Hamas Unplugging Opportunity

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haniyeh.jpgI’m one who believes that Hamas must be part of the equation of establishing a new equilibrium in the Middle East. Hamas is not al Qaeda and has evolved into a real, citizen-rooted political order and can’t be wished away.
That said, some Hamas leaders are not making engagement with it easier given the kinds of comments that have been issued recently by Hamas leader Ismail Haniyeh. First he said in a bizarre replay of Jerry Falwell-Pat Robertson tunes that the tragic Carmel fire was divine punishment striking the Israelis.
Now Haniyeh has said:

We say it with confidence as we said it five years ago when we formed our government, and we say it today: We will never recognize Israel.

I agree with Zbigniew Brzezinski that trying to get an organization whose founding principles include the rejection of Israel to fall on its sword on those principles before entering negotiations is folly. The approach I support is for other parties (like France perhaps) to engage Hamas and create a separate “conversation” track — and to work to move Hamas to respect all previously negotiated national instruments and agreements of the PLO. This is the back door towards cultivating recognition and acceptance of a ‘different normal’ in the future.
This track won’t be easy — but the status quo is also destined to be a failure in the long run as well from my perspective and to present too high a cost to Israel, the citizens of Palestine, and more importantly to the United States.
But seriously, Hamas leaders are unplugging opportunities for constructive discourse with flamboyant, populist generalizations about the future.
— Steve Clemons

Comments

15 comments on “Hamas Unplugging Opportunity

  1. John Yorke says:

    (Apologies for previous comment. This was a first draft sent in error)
    It seems to me that two things are always absent from any Israeli-Palestinian peace initiative I’ve ever come across.
    1. Sufficient momentum.
    Generally, there isn’t a great deal of it; never enough head of steam to get up to speed on the matter, no dynamic that powers through the inevitable glitches and wild cards that have sent so many new plans and policies spiraling down in defeat.
    2. Adequate balance.
    The shaky balance of terror that sustains the conflict is a poor substitute for genuine peace. Yet the options open to both sides remain severely limited while that condition still dominates. There can be times when much peaceful aspiration abounds but, on these rare occasions, subversion by the tensions and lack of unity displayed by each of the opposing parties becomes almost inevitable; an outcome not uncommon in conflicts of such longstanding and magnitude.
    The equation has to be balanced somehow, giving it the momentum it requires to reach a palpable degree of resolution. To do that we must know ourselves, look inside the human heart and discover what it will take to reconcile these two conflicted and fragmented societies. Can adversarial impulses such as theirs ever be sufficiently contained, subverted by some new reality as yet untried?
    What could there be that hasn’t been tried already?
    http://yorketowers.blogspot.com

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  2. John Yorke says:

    |It seems to me that here are always two things absent from any Israeli-Palestinian peace initiative I’ve ever come across.
    1. Momentum.
    Generally, there isn’t very much of it; never enough head of steam present to get up to speed on the matter, no dynamic that powers through the inevitable glitches and wild cards that have sent so many new hopes and dreams spiraling down in defeat.
    2. Balance.
    The balance of terror that sustains the conflict is a poor substitute for genuine peace. Yet the options open to both sides are severely limited while that factor still dominates. There can be times when much peaceful aspiration abounds but, on these few occasions, subversion by the tensions and lack of unity displayed by each of the opposing parties becomes almost inevitable; not an entirely unexpected condition in conflicts of such longstanding and magnitude.
    We have to balance the equation somehow, giving it the momentum it requires to carry through to final resolution. To do that we must know ourselves, look inside the human heart and find the answer to this one single question: What will it take to reconcile these two conflicted and fragmented societies so that their customary becomes as redundant as the dodo?

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  3. PissedOffAmerican says:

    Study: Israel leads in ignoring Security Council resolutions
    Shlomo Shamir
    Haaretz
    October 11, 2002
    NEW YORK – Israel holds the record for ignoring United Nations Security Council resolutions, according to a study by San Francisco University political science professor Steven Zunes.
    On the eve of a possible U.S.-British assault on Iraq, Zunes decided to examine in depth one of the main arguments used by the Bush administration to justify changing the Baghdad regime – Iraq’s deliberate refusal to implement UN Security Council resolutions. He systematically went through all the states given instructions by the security council to find out how common a phenomenon it was. His results were somewhat surprising: “Some of the countries are considered and are known to be friendly to the U.S.,” he told Ha’aretz yesterday. “In the vast majority of cases I examined, the governments violating UN Security Council resolutions are countries that receive significant military, diplomatic and financial aid from the U.S.”
    Israel leads the list. Since 1968, Israel has violated 32 resolutions that included condemnation or criticism of the governments’ policies and actions. Turkey is in second place, with 24 violations since 1974, and Morocco is third with 17 resolutions it ignored.
    continues….
    http://www.ifamericansonlyknew.org/stats/scr.html
    COMMENT, “MICHAEL”????

