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Hamas Tag

Last month the Editorial Board of The Washington Post endorsed the Obama administration's support of the unity deal between Hamas and Fatah. After reading, Restore trust to douse the fire in Gaza, the Post's take on Operation Protective Edge, it's clear that the editors are still stuck in an intellectual rut. One paragraph in the editorial stuck out as hopelessly uninformed and illogical (emphasis added):
Those goals hardly seem worth the bloodshed — nearly 50 people reportedly had been killed in Gaza by late Wednesday, including civilians — or the economic losses to both Palestinians and Israelis. In fact, neither side wanted war. Hamas had just agreed to back a united Palestinian government with the West Bank-based Fatah movement, while Israel quietly offered a truce before the escalation of hostilities on Sunday. As so often happens in the Middle East, acts by extremists forced these events: the kidnapping and murder of three Israeli teenagers allegedly by Hamas militants apparently acting on their own; the revenge murder of a Palestinian by Israeli thugs; the initial firing of rockets from Gaza by small militant groups challenging Hamas’s authority.
First of all how is Hamas's participation in the unity government a sign that "it didn't want war?" In a similar vein former Washington Post blogger, Max Fisher, now at Vox.com, wrote earlier this month:

As Operation Protective Edge it's worth anticipating the likely response to Israel's latest war against Hamas. Israel will be accused of a disproportionate response and of not taking care to avoid collateral damage. Already there's been at least one incident in which a number of civilians were injured and and 7 were killed. Israel has a policy of letting civilians know when they are about to bomb a target to give them a chance to get of the way. One would assume that observers would be impressed that Israel gives up the element of surprise in order to reduce collateral damage. But that assumption would be wrong, if one judges by the reporting and analysis from the New York Times and Washington Post. Here's how the New York Times reports the incident:
The call came to the cellphone of his brother’s wife, Salah Kaware said on Tuesday. Mr. Kaware lives in Khan Younis, in southeast Gaza, and the caller said that everyone in the house must leave in five minutes, because it was going to be bombed. A further warning came as they were leaving, he said in a telephone interview, when an Israeli drone apparently fired a flare at the roof of the three-story home. “Our neighbors came in to form a human shield,” he said, with some even going to the roof to try to prevent a bombing. Others were in the stairway when the house was bombed not long afterward.
Israel warned the residents and people went into the building. The casualties here occurred because Gaza residents because people intentionally put themselves in danger. The New York Times then informs us:
The Israeli military said that targeted houses belonged to Hamas members involved in launching rockets or other military activity, and that they had been used as operations rooms.
As the Washington Post also reported the story we have an indication that in this case, the Israeli military was 100% correct. After describing the warning call, the "knock on the roof," and the entry of neighbors into the building, the Post reports:
Ahmed Kawarea said he ran home when he heard about the first rocket. The second missile hit when he was in the stairwell on his way to the roof.

Rockets fired from Gaza were shot down today over several major Israeli cities, including Tel Aviv -- and landed in the Jerusalem vicinity. Hamas landed 5 "naval commandos" by sea. They were taken out by an IDF helicopter gunship. (added) Another video from the Israeli Navy of the same incident: Elsewhere, Palestinians at the al-Aqsa Mosque in Jerusalem cheered the rockets landing in Israel (via Truth Revolt):

A few articles this week effectively absolve Hamas (and more generally the Palestinians) for the latest escalation in the Middle East and put the bulk of the blame on Israel. I'm only going to focus on two. Max Fisher wrote How Israel is punishing ordinary Palestinians for three murdered Israeli students for Vox. Fisher's premise is in the title. Israel is not justified in striking back, so any retaliation is "punishment." Of course this brought plenty of criticism. David Harsanyi sums up Fisher's illogical case against Israel.
In Fisher’s view, Israel is pining to kill, longing to occupy, aching to inconvenience. Israel wants to waste millions of dollars tracking down Hamas terrorists; it craves the international backlash that will inevitably follow, and it just never feels quite whole until hundreds of its own citizens, and thousands of Palestinians, are put at risk. There’s nothing quite like persecuting the elderly Arab shopkeeper. Mission accomplished!
The Free Beacon asks why GE is underwriting such anti-Israel propaganda and Twitchy put together the best critical tweets.

