By Barry Rubin
Here is what President Barack H. Obama said after his meeting with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu:
“We believe that there is a way to make sure that the people of Gaza are able to prosper economically, while Israel is able to maintain its legitimate security needs in not allowing missiles and weapons to get to Hamas.”
Now compare this with what the leader of the regime ruling the Gaza Strip says in explaining his broad strategy. See if there is any possible intersection between reality and Obama’s priority on mking the Gza Strip prosperous.
Hamas leader Mahmoud al-Zahhar doesn’t want anyone to accuse him of hiding his plans and views. Perhaps he is trying to tip off the writers of all those Hamas-is-moderate articles.
Nope, they won’t listen. They’ll just keep writing about how Hamas is already moderate or about to be made so with more concessions.
Zahhar is also telling everyone the consequences of what the West has just done: accepted on the shore of the Mediterranean Sea a revolutionary Islamist, anti-American, anti-Western, repressive, Iranian client, terrorist regime that oppresses women, drives out Christians, and abuses children’s lives by turning them into future suicide bombers.
Or, what in the Western dialogue is referred to as resolving the “humanitarian crisis.” This is the regime whose domain Obama proposes to make prosperous. It makes me think of a cub scout meeting a serial murderer.
Zahhar explains the Gaza flotilla hoopla and subsequent wave of anti-Israel sentiment not as a way for getting more wheelchairs into Gaza but as the end of phase one of his plan, which in future intends to place a lot more people into wheelchairs in Gaza:
“We have liberated Gaza, but have we recognized Israel? Have we given up our lands occupied in 1948? We demand the liberation of the West Bank, and the establishment of a state in the West Bank and Gaza, with Jerusalem as its capital – but without recognizing [Israel]. This is the key–without recognizing the Israeli enemy on a single inch of land….
“Our plan for this stage is to liberate any inch of Palestinian land, and to establish a state on it. Our ultimate plan is [to have] Palestine in its entirety. I say this loud and clear so that nobody will accuse me of employing political tactics. We will not recognize the Israeli enemy.”
Zahhar reveals his next target:
“If we could liberate the Negev now, we would continue [our military activity], but our capabilities dictate that after we got rid of the Israeli presence in Gaza, we must finish off the remnants of that occupation, and move on to the West Bank.”
Incidentally, how many Western leaders, politicians, academics, journalists, and activists advocate merging the Palestinian Authority and Hamas into a single government? Isn’t that what President Barack H. Obama said was his goal, too? Sure he wants the PA on top, but who would you bet on would emerge victorious in the battle over the West Bank if Hamas were welcomed back into the PA?
I’m not saying that Hamas can take over the West Bank, though that’s due more to Israel’s efforts than to the PA’s resistance. But it will try to do so. And when it gets frustrated, at some point, it will renew war with Israel. Hamas will also try to help subvert Egypt and work to help Iran in spreading its influence and intimidation throughout the region.
When Iran has nuclear weapons will it declare that the Hamas Gaza regime is under its protection? That would, if it were to happen, probably be a bluff, but a bluff that would take the region one step closer to war.
Is there any chance of any Western leaders actually reading and comprehending this speech; any possibility its implications will be taught in Western classrooms; any way that it will be prominently quoted and explained in the Western media?
Because Zahhar and Hamas really mean what they say, and most Western governments don’t even hear what they say.
Barry Rubin is director of the Global Research in International Affairs (GLORIA) CenterMiddle East Review of International Affairs (MERIA) Journal. His latest books are Lebanon: Liberation, Conflict, and Crisis (Palgrave Macmillan), Conflict and Insurgency in the Contemporary Middle East (Routledge), and editor of the (seventh edition) (Viking-Penguin), The Israel-Arab Reader the paperback edition of The Truth About Syria(Palgrave-Macmillan), A Chronological History of Terrorism (Sharpe), and The Long War for Freedom: The Arab Struggle for Democracy in the Middle East (Wiley).