Time To Talk To Hamas
03/12/08
Associate Editor
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I understand the right. I don’t flinch when Palestinians, even civilians, catch an IDF bullet. When Arabs say massacre, I hear fraud. Talking politics, you lose me at “What would the world say?” I don’t believe survivors of slavery would spill seder wine with their pinkies because Egypt got hit by frogs. My idea of a leader is Zev Jabotinsky, my favorite prime minister was Menachem Begin, and I’m convinced we’d have a military solution to terror if Ariel Sharon was 40 again and didn’t have to fight by Marquis of Queensbury rules that apply only to Jews.
And now I understand the left: Let’s talk to Hamas.
To turn the old neo-con line on its head, I’ve been mugged by reality. It’s time for
Israel to ask Hamas for a cease-fire. If Israel can’t end the death, amputations and trauma with a sustained military offensive that will crush the enemy, something the Israelis don’t want to do and don’t think will work; if Israel can’t save Sderot through third-party diplomacy, and it’s obvious they can’t — as proven by 8,000 rockets this decade — then take the blue off the flag and talk directly to Hamas.
If the Israelis don’t want to fight, there’s no point in offering to hold their coat. A poll shows that 64 percent of Israelis want to talk to Hamas. There obviously have been cease-fire talks in the past week, via the Egyptians, but a rocket into Ashkelon on Tuesday shattered the four-day lull. Only in Israel could people speak of a lull in a week that saw eight Jews killed in the Yeshivat Mercaz Harav bloodbath last Thursday.
There is such a lull that more Israelis have already been killed before Purim, 2008, than in all of 2007.
Mahmoud Abbas, president of the Palestinian Authority, with whom Israel does talk, with whom the Western world has invested so much diplomacy, called off talks when Israel sent troops against Hamas in the first days of March. Abbas is only talking again now that Israel retreated. Israel and the “good” Palestinians have made it clear: The Jews of Sderot are on their own.
Let’s remember that the “good” Palestinians, not Hamas, controlled Gaza when several thousand rockets were launched, and Israel and the United States never had any problem talking to the PA then.
Uri Orbach wrote in Yediot Ahronot, “Our tolerance certainly has a limit ... We, the Jews, have no intention to commit suicide and lose our Jewish state in the name of our democratic values.”
Israelis have been saying that for years, and I no longer believe it. Suicide is irrational, but depressed people do it. Whole nations can go for the Kool Aid, too. Another Israeli writer touched on suicide this past week, “We haven’t decided how much we want to stay alive.” There have been hundreds of articles describing Israelis as exhausted, depleted, more delighted by their humanitarian “values” regarding Gaza rather than their obligation to end the siege of Sderot. Prime Minister Ehud Olmert has said Israel is “lost” for reasons ranging from demographics, to alleged “apartheid,” to the absence of a Palestinian state. In June 2005, he spoke the equivalent of a suicide note: “We are tired of fighting, we are tired of being courageous, we are tired of winning, we are tired of defeating our enemies.”
That is not exactly “we shall fight on the beaches, we shall fight on the landing grounds, we shall fight in the fields and in the streets, we shall fight in the hills...”
Churchill made Dunkirk sound like a sonnet, turning the Flanders defeat into a clarion. Olmert makes scattered victories sound like a sob in the night.
Israeli leaders keep warning the Palestinians that next time, just wait. It’s like a parent saying, “I’ll count to three,” only to count to four, five and six.
Israelis are convinced the Palestinians have us in checkmate, pinned by political rooks — Arab demographics, Gaza rockets, an Iranian bomb, uninspired prime ministers, world disapproval and one secretary of state after another.
No, there is no military solution. If Israel were leading the Allies in World War II, Auschwitz would still be open, just as Israel’s captives are still captive and rockets still fly. If Israel landed at Normandy, after six weeks the IDF would leave France and go back to England. After Pearl Harbor, Israel would bomb some empty Japanese buildings and pretend that the targeted assassinations of the Pearl Harbor pilots could destroy the Japanese empire.
After the murders at Mercaz Harav, a young Jewish woman e-mailed a friend that the pain we now feel shows that we are, indeed, “Am echad b’lev echad,” one people with one heart.
That once was true, not anymore. It used to be said of Jews, “When it rains in Odessa, they open umbrellas in Paris.” But no one sent “Am echad b’lev echad” e-mails, just two weeks ago, when Roni Yihye had his chest blown open by a rocket in a Sderot parking lot. We didn’t get those e-mails, earlier in February, when a Sderot rocket blew the leg off 8-year-old Osher Tuito. Once we could be energized by the death of one man, Yankel Rosenbaum in Crown Heights, Brooklyn, in 1991. His name went around the Jewish world. Now, like a drug addict, we need eight names before tears kick in.
In light of the reaction when eight Jews are killed in Jerusalem, imagine if 1,000 rockets and mortars hit the Jerusalem neighborhood of Mercaz Harav since January; if rockets crashed through the ceilings of the tourist hotels and the “gap year” yeshivas where Americans send their children. Imagine 8,000 rockets hitting Jerusalem this decade.
We’d end the rockets, one way or another, even if talking to Hamas directly was the last shot we had.
The people of Sderot and Ashkelon deserve the same — if one people, one heart means anything at all.

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10/05/2009 - 14:48

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