And so it continues. All eyes have been focused on the increasingly bizarre facts of the exchange of 5 top Taliban Gitmo detainees for Bowe Bergdahl, someone who may very well be a deserter if reports by soldiers who served with him are accurate. Yet an even bigger event took place just yesterday, as the State Department announced the U.S. was embracing the new Palestinian Authiority coalition government which for the first time includes Hamas, a recognized terrorist group which remains sworn to the destruction of Israel.  Reuters reports, U.S. says to work with, fund Palestinian unity government:
The United States said on Monday it plans to work with and fund the new Palestinian unity government formed after an agreement by the Fatah and Hamas factions, and Israel immediately voiced its disappointment with the U.S. decision. he United States views Hamas as a "terrorist" organization and the U.S. Congress has imposed restrictions on U.S. funding for the Palestinian Authority, which typically runs at $500 million a year, in the event of a unity government. Senior U.S. lawmakers said on Monday Washington should suspend aid to the new unity government until it is sure of the Islamist group's commitment to pursuing peace with Israel. In its first comment since the Palestinian government was sworn in, however, the State Department stressed that it regarded the new Cabinet as made up of technocrats and that it was willing to do business with it.
Following the U.S. lead, the EU and U.N. quickly announced acceptance of the coalition. We now have open conflict between the U.S. and Israel based on the U.S. backing out of understandings with regard to Israeli refusal to negotiate with the PA if Hamas were part of the coalition. Via The Times of Israel:

Stanley Cohen is an activist lawyer most identified with Hamas and other anti-Israeli causes and groups. Late last month The Jewish Daily Forward had an extensive article about Cohen's political journey to anti-Zionism, including representation of Hamas and Osama bin Laden's son-in-law, who was convicted last month. It appears from the timing that Cohen's plea deal was timed to allow him to finish the al-Qaeda trial: Cohen was indicted in August 2012 in the Northern District of New York on a variety of tax-related charges.  The Indictment is embedded at the bottom of this post, but the gist of the claims is that he ran his law practice off the books, including receiving and paying for services in cash without reporting, and failing to make tax filings and reporting for many years. When indicted, Cohen was defiant, claiming it was a political prosecution:
.... I am an advocate for many people the government would like to silence or put in jail: Palestinian freedom fighters, Muslim preachers, North American natives living on Indian reservations, marijuana dealers, anti-war protestors, radical squatters, the homeless, "hacktivists", anti-Zionists and everyone in between. I live my ideology in the job I do, and I try to be aggressive in vindicating the rights of clients. I have challenged the state at every opportunity. I'll keep doing this in the Lower East Side, in Washington, DC, in the International Criminal Court in the Hague, in Israel and in the West Bank and Gaza. It is my passion....
Yesterday Cohen released a statement via Twitter to supporters that he would be pleading guilty today.   Once again, Cohen maintained the prosecution was political.  The statement reads in part:

When you read the first few news dispatches below from the past year and a half, keep this photo in mind. Aid Groups and U.N. Agencies Urge Israel to Lift Gaza Blockade - The Associated Press - June 14, 2012 Fifty international aid groups and United Nations agencies urged Israel...

While in Jerusalem I stayed at the Mamilla Hotel, just above the open-air Mamilla Mall, near the Jaffa Gate to the Old City. What struck me about it was how Arabs and Jews intermingled freely -- it was a very mixed crowd and a seeming respite from my near miss with stone throwing in East Jerusalem. Here's a photo I took my first night in Jerusalem in late July: [caption id="attachment_64278" align="alignnone" width="553"]Mamilla Mall (Mamilla Mall, Jerusalem)[/caption] It's also where I met Carl in Jerusalem for drinks. Back in 2011, when flash mobs were the rage, this dance took place (h/t Quite Normal): But the coexistence was an illusion. On September 1 Israeli authorities revealed the arrest of two East Jerusalem Arabs who were part of a Hamas cell in a plot to explode a bomb at the Mamilla Mall, where they worked, via Times of Israel:

