Commentary Magazine


Topic: Ahmed al-Jabari

The Myth of Peace With Hamas

In my earlier post on Israel’s efforts to halt Hamas’s terrorist missile offensive against southern Israel, I alluded to the claim put forward by peace activist Gershon Baskin that Ahmed al-Jabari, the group’s military commander, was willing to accept a cease-fire before he was killed yesterday. In doing so, I referred to the tale as “farcical.” I should clarify that. I was not stating a belief that Baskin made up the story. Baskin, an Israeli who has been in continuous contact with Hamas over the last several years, is probably merely repeating what he was told by his interlocutors in Gaza. So in that sense he was telling the truth as far as he knew it. What was farcical about the story, which is probably on its way to becoming one of the top talking points for critics of Israel, is that the entire premise of Baskin’s ongoing efforts to try and broker agreements with Hamas serves the interests of the terrorist group, not that of Israel or of peace.

Baskin is claiming that killing al-Jabari spiked chances for a return to the relative calm that prevailed along the border with Gaza until last week as well as angering Egypt mediators. Even worse, he asserts that in doing so, Israel made a deliberate decision to reject a peace feeler. But even if Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Defense Minister Ehud Barak really were aware of the messages that he was relaying to al-Jabari’s people, their decision to make Hamas pay a price for its terrorism was correct. Though few in Israel want to send troops back into Gaza, the status quo Baskin was helping Hamas preserve was an invitation to more terrorism, not a pathway to peace.

Read More

In my earlier post on Israel’s efforts to halt Hamas’s terrorist missile offensive against southern Israel, I alluded to the claim put forward by peace activist Gershon Baskin that Ahmed al-Jabari, the group’s military commander, was willing to accept a cease-fire before he was killed yesterday. In doing so, I referred to the tale as “farcical.” I should clarify that. I was not stating a belief that Baskin made up the story. Baskin, an Israeli who has been in continuous contact with Hamas over the last several years, is probably merely repeating what he was told by his interlocutors in Gaza. So in that sense he was telling the truth as far as he knew it. What was farcical about the story, which is probably on its way to becoming one of the top talking points for critics of Israel, is that the entire premise of Baskin’s ongoing efforts to try and broker agreements with Hamas serves the interests of the terrorist group, not that of Israel or of peace.

Baskin is claiming that killing al-Jabari spiked chances for a return to the relative calm that prevailed along the border with Gaza until last week as well as angering Egypt mediators. Even worse, he asserts that in doing so, Israel made a deliberate decision to reject a peace feeler. But even if Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Defense Minister Ehud Barak really were aware of the messages that he was relaying to al-Jabari’s people, their decision to make Hamas pay a price for its terrorism was correct. Though few in Israel want to send troops back into Gaza, the status quo Baskin was helping Hamas preserve was an invitation to more terrorism, not a pathway to peace.

Though Baskin’s motives here may be pure, there is a reason why Hamas wanted Israel to stand down before inflicting anything more than a slap on the wrist to the terrorist group. In the six years since Hamas seized control of Gaza in a bloody coup, the group has sought to burnish its credentials among Palestinians as the leading murderers of Jews while simultaneously seeking to persuade Israel that it was better off tolerating their terrorist activities than to do something about it. In order to pull off that neat trick, it needs well-intentioned Israelis like Baskin to act as messengers for their threats and offers, as well as to facilitate the ransom negotiations that led to the release of kidnapped soldier Gilad Shalit in exchange for a thousand terrorist prisoners. Netanyahu may have had no choice but to make the deal to free Shalit, but he was rightly wary of indirect talks that merely serve to grant Hamas impunity for its cross-border raids and missile attacks.

During his last four years in office, Netanyahu, like Ehud Olmert before him, has chosen to play along and allow Hamas to continue with business as usual. But just as Olmert was eventually forced to act, so, too, Netanyahu has learned that tolerating terror merely allows the terrorists to grow stronger as well as bolder. Pursuing Baskin’s scheme for a long-term cease-fire with Hamas might have temporarily halted the missile fire but it would have certainly made it even more certain that when Hamas chose to start shooting again it would be on terms and at a time when it would have been even harder for Israel to respond.

Treating his effort as a genuine peace feeler also gave al-Jabari, the mastermind behind the Shalit kidnapping (in which two other Israelis died), a free pass for that crime and the many other murders he helped commit.

Far from rejecting a path to peace, the strong response to Hamas makes it clear that the group will gain no ground or credit for the violence it fomented this past week. While it is likely that Israel will accept an informal end to hostilities with Hamas at some point, it was necessary that Hamas’s military capabilities and leadership were materially damaged first so as to make it less likely that they will try the same trick again in the near future.

There may be nothing that can be done about the fact that Hamas runs an independent Palestinian state in all but name and uses it to perpetuate a legacy of violence. But the game in which terrorists use peace activists to blackmail a democracy is, by definition, an illegitimate endeavor rather than a genuine peace initiative. Peace will come as a result of a sea change in Palestinian opinion that will reject violence. Back channel talks that empower Hamas won’t help that happen. To the contrary, they embody a process by which the entire nation of Israel is held hostage by terrorists.

Read Less

Israel’s Message to Hamas Should Resonate in Washington

For days, southern Israel was pounded by close to 200 rockets fired from Hamas-controlled Gaza. This morning, the Islamist terrorist group got its answer when the Israel Defense Forces launched a series of retaliatory strikes on its military leadership. Ahmed al-Jabari, the group’s top commander, was killed in an airstrike on his car as it drove down a Gaza street. The killing of al-Jabari was just one of 20 different attacks on Hamas operatives in an effort intended to both decapitate its terrorist hierarchy as well as to send a message to the Gaza regime that if it thinks it can rain down missiles on Israel with impunity, it has made a terrible miscalculation.

