamas government, which was democratically elected, must be pushed out at any cost. We’re not Hamas followers, but we tried to persuade him and other officials that engagement, rather than confrontation, is the better choice; but their determination was unshakable. We warned there would be suffering and starvation and even armed conflict, but to no avail. It wouldn’t be the fault of the U.S. if that happened, he said."
Eyad Sarraj – Director of the Gaza Community Mental Health Program
Eyad Sarraj received the 1997 Physicians for Human Rights Award and the 1998 Martin Ennals Award for human-rights defenders.
FB Ali kindly provided the Sarraj essay.
"Well, then, we Athenians will use no fine words; we will not go out of our way to prove at length that we have a right to rule, because we overthrew the Persians; or that we attack you now because we are suffering any injury at your hands. We should not convince you if we did; nor must you expect to convince us by arguing that, although a colony of the Lacedaemonians, you have taken no part in their expeditions, or that you have never done us any wrong. But you and we should say what we really think, and aim only at what is possible, for we both alike know that in the discussion of human affairs the question of justice only enters where there is equal power to enforce it, and that the powerful exact what they can, and the weak grant what they must. " Thucydides in the Peloponnesian War.
Hamas and the IRA are both terrorist nationalist organizations. Both have been careful not to wage war against or in the United States. The "volunteers" of the IRA have always judged it unwise that they should attack British targets or interests in the United States. That policy was rewarded by eventual successful American mediation of the Irish Problem. Hamas has not carried out any outrages on American soil. It has restricted its depredations to the territory of its "national" adversary.
The American government response has been to insist that Hamas is part of the fantasy empire of the re-born "caliphate," a kingdom as real and as likely of realization as Middle Earth.
The takfiri jihadis hold the idea of the re-birth of the Caliphate and world wide rule of the Ummah as an aspiration that frames their actions. That does not mean that they have any chance of realizing that hope. Neither does it mean that every national struggle involving Muslims should be seen as a part of the jihad of the Al-Qa’ida network for that impossible vision. The Al-Qa’ida takfiris are irreconcilable and universalist enemies of the West and of Israel. They are not synonymous in focus or aspirations with Hamas which is specifically Palestinian. Hamas has indicated a willingness to make a truce (hudna) with Israel. Ten years would give all concerned a chance to re-construct their communities if that is what is really desired. One of our commenters here has made the point that "temporary" can be a long time in the Middle East.
Let us not let the maximalist demands on either side be the enemy of a decent life for the people. Let us not let the representatives of special interests drive American policy. pl