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  4. PissedOffAmerican says:

    Care to comment, “Michael”??? Or are you going to hide from the truth, like most hit and run hasbarists do around here.
    UN Resolutions Against Israel, 1955-1992
    Resolution 106: “…

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  5. PissedOffAmerican says:

    “Hamas doesn’t even recognize UN resolutions…”
    As if Israel does???

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  6. Michael says:

    Steve, I agree that a separate track may yield some
    positive results. But UNSCO has been talking with
    Hamas for years and from what I’ve heard – Hamas
    doesn’t even recognize UN resolutions or the Arab
    Peace Initiative (Saudi Initiative) or the Prisoners
    Document and so on and so on. I can see that Hamas
    would reject OSLO and Geneva and the Road Map, etc.
    If you can get Hamas to support the API with end
    game going to referendum – then you have a starting
    point.

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  7. Neo Controll says:

    “Please stop besmirching Falwell by comparing him to Hamas.”
    Nadine let’s her ignorance of the despicable racist homophobe Falwell show; or perhaps she approves.
    “Here’s a small clue from reality Steve: Hamas’ principles, conveniently laid out in their charter, include destroying Israel and killing or driving out the Jews.”
    More ignorant comparison, when considered in relation to Likud charter that proscribes statehood for Palestinians:

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  8. nadine says:

    “I agree with Zbigniew Brzezinski that trying to get an organization whose founding principles include the rejection of Israel to fall on its sword on those principles before entering negotiations is folly.” (Steve Clemons)
    But hey, this is the first time you have ever admitted that rejecting Israel is a principle with Hamas, so I suppose that is something.
    Here’s a small clue from reality Steve: Hamas’ principles, conveniently laid out in their charter, include destroying Israel and killing or driving out the Jews.
    Please stop besmirching Falwell by comparing him to Hamas. Falwell may have said some dopey things in his life but he never recommended genocide once. Heck, he didn’t even pump for turning the US into a theocracy. There is really no comparison to Hamas, and it’s an act of intellectual dishonesty to pretend there is.

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  9. nadine says:

    “The approach I support is for other parties (like France perhaps) to engage Hamas and create a separate “conversation” track — and to work to move Hamas to respect all previously negotiated national instruments and agreements of the PLO. ” (Steve Clemons)
    Hamas already reneged on all the previously negotiated agreements of the PA (not the PLO, that was not the negotiating party). That was why the blockade was imposed on them in the first place – the one that Obama has been working so hard to remove.
    So, if that’s the objective, what’s been stopping the engagement so far, hm?
    The only thing more foolish than expecting Hamas to give up its Israel-must-be-destroyed principles before entering negotiations is expecting them to give up those principles AFTER they have reaped rewards and negotiating power because of them.

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  10. rich says:

