Column One: Hamas's free lunch
Caroline Glick , THE JERUSALEM POST
Today Hamas stands on the cusp of international acceptance. It may take a week or a month or a year, but today Hamas stands where Fatah and the PLO stood in the late 1980s. The genocidal jihadist terror group is but a step away from an invitation to the Oval Office. Two events in the past week show this to be the case.
First, last Saturday, The Boston Globe reported that Paul Volcker, who serves as President Barack Obama's economic recovery adviser, and several former senior US officials have written a letter to Obama calling for the US to recognize Hamas. As one of the signatories, Brent Scowcroft, who was national security adviser under president George H.W. Bush, explained, "I see no reason not to talk to Hamas."
Scowcroft further argued, "The main gist is that you need to push hard on the Palestinian peace process. Don't move it to end of your agenda and say you have too much to do. And the US needs to have a position, not just hold their coats while they sit down."
Congressional sources claim that Obama has selected Scowcroft to replace Chas Freeman as chairman of the National Intelligence Council.
The second reason that it is becoming apparent that the Obama administration is poised to recognize Hamas is that on Thursday, Egyptian intelligence chief Omar Suleiman held talks at the State Department with Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, and enjoined the administration to support the reestablishment of a Hamas-Fatah unity government to control and reunify the Palestinian Authority in Gaza and Judea and Samaria.
This is significant because it is becoming apparent that top administration officials only meet with people who tell them what they want to hear.
Case in point is IDF Chief of General Staff Lt. Gen. Gabi Ashkenazi's trip this week to Washington. Ashkenazi went to the US to brief top administration officials on Iran's progress toward a nuclear bomb. Defense Secretary Robert Gates and Ashkenazi's counterpart, Adm. Michael Mullen, both managed to be out of town. Defense Ministry sources say that Ashkenazi only met with National Security Adviser James Jones, who reportedly wished to speak exclusively about the Palestinians, and with Clinton's Iran adviser Dennis Ross, whose role in shaping US policy toward Iran remains unclear.
Hamas, for its part, prefers the unconditional recognition recommended by Scowcroft and Volcker and their colleagues, (who include unofficial Obama advisers Zbigniew Brzezinski and Lee Hamilton), over the option of forming a government with Fatah. After all, why should Hamas agree to share power with Fatah to gain international acceptance if Washington power brokers close to the administration endorse unconditional recognition of the terror group?
Scowcroft's statement that recognition of Hamas is necessary because "you need to push hard on the Palestinian peace process" is indicative of how Obama's milieu views the peace process. For them, pushing hard on the peace process is more important than determining or even caring if the Palestinians involved in the said process are genocidal terror groups or not, or determining or even caring whether the said peace process has any chance whatsoever of leading to peace.
AND THE Obama view is not particularly new. After Hamas won the 2006 Palestinian elections, in the interest of the peace process, the US and the EU placed certain conditions on Hamas which they claimed it would have to meet before the West would recognize it.
The US and Europe said they would recognize Hamas if it announced that it forswore terror, accepted Israel's right to exist, and committed itself to carrying out previous agreements signed between the PLO and Israel. The Americans and the Europeans undoubtedly viewed these conditions as a low bar to cross. After all, the PLO crossed it.
The West's conditions were given with a wink and a nod. Everyone understood that the only thing it wanted was for Hamas to say the magic words. They didn't have to be true. If Khaled Mashaal and Ismail Haniyeh would just tell the US and Europe what they wanted to hear, all would be forgiven. Hamas – like the PLO before it – would be removed from the US and European terror lists. Billions would pour into the bank accounts of Hamas leaders in Gaza and Damascus. The CIA might even agree to train its terror forces.
It is obvious that all that the West wanted was for Hamas to lie to it, because that is all it ever required from the PLO. After Yasser Arafat said the magic words, the Americans and the Europeans were only too happy to ignore the fact that he was lying.
When immediately after signing the initial peace accord with Israel on the White House lawn on September 13, 1993, Arafat flew to South Africa and gave a speech calling for jihad against Israel, no one cared.
When Arafat destroyed the free press in Judea, Samaria and Gaza and transformed the Palestinian media into propaganda organs calling for the eradication of Israel and the Jewish people, the world yawned.
When he launched his terror war against Israel and his US-trained forces began plotting and carrying out bombings of Israeli civilians, the US announced its chief goal in the Middle East was to establish a Palestinian state.
And when Arafat's successor, Mahmoud Abbas, announced that Fatah didn't accept Israel's right to exist and considered terrorism against Israel legitimate, he was declared the indispensable and sole legitimate Palestinian leader. Indeed, when his US-trained forces surrendered to Hamas in Gaza without a fight, the US showered an additional $80 million on Fatah forces.
