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"Progressive" opinion in our time seems to have coalesced around a "correct" position regarding the Hamas. Namely, that it is necessary to appease, negotiate with and otherwise support the fortunes of this reactionary and genocidal organization. Like the 1939 "progressive" opinion regarding the Molotov-Von Ribbentrop pact, the current position is based on willful ignorance of the facts and moral bankruptcy. Unlike the case in 1939, the "correct" opinion is not enforced by an international repressive apparatus that will assassinate "deviationists" with an icepick if they have the "wrong" opinion. Yet the urge to conformity to conformity is so potent that otherwise decent people are caught up in the modish trend to legitimize a murderous group that spreads race hate, at the same time working to sabotage any chance for Middle East peace.
The extreme case may be represented by MeretzUSA. It is extreme, not because their statement is extreme, but because MeretzUSA claims to be a Zionist organization. Consider their first statement about the Gaza crisis, which included this gem, "Neither the Israeli government nor the Hamas are beyond reproach." Literally it is true. Nobody is beyond reproach. Even Mother Teresa probably killed some flies needlessly and had some unholy thoughts. But equating Israel with Hamas, and soft-pedaling the nature of Hamas by dramatic understatement is an outrage against decency, language and logic. The Hamas is an organization that insists on the truth of the forged Protocols of the Elders of Zion. Hamas announces that every Jew must be killed before judgment day, that the Zionists and the Freemasons are "at fault" for "catastrophes" like the French revolution, and that Jihad is the only way. The significant difference between the Hamas and Germany in 1939, is that Hamas does not have Panzers or a Luftwaffe -- not yet.
Meretz issued a second statement which called, among other things, for direct negotiations with the Hamas. The statement also declared
The Meretz Executive condemns the killing of innocent Palestinians. Even an action to stop the terrorism against the [Israeli] communities surrounding Gaza does not justify hitting the innocent.
Regrettably, nobody has found a way to fight a war that does not kill any innocent people. It is all the more difficult in Gaza, since Hamas personnel hide in hospitals and mosques and Hamas declare their enthusiasm for using human shields. Could Nazism have been eliminated without hurting any innocent people? It is rather ironic to see a progressive statement barring the killing of any innocent people. After all, who taught us that the end justifies the means, and that sacrifices are needed for the success of the revolution?
The army of Hamas apologists comes in various tints, just as the army of USSR apologists came in various tints. Tom Carew of Safra VeSaifa has explained some of the thinking that underlies the protests of the worst of the Hamas groupies and fellow travelers. "Dialogue is always possible." The occupied people are "oppressed" and therefore permitted to do as they please. Carlos has discussed the self-deception of well meaning, "pro-Israel" dialogue people, which is based on the idea, for which there is no evidence whatever, that Hamas wants peace, and other specious assumptions. Hamas has spared no effort to ensure that everyone knows they will never make peace with Israel under any circumstances. They offer a 10 year truce if Israel first withdraws to 1949 borders AND allows millions of Palestinian refugees to return to Israel. But certain people seem intent on spreading "optimistic" disinformation.
Eric Lee was formerly a member of Kibbutz Ein-Dor, affiliated with the Meretz party, sometime author of the dovish BibiWatch and currently a British labor union activist (a real "activist" - not the kind who throws bombs) is a genuine progressive. Few people, and certainly not the salon socialists of the stylish British periodicals, have better real progressive credentials. Here is what he wrote about Israel's Gaza operation
This battle is the latest stage of a war that is entirely about whether a Jewish state will be allowed to exist in the land of Israel. On this point, both Hamas leaders and the Israelis are in agreement.
A strong case can be made that this battle is part of the endgame in that war. The decades-long conflict between Israel and its Arab neighbors is slowly coming to an end. And Israel has won...
The first and most important consequence of Israel's military victories was the peace agreement with Egypt. It was the Egyptian army more than any other which posed an existential threat to Israel's existence. Once it was taken out of the picture, an Arab victory in the long war was no longer possible.
This was followed a decade later by the PLO decision to embrace a two-state solution, which lead directly to the Oslo accords. Israel now finds itself in the extraordinary situation of having its former worst enemy, Fatah, as its strategic ally.
It is in this context that Hamas' weakness and isolation must be understood. They are weak because they are the last redoubt of what was once a mighty enemy – an enemy that could deploy divisions across several fronts, and whose tanks and aircraft once threatened to reach Tel Aviv.
The defeat of Hamas and the re-insertion of Palestinian Authority control over Gaza – possibly enforced by a pan-Arab peace-keeping force including Egyptian troops – would the best possible outcome of the current fighting.
Were that to take place, the conditions for a renewal of the peace process in 2009 would be in place. With a Kadima-Labour government in power in Jerusalem and Obama in the White House, Fatah controlling both parts of the Palestinian territories – it would be the best chance in years for a final agreement on a two-state solution.
The bottom line for real progressives is that Hamas is not progressive, but reactionary. They aren't fighting to liberate anyone, but to place the Palestinian people, and if possible the Israelis too, under a repressive radical Islamist tyranny. The bottom line for those concerned about peace is that there is no way forward for the peace process as long as Hamas rules Gaza, and there will be no chance at all for peace if, as MeretzUSA and others have suggested, Israel or other countries were to legitimize Hamas through direct negotiations.
No sane person and no responsible government wants to go to war, but the situation in the Western Negev had become totally intolerable. Hamas and the other terror groups had been given every chance to make peace or find a Modus Vivendi for three years. Instead, Hamas gradually ratcheted up the rain of rockets and mortar fire so that each new level of terror came to be accepted as "tolerable." They were able to do so, in large part, because of the chorus of "progressives" who insisted that there was a negotiated solution in the offing, and that violent response was off limits. Ehud Barak, who will no doubt be portrayed eating Palestinian babies and drinking the blood of the Palestinian people by anti-Semitic European cartoonists, risked his political career by backing a "tahidiya" (lull) with the Hamas, just as he sacrificed his political career in 2000 by stubbornly pursuing a peace settlement. The result of the Tahidiya, which Hamas unilaterally abrogated, was that Hamas increased the range of their rockets to reach major Israeli cities. Not content with that, Hamas insisted that it would only renew the truce if Israel allowed them to import weapons with no supervision whatever. With rockets raining down daily on Israeli towns, Israeli extremist MKs proposed to try Ehud Barak for treason. Few countries would be as sensitive to humanitarian concerns or delay their response so long as Israel did.
MeretzUSA and everyone else are fully aware that it is not possible to make war without hurting innocent civilians. So when they demand that no civilians at all must be hurt, they are, in effect, forbidding Israel to defend itself under any circumstances. Had the current operation been carried out a year ago, there is no doubt that it would have resulted in less loss of life for both Israelis and Palestinians. That is the price of the "progressive" defense of the Hamas, just as the price of appeasing Nazi Germany was the horror of World War II. If the "progressive voices" want to find someone to blame for the carnage in Gaza, they need to look in the mirror.
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