    Question: What would it take to give Haniyeh the political and rhetorical space to back off his combative stance?
    Two points:
    1. Palestinian firefighters were the first to offer men and aid to put out the fires. That has to be acknowledged to understand Haniyeh’s words in any useful way. See link below to the ThinkProgress post on this.
    2. I understand the aim here is to hip-check Haniyeh’s rhetoric into less inflammatory territory, so Steve please be aware I believe you would (or have been, or would have been) equally harsh in condemning the Israeli rabbis who ALSO invoked the hand of God in urging IDF soldiers to wipe Gazan women and children from the face of the earth.
    Surely, a column inch or two devoted here to even-handedness and to pushing back against the rabbis’ inflammatory rhetoric would give Haniyeh the political space to self-edit and ratchet down the combativeness.
    It would also cue Haniyeh to recognize that there is no double standard in play here — thus opening up a path for him to work toward constructive solutions. Without having to make what must feel like unilateral concessions.
    Otherwise, why should Haniyeh not use the same tools as, in this instance, the rabbis are using? Their rhetoric in urging that civilians be killed indiscriminately in Gaza was quite Old Testament and self-righteous: where Haniyeh saw the hand of God in a bolt of lightning and the loss of trees, the rabbis directed IDF soldiers to believe they were the Hand of God in wiping out women and children. Which is worse? Killing trees or people? Viewing a natural disaster as an act of god (lower case)? or actively urging that Israeli IDF citizen-soldiers to massacre every civilian they see, in God’s name?
    Hardly the words of reasonable men hoping to be taken seriously on the modern stage, rabbis though they be.
    If you’re hoping to hip-check Haniyeh into less combative language or a more submissive posture, Steve, confronting him with a rhetorical double standard is a tactical error on your part. What tools would you have him use? The rhetorical difference only mirrors the substantive double standard surrounding the treatment of other tools (elections, paramilitary actions, treatment of civilians, military actions).
    It’s very reasonable to point this out here, despite the specific objective you have in mind in this situation. You’ll get much further in advancing regional stability and American interests, on the tactical level and the broader perspective.
    By all means, lead Haniyeh to understand that one-downsmanship is in his best interest. Recognizing that Israelis must do the same will convey the Respect that allows Haniyeh to do just that.
    Here’s the Palestinian firefighter link:
    http://thinkprogress.org/2010/12/06/palestinian-firefighters-israel/
    In Climate Solidarity, Palestinian Firefighters Help Israelis Fight Wildfire
    In a demonstration of solidarity in the climate crisis, Palestinian firefighters were some of the first to help Israel fight the unprecedented wildfires in the divided nation. The fires are caused by record heat and drought, a predicted consequence of the long-term climate change in the region spurred by fossil fuel pollution. A team of 21 Palestinian firefighters from the Bethlehem civil defense team left the southern West Bank in four fire engines at 4 am Sunday, and

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  11. BillM says:

    “But seriously, Hamas leaders are unplugging opportunities for constructive discourse with flamboyant, populist generalizations about the future.”
    You are correct, of course, that this is unhelpful, but recognize the larger set of comments. It was only a couple of weeks ago whe Haniyeh pledged just about everything Israel could want: peace, two states along the 1967, vagueness on the refugee issue, an agreement to follow any referendum, even if it conflicted with Hamas’ positions, etc:
    http://www.haaretz.com/news/diplomacy-defense/hamas-vows-to-honor-palestinian-referendum-on-peace-with-israel-1.328234
    It was met with crickets, both in Israel and the US. There was absolutely no response (and hardly any coverage). No politician can stay in that position for long: giving the other side everything and getting nothing in return. Without a response, Haniyeh’s position was obviously far too exposed to be stable. He HAD to backpedal.
    In short, “constructive discourse” requires the other side to actually CONSTRUCT something out of the opportunities Haniyeh has been giving them, not just complain when the opportunity fades again.

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  12. mymy says:

    Why does Hamas have to be part of the two state solution? Why not
    just negotiate over the West Bank, and leave Hamas to be the rogue
    state it wants to be. (I still don’t understand why Israel gave up that
    seacoast.)
    Thus, why not a three state solution, since Hamas wants nothing to
    do with the Palestinian Authority anyway? They should then not be
    allowed to name their new country Palestine but I’m sure they could
    figure out another name like: Hamasistan

    Reply

  13. Warren Metzler says:

    I really don’t understand American current concept of diplomacy. Here we are sending Richardson on a mission to North Korea, a country which is far more draconian than Hamas, that treats its citizens in a far more absurd manner than Hamas, sends artillery shells into the country of our ally, talks constantly about not accepting South Korea as a viable country, while at the same time not even talking to Hamas. This is impossible to be true if the US orientation to diplomacy is what it claims.
    Any person with a rudimentary knowledge of human beings, knows that when you remove a person’s capacity to make any progress toward a fulfilling and bountiful future, when you oppress every action a person takes, the only option left for that person is violent actions and belligerent words.
    How is it that all those brilliant folks down in Foggy Bottom don’t know that the Hamas leaders are like hurt little children. And that one needs to spend time with them, listen to them, get to where you can say with authority and authenticity, “I feel your pain, I know the very difficult experience in which you find yourselves, but let’s now sit down and have a discussion about a reasonable way out of your situation”.
    How is that Mitchell gets to go there and tell us he is not talking to Hamas, when the success on which his reputation is based is Northern Ireland, where he had repeated discussions with the IRA? Which was an organization as violent and belligerent toward England, as expressive of the desire to eliminate England, as Hamas is toward Israel.
    Where in the annals of US diplomatic history is the example of our refusal to talk to a problem government? Who was more of a threat to world peace and us as a country than the Soviet Union? And we had an embassy in their capital city.
    No. I think we need to conclude that actions speak louder than words. That the behind the scenes official policy of a long series of US administrations is to never ever want Palestine to be a state.
    But, at the same time, I don’t believe this is because Israel calls the shots inside the White House. I believe it is because corporations call the shots inside the White House. And they don’t want peace in the Middle East, because they believe that peace there would seriously cut into the major profits they make every year in the Middle East.
    We live in a truly sick country, where deceit and malicious actions are omnipresent. No wonder the system, government and corporations are doing their best to eliminate Wikileaks. Every person who lives in the darkness hates anyone who arrives with a light.
    And you know what is really sad. I am certain that the actions of all government officials are within a context that is consistent with the contexts followed by the majority of the citizens of that country. So it is really most of us US citizens that are sick and depraved. When will we give up our destructive ways, and turn to successful and rewarding living? When I ask?!