ON TUESDAY, Fatah strongman and the West's favorite son of Palestine Muhammad Dahlan tried to explain the facts of life to Hamas.
In an interview on PA television, Dahlan became the first senior Fatah official to openly admit that Fatah has never accepted Israel's right to exist. Dahlan denied reports that in the negotiations toward a Hamas-Fatah government, Fatah representatives are pressuring Hamas to recognize Israel. In his words, "I want to say in my own name and in the name of all my fellow members of the Fatah movement, we are not asking Hamas to recognize Israel's right to exist. Rather, we are asking Hamas not to do so because Fatah never recognized Israel's right to exist."
Dahlan went on to explain how the fiction worked. Arafat was the head of the PLO but also the head of Fatah. While as chairman of the PLO he recognized Israel and pledged to end terrorism and live at peace with the Jewish state, as head of Fatah he continued his war against Israel. Dahlan even bragged that to date, Fatah has killed 10 times more Palestinians suspected of cooperating with Israel's counterterror operations (the same operations the PLO committed to assisting) than Hamas has.
Dahlan explained that all Hamas needs to do is to follow in Fatah's footsteps. It should say that the PA government accepts the West's terms, but in the meantime, those terms will remain inapplicable to Hamas as a "resistance group." In that way, Dahlan explained, Hamas will be able to receive all the West's billions in financial assistance.
As he put it, "Do you imagine that Gaza's reconstruction is possible under the shadow of this bickering between us and the international community? [Gaza reconstruction] can only be dealt with by a government… that is acceptable to the international community so that we can… benefit from the international community."
Not surprisingly, Dahlan's statement went almost completely unnoted. Only The Jerusalem Post and one or two other Jewish publications and a few anti-jihadist blogs made note of it. The US, European and pro-peace process Hebrew media all ignored it. No government spokesman anywhere in the world commented on it.
nately, though, for the likes of Dahlan and his admirers in the West, Hamas isn't interested in joining Fatah's fiction. It refuses to say those magic words. So now the West looks for ways to lower its bar still further.
THE WEST'S nonresponse to Dahlan's statements, like its growing eagerness to treat with Hamas despite Hamas's unabashed refusal to even lie about its intentions, tells us something important about what the West is actually doing when it says that its paramount interest is to advance the so-called peace process. It tells us the same thing that the West's courtship of Damascus and Teheran tells us about what the West means when it speaks of peace processes.
Syrian President Bashar Assad this week told Italy's La Repubblica newspaper that he and outgoing Prime Minister Ehud Olmert were just a stone's throw away from a peace deal last year. Last week Assad participated in what was supposed to be an anti-Iranian conference in Saudi Arabia.
Both of Assad's gestures were meant to make the Americans feel comfortable as they renew their diplomatic relations with Syria, cast aside their backing for the UN tribunal set up to investigate Syria's assassination of former Lebanese prime minister Rafik Hariri, begin pressuring Israel to surrender the Golan Heights, and recognize Hamas.
And just as Arafat understood that after he said the magic words the West would ignore his bad behavior, so Assad knew that Washington and Paris would pay no attention when upon returning from Riyadh he announced that Syria's relations with Iran will never be weakened. He knew they will never question his false account of his indirect negotiations with Israel. He and Olmert couldn't have been a stone's throw away from a peace accord, because Assad refused to have any direct contact with Israel.
If Damascus is the state equivalent of the PLO, then Teheran is the state equivalent of Hamas. Today, as the mullahs sprint toward the nuclear finish line, the Obama administration is pretending that the jury is still out on whether or not the Islamic republic wants a nuclear arsenal. As with Hamas, so with Teheran, the Americans have dropped even the pretense of requiring a change in Iran's rhetorical positions as a precondition for diplomatic recognition. The US now pursues its diplomatic reconciliation with Teheran with the sure knowledge that this peace process will lead to Iran's emergence as a nuclear power.
So the question is, if the American and European pursuits of peace with Fatah, Hamas, Syria and Iran have not caused them to change their behavior one iota, what are the Western powers talking about when they say that it is imperative to push the peace process or engage the Syrians and the Iranians? After all, Western leaders must know that these processes are complete farces.
Sadly, the answer is clear. Western leaders are not pursuing peace in these processes. They are pursuing appeasement. They call this appeasement process a peace process for two reasons. First, they know their countrymen don't like the sound of appeasement. And second, by claiming to be championing the noble goal of peace in our time, they feel free to attack anyone who points out the folly of their actions as a warmongering member of the Israel Lobby.
Originally published in The Jerusalem Post.