The Israeli counter-attack after the days of Hamas missile fire is clearly an attempt by Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu to halt the assaults on his country without having to resort to an invasion of Gaza. While Israel can expect the world to condemn its measures of self-defense, Netanyahu cannot allow a return to the situation prior to the last IDF offensive into Gaza four years ago, when Hamas acted as if it thought there was no way for Israel to stop the missile fire on its borders. It remains to be seen whether, after another surge of rocket fire today following al-Jabari’s death, Hamas will take the hint and stand down.

But either way, these events effectively debunk the idea that Hamas has embraced non-violence and that the United States should reach out to it to join peace negotiations. That’s a narrative that was increasingly being promoted by those who sought to use the Obama administration’s decision to treat the new Muslim Brotherhood government of Egypt with kid gloves. The decision over the past weekend by the Brotherhood’s Hamas allies to set in motion the events that threaten to plunge the region into a new round of deadly violence is also a reminder to Washington that it should be paying more attention to the security needs of its Israeli ally and less to what its new friends in Cairo are saying.

Read More

For days, southern Israel was pounded by close to 200 rockets fired from Hamas-controlled Gaza. This morning, the Islamist terrorist group got its answer when the Israel Defense Forces launched a series of retaliatory strikes on its military leadership. Ahmed al-Jabari, the group’s top commander, was killed in an airstrike on his car as it drove down a Gaza street. The killing of al-Jabari was just one of 20 different attacks on Hamas operatives in an effort intended to both decapitate its terrorist hierarchy as well as to send a message to the Gaza regime that if it thinks it can rain down missiles on Israel with impunity, it has made a terrible miscalculation.

The Israeli counter-attack after the days of Hamas missile fire is clearly an attempt by Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu to halt the assaults on his country without having to resort to an invasion of Gaza. While Israel can expect the world to condemn its measures of self-defense, Netanyahu cannot allow a return to the situation prior to the last IDF offensive into Gaza four years ago, when Hamas acted as if it thought there was no way for Israel to stop the missile fire on its borders. It remains to be seen whether, after another surge of rocket fire today following al-Jabari’s death, Hamas will take the hint and stand down.

But either way, these events effectively debunk the idea that Hamas has embraced non-violence and that the United States should reach out to it to join peace negotiations. That’s a narrative that was increasingly being promoted by those who sought to use the Obama administration’s decision to treat the new Muslim Brotherhood government of Egypt with kid gloves. The decision over the past weekend by the Brotherhood’s Hamas allies to set in motion the events that threaten to plunge the region into a new round of deadly violence is also a reminder to Washington that it should be paying more attention to the security needs of its Israeli ally and less to what its new friends in Cairo are saying.

The idea that Hamas is a responsible player that ought not to be treated as the despicable terror group that it actually is has been increasingly heard in the last year, as the Brotherhood took over in Egypt. With the support of its Egyptian and Turkish Islamist allies, Hamas has been seeking to break down the isolation that has been imposed on Gaza since the bloody 2006 coup in which the group ousted the PA from power in the Strip. Indeed, the idea that Hamas had become housebroken even took root among Palestinians, causing the group’s popularity to decline, as it was no longer seen as Israel’s implacable enemy.

But the conviction that Hamas had abandoned its primary purpose was always unfounded. The Islamist group’s ongoing war with Israel never ended. Though analysts will debate the motivation for the decision to launch a missile offensive on southern Israel, the result was unambiguous. The violence should derail any thought of the United Nations voting to upgrade the status of the increasingly irrelevant Palestinian Authority. It will also rally Israel’s critics — who can always be counted on to ignore attacks on the Jewish state and to treat any attempt to defend its people as a war crime — behind the terrorist group.

Though some of Israel’s critics in the United States will hope that the violence in Gaza will serve to motivate President Obama to re-launch the dead-in-the-water peace process with the PA and to add Hamas to the mix, what Washington ought to be doing now is reassessing its decision to embrace Egypt’s new government. Unless Egyptian President Morsi steps up now and uses his considerable influence over Gaza to force Hamas to cease firing on Israel, a re-evaluation of aid to Cairo must begin immediately.

Read Less




Welcome to Commentary Magazine.
We hope you enjoy your visit.
As a visitor to our site, you are allowed 8 free articles this month.
This is your first of 8 free articles.

If you are already a digital subscriber, log in here »

Print subscriber? For free access to the website and iPad, register here »

To subscribe, click here to see our subscription offers »

Please note this is an advertisement skip this ad
Clearly, you have a passion for ideas.
Subscribe today for unlimited digital access to the publication that shapes the minds of the people who shape our world.
Get for just
YOU HAVE READ OF 8 FREE ARTICLES THIS MONTH.
FOR JUST
YOU HAVE READ OF 8 FREE ARTICLES THIS MONTH.
FOR JUST
Welcome to Commentary Magazine.
We hope you enjoy your visit.
As a visitor, you are allowed 8 free articles.
This is your first article.
You have read of 8 free articles this month.
YOU HAVE READ 8 OF 8
FREE ARTICLES THIS MONTH.
for full access to
CommentaryMagazine.com
INCLUDES FULL ACCESS TO:
Digital subscriber?
Print subscriber? Get free access »
Call to subscribe: 1-800-829-6270
You can also subscribe
on your computer at
CommentaryMagazine.com.
LOG IN WITH YOUR
COMMENTARY MAGAZINE ID
Don't have a CommentaryMagazine.com log in?
CREATE A COMMENTARY
LOG IN ID
Enter you email address and password below. A confirmation email will be sent to the email address that you provide.