    Reply

  14. PissedOffAmerican says:

    Read this….
    http://palestinenote.com/blogs/blogs/archive/2010/12/15/law-to-keep-jews-and-arabs-apart.aspx
    Then tell me why these racists deserve billions annually of our hard earned tax dollars.
    Is it any wonder why anti-semitism is thriving throughout the Arab and Muslim world?
    Israeli society is just as despicable as the society in our deep south was during the 1950s.

    Reply

  15. PissedOffAmerican says:

    Israel bars entry to W Bank firemen
    Israel has barred a group of Palestinian firefighters from attending a ceremony where they were to be honoured for their help in battling a deadly forest fire last week.
    At least 10 Palestinians were invited to attend the event in northern Israel, where the four-day fire left 41 people dead and ravaged large swaths of forest.
    But Ahmad Tibi, an Arab member of the Israeli parliament and one of the organisers of the ceremony, said the event was cancelled when three of the Palestinians were refused entry permits to Israel on Tuesday.
    He said the military had turned the firefighters away on security grounds.
    continues…..
    http://english.aljazeera.net/news/middleeast/2010/12/20101214151434351650.html
    So, is it any wonder that Palestinian radicals find a sympathetic audience?
    Steve, I understand that you only write about what interests you, but I find it intriguing that you see fit to comment on Haniyeh’s incendiary public statements being an impediment to progress, yet ignore the recent flap about the letter signed by scores of prominent Israeli rabbis. Didn’t you just tell “Mark” that “The issue you are concerned with is not my issue” when he brought up the rabbi’s racist and incendiary proposals about not renting to, or the hiring of, non-Jews??? So, how is Haniyeh’s damaging rhetoric any more incendiary, or any more an impediment to progress towards peace, than the rhetoric of these Rabbis? And why is Haniyeh’s rhetoric “your issue”, but the Israeli rabbi’s rhetoric is not?
    Personally, I believe that comments such as Haniyeh’s are delighted in by the Israeli’s, and thats why the media, and in this instance, you, shove them into the spotlight while ignoring the equally corrosive actions and comments of the Israelis. In fosturing such a lopsided presentation of events it enables the maintainence of a narrative that consistently casts the Palestinians as the spoilers.
    For example, if you have the time, read the insipid and sacharin musings of Danny Ayalon that was carried yesterday in the Los Angeles Times op/ed page. Once again, the mewling disingenous voice of Israel advances the image of a poor misunderstood nation that has bent over backwards towards peace, and if only those nasty heathen sand niggers would be reasonable and stop making demands, peace would blossom like a rose.
    If rhetoric such as the racist proposals of these despicable rabbis “are not your issue”, than one would hope the equally devisive crap coming from the mouths and pens of those such as Haniyeh are “not your issue” as well. At least then you could attest to some neutrality in your musings here, instead of merely helping to maintain a lopsided narrative that has been the status quo for far too long now. Don’t take me wrong, I am NOT accusing you of purposely seeking to maintain the status quo. But I am telling you how giving light to one side’s inflammatory remarks or actions while ignoring the other’s might easily be interpreted as a purposely biased attempt to place an inordinate amount of blame on the Palestinians. Particularly when you so forcefully rebuffed Mark’s inquiry about your opinion of the rabbi’s written proposals.
    Beyond that, it is getting quite interesting seeing you foreign policy wonks continue to nurture the fantasy of a two state solution. I will be watching with interest to see how long you maintain this inexplicable optimism. Considering Israel’s ongoing policies and actions, and the alarming shift towards blatant and unabashed racism in Israeli society, I think you will see comments such as Haniyeh’s become far more commonplace. Whats more, the global community may well begin to at least understand, if not condone, such commentary. Israel itself nurtures and begs the radicalization of the Palestinians, and in so doing poses a great threat to its own security.

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