In FrontPage this morning I consider the inevitable question:
The Jerusalem Post reported Monday that “Israel agreed to briefly hold off on sending ground forces into Gaza to allow time for cease-fire efforts to continue.” Meanwhile, Hamas top dog Khaled Mashaal demanded that Israel initiate a cease-fire if it wants a truce, and even claimed that Netanyahu asked for one: “Netanyahu was the one who requested a cease-fire from the Americans, Egypt and the Europeans. We were not the ones to ask for a cease-fire.” Israeli officials denied this, but did avow that “Israel prefers a diplomatic solution,” and was postponing a ground invasion in anticipation of one. Meanwhile, according to the Post, “Quartet Special Envoy Tony Blair told President Shimon Peres that Egypt, Qatar, America and the UN were working to put in place a ceasefire.” And so here we go again.
In all negotiations that may transpire, Israel will insist that the rocket attacks from Gaza must cease. But no cease-fire or previous negotiated settlement of any kind has ever accomplished this; why will this one be different? For that matter, no state has ever successfully reached a negotiated settlement with an enemy who had vowed to destroy it; why is Israel constantly expected to be different? Blair and all the others who are calling for an immediate cease-fire and negotiations seem to have forgotten, if they ever knew, what Hamas is, what its goals are, and who forms its leadership.
Many analysts continue to view Hamas as a nationalist group that will ultimately be pacified once a Palestinian state is set up. And to be sure, the Hamas Charter of August 1988 addresses nationalism, but not quite in those terms. It declares: “nothing is loftier or deeper in Nationalism than waging Jihad against the enemy and confronting him when he sets foot on the land of the Muslims.” When will it end? The Hamas Charter quotes Hasan al-Banna, the founder of the Muslim Brotherhood: “Israel will rise and will remain erect until Islam eliminates it as it had eliminated its predecessors.”
Hamas identifies itself in the Charter as “one of the wings of the Muslim Brothers in Palestine. The Muslim Brotherhood Movement is a world organization, the largest Islamic Movement in the modern era.”
In keeping with this guiding idea that Islam must be and will be the force that ultimately eliminates Israel, and that Islamic principles must rule all aspects of life, Hamas states its membership and its mission in the broadest possible terms, complete with copious quotes from the Qur’an: “the Islamic Resistance Movement consists of Muslims who are devoted to Allah and worship Him verily [as it is written]: “˜I have created Man and Devil for the purpose of their worship” [of Allah]. . . . They have raised the banner of Jihad in the face of the oppressors in order to extricate the country and the people from the [oppressors”] desecration, filth and evil. “˜Nay, but we hurl the true against the false; and it does break its head and lo! it vanishes” Sura 21 (the Prophets), verse 18.”
Hamas sees its Islamic mission as universal: “Its spatial dimension extends wherever on earth there are Muslims, who adopt Islam as their way of life; thus, it penetrates to the deepest reaches of the land and to the highest spheres of Heavens. . . . By virtue of the distribution of Muslims, who pursue the cause of the Hamas, all over the globe, and strive for its victory, for the reinforcement of its positions and for the encouragement of its Jihad, the Movement is a universal one.”
Hamas disdains peace talks: “[Peace] initiatives, the so-called peaceful solutions, and the international conferences to resolve the Palestinian problem, are all contrary to the beliefs of the Islamic Resistance Movement. For renouncing any part of Palestine means renouncing part of the religion; the nationalism of the Islamic Resistance Movement is part of its faith, the movement educates its members to adhere to its principles and to raise the banner of Allah over their homeland as they fight their Jihad: “˜Allah is the all-powerful, but most people are not aware.–
In laying out its aims in this way, Hamas and similar groups such as Islamic Jihad have painted themselves “” and the Middle East “” into a corner. The Muslim militants who see their struggle against Israel as part of their religious responsibility cannot and will not ever recognize Israel’s right to exist, or reach any kind of negotiated settlement with “the Zionist entity,” without denying what it has identified as “part of its faith.” After all, the Muslim Prophet Muhammad himself warned Muslims that “the last hour would not come unless the Muslims will fight against the Jews and the Muslims would kill them until the Jews would hide themselves behind a stone or a tree and a stone or a tree would say: Muslim, or the servant of Allah, there is a Jew behind me; come and kill him” (Sahih Muslim 6985).
This tradition is repeated, with small variations, numerous times in the Hadith, and is well known among Palestinian Muslims. In January 2012, Muhammad Hussein, the Mufti of the Palestinian Authority, quoted this notorious hadith at a Fatah event: “The reliable Hadith,” noted Hussein, “in the two reliable collections, Bukhari and Muslim, says: “˜The Hour will not come until you fight the Jews. The Jew will hide behind stones or trees. Then the stones or trees will call: “Oh Muslim, servant of Allah, there is a Jew behind me, come and kill him.–“