To understand the people of Gaza, who now lay claim to the passions of humanitarians-without-a-cause, one might begin by considering Gazans’ freely elected leadership: the Hamas terror network. And to understand Hamas, one might begin by looking closely at the Hamas logo. The logo’s center features swords and a golden-domed structure, but the squiggle at the top-center of the logo is most descriptive. One squiggle is worth a thousand words. That squiggle is not an Arabic symbol but the map of Israel.
Look even more carefully: the squiggle – the map of Israel depicted on the Hamas logo – primarily is pre-1967 Israel. It is Israel without the Gaza Strip. Hamas has no designs on the Gaza Strip it controls. Rather, leveraging Gaza as a springboard for its actual aspiration, Hamas illustratively has designs on the only Palestine it ever has coveted: the Palestine that now is called “the State of Israel.” As Jew-hating journalist Helen Thomas recently said about Israelis, “Tell them to get the hell out of Palestine. Remember, these [Arab] people are occupied, and it’s their land.” The Jews, Thomas added, can go back where they come from – “Poland. Germany. . . . And America and everywhere else.” (Reflecting ignorance all too common among the White House press corps, Thomas is unaware that the majority of Israelis are children of the Middle East, descendants of the 850,000 Jews exiled by Northern African Arab dictatorships during the years Israel was being founded.)
The only “Palestine” that ever existed was always synonymous with the Jewish homeland that later was renamed "Israel" in 1948. Rent a copy of the 1960 movie "Exodus.” Listen dispassionately to the dialogue. Don't take sides. Just listen for definitions. The British, fairly or unfairly, are depicted as the bad guys in the movie, trying to keep the Jews out of "Palestine." Paul Newman is trying to get the Jews into "Palestine." Everyone watching the movie perceives that "Palestine" is a name that refers synonymously with "Israel." Thus, what we seem to have had here is a failure to communicate. It could not be simpler: For the past two thousand years, since the Romans renamed the land of Israel after they expelled and exiled the Jews, "Israel" always was synonymous with "Palestine," and "Palestine" always was "Israel."
There never ever was an Arab Palestine entity. Who, after all, ever was its leader? Try to name any leader who ever in history led a sovereign "Palestinian Arab" people of "Arab Palestine." What year was that entity founded? What was the name of its capital city -- any capital city? Where is the drawing or photograph of its seat of government, or the place where its governmental leader lived? What was the name of its currency? Whose face, what slogan was on that currency? When did it fall? In which Olympic Games did it compete? Which issue of Encyclopedia Britannica had an entry for its government?
Consider this way: The American city of Palestine, Texas was founded in 1846. It was so named in honor of an early settler there, Daniel Parker, who hailed from Palestine, Illinois. That Palestine was chartered in 1811. It drew its name in 1678 from the French explorer, Jean LaMotte, who looked at the land and named it "Palestine" because it reminded him of the Biblical Promised Land of the Jews, flowing with milk and honey. No one associated "Palestine" with the Arab community, not even the French in the 1600s. Rather, the name was associated with the Jews and their Biblical Promised Land. The same with Palestine, Arkansas (pop. 741) and East Palestine, Ohio.
Before the Jewish country was named “Israel” in 1948, even the most ardent Jews identified the Jewish homeland as “Palestine.” Today’s Jerusalem Post, the English-language daily newspaper of Israel, originally was called the Palestine Post. The pre-government institution that laid Israel’s political foundation was the Jewish Agency for Palestine, headed by Dr. Chaim Weitzmann, who became Israel’s first head of state.
It is this “Palestine” – namely, the State of Israel – that Hamas forthrightly is determined to seize. The squiggle tells all. To attain the power to pursue its dream of eradicating Israel from the map, Hamas first engaged in more than a decade of bloody terror, killing some 500 people in the course of more than 350 terror attacks since 1993. Hamas popularized suicide bombing. Then, during the January 2006 general elections held freely and with minimal intimidation within the areas of Gaza and the segments of Judea and Samaria (the “West Bank”) controlled by the Palestine Authority, the Palestinian Arab electorate voted Hamas into power. Hamas won 74 seats, compared to 45 for runner-up Fatah. Former President Jimmy Carter monitored the vote and declared the election of Hamas “fair and square,” deeming them free, fair, just, and transparent. That is, the Palestinian Arab voters freely chose to be led by a group of terrorists and suicide-bomb architects outlawed throughout the world. After winning parliamentary elections, Hamas terrorists in Gaza proceeded to launch a bloody internecine war against their political competition, Fatah terrorists loyal to Palestine Authority President Mahmoud Abbas. More than 600 Arab terrorists killed each other during the next eighteen months. Ultimately, Hamas won and seized the reins of power in Gaza. By virtue of the freely expressed will of the people of Gaza, Hamas now enjoys popular support to lead Gazans with the Hamas vision.
On March 5, 1933, the German people cast their ballots, resulting in Adolf Hitler’s ascent to power as chancellor of Germany. The voters knew Hitler’s agenda, and he prosecuted the agenda he promised them. Mass terror followed, and the world was submerged into a war that brought death to tens of millions. By the end, America and England gained an upper hand and had enough. In one midnight hour, the Allies dropped more than 2,300 tons of aerial bombs on Hamburg. During the bombing of Dresden, the allies dropped more than 3,900 tons of bombs in two days, killing some 25,000 Germans. As the debate raged over whether these aerial bombings had been overkill, an underlying justification always lay in the recognition that the German civilian population had elected the Nazis and, by the power of their ballots, willingly brought the war and destruction on others – and, by the end, onto themselves.
So it is with Gazans and the Hamas terror vision for which they voted “fair and square.” In a world that has seen Iranian civilians rise up and, like Neda Soltani, give their very lives trying to liberate themselves from the yoke of an Islamofascist regime led by Ayatollahs and Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, the stark contrast from the people of Gaza is striking. Gazans celebrate death. They celebrate terror. Given a free choice, they have opted for a vision of terror aimed at wiping out innocent Western lives and eradicating Israel off the face of the earth. In the face of such contemporary persecutions as the Sudanese terror in Darfur and the Turkish oppression of the Kurd minority that now numbers more than two million refugees, can anyone truly make a “fair and square” argument that the people of Gaza are victims of anything other than their own tragically violent predilection to support terror over coexistence and war over peace?
Dov Fischer is a legal affairs consultant and adjunct professor of the law of civil procedure and advanced torts. He was formerly Chief Articles Editor of UCLA Law Review and writes extensively on political, cultural, and religious issues. He is author of General Sharon’s War Against Time Magazine and blogs at www.rabbidov.com