The minefields of a "cease-fire."
The currently suspended missile duel between Israel and Hamas exposes yet again the surreal absurdity of the way the international community handles this conflict between a democratic state and a terrorist gang. Yesterday’s cease-fire agreement between Israel and Hamas is another example of the folly of treating a bunch of murderers like a legitimate government.
Consider, for example, the way a terrorist outfit like Hamas, self-defined in its charter by its genocidal goals, is treated as if it were a legitimate state. But Hamas is not a government that rules over a sovereign territory defined by international borders. If you want a recent graphic illustration of Hamas’ true nature, peruse this video of the aftermath of the summary execution of 6 accused “collaborators.” Or consider Hamas’ official television coverage of this week’s terrorist bombing of a bus in Israel. Or contemplate the barbarity of using its own “citizens” as human shields for its munitions dumps and rocket launchers. Calling Hamas honcho Ismail Haniyeh a “Prime Minister,” as virtually every world government and news organization does, doesn’t mean he is actually a prime minister, no matter how many elections are held. These titles and voting procedures do not constitute a legitimate government that should be recognized as such by the world community as though it respects international laws and treaties like the Geneva Conventions. Let alone should this façade of political legitimacy rationalize the millions of dollars Western governments give to Hamas under the guise of U.N. aid for social services, freeing up funds for purchasing weapons and munitions.
The same pretence of state legitimacy is equally absurd in the case of Palestinian “President” Mahmoud Abbas, the holocaust-denying head of the Palestinian Authority, which is recognized as the sole representative of the Palestinians instead of the terrorist Palestinian Liberation Organization ever since the cosmetic makeover brought about by the 1993 Oslo Accords. The PA is still just another terrorist gang, as demonstrated by its frequent honoring of terrorist murderers by naming streets and parks after them, and its clinging to the goal of destroying Israel through demands for territorial concessions and the “right of return” for an endlessly growing number of “refugees.” As such, the PA’s main functions include peddling to the international community the “two-state” and “nationalist aspirations” canard in order to delegitimize Israel and obtain money, and to distribute to its people whatever international financial aid is left over after PA fatcats have skimmed their take. Yet today as in the past, the U.S. is intervening in the current conflict to ensure that Abbas rather than Hamas is the “primary interlocutor with the international community,” as the Wall Street Journal reported, because it allegedly is more “legitimate” and “moderate”––the only sign of its moderation being that it believes Israel should be destroyed later rather than sooner.
Of course, totalitarian regimes for decades have appropriated the government titles and offices of legitimate governments, but at least a state like the laughably named Democratic People’s Republic of North Korea actually controls a recognized territory defined by international borders (except for the armistice line in the south). That hypocrisy is bad enough, but extending it to terrorists whose sole foundation for existence is the destruction of a neighboring legitimate nation compounds hypocrisy with delusion. It demands that superficial nomenclature substitute for reality. After all, as Plato pointed out, a gang of thieves behaves “democratically” when it divvies up the loot. But that machinery does not signify the presence of the principles and beliefs that constitute legitimate government.
That absurdity leads to another––the “negotiations” and “diplomacy” in which legitimate and technically legitimate states participate when dealing with this terrorist gang. This absurdity is compounded when one of those states is Egypt and its rulers the Muslim Brotherhood. Asking Egyptian president Mohammed Morsi to intercede with its offspring Hamas is akin to asking Hitler in early1938 to intercede with its stooge Sudeten Nazi Party to stop its violence against the government of Czechoslovakia. Morsi does not object to Hamas’ rain of missiles on principle. Indeed, the Iranian Fajr-5 missiles able to hit Tel Aviv reached Gaza by transiting Egyptian territory on their way from Sudan. No, the Egyptians are trying to restrain Hamas on tactical grounds. Given that the Muslim Brothers have not yet consolidated its power or control over the army, and that Egypt is near bankruptcy and dependent on a promised $9 billion in aid from the EU, the IMF, and the U.S., Morsi doesn’t need Hamas and Islamic Jihad causing problems right now. And his role in mediating the cease-fire has endowed this soldier in the “grand jihad” against the West immense international praise and prestige.
And how despicable is it to watch a state like Turkey, a member of NATO and thus an ally of the U.S., send its foreign minister to Gaza to show “solidarity with the Palestinian nation's [sic] suffering”? Or to hear its Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan––Obama’s international BFF he’s scheduled to visit soon––say, “Israel is a terror state and its acts are terrorist acts”? Isn’t anyone else disgusted by this spectacle of “solidarity” with an actual terrorist outfit whose foundational charter calls for genocide, and that indiscriminately rains missiles down on its neighbor? There is no doubt that Hamas is emboldened in its intransigence by this diplomatic support from legitimate states, or visits by U.N. chief Ban Ki-Moon, or news agencies like CNN interviewing Hamas foreign policy spokesman Osama Hamdan, all of which are as important as the rockets and other weapons provided by Iran.
Yet despite this manifest absurdity of treating a gang of murderers as though it were a legitimate state, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton jetted to the region, putting the full force of American prestige to securing a cease-fire agreement with such a gang, one that regards such agreements as mere tactics that allow the ongoing war of extermination against Israel to continue. Equally disturbing is the price America will pay for Egypt and Turkey’s help in bringing about this for now vague, fragile cease-fire that’s supposed to be enforced by the same Egyptian government that allowed the most dangerous rockets into Gaza in the first place. As Jonathan Tobin speculates, the cost of cooperation is likely to be more pressure on Israel to make yet more concessions in pursuit of a mythical “land-for-peace” bargain that repeatedly in the past has led to more terrorist violence. Indeed, the incessant barrage of rockets and other terrorist attacks from Gaza for the past seven years have taken place because Israel withdrew from Gaza as a gesture to that grand bargain. Imagine the damage Fajr-5 rockets could inflict on Tel Aviv if fired from a West Bank handed over to the PA.
A cease-fire now will no more resolve the conflict any more than did the more violent and costly Operation Cast Lead in 2008-2009. As long as the international community and Israel’s allies continue to treat a nest of murderers as a state deserving of international aid and legitimacy, instead of as terrorist outlaws to be hunted down and destroyed, Israel will have to pay a very high price to end Hamas’ terrorism.
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