Earlier this week I received an email from a friend (and former colleague) who teaches at Stanford. The email, containing a link to an Examiner.com column, had been forwarded several times before reaching him and arrived in my inbox complete with a good dozen endorsements like, “Makes perfect sense” and “Too true.”
I probably wouldn’t have clicked the link if not for the huge number of academics (judging by the domains) in the various distribution lists. These are not generally the sorts of people to endorse sentiments published by the Examiner.
The column, written by Ben Kamin, is titled When Israel does finally talk with Hamas. And it begins sensibly enough:
A.B. Yehoshua, the renowned Israeli novelist, playwright, and thinker, fiercely independent and deeply rooted in the marrow of Jerusalem, wrote an article yesterday for the Op-ed page of the Israeli newspaper, “Ha-aretz.” He declared that the time has come for Israel to talk with Hamas—something whispered about by many people on the Israeli side and secretly believed by a significant number of Jewish people in general.
Indeed, there were a number of Jewish names on the email’s distribution lists, and a disproportionate number were in the amen corner. They must have loved the eminently reasonable and sensible way that Kamin goes on for another couple of hundred words, saying nothing that any eminently sensible and reasonable person who wants peace could disagree with—right up to and including the final grafs:
If Israel, with its supremely (sic) intelligence operation, knows that Hamas, however reprehensible, is the linchpin in pulling together the fractured Palestinian coalitions; if the Israeli government, brandishing an extraordinary array of social, cultural, and technological achievements really wants to end this horrifying conflict; it will indeed find a way to talk to the Hamas entity in Gaza.
Only it should not send dreamers like the wonderful A.B. Yehoshua to the table. Let such good men and women write poetry about the peace once it has become a reality.
I just shook my head. The intended rationality of such commentary, which defines the debate over the generic concept called “Mideast peace,” is precisely why there isn’t peace. And won’t be without a new approach.
Here’s what I wrote back to my friend:
Sorry, but this is silly. The question isn’t whether Israel will agree to talk with Hamas. The question is whether Hamas will agree to talk to Israel…as a Jewish state whose citizens it agrees not to murder whenever possible. That’s such an obvious observation, it’s embarrassing to have to make it. There is zero question—rather, there shouldn’t be after Israel forcibly removed all of its citizens from Gaza seven years ago and handed it over to the Palestinians—that Israel desires peace more than anything. But rather than build a state there, the Palis ELECTED Hamas, an organization sworn to destroy the “Zionist entity.” It’s been war ever since, and in fact over the last month Hamas in Gaza publicly tortured and summarily “executed” men they called “collaborators” with Israel. That term applies only to war. Ask yourself: How come no one ever writes an op-ed in the New York Times or Huffington Post or anywhere else that says, “When Hamas Does Finally Talk to Israel.” They don’t because they know it’ll never happen, and the longer we continue with this charade, the more people will die.
Today came yet further confirmation of that (via Reuters):
Hamas leader Khaled Meshaal, making his first ever visit to the Gaza Strip, vowed on Saturday never to recognize Israel and said his Islamist group would never abandon its claim to all Israeli territory.
“Palestine is ours from the river to the sea and from the south to the north. There will be no concession on an inch of the land,” he told a sea of supporters at an open-air rally, the highlight of his three-day stay in Gaza.
I sent my friend at Stanford the link, along with this comment:
I hate being right about this all the time, but this is essentially as easy as picking the winners of a ballgame the morning after.
Insisting that Israel be reasonable with an unreasonable enemy is, as Orwell said of pacifists, objectively pro-fascist.