Saturday, January 23, 2010

"Is Hamas Ready to Recognize Israel?" (Jeffrey Goldberg)

Perhaps it's frivolous of me, but I can't help thinking that asking this question this is somewhat analogous to asking "Are the Congressional Republicans Ready to Bargain in Good Faith to Achieve a Constructive Compromise on Health Care Reform?" In the case of the Congressional Republicans, however, a number of them (though not all) have claimed all along that they were eager to do this, and in fact were trying to do this, but those Democrats were unwilling to compromise. (And it's even conceivable that, at least some of the time, a few isolated Republican Senators may even have wanted to bargain constructively, but in the end they fell into line with the overall GOP strategy of monolithic rejection and obstructionism--a strategy that may, in the end, have turned out to be successful.) For anyone who has been paying attention to reality, this pretense is obviously laughable, though some people, including assorted pundits and alleged political "journalists," have been gullible enough to swallow it. In the case of Hamas, on the other hand, the struggle has been to get them to say that they are willing to make peace with Israel--not necessarily to mean it, but just to say it--and the reality, of course, is that (so far?) they refuse to say it. They have both principled and tactical reasons for this refusal.

Since this reality is discouraging, it is perhaps not surprising that even some well-meaning and otherwise intelligent people feel compelled to engage in strained, implausible, and at times absurdly gullible interpretations of ambiguous statements from Hamas figures to try to pretend that they have said it, or at least have hinted at it, or perhaps might be on the verge of hinting it, and so on. (And then there are also straightforward propagandists engaged in conscious deception and deliberate obfuscation. But not all the people I've just described fall into that category.)

It is not impossible that Hamas might eventually move in this direction (as the PLO did, with great reluctance and under pressure of urgent necessity, a decade and a half ago). If and when this actually happens--that is, if and when Hamas takes the first step toward at least being ready to pretend that its goal is a genuine Israeli-Palestinian peace based on mutual recognition and a two-state solution--then we can talk about it. Meanwhile, with respect to the reality of the current situation, Jeffrey Goldberg's dry sarcasm is hard to improve upon.

--Jeff Weintraub
Jeffrey Goldberg
January 22, 2010
Is Hamas Ready to Recognize Israel?

There's been a lot of talk lately that Hamas is readying itself to moderate its stance toward Israel (see this piece by Fawaz Gerges, for instance). I haven't been to Gaza or Syria in a while now, so I have no firsthand way of knowing what's what. One argument is that Hamas, now in charge of actual territory, is maturing; another argument is that last year's Israeli incursion proved to Hamas that it can't defeat its enemy militarily. Nevertheless, Hamas leaders this week are saying that there is no change in the group's position, that it continues to deny Israel's right to exist.

In related news, Israel continues to exist.