The three terrorist groups Fatah, Hamas and Hezbollah have all fallen on hard times. Though their problems differ, none of them are ascendant now (or at least not in regards to Israel). To be sure, each still presents a challenge and a threat to Israel, but all three are the weakest that they've been in a long time. Fatah, the main constituent party in the Palestinian Authority, has at least formally rejected terrorism. However there are still terrorists (Al Aqsa Martyrs Brigade) associated with it, and its moderate leader still promotes terror against Israel as a laudable activity. Writing at the Times of Israel, Robert Nicholson reminds us of what Fatah was twenty years ago at the signing of the Oslo Accords:
Let’s assume for a moment that the critical account is correct and that the Palestinians had unequal power at Oslo. Should anyone be surprised? When Rabin and Arafat shook hands in 1993, Rabin ran a sovereign state with a recognized territory, a democratic population, and a representative government. Arafat, on the other hand, ran a muddled and murderous revolutionary movement based in Tunisia. The PLO was no nascent state; it was a loose coalition of terrorist factions, a nominal bureaucracy, and a loud-mouthed press office. It held no land, no democratic mandate, and no presence in the territories it claimed to represent.
Of that last sentence, really the only thing that's changed is its presence. The PLO (of which Fatah was the largest group) was a terrorist organization that was legitimized because it accepted two principles: the rejection of violence and the acceptance of negotiations. Under Yasser Arafat, Fatah was still involved in terror. Under Mahmoud Abbas it has eschewed direct negotiations with Israel in favor of international pressure. In other words, Fatah has failed to live up to the commitments from which it derived its legitimacy. Regardless, few in the diplomatic arena seem willing to to hold Fatah to its commitments (whether its these basic ones or subsequent ones) so Fatah's not going away. Fatah's lack of legitimacy - amplified by its failure to hold elections - isn't its main weakness. Fatah's weakness derives from its posture. Here's an analysis from Robert Danin that passes for conventional wisdom.
Abbas’ main political opposition, Hamas, has denounced the talks. Palestinians fear that Israel wants open ended negotiations, and that their political standing will fall without rapid and tangible results from talks. This both constrains Abbas’ ability to be flexible while pressuring him to obtain quick results from Israel.
Abbas will claim that he can't compromise because of Hamas, or because of the justice because of what the Palestinian people are owed. But the Palestinians have adopted their victimhood as their identity. It's harder to present national aspirations when you aspire to have others do for you. Whether it is a demand that Israel release prisoners or cede land; or that the international community give aid and sanction or pressure Israel. It's never about governing or providing for citizens. Victimhood may be an effective way of gaining national recognition. It is not an effective way to forge a national ethos or viable polity. Recently, Richard Behar wrote a cover story for Forbes, Peace through Profits, which documented how private efforts were helping to create a vibrant Palestinian tech sector. For anyone interested in peace and coexistence, this would seem to be good news. Now, just a few weeks later, nearly every Palestinian he interviewed is upset with his portrayal. Apparently hostility towards Israel is valued more than self-sufficiency. Behar writes about one of his subjects, Sam Husseini:
Sadly, Husseini is experiencing what he maintains are repercussions from my articles. “I got a call from a friend in Dubai this morning who reads FORBES. And he said, ‘Sam, is this real? Are you collaborating with Israelis? Is this you?’ I said, ‘No! We’re using Israeli trainers to train Palestinians so that they can get up to par — so we can do globalization.” Husseini says he endured another upsetting moment when a friend in the U.S. posted ‘Well done, Sam’ on his Facebook page. “I said within seconds, ‘Remove it.’ Because if it’s posted there, and my [other] friends see it, I’m done. The problem is, it’s FORBES. So how can you keep it a secret?”
If a Palestinian tech sector develops independent of the Palestinian Authority, that would threaten the PA's political power. If Israelis and Palestinians cooperate outside of politics, how important is the political organization that doesn't share or cede power?