It is good that Dr. S. Amjad Hussein asked that question, but not for the reasons he may think. Indeed, for all the skewed coverage that Operation Cast Lead has received in the press, it is still shocking to see such a strident defense of Hamas in the newspaper of a large city.
Much of Hussain’s argument depends on the claim that Israel fired first. But Hamas and other jihadist groups never stopped firing, either during the “truce” (see the chart below), or since its inception in 1987. Still more of his argument proceeds on the assumption that Hamas is a legitimate regime, and lacking decidedly in “terrorists.” But if Hamas fancies itself the ruling power in Gaza, it was either impotent or simply unwilling to control rocket attacks by other jihadist groups like Islamic Jihad, when Hamas itself was not behind the rocket fire.
Moreover, Hamas’ conduct on many levels would not be accepted of any other sovereign state, right down to its very reason for existing: the destruction of Israel in favor of a state governed by sharia law.
Then there is the small matter of the rockets, which Hussain appears to believe are justified. They are not justified — unless targeting civilians is okay some of the time — and they are bad policy, of which Gaza’s residents are victims (along with being used as human shields by their supposed champions). If those who cared enough inside and outside the “occupied” territories had desired, the amount of funding sunken into the cause of “Palestine” could by now have turned those areas into replicas of Dubai, Monaco, or Manhattan. Instead, they chose not only war, but wars repeatedly conceived in suicidal overconfidence and triumphalism, beginning with the initial attack of Arab countries on Israel in 1948.
Nonetheless, Hussain endeavors to explain why it’s all Israel’s fault in “Why is U.S. foreign policy hostage to Israel?” from the Toledo Blade, January 12 (thanks to Matt):
The ongoing carnage in Gaza raises some disturbing and sobering questions for the people of conscious everywhere, and that includes Toledo. At the time of this writing, close to 700 Palestinian men, women, and children had died and three times as many had been injured.
The pivotal question is why Hamas, the ruling Palestinian faction in Gaza, resumed firing rockets into Israel after six months of relative calm following a cease-fire put in place in June.
Six months? Not really:
A cease-fire requires a lack of hostilities between the parties. On Nov. 4, Israel, in clear violation of the cease-fire, went into Gaza and killed six Palestinians who Israel declared were terrorists. That incident and an ongoing siege and blockade of Gaza were enough reasons for Hamas to resume hostilities against Israel. It was retaliation plain and simple. Israel has been preparing for this onslaught for the last six months and chose this time because George W. Bush is still president.
Hamas has been preparing, too.
Ever since the withdrawal of Israeli forces and the dismantling of illegal Jewish settlements from Gaza in September, 2005, the area has been under siege. A total blockade has turned this narrow coastal strip of land into a virtual prison where 1.5 million inhabitants depended on the trickle of humanitarian aid allowed by Israel. Mary Robinson, the former United Nations high commissioner for human rights, called the ongoing situation in Gaza the destruction of a civilization. Her comments were made during the cease-fire.
In January, 2006, Hamas won elections in Gaza in a fair and impartial vote. The United States had, at the behest of Israel, declared Hamas a terrorist organization. As such, they were denied their legitimate right to govern and to have the cooperation of the international community. If fighting for one’s dignity, one’s land, and one’s freedom is terrorism, then most countries that became independent in the post-colonial era got there through terrorism. Even Israel’s establishment as a sovereign state was based on many acts of terrorism against the British and the native Palestinian population. There is an extremely thin line between a terrorist and a freedom fighter. All one has to do is to look at the life of Menachem Begin, a terrorist turned prime minister of Israel.
Note the lack of actual examples — if he offered any, they could be challenged, so it’s just better, evidently, to dispense with them. And it is worth repeating the necessity of distinguishing “terrorism” — a tactic — from jihadism. Indeed, Hussain casts this conflict in solely nationalistic terms, which Hamas’ own language and agenda to impose sharia law contradict. And it raises another question: Where would Hussain stand if this conflict did not involve an Islamic regime against a non-Muslim one? Suppose Lichtenstein were lobbing rockets at its neighbors. Would there be editorials and marches in the streets of capitals worldwide in Lichtenstein’s defense?
It is no surprise that most Arab governments have sold their soul at the altar of the United States and Israel. Every time there is an incident like Gaza, and there have been innumerable in the past decades, they get together to make phony noises of solidarity that result in nothing. At a recent press conference at the United Nations, the Arab ambassadors went through the usual hand-wringing and expressions of frustration at their inability to effect change. Missing in the whole macabre spectacle was a conscientious Arab journalist with a sturdy pair of shoes.
Maybe they don’t care for Hamas, either.
Why is American foreign policy hostage to Israeli whims? It is for historians and writers such as John Mearsheimer and Stephen Walt, former Congressman Paul Findlay, former President Jimmy Carter, writer Norman Finkelstein, etc., to analyze the phenomenon, which they have done at their peril. The question, however, begs for an answer. Why does an Israeli cause become an American cause? And why does a Congress elected by the people of this country become beholden to the interests of a foreign country?
Israel is the most powerful country in the Middle East. Its survival is not threatened by rag-tag bands of so-called terrorists. At the heart of Israeli actions is the determination to hang on to the occupied lands. All peace initiatives on a two-state solutions are bound to fail because of the dominant role the Israeli right and the militant settlers play in Israeli politics. They are loath to give any land back to the Palestinians.
“At the heart of Israeli actions is the determination to hang on to the occupied lands.” What, then, of the disengagement from Gaza, and the West Bank, and the consideration in some circles of the Israeli government of ceding other lands like the Golan Heights and Shebaa Farms? Where does Hussain draw the boundaries for “occupied lands?”
In the end Israel would rather see a fragmentation of Palestinian society reminiscent of apartheid South Africa, and allow them a measure of watered down and wholly dependent self-rule.
Unlike the glorious, independent, and self-reliant paradise of Gaza under Hamas.
Surprisingly, a great majority of the world has endorsed a two-state solution along 1967 borders in the form of U.N. General Assembly resolutions. All Arab countries have endorsed it. Even Hamas has expressed its willingness to accept that broad solution. The only countries voting against the resolution are the United States, Israel, Australia, and an atoll of small island nations in the Pacific.
But Hamas will not recognize Israel’s right to exist in any form, within any borders. Does Hussain?
And finally, where are the moderate voices of American Jewry? While there is a vigorous debate inside Israel about occupied lands, there is hardly any dissent in this country. Given the history of last 60 years, there must have been a few occasions when the people of conscience could have spoken out against the policies of Israel. Instead, they always found reasons to blame the victims or remain silent.
Hussain clearly hasn’t been reading many newspapers or watching much television — from the U.S. or the Middle East. And have they been silenced? Not at all. In any event, the preceding paragraph provides another demonstration of how uselessly relative the term “moderate” is.
One of my Jewish readers put it succinctly when he said, in private of course, that if he ever raises a voice against Israel policies he will be crucified.
Ironic, considering that Hamas’ efforts to impose sharia could include the real thing. But in summary, Hussain’s arguments above depend on the legitimacy of Hamas, which took power in Gaza in a coup, and the illegitimacy of Israel, whose territory was established first by the League of Nations, and then the United Nations (why not declare jihad on the United Nations?). From that perspective, he asked, “Why does an Israeli cause become an American cause?”
Geert Wilders provides the answer:
Israel is simply receiving the blows that are meant for all of us. If there would have been no Israel, Islamic imperialism would have found other places to release its energy and its desire for conquest. Therefore, the war against Israel is not a war against Israel. It is a war against the West….
And Hamas’ and Hizballah’s Iranian backers have made their intentions in that regard quite clear.