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“Reconciliation” and “peace”—the sweet cadences are reminders to Israelis that the word “Hamas” hardly carries the resonance abroad that it does in Israel. Hundreds of suicide bombings and rocket attacks, a charter that says, “Israel will exist and will continue to exist until Islam will obliterate it,” don’t seem sufficient to give “Hamas” the same ring that “Al-Qaeda” has. It would be nice to think Haniyeh’s eulogy to Bin Laden will finally be enough to turn the tide. Precedent suggests otherwise.
Not that Haniyeh’s statement should have come as a surprise. Hamas and Bin Laden, along with other major Al-Qaeda figures like Ayman Zawahiri and Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, have a common origin in the Muslim Brotherhood. Both organizations, Hamas and Al-Qaeda, are ideologically fanatic movements sharing a murderous hatred of the United States, the West, Israel, and Jews. Both see themselves as commanded by their deity to drown the West in blood and fire.
The difference, though, is that while the killing of Al-Qaeda’s leader is welcomed, Hamas’s advent to the political stage is seen by not a few in the West as somehow auguring peace. Israel will keep trying to convey the organization’s true nature, the significance of the wide support it enjoys in the Palestinian Authority, and of “moderate” Abbas’s readiness to mend fences with it. It looks like an uphill battle.
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