FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail

Only the Right Can Do It?

by GIDEON LEVY

The good news from the occupied territories is that Hamas won the elections. As opposed to what the chorus of national intimidation–speaking in one voice from Benjamin Netanyahu to Ami Ayalon–is saying, the political change in Palestine could be good news. Not that the victory of an extremist religious organization is not without dangers and problems, and that a secular, moderate and uncorrupt movement would have been preferable. But, in its absence, one can find quite a few points of light in the Hamas victory.

First, these are very authentic results, achieved through elections that were respectably democratic, even though they took place under the least democratic circumstances imaginable, the occupation. As usual, we were threatened by our experts with “anarchy,” and, as usual, the Palestinians did not meet those expectations. There was no shooting and no rioting; the Palestinian nation had its say with admirable order. It said “no” to a movement that did not bring it any achievements in the just struggle against the occupation, and it said “yes” to those who appeared to the voters to be braver and with clean hands. The religious issue was set aside: Most of the Palestinians, it can be safely said, don’t want a religious state; they want a free state.

Second, both Israelis and Palestinians can learn important lessons from the results of the election. The Israelis have to finally learn that applying force will not get the desired results. On the contrary. In recent years, until the tahadiyeh, the lull, there wasn’t a month that went by in which we did not hear about the elimination of another “senior” Hamas official. From assassination to assassination, the movement o nly grew in strength. The conclusion: Force is not the answer.

The Palestinians also have to learn that it was the moderation of the movement that led them to victory. Hamas did not win because of terror attacks, it largely won despite the terror. It has been moderating in recent months, changing its skin, agreeing to a lull that has lasted since November 2004. During all that, its power only grew. As opposed to the fragmented Fatah, whose heads have no control over what happens on the ground, when Hamas wants, not even a toy gun gets fired. The few terror attacks of the past few months were not the handwork of the violent and murderous group we knew. This is an important lesson. Only Hamas can truly fight terror. The war Israel waged against terror, with its innumerable assassinations, demolitions, arrests and detentions, has been far less effective than one judicious decision by the heads of Hamas.

There’s more good news. Only the right can do it? If that view is true, if only people of the right can bring peace, like Ariel Sharon on our side, then we are now facing a new chance that should not be missed. A peace deal with Hamas will be a lot more stable and viable than any agreement we sign with the PLO, if Hamas were to oppose it. Hamas can make concessions where Fatah would never dare. In any case, the Hamas that forms the government won’t be the Hamas that sends suicide bombers. The comparison to international terror organizations is also nonsense: Hamas is a movement fighting for limited national goals. If Israel were to reach out to the extremists among its enemies, then maybe it can reach a real agreement that would put an end to the tumor of the occupation and the curse of terror.

To that end, both sides, Israel and Hamas, must free themselves of the slogans of the past. Those who pose preconditions, like disarming Hamas, will miss the chance. It is impossible to expect that Hamas will disarm, just as it is impossible to expect that Israel would disarm. In Palesti nian eyes, Hamas’ weapons are meant to fight the occupation, and, as is well-known, the occupation is not over. Practically, and indeed morally, the armed are armed if they are equipped with F-16s or Qassam launchers. If Israel were to commit to an end to killing Hamas operatives, there is reason to assume that Hamas would agree, at least for a while, to lay down its arms. The months of tahadiyeh proved that, even when Israel did not cease its own fire. In the coming months, the risk of terror attacks will be further reduced: A movement that wants to consolidate its regime and win international recognition will not be busy with terror. Nor will it allow Islamic Jihad to steal the show.

Now is the time to reach out to Hamas, which is desperate for international, and particularly American, recognition, and knows that such recognition goes through Israel. If Israel were to be friendly toward Hamas, it could benefit. Not that Hamas will all at once give up its extremist demands and its unrealistic dreams, but it will know, as some of its leaders have already declared, to set them aside if it serves their interests. Israel, which in any case did not speak with Yasser Arafat or Mahmoud Abbas, now has an opportunity for surprise. Instead of wasting more years with rejectionism, at the end of which we’ll sit down with Hamas in any case, let us reach out now to this extremist group, which was democratically elected. Israel has nothing to lose from such an approach. We’ve already seen the achievements of the hand that assassinates and demolishes, uproots and jails, we’ve already seen those policies fulfilled in front of our eyes: Hamas won the elections.

GIDEON LEVY writes for Ha’aretz.

 

February 11, 2016
Bruce Lesnick
Flint: A Tale of Two Cities
Ajamu Baraka
Beyonce and the Politics of Cultural Dominance
Shamus Cooke
Can the Establishment Fix Its Bernie Sanders Problem?
John Hazard
The Pope in Mexico: More Harm Than Good?
Joyce Nelson
Trudeau & the Saudi Arms Deal
Zarefah Baroud
The Ever-Dangerous Mantra “Drill, Baby Drill”
Anthony DiMaggio
Illinois’ Manufactured Budget Crisis
Colin Todhunter
Indian Food and Agriculture Under Attack
Binoy Kampmark
Warring Against Sanders: Totalitarian Thinking, Feminism and the Clintons
Robert Koehler
Presidential Politics and the American Soul
Thomas Knapp
Election 2016: The Banality of Evil on Steroids
Cesar Chelala
In Microcephaly in Children Caused by the Zika Virus or by Pesticides?
February 10, 2016
Eoin Higgins
Clinton and the Democratic Establishment: the Ties That Bind
Fred Nagel
The Role of Legitimacy in Social Change
Jeffrey St. Clair
Why Bernie Still Won’t Win
Mike Whitney
Putin’s Aleppo Gamble Pays Off
Chris Martenson
The Return of Crisis: Everywhere Banks are in Deep Trouble
Ramzy Baroud
Next Onslaught in Gaza: Why the Status Quo Is a Precursor for War
Sheldon Richman
End, Don’t Extend, Draft Registration
Benjamin Willis
Obama in Havana
Jack Smith
Obama Intensifies Wars and Threats of War
Rob Hager
How Hillary Clinton Co-opted the Term “Progressive”
Mark Boothroyd
Syria: Peace Talks Collapse, Aleppo Encircled, Disaster Looms
Lawrence Ware
If You Hate Cam Newton, It’s Probably Because He’s Black
Jesse Jackson
Starving Government Creates Disasters Like Flint
Bill Laurance
A Last Chance for the World’s Forests?
Gary Corseri
ABC’s of the US Empire
Frances Madeson
The Pain of the Earth: an Interview With Duane “Chili” Yazzie
Binoy Kampmark
The New Hampshire Distortion: The Primaries Begin
Andrew Raposa
Portugal: Europe’s Weak Link?
Wahid Azal
Dugin’s Occult Fascism and the Hijacking of Left Anti-Imperialism and Muslim Anti-Salafism
February 09, 2016
Andrew Levine
Hillary Says the Darndest Things
Paul Street
Kill King Capital
Ben Burgis
Lesser Evil Voting and Hillary Clinton’s War on the Poor
Paul Craig Roberts
Are the Payroll Jobs Reports Merely Propaganda Statements?
Fran Quigley
How Corporations Killed Medicine
Ted Rall
How Bernie Can Pay for His Agenda: Slash the Military
Neve Gordon
Israeli Labor Party Adopts the Apartheid Mantra
Kristin Kolb
The “Great” Bear Rainforest Agreement? A Love Affair, Deferred
Joseph Natoli
Politics and Techno-Consciousness
Hrishikesh Joshi
Selective Attention to Diversity: the Case of Cruz and Rubio
Stavros Mavroudeas
Why Syriza is Sinking in Greece
David Macaray
Attention Peyton Manning: Leave Football and Concentrate on Pizza
Arvin Paranjpe
Opening Your Heart
Kathleen Wallace
Boys, Hell, and the Politics of Vagina Voting
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail