Commentary Magazine


Topic: Khaled Meshaal

When It Comes to Israel, Liberals Can’t Handle the Truth

Here is an excerpt from an interview with Charlie Rose and Hamas leader Khaled Meshaal that’s noteworthy:

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Here is an excerpt from an interview with Charlie Rose and Hamas leader Khaled Meshaal that’s noteworthy:

ROSE: I think I just heard you say — and this — we will close on this — you believe in the coexistence of peoples, and, therefore, you believe in the coexistence of Palestinians and Israelis in the Middle East?

MESHAAL (through translator): I can’t coexist with occupation.

ROSE: Without occupation, you can coexist?

MESHAAL (through translator): I’m ready to coexist with the Jews, with the Christians and with the Arabs and non-Arabs and with those who agree with my ideas and those who disagree with them. However, I do not coexist with the occupiers, with the settlers, and those who…

ROSE: It’s one thing to say you want to coexist with the Jews. It’s another thing you want to coexist with the state of Israel. Do you want to coexist with the state of Israel? Do you want to represent — do you want to recognize Israel as a Jewish state?

MESHAAL (through translator): No. I said I do not want to live with a state of occupiers. I do coexist with other…

ROSE: I’m assuming they’re no longer occupiers. At that point, do you want to coexist and recognize their right to exist, as they would recognize your right to exist?

MESHAAL (through translator): When we have a Palestinian state, then the Palestinian state will decide on its policies. But you cannot actually ask me about the future. I answered you. But Palestinian people can have their say when they have their own state without occupation. In natural situations, they can decide policy vis-a-vis others.

So there you have it. The leader of Hamas says, point blank, it does not want a two-state solution. Yet scores of liberal commentators continue to make arguments like this: “We have to get a solution. And it has to be a two-state solution. And it has to be basically encouraged, if not imposed, I think, from without.”

This is an example of what social scientists call “motivated reasoning.” It refers to when people hold to a false belief despite overwhelming evidence to the contrary. In this instance, the Hamas charter and the Hamas leader don’t accept Israel’s right to exist. And yet liberals don’t seem to care. They appear to be content to live in world made of faith, and trust, and pixie dust. A world of make believe. And so in the context of Israel’s war with Hamas, they continue to revert to arguments that simply don’t apply–for example, arguing that Israel needs to “end the occupation” despite the fact that Israel completely withdrew from Gaza nearly a decade ago.

Israel, on the other hand, has to live and survive in reality. Israelis know the nature of the enemy they face–implacable, committed, ruthless, malevolent. Given all this, and given that Israel itself is a nation of extraordinary moral and political achievements, you might think that the United States government would be fully supportive of the Jewish state in its war against Hamas. But you would be wrong.

The Obama administration is racheting up pressure on Israel. Hamas’s war on Israel, combined with its eagerness to have innocent Palestinians die as human shields in order to advance its propaganda campaign, is pushing America (under Obama) not toward Israel but away from her. Mr. Obama and the left perceive themselves as reality based and their critics as fantasy based. It’s a conceit without merit. And in no case is it more evident than in the left’s stance toward Hamas and Israel.

This is a case where reality and all the arguments, including all the moral arguments, align on one side; and yet Obama and the left are on the other.

They live in a fantasy world. In this instance, doing so has diabolic consequences.

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Reality Check: Hamas Isn’t Moderating

The Sydney Morning-Herald, one of Australia’s major newspapers, can make The New York Times look like National Review. Paul McGeough, its senior foreign correspondent, has a long track record of not letting facts get in the way of his advocacy for a number of causes that would make Noam Chomsky blush. McGeough’s most recent piece was a front page profile of Khaled Meshaal, Hamas’ military chief, which also appeared in the Sydney Morning-Herald’s sister paper, The Age. McGeough’s article is well-worth the read, simply as an example of how some journalists eschew honesty and conduct intellectual somersaults to embrace terrorists. While even left-of-center Australian officials recognize that McGeough should not be taken seriously, none other than the Council on Foreign Relations sees sophistication in his embrace of terrorists.

Thankfully, AIJAC’s Sharyn Mittelman has eviscerated McGeough’s latest “love letter to Hamas.” While McGeough claims Meshal and Hamas are moderating, and that Hamas seeks to negotiate a truce with Israel, Mittelman notes:

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The Sydney Morning-Herald, one of Australia’s major newspapers, can make The New York Times look like National Review. Paul McGeough, its senior foreign correspondent, has a long track record of not letting facts get in the way of his advocacy for a number of causes that would make Noam Chomsky blush. McGeough’s most recent piece was a front page profile of Khaled Meshaal, Hamas’ military chief, which also appeared in the Sydney Morning-Herald’s sister paper, The Age. McGeough’s article is well-worth the read, simply as an example of how some journalists eschew honesty and conduct intellectual somersaults to embrace terrorists. While even left-of-center Australian officials recognize that McGeough should not be taken seriously, none other than the Council on Foreign Relations sees sophistication in his embrace of terrorists.

Thankfully, AIJAC’s Sharyn Mittelman has eviscerated McGeough’s latest “love letter to Hamas.” While McGeough claims Meshal and Hamas are moderating, and that Hamas seeks to negotiate a truce with Israel, Mittelman notes:

Firstly, Hamas has not shrunk its claims to the West Bank and Gaza. McGeough is clearly ignoring key parts of Meshal’s recent speech on 7 December 2012 when he returned to the Gaza Strip to mark Hamas’ 25th anniversary and reportedly stated:

“First of all, Palestine – from the [Jordan] River to the [Mediterranean] Sea, from its north to its south – is our land, our right, and our homeland. There will be no relinquishing or forsaking even an inch or small part of it. Second, Palestine was, continues to be, and will remain Arab and Islamic. It belongs to the Arab and the Islamic world. Palestine belongs to us and to nobody else.”

She continues:

Secondly, Hamas has not moved from “jihad to hudna”. Hamas is clear that any ‘truce’ would only be temporary to facilitate Israel’s destruction, and Hamas also continues to believe in armed resistance, as evidenced by Meshal’s speech on December 7:

“… Jihad and armed resistance are the proper and true path to liberation and to the restoration of our rights, along with all other forms of struggle – through politics, through diplomacy, through the masses, and through legal channels. All these forms of struggle, however, are worthless without resistance… Politics are born from the womb of resistance. The true statesman is born from the womb of the rifle and the missile.”

The whole take-down is a must read, not only as a reminder of what Hamas truly stands for, but also to recognize just how mendacious and dishonest some prominent foreign correspondents have become.

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Iran: Israel Is Our Target

The capacity of national security experts for self-delusion in the name of supposed sophistication has always been amazing. Some diplomats and self-professed experts suggest that Hamas is now moderate, regardless of what Khaled Meshaal says. Likewise, diplomats embraced Recep Tayyip Erdoğan as deep-thinker, not a coarse, anti-American and anti-Semitic zealot, as his early rants indicate.

Apologists like Juan Cole argue that Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad doesn’t truly incite genocide, because the threat to wipe Israel off the map was simply a mistranslation. No matter that’s how the Iranian government translated it, and the speech Cole disputes is only one among several dozens. Well, hopefully this will put a stop to the self-delusion regarding Iran’s intentions:

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The capacity of national security experts for self-delusion in the name of supposed sophistication has always been amazing. Some diplomats and self-professed experts suggest that Hamas is now moderate, regardless of what Khaled Meshaal says. Likewise, diplomats embraced Recep Tayyip Erdoğan as deep-thinker, not a coarse, anti-American and anti-Semitic zealot, as his early rants indicate.

Apologists like Juan Cole argue that Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad doesn’t truly incite genocide, because the threat to wipe Israel off the map was simply a mistranslation. No matter that’s how the Iranian government translated it, and the speech Cole disputes is only one among several dozens. Well, hopefully this will put a stop to the self-delusion regarding Iran’s intentions:

Commander Names Israel as Iran’s Long-Range Target

TEHRAN (FNA)- A senior Iranian commander said the distance between Iran and Israel is the maximum range that Tehran wants for its missiles, saying that Iran does not need missiles with a longer range.

“We don’t need missiles with over 2,000 km but we have the technology to build them,” Commander of the Islamic Revolution Guards Corps (IRGC) Aerospace Force Brigadier General Amir Ali Hajizadeh told reporters today.

“Israel is our longest-range target,” the commander underscored.

Lest anyway believe Hajizadeh’s comments are just defensive in nature, remember the interview with the wife of the former head of Iran’s missile corps. After his death, she commented that he had always wanted his epitaph to read, “This is the grave of someone who wanted to destroy Israel.”

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Has the West Given Up on Isolating Hamas?

Last month, I wrote about the danger Hamas poses to peace in the Middle East on a second, and relatively new, front: its newfound diplomatic clout in the region. Saudi Arabia first began dumping cash into Gaza, and was soon followed by Qatar doing the same—between them the countries just pledged nearly $1 billion in investment in the Strip. And Egyptian President Mohamed Morsi has figured out that he wields more influence with the West as a mediator between Hamas and the Western world.

Always clearly, though quietly, opposed to the creation of a Palestinian state, the Arab world is no longer hiding it, choosing instead to garishly empower and enrich the entity that will make peace impossible. And so, as Egypt mediated an Israel-Hamas cease-fire this week, Hamas leader Khaled Meshaal also received a prime interview slot on CNN at the tail end of Operation Pillar of Defense. Did he use this time to feign moderation? On the contrary, Meshaal reads the support he’s getting from around the world as a signal that he need not moderate, nor claim to. Here is Christiane Amanpour asking Meshaal about a two-state solution and renouncing terrorism:

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Last month, I wrote about the danger Hamas poses to peace in the Middle East on a second, and relatively new, front: its newfound diplomatic clout in the region. Saudi Arabia first began dumping cash into Gaza, and was soon followed by Qatar doing the same—between them the countries just pledged nearly $1 billion in investment in the Strip. And Egyptian President Mohamed Morsi has figured out that he wields more influence with the West as a mediator between Hamas and the Western world.

Always clearly, though quietly, opposed to the creation of a Palestinian state, the Arab world is no longer hiding it, choosing instead to garishly empower and enrich the entity that will make peace impossible. And so, as Egypt mediated an Israel-Hamas cease-fire this week, Hamas leader Khaled Meshaal also received a prime interview slot on CNN at the tail end of Operation Pillar of Defense. Did he use this time to feign moderation? On the contrary, Meshaal reads the support he’s getting from around the world as a signal that he need not moderate, nor claim to. Here is Christiane Amanpour asking Meshaal about a two-state solution and renouncing terrorism:

AMANPOUR: You say you would prefer the route that did not cause so much violence, so much death.

And yet, you say that you would accept a two-state solution, but that you will not recognize Israel’s right to exist.

Is that still the case?

MESHAAL (through translator): First of all, the offer must come from the attacker, from Israel, which has the arsenal, not from the victim. Second, I say to you from 20 years ago and more, the Palestinians and Arabs are offering peace. But peace is destroying peace through aggression and war and killing.

This idea (ph), this touch failed experiences, we have two options. No other. Either there’s an international will, led by the U.S. and Europe and the international community and force Israel to go through the way of peace and a Palestinian state, according to the border of 1967 with the right to return. And this is something we have agreed upon as Palestinians, as a common program.

But if Israel can continue to refuse this, either the — either we force them or resist to — resort to resistance. I accept a state of the 1967. How can I accept Israel? They have occupied my land. I need recognition, not the Israelis. This is a reversed question.

The Palestinian right of return Meshaal talks about is obviously the end of the state of Israel. And if Israel won’t agree to let the Palestinians control the land from the river to the sea, “we force them or… resort to resistance.”

Later, Amanpour asks Meshaal if the conflict in Syria and Bashar al-Assad’s support from Iran has caused Hamas to distance itself from Iran. Meshaal answers frankly: “No. You see, the relationship with Iran is present.” And not just Iran, and not just the Arab world, either. Meshaal adds: “Everyone giving us support, whether it’s from Iran or Europe.”

When George Mitchell stepped down as White House envoy to the Middle East in 2011, Walter Russell Mead wrote an essay about the failure to make any headway during Mitchell’s tenure. Mitchell famously tried to apply his experience as a negotiator in Northern Ireland to the Middle East, and Mead gave several reasons this was doomed from the start. But there were, as Mead noted, lessons to be learned from the situation in Northern Ireland. Among them:

The Irish weren’t secretly funding radical and rejectionist nationalist terror groups.  Iceland and Denmark weren’t funding Irish terrorists to advance their own agendas.  France wasn’t encouraging the IRA to fight on as a way of containing Britain.  Catholics around the world weren’t demonstrating and raising money for Irish annexation of Ulster; the Pope wasn’t issuing encyclicals affirming the religious duty of Catholics to fight to kick the heretics out.  (A few grizzled US-based Irish emigrants raised money for the IRA, but this is nothing compared to what groups like Hamas get from abroad.)  The European Union wasn’t condemning British war crimes in Ulster and passing resolutions in favor of Irish grievances.

The EU, the US, Ireland, the Vatican and Britain all wanted the troubles to stop.  None of them were willing to help troublemakers.  All of them were willing to crack down on terrorist groups.

The international community wanted peace and the end of terrorism. But watching Meshaal preen on CNN, promising an unending war of terror against Israeli civilians while at the same time and in practically the same breath boasting of the support Hamas receives from around the world, it’s clear there is no such dedication this time around. Hamas’s isolation was always a key to bringing some measure of peace to the region. There is no isolation, and Hamas is promising that there will be no peace.

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Don’t Be Misled By Iran-Hamas Split

For most of the last decade, Iran treated Hamas as its Palestinian auxiliary force. Iran helped fund the group, and once it seized power in Gaza in a violent coup, it established a steady flow of arms into the enclave to challenge Israel in conjunction with its other Syrian and Lebanese allies. But the Iranians’ decision to pull out all the stops to save another ally, Bashar Assad’s Syrian regime, has helped break up their romance with the Palestinian terror group. Tension between Iran and Hamas has escalated in recent months after the latter’s international leader, Khaled Meshaal, shifted his headquarters from Damascus to Qatar. Faced with the choice between its old funder in Tehran and the whims of its Egyptian and Turkish allies, Hamas seems to have definitively chosen the embrace of the latter. The loss of Hamas is a blow to Iran’s hopes to become the dominant force in the region, and they are not taking it lying down. As the Times of Israel reports, an Iranian government newspaper this week threw the ultimate insult at Meshaal by calling him, wait for it, “a Zionist agent.”

While the spat between two groups of violent Islamist extremists can be viewed with schadenfreude, if not amusement, the West should not be fooled by this development into buying into some incorrect assumptions about Iran, Hamas or the situation in Syria. We should not be deceived into viewing Hamas’s decision as a harbinger of moderate behavior by the terrorist group. Nor should we be gulled into thinking Hamas’s defection from the Iranian fold will materially damage Iran’s hopes to keep Assad in power or lessen the need for a greater Western effort to end his reign of terror in Damascus.

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For most of the last decade, Iran treated Hamas as its Palestinian auxiliary force. Iran helped fund the group, and once it seized power in Gaza in a violent coup, it established a steady flow of arms into the enclave to challenge Israel in conjunction with its other Syrian and Lebanese allies. But the Iranians’ decision to pull out all the stops to save another ally, Bashar Assad’s Syrian regime, has helped break up their romance with the Palestinian terror group. Tension between Iran and Hamas has escalated in recent months after the latter’s international leader, Khaled Meshaal, shifted his headquarters from Damascus to Qatar. Faced with the choice between its old funder in Tehran and the whims of its Egyptian and Turkish allies, Hamas seems to have definitively chosen the embrace of the latter. The loss of Hamas is a blow to Iran’s hopes to become the dominant force in the region, and they are not taking it lying down. As the Times of Israel reports, an Iranian government newspaper this week threw the ultimate insult at Meshaal by calling him, wait for it, “a Zionist agent.”

While the spat between two groups of violent Islamist extremists can be viewed with schadenfreude, if not amusement, the West should not be fooled by this development into buying into some incorrect assumptions about Iran, Hamas or the situation in Syria. We should not be deceived into viewing Hamas’s decision as a harbinger of moderate behavior by the terrorist group. Nor should we be gulled into thinking Hamas’s defection from the Iranian fold will materially damage Iran’s hopes to keep Assad in power or lessen the need for a greater Western effort to end his reign of terror in Damascus.

First, Hamas has not changed its spots, just its donors. The alliance between radical Shiites in Iran and the radical Sunnis of Hamas was always one of convenience rather than conviction. They are much happier aligning themselves with Arabs than with the Persian power that is viewed with distrust by most of the region. More important, closer ties with the Muslim Brotherhood government in Egypt and Recep Tayyip Erdoğan’s Islamist party in Turkey allows them to pose as a mainstream Arab government in waiting rather than the terrorist group that they really are. Though advocates of dropping the Western isolation of Hamas will argue their abandonment of Iran should be rewarded, it makes the group more, not less, dangerous. Rather than assuming that Hamas is joining the good guys, their ties with Turkey and Egypt should make Americans think twice about the Obama administration’s desperate interest in portraying both governments as moderate.

As for events on the ground in Syria, the Hamas departure from Damascus has had zero influence on rebel efforts to unseat Assad. Whatever minimal assistance Hamas might have given Assad is more than offset by the willingness of the Iranians and Hezbollah to intervene in the fighting on the side of the dictator.

Iran’s influence in the region is waning, and that is a good thing. But unless the United States and the rest of the West steps up its minimal involvement in the struggle, they will have no say in the outcome. Despite the optimism about Assad’s certain fall heard from both the administration and much of the press, his regime remains in place because he has not lost control of the armed forces. The threats of Turkey and the hostility of Egypt and Hamas will not conquer Damascus. But if Assad does fall and the West has played no real role in the outcome, the result will be the creation of a government that will be just as dangerous as the current one and provide the “Zionists” of Hamas with a new ally who could make the situation in the region even more perilous. Either way, President Obama’s “lead from behind” style is a formula for disaster that will not be saved by this minor setback for the Iranians.

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Hamas as Violent as Ever, EU and Left as Clueless as Ever

In February, Hamas Prime Minister Ismail Haniyeh reiterated that Hamas would never give up trying to militarily destroy Israel, declaring while in Tehran that the “gun is our only response to the Zionist regime.” A month later, senior Gaza-based Hamas leader Mahmud Zahar, also visiting Tehran, made functionally the same statement. He also announced that the “principles and strategy of the Palestinian Islamic resistance will not change.”

Soon afterward, the two war advocates squared off in a secret election for placement on, and leadership of, Hamas’s 15-member Gaza politburo. Haniyeh rose above Zahar and is now the institution’s head.

Meanwhile, elections for Hamas’s overall central committee – as opposed to its Gaza politburo – are in the process of wrapping up. Official results should be up in the next 10 days, and in the meantime, somewhat conflicting rumors have emerged. Those reports are about the margins however, and it’s probably safe to assume that paid Iranian stooges Khaled Meshaal and Mussa Abu Marzuk are more or less leading the pack. Meshaal enjoys what counts as an incumbency advantage in that world, and Marzuk just declared unending war against Israel.

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In February, Hamas Prime Minister Ismail Haniyeh reiterated that Hamas would never give up trying to militarily destroy Israel, declaring while in Tehran that the “gun is our only response to the Zionist regime.” A month later, senior Gaza-based Hamas leader Mahmud Zahar, also visiting Tehran, made functionally the same statement. He also announced that the “principles and strategy of the Palestinian Islamic resistance will not change.”

Soon afterward, the two war advocates squared off in a secret election for placement on, and leadership of, Hamas’s 15-member Gaza politburo. Haniyeh rose above Zahar and is now the institution’s head.

Meanwhile, elections for Hamas’s overall central committee – as opposed to its Gaza politburo – are in the process of wrapping up. Official results should be up in the next 10 days, and in the meantime, somewhat conflicting rumors have emerged. Those reports are about the margins however, and it’s probably safe to assume that paid Iranian stooges Khaled Meshaal and Mussa Abu Marzuk are more or less leading the pack. Meshaal enjoys what counts as an incumbency advantage in that world, and Marzuk just declared unending war against Israel.

No one in charge of Hamas at any level, in other words, is pushing anything but a permanent campaign of violence against the Jewish State. Just this morning Hamas spokesman Hammad al-Ruqab called on Palestinians to kidnap Israeli soldiers, which is a call for Palestinians to start another war.

Naturally, EU countries are rumored to have chosen now to launch talks with Hamas:

Hamas has been holding secret political talks with five EU member states in recent months, a senior official in the Islamic terrorist group told the Associated Press on Wednesday. If confirmed, such talks would be a sign that the isolation of the Gaza-based movement is easing in the wake of the Arab Spring uprisings that have brought Islamists to power in parts of the Middle East… the West is reassessing its Middle East policy following the uprisings of the past year that toppled several pro-Western regimes in the region and have enabled the rise of the Hamas parent movement, the pan-Arab Muslim Brotherhood. It seems possible that some EU member states are now softening their approach toward Hamas.

Israeli peace activists – citing a slack-jawed report on how Hamas is taking a temporary break from firing rockets at Israeli schoolchildren – are also contrasting the group positively with the Israeli government. Because that’s the direction toward which the evidence converges: Hamas’s peaceful intentions.

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RE: The Middle East Vacuum

The Michael Young piece cited by Emanuele Ottolenghi in his insightful post echoes the concerns a number of us have had for some time. Russia’s inroads in the Middle East have been expanding for several years; in 2010, we are seeing an acceleration of moves that Moscow would once have been more tentative and covert in undertaking.

The civil-nuclear deals with Syria and Turkey continue a trend that has been underway since 2006-2007. It’s more efficient today to list which countries in the region do not have civil-nuclear agreements with Russia. Since 2007, the Russians have concluded civil-nuclear cooperation deals with Egypt, Jordan, Libya, and Algeria, along with Syria and Turkey. Russia is training nuclear engineers, bidding on reactor contracts, and mining uranium.

Nuclear cooperation takes a back seat only to oil and gas deals and arms sales. Turkey’s geographic position has long made it an object of Russian gas strategy. As the Wall Street Journal points out today, the deals signed this week represent the culmination of a years-long Russian effort to co-opt Turkey as a pipeline partner, potentially compromising Ankara’s commitment to European pipeline sponsors. Russia’s intensive cultivation of natural gas giants Libya and Algeria gives Moscow leverage over nearly 100 percent of the natural gas supply to much of central and southern Europe. The sale of big-ticket weapon systems to Algeria, Libya, and Syria serves to isolate Israel – and to complicate any U.S. effort to provide military support to Israel if it becomes necessary.

Now Russia is negotiating a huge arms sale – including the S-300 air-defense system, tanks, infantry fighting vehicles, and assault helicopters – with U.S. partner and long-time client Saudi Arabia. This development and others are disquieting harbingers of a Russia unconstrained by worry about either offending or alarming the U.S. Two recent events highlight this loss of diffidence. One is the announcement in March 2010 that Russia and Greece would conduct joint naval exercises in the Aegean Sea this year. Turkey is not the only NATO ally being aggressively courted by Moscow.

The other event is Dmitry Medvedev’s May 12 meeting in Damascus with Hamas leader Khaled Meshaal. There could hardly be a more overt declaration of Russia’s posture and interests in the Middle East. The Russia of Medvedev and Putin intends to join forces with the regional actors who want to disrupt the status quo; their targets are Israel and the U.S. network of partnerships and influence in the region.

We will see Russia engaged in more unabashed maneuvering in the coming days. The pace of events is quickening. One thing we must understand is that Russia’s influence over Iran’s nuclear program is no longer being exercised primarily as a dynamic in Russia’s relations with the U.S. The Arab nations that fear a nuclear Iran are Moscow’s audience now. The implication is that Russia is the great power that can keep Iran in check. Obama’s America is sitting on the sidelines.

The Michael Young piece cited by Emanuele Ottolenghi in his insightful post echoes the concerns a number of us have had for some time. Russia’s inroads in the Middle East have been expanding for several years; in 2010, we are seeing an acceleration of moves that Moscow would once have been more tentative and covert in undertaking.

The civil-nuclear deals with Syria and Turkey continue a trend that has been underway since 2006-2007. It’s more efficient today to list which countries in the region do not have civil-nuclear agreements with Russia. Since 2007, the Russians have concluded civil-nuclear cooperation deals with Egypt, Jordan, Libya, and Algeria, along with Syria and Turkey. Russia is training nuclear engineers, bidding on reactor contracts, and mining uranium.

Nuclear cooperation takes a back seat only to oil and gas deals and arms sales. Turkey’s geographic position has long made it an object of Russian gas strategy. As the Wall Street Journal points out today, the deals signed this week represent the culmination of a years-long Russian effort to co-opt Turkey as a pipeline partner, potentially compromising Ankara’s commitment to European pipeline sponsors. Russia’s intensive cultivation of natural gas giants Libya and Algeria gives Moscow leverage over nearly 100 percent of the natural gas supply to much of central and southern Europe. The sale of big-ticket weapon systems to Algeria, Libya, and Syria serves to isolate Israel – and to complicate any U.S. effort to provide military support to Israel if it becomes necessary.

Now Russia is negotiating a huge arms sale – including the S-300 air-defense system, tanks, infantry fighting vehicles, and assault helicopters – with U.S. partner and long-time client Saudi Arabia. This development and others are disquieting harbingers of a Russia unconstrained by worry about either offending or alarming the U.S. Two recent events highlight this loss of diffidence. One is the announcement in March 2010 that Russia and Greece would conduct joint naval exercises in the Aegean Sea this year. Turkey is not the only NATO ally being aggressively courted by Moscow.

The other event is Dmitry Medvedev’s May 12 meeting in Damascus with Hamas leader Khaled Meshaal. There could hardly be a more overt declaration of Russia’s posture and interests in the Middle East. The Russia of Medvedev and Putin intends to join forces with the regional actors who want to disrupt the status quo; their targets are Israel and the U.S. network of partnerships and influence in the region.

We will see Russia engaged in more unabashed maneuvering in the coming days. The pace of events is quickening. One thing we must understand is that Russia’s influence over Iran’s nuclear program is no longer being exercised primarily as a dynamic in Russia’s relations with the U.S. The Arab nations that fear a nuclear Iran are Moscow’s audience now. The implication is that Russia is the great power that can keep Iran in check. Obama’s America is sitting on the sidelines.

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Flotsam and Jetsam

Isn’t there some way to stop the kidnapping of Isralis like Gilad Shalit and end Hamas’s reign of terror? Well, when the people of Gaza have had enough: “Surely there have to be some who have begun to notice the flourishing of their brethren in Judea and Samaria and to ask themselves why they’ve been sentenced by Khaled Meshaal and his masters in Damascus and Syria to live lives as less than humans, as pawns in Hamas’s own very nerve-racking game; and, feeling all the horror of what they’ve become, begin to contemplate taking a stand against it. The moment they do will be the moment Hamas’s power over them—and the Israelis—ends.”

Hotline gets it right: “A poll of GOP insiders suggests that ex-AK Gov. Sarah Palin (R) has little support among the party’s professional class — and maybe that’s just how she wants it.”

One of nine reasons why the unemployment figures are bad news for Democrats: “Remember this simple formula: Unemployment drives presidential approval numbers and presidential approval numbers drive midterm election results.” And this seems especially toxic for Democrats facing an election later this year: “Also, there is every indication that as the slowly growing economy eventually draws workers back in the labor force, the jobless rate will creep up to new highs. (Big companies remain cautious about hiring, and small biz remains under pressure due to tight capital markets.) The validity of the Obama recovery plan will seriously be cast in doubt.”

Sometimes you just can’t spin the news: “Unemployment has not gotten better; it has gotten worse, and the statistics have hidden the real decline in 2009.  Until now, only a few media outlets bothered to highlight the problem.  The AP has finally made it clear — and that will mean a lot more attention in 2010 to the failed Porkulus legislation and the fumbled economic strategies of the Obama administration.”

The Democratic Public Policy Polling finds that the Massachusetts senate race is “losable” for the Democrats: “At this point a plurality of those planning to turn out oppose the health care bill. The massive enthusiasm gap we saw in Virginia is playing itself out in Massachusetts as well. Republican voters are fired up and they’re going to turn out. Martha Coakley needs to have a coherent message up on the air over the last ten days that her election is critical to health care passing and Ted Kennedy’s legacy- right now Democrats in the state are not feeling a sense of urgency.” And Scott Brown’s favorable odds are actually higher than Bob McDonnell’s were in the Virginia gubernatorial race. Yes, this is Massachusetts.

Keep America Safe puts out a devastating video on Obama’s reaction to the Christmas Day bombing. Watch it here.

And maybe the Democrats in Congress will finally wake up: “The Obama administration’s plans to transfer two more Guantanamo Bay detainees overseas in the wake of the Christmas Day bombing attempt is causing consternation on Capitol Hill. . .Recent reports about increasing rates of recidivism for transferred Guantanamo Bay terrorists is further complicating Obama’s goal of shuttering Guantanamo. In recent days, several media outlets have reported on an updated report by the Pentagon’s Defense Intelligence Agency saying one in five former detainees have returned to militant activity.”

Jon Stewart rags on stealth health care, the broken C-SPAN promise, and all the other Obama campaign pledges that have gone by the wayside. He makes a good point: Fox is no longer the only news organization being tough on Obama.

Sen. Paul Kirk threatens to vote for ObamaCare even if Scott Brown wins. Just in case there was any doubt as to just how much contempt the majority party has for voters. Might this backfire on Coakley?

The Washington Post editors chide Obama for hiding from the press. For a guy who says the buck stops with him is not willing to be grilled, we see, on his own misstatements and performance.

Isn’t there some way to stop the kidnapping of Isralis like Gilad Shalit and end Hamas’s reign of terror? Well, when the people of Gaza have had enough: “Surely there have to be some who have begun to notice the flourishing of their brethren in Judea and Samaria and to ask themselves why they’ve been sentenced by Khaled Meshaal and his masters in Damascus and Syria to live lives as less than humans, as pawns in Hamas’s own very nerve-racking game; and, feeling all the horror of what they’ve become, begin to contemplate taking a stand against it. The moment they do will be the moment Hamas’s power over them—and the Israelis—ends.”

Hotline gets it right: “A poll of GOP insiders suggests that ex-AK Gov. Sarah Palin (R) has little support among the party’s professional class — and maybe that’s just how she wants it.”

One of nine reasons why the unemployment figures are bad news for Democrats: “Remember this simple formula: Unemployment drives presidential approval numbers and presidential approval numbers drive midterm election results.” And this seems especially toxic for Democrats facing an election later this year: “Also, there is every indication that as the slowly growing economy eventually draws workers back in the labor force, the jobless rate will creep up to new highs. (Big companies remain cautious about hiring, and small biz remains under pressure due to tight capital markets.) The validity of the Obama recovery plan will seriously be cast in doubt.”

Sometimes you just can’t spin the news: “Unemployment has not gotten better; it has gotten worse, and the statistics have hidden the real decline in 2009.  Until now, only a few media outlets bothered to highlight the problem.  The AP has finally made it clear — and that will mean a lot more attention in 2010 to the failed Porkulus legislation and the fumbled economic strategies of the Obama administration.”

The Democratic Public Policy Polling finds that the Massachusetts senate race is “losable” for the Democrats: “At this point a plurality of those planning to turn out oppose the health care bill. The massive enthusiasm gap we saw in Virginia is playing itself out in Massachusetts as well. Republican voters are fired up and they’re going to turn out. Martha Coakley needs to have a coherent message up on the air over the last ten days that her election is critical to health care passing and Ted Kennedy’s legacy- right now Democrats in the state are not feeling a sense of urgency.” And Scott Brown’s favorable odds are actually higher than Bob McDonnell’s were in the Virginia gubernatorial race. Yes, this is Massachusetts.

Keep America Safe puts out a devastating video on Obama’s reaction to the Christmas Day bombing. Watch it here.

And maybe the Democrats in Congress will finally wake up: “The Obama administration’s plans to transfer two more Guantanamo Bay detainees overseas in the wake of the Christmas Day bombing attempt is causing consternation on Capitol Hill. . .Recent reports about increasing rates of recidivism for transferred Guantanamo Bay terrorists is further complicating Obama’s goal of shuttering Guantanamo. In recent days, several media outlets have reported on an updated report by the Pentagon’s Defense Intelligence Agency saying one in five former detainees have returned to militant activity.”

Jon Stewart rags on stealth health care, the broken C-SPAN promise, and all the other Obama campaign pledges that have gone by the wayside. He makes a good point: Fox is no longer the only news organization being tough on Obama.

Sen. Paul Kirk threatens to vote for ObamaCare even if Scott Brown wins. Just in case there was any doubt as to just how much contempt the majority party has for voters. Might this backfire on Coakley?

The Washington Post editors chide Obama for hiding from the press. For a guy who says the buck stops with him is not willing to be grilled, we see, on his own misstatements and performance.

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Why Iran And Not Hamas?

Senator Barack Obama has staked out positions on both Hamas and Iran that are worth examining.

On Hamas, Obama says, “We must not negotiate with a terrorist group that’s intent on Israel’s destruction. We should only sit down with Hamas if they renounce terror, recognize Israel’s right to exist and abide by past agreements.” Elsewhere, Obama has said, “Hamas is a terrorist organization, responsible for the deaths of many innocents, and dedicated to Israel’s destruction, as evidenced by their bombarding of Sderot… I support requiring Hamas to meet the international community’s conditions of recognizing Israel, renouncing violence, and abiding by past agreements before they are treated as a legitimate actor.” So strongly does Obama feel about this matter that he has denounced as an offensive smear the implication that he would meet with Hamas.

On Iran, the story is different. According to Obama:

I would meet directly with the leadership in Iran. I believe that we have not exhausted the diplomatic efforts that could be required to resolve some of these problems — them developing nuclear weapons, them supporting terrorist organizations like Hezbollah and Hamas. That does not mean that we take other options off the table, but it means that we move forward aggressively with a dialogue with them about not only the sticks that we’re willing to apply, but also the carrots.

And this:

the notion that somehow not talking to countries [like Iran] is punishment to them — which has been the guiding diplomatic principle of this administration — is ridiculous.

And this:

one of the disagreements that we have on this stage is the degree to which the next president is going to have to engage in the sort of personal diplomacy that can bring about a new era in the region. And, you know, that means talking to everybody. We’ve got to talk to our enemies and not just our friends.

And this:

Nothing’s changed with respect to my belief that strong countries and strong presidents talk to their enemies and talk to their adversaries … I find many of President Ahmadinejad’s statements odious and I’ve said that repeatedly. And I think that we have to recognize that there are a lot of rogue nations in the world that don’t have American interests at heart. But what I also believe is that, as John F. Kennedy said, we should never negotiate out of fear but we should never fear to negotiate.

So why would Obama emphatically insist that he would not meet with Hamas after saying he would meet with Iran’s President Ahmadinejad (a) without pre-conditions and (b) within the first year of his administration? According to the New York Times, Mr. Obama has been clear in making a distinction between his willingness to talk “not just to countries we like, but those we don’t,” as he puts it, and Hamas and other political movements similar to it. “Hamas is not a state,” Mr. Obama told a Jewish group last month. “Hamas is a terrorist organization.”

Of course, Iran is the world’s chief sponsor of terrorist organizations – including Hamas. Iran is also, to use the criteria Obama applied to Hamas, responsible for the deaths of many innocents, including the death of American troops in Iraq. It is manifestly failing to abide by past agreements. And Iran’s president, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, has demanded that Israel be “wiped off the map,” hosted a conference of Holocaust deniers, and earlier this month referred to Israel as a “stinking corpse…on its way to annihilation.”

In addition, in January 2006 Hamas won a victory in the Palestinian parliamentary elections, taking 76 of the 132 seats in the chamber — so the distinction Obama is making between the government of Iran and Hamas as a terrorist organization is more blurred than he would have us believe. Hamas, after all, is the de facto governing authority over the Gaza Strip. Would Obama meet with Khaled Meshaal, the leader of Hamas, if Meshaal were the Prime Minister of a Palestinian state?

The more fundamental question is why Obama’s reasoning on Iran doesn’t apply to Hamas? Don’t “strong presidents talk to their enemies and talk to their adversaries”? Why doesn’t he “move forward aggressively with a dialogue” with Hamas and try to “exhaust diplomatic efforts”? Isn’t it the case that while we should never negotiate out of fear, we should never fear to negotiate? So what does Obama fear when it comes to negotiating with Hamas? And by the way, shouldn’t the next president engage in the sort of “personal diplomacy” that can “bring about a new era in the region” – and doesn’t that mean talking to “everybody,” to our enemies and not just our friends?

My own view is that Senator Obama is right to say that he wouldn’t meet with Hamas. At the same time, I would not say categorically that U.S. representatives shouldn’t meet with representatives of nations that are hostile to our interests (like Iran) under any circumstances. I concur with Charles Krauthammer, who says that in some instances presidents should meet with our enemies, though only after minimal American objectives have been met. The acid test for negotiations is whether they will advance or set back American interests, and those are matters of judgment and prudence. The problem for Obama is that the type of meeting he has in mind with Ahmadinejad would surely, in Krauthammer’s words, “not just strengthen and vindicate him at home, it would instantly and powerfully ease the mullahs’ isolation, inviting other world leaders to follow.” Beyond that, the arguments Obama has made and the logic he has employed for meeting with Ahmadinejad undercuts his rationale for not meeting with Hamas. And for Obama to so ferociously insist he won’t meet with Hamas unless it meets a set of conditions while showing such eagerness to meet with Ahmadinejad without any preconditions demonstrates how shallow and naïve Obama’s thinking is when it comes to foreign policy.

Barack Obama, a community organizer from Chicago, has no expertise in national security matters. And, we’re learning, he has very little wisdom as well.

Senator Barack Obama has staked out positions on both Hamas and Iran that are worth examining.

On Hamas, Obama says, “We must not negotiate with a terrorist group that’s intent on Israel’s destruction. We should only sit down with Hamas if they renounce terror, recognize Israel’s right to exist and abide by past agreements.” Elsewhere, Obama has said, “Hamas is a terrorist organization, responsible for the deaths of many innocents, and dedicated to Israel’s destruction, as evidenced by their bombarding of Sderot… I support requiring Hamas to meet the international community’s conditions of recognizing Israel, renouncing violence, and abiding by past agreements before they are treated as a legitimate actor.” So strongly does Obama feel about this matter that he has denounced as an offensive smear the implication that he would meet with Hamas.

On Iran, the story is different. According to Obama:

I would meet directly with the leadership in Iran. I believe that we have not exhausted the diplomatic efforts that could be required to resolve some of these problems — them developing nuclear weapons, them supporting terrorist organizations like Hezbollah and Hamas. That does not mean that we take other options off the table, but it means that we move forward aggressively with a dialogue with them about not only the sticks that we’re willing to apply, but also the carrots.

And this:

the notion that somehow not talking to countries [like Iran] is punishment to them — which has been the guiding diplomatic principle of this administration — is ridiculous.

And this:

one of the disagreements that we have on this stage is the degree to which the next president is going to have to engage in the sort of personal diplomacy that can bring about a new era in the region. And, you know, that means talking to everybody. We’ve got to talk to our enemies and not just our friends.

And this:

Nothing’s changed with respect to my belief that strong countries and strong presidents talk to their enemies and talk to their adversaries … I find many of President Ahmadinejad’s statements odious and I’ve said that repeatedly. And I think that we have to recognize that there are a lot of rogue nations in the world that don’t have American interests at heart. But what I also believe is that, as John F. Kennedy said, we should never negotiate out of fear but we should never fear to negotiate.

So why would Obama emphatically insist that he would not meet with Hamas after saying he would meet with Iran’s President Ahmadinejad (a) without pre-conditions and (b) within the first year of his administration? According to the New York Times, Mr. Obama has been clear in making a distinction between his willingness to talk “not just to countries we like, but those we don’t,” as he puts it, and Hamas and other political movements similar to it. “Hamas is not a state,” Mr. Obama told a Jewish group last month. “Hamas is a terrorist organization.”

Of course, Iran is the world’s chief sponsor of terrorist organizations – including Hamas. Iran is also, to use the criteria Obama applied to Hamas, responsible for the deaths of many innocents, including the death of American troops in Iraq. It is manifestly failing to abide by past agreements. And Iran’s president, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, has demanded that Israel be “wiped off the map,” hosted a conference of Holocaust deniers, and earlier this month referred to Israel as a “stinking corpse…on its way to annihilation.”

In addition, in January 2006 Hamas won a victory in the Palestinian parliamentary elections, taking 76 of the 132 seats in the chamber — so the distinction Obama is making between the government of Iran and Hamas as a terrorist organization is more blurred than he would have us believe. Hamas, after all, is the de facto governing authority over the Gaza Strip. Would Obama meet with Khaled Meshaal, the leader of Hamas, if Meshaal were the Prime Minister of a Palestinian state?

The more fundamental question is why Obama’s reasoning on Iran doesn’t apply to Hamas? Don’t “strong presidents talk to their enemies and talk to their adversaries”? Why doesn’t he “move forward aggressively with a dialogue” with Hamas and try to “exhaust diplomatic efforts”? Isn’t it the case that while we should never negotiate out of fear, we should never fear to negotiate? So what does Obama fear when it comes to negotiating with Hamas? And by the way, shouldn’t the next president engage in the sort of “personal diplomacy” that can “bring about a new era in the region” – and doesn’t that mean talking to “everybody,” to our enemies and not just our friends?

My own view is that Senator Obama is right to say that he wouldn’t meet with Hamas. At the same time, I would not say categorically that U.S. representatives shouldn’t meet with representatives of nations that are hostile to our interests (like Iran) under any circumstances. I concur with Charles Krauthammer, who says that in some instances presidents should meet with our enemies, though only after minimal American objectives have been met. The acid test for negotiations is whether they will advance or set back American interests, and those are matters of judgment and prudence. The problem for Obama is that the type of meeting he has in mind with Ahmadinejad would surely, in Krauthammer’s words, “not just strengthen and vindicate him at home, it would instantly and powerfully ease the mullahs’ isolation, inviting other world leaders to follow.” Beyond that, the arguments Obama has made and the logic he has employed for meeting with Ahmadinejad undercuts his rationale for not meeting with Hamas. And for Obama to so ferociously insist he won’t meet with Hamas unless it meets a set of conditions while showing such eagerness to meet with Ahmadinejad without any preconditions demonstrates how shallow and naïve Obama’s thinking is when it comes to foreign policy.

Barack Obama, a community organizer from Chicago, has no expertise in national security matters. And, we’re learning, he has very little wisdom as well.

Read Less

Hamas, Unrepentant

Remember, last month, when the credulosphere trembled in excitement at the thought that Hamas had given up its desire to destroy Israel? Khaled Meshaal muttered something about being reconciled to Israel, and the floodgates opened.

Gershom Gorenberg wrote long, breathless articles for the American Prospect and his blog announcing the good tidings, Ezra Klein wrote a shorter, dumber post earnestly heralding the “bombshell” in the peace process (if only the warmongers would notice!), Daniel Levy declared that Hamas now accepts Israel in pre-1967 borders, and the smug harrumphing about the reasonableness of Hamas pretty much foamed off your computer screen.

But killjoy, spoilsport, wet-blanket conservatives laughed at all of this: It is one thing to remain willing to pursue peace with honest interlocutors, and it is another altogether to behave like a desperate, manipulable fool. These thoughts came to mind today while reading the remarks of Mahmoud Zahar, one of Hamas’ highest-ranking officials, reported in the Jerusalem Post:

[We] “will continue to persecute the Zionists wherever they are, after we prove that the Zionist army can be defeated — contrary to what was believed in the past, that it is impossible to beat the Zionists.”

Speaking in the Gaza Strip, he went on to affirm Palestinian right of return, claiming that the “right of return of hundreds of thousands of Palestinians is closer than ever.”

“After we defeat the Zionists we will persecute them . . . we will persecute them to eternity, and the sun of the freedom and independence of the Palestinians will burn all of the Zionists,” he continued.

This will be rigorously ignored by Gorenberg, Klein, Levy et al. Nothing to see here, folks. Say, can I interest you in some diplomacy?

Remember, last month, when the credulosphere trembled in excitement at the thought that Hamas had given up its desire to destroy Israel? Khaled Meshaal muttered something about being reconciled to Israel, and the floodgates opened.

Gershom Gorenberg wrote long, breathless articles for the American Prospect and his blog announcing the good tidings, Ezra Klein wrote a shorter, dumber post earnestly heralding the “bombshell” in the peace process (if only the warmongers would notice!), Daniel Levy declared that Hamas now accepts Israel in pre-1967 borders, and the smug harrumphing about the reasonableness of Hamas pretty much foamed off your computer screen.

But killjoy, spoilsport, wet-blanket conservatives laughed at all of this: It is one thing to remain willing to pursue peace with honest interlocutors, and it is another altogether to behave like a desperate, manipulable fool. These thoughts came to mind today while reading the remarks of Mahmoud Zahar, one of Hamas’ highest-ranking officials, reported in the Jerusalem Post:

[We] “will continue to persecute the Zionists wherever they are, after we prove that the Zionist army can be defeated — contrary to what was believed in the past, that it is impossible to beat the Zionists.”

Speaking in the Gaza Strip, he went on to affirm Palestinian right of return, claiming that the “right of return of hundreds of thousands of Palestinians is closer than ever.”

“After we defeat the Zionists we will persecute them . . . we will persecute them to eternity, and the sun of the freedom and independence of the Palestinians will burn all of the Zionists,” he continued.

This will be rigorously ignored by Gorenberg, Klein, Levy et al. Nothing to see here, folks. Say, can I interest you in some diplomacy?

Read Less

It’s A Mixed-Up, Crazy World

For the second time in a week, Hamas gunmen have assaulted a transportation hub supplying Gaza. Last week the fuel transfer station at Nachal Oz was attacked. Today Hamas attacked both the Kerem Shalom crossing, through which humanitarian aid is supplied to Gaza, and, once again, the Nachal Oz station.

But wait: aren’t the Israelis the ones who want to stop fuel and humanitarian aid from getting to Gaza? In a strange new twist, Israel and Hamas have reversed their alleged roles: Israel is trying to prevent a humanitarian crisis in Gaza, and Hamas is trying to create one.

The reason for these attacks? Hamas needs media attention to survive. The worst thing that could happen to Ismail Haniyah and Khaled Meshaal is for the world to stop paying attention to the disaster they’ve created. So if Hamas can’t convince Israel to shut the lights off with Qassam rockets (which the group routinely aims at the power station inside Israel that supplies Gaza with most of its electricity), or by confiscating half the fuel supplies that do make it into Gaza, it attacks Nachal Oz and Kerem Shalom directly. Anything to advance the false narrative of the Israeli blockade, keep Gaza in the headlines, and demonstrate the efficacy of Hamas’s resistance.

I wonder whether those members of the international community whose consciences are finely attuned to Palestinian suffering will respond to all of this by denouncing Hamas for its collective punishment of Gaza, for attempting to instigate a humanitarian crisis, for endangering the ability of hospitals to remain open, etc. You know: all the things Israel is routinely accused of doing, but which only Hamas ever seems to perpetrate.

For the second time in a week, Hamas gunmen have assaulted a transportation hub supplying Gaza. Last week the fuel transfer station at Nachal Oz was attacked. Today Hamas attacked both the Kerem Shalom crossing, through which humanitarian aid is supplied to Gaza, and, once again, the Nachal Oz station.

But wait: aren’t the Israelis the ones who want to stop fuel and humanitarian aid from getting to Gaza? In a strange new twist, Israel and Hamas have reversed their alleged roles: Israel is trying to prevent a humanitarian crisis in Gaza, and Hamas is trying to create one.

The reason for these attacks? Hamas needs media attention to survive. The worst thing that could happen to Ismail Haniyah and Khaled Meshaal is for the world to stop paying attention to the disaster they’ve created. So if Hamas can’t convince Israel to shut the lights off with Qassam rockets (which the group routinely aims at the power station inside Israel that supplies Gaza with most of its electricity), or by confiscating half the fuel supplies that do make it into Gaza, it attacks Nachal Oz and Kerem Shalom directly. Anything to advance the false narrative of the Israeli blockade, keep Gaza in the headlines, and demonstrate the efficacy of Hamas’s resistance.

I wonder whether those members of the international community whose consciences are finely attuned to Palestinian suffering will respond to all of this by denouncing Hamas for its collective punishment of Gaza, for attempting to instigate a humanitarian crisis, for endangering the ability of hospitals to remain open, etc. You know: all the things Israel is routinely accused of doing, but which only Hamas ever seems to perpetrate.

Read Less

Daniel Levy, Making Stuff up Again

Ah, Daniel Levy. He is the far left’s favorite analyst of the Israeli-Arab dispute, and he is possessed of some very strange ideas. Several months ago I wrote a long piece laying out a few of his mendacities for NRO.

I happened upon his big-think Middle East piece in the current Prospect, and couldn’t help but take a quick look. It’s more or less a long tour of foreign policy fantasy-land. But this item in particular jumped off the page:

Recalibrating policy toward Hamas has become central to progress on resolving the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Contrary to popular misperception, Hamas and al-Qaeda are adversaries, not allies. Hamas is about ending the occupation and reforming Palestinian society; al-Qaeda, about opposing the West per se and spreading chaos in the Muslim world and beyond. One is reformist, the other revolutionary; one nationalist, the other post-nationalist; one grievance-based, the other fundamentalist.

Amazing! The leaders of Hamas have, in Levy’s telling, been lying for decades about what they want. You thought Khaled Meshaal and Ismail Haniyeh wish to destroy Israel, because that’s what they’ve promised to do over and over again? Well, you must be a simpleton. Or maybe you read the Hamas charter: “The Islamic Resistance Movement . . . strives to raise the banner of Allah over every inch of Palestine.” Is it possible that Levy doesn’t understand that when Hamas leaders talk about “the occupation,” they mean Tel Aviv, not the West Bank? No — he certainly knows this. Maybe he received a secret communiqué in which Hamas rescinded its most basic principles?

And Hamas as a nationalist movement? Also a figment Levy’s imagination. Here’s the Charter again:

As for the objectives: They are the fighting against the false, defeating it and vanquishing it so that justice could prevail, homelands be retrieved and from its mosques would the voice of the mu’azen emerge declaring the establishment of the state of Islam, so that people and things would return each to their right places and Allah is our helper.

“The state of Islam.” Note to Levy: this is different than the state of Palestine.

All of this reminded me of Michael Young’s most recent column in the Beirut Daily Star, which perfectly anticipated Levy’s essay. Young’s topic is the foolishness of western apologists for Islamist groups:

Why is the topic important? Because over the years academics, analysts, journalists, and others, particularly the Westerners among them, who write about militant Islamist groups, have tended to project their own liberal attitudes and desires onto such groups, misinterpreting their intentions and largely ignoring what these groups say about themselves. Inasmuch as most such observers cannot really fathom the totalitarian strain in the aims and language of armed Islamists, totalitarian in the sense of pursuing a total idea, total in its purity, they cannot accept that the total idea can also be apocalyptic. Where Nasrallah and the leaders of Hamas will repeat that Israel’s elimination is a quasi-religious duty, the sympathetic Westernized observer, for whom the concept of elimination is intolerable, will think much more benignly in terms of well-intentioned “bargaining.” Hamas and Hizbullah are pragmatic, they will argue, so that their statements and deeds are only leverage to achieve specific political ends that, once attained, will allow a return to harmonious equilibrium.

This argument, so tirelessly made, is tiresomely irrelevant.

Young concludes: “For outside observers to ignore or reinterpret their words in order to justify a personal weakness for these groups’ revolutionary seductions is both self-centered and analytically useless.”

I don’t know how self-centered Levy is. But analytically useless? Most definitely.

Ah, Daniel Levy. He is the far left’s favorite analyst of the Israeli-Arab dispute, and he is possessed of some very strange ideas. Several months ago I wrote a long piece laying out a few of his mendacities for NRO.

I happened upon his big-think Middle East piece in the current Prospect, and couldn’t help but take a quick look. It’s more or less a long tour of foreign policy fantasy-land. But this item in particular jumped off the page:

Recalibrating policy toward Hamas has become central to progress on resolving the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Contrary to popular misperception, Hamas and al-Qaeda are adversaries, not allies. Hamas is about ending the occupation and reforming Palestinian society; al-Qaeda, about opposing the West per se and spreading chaos in the Muslim world and beyond. One is reformist, the other revolutionary; one nationalist, the other post-nationalist; one grievance-based, the other fundamentalist.

Amazing! The leaders of Hamas have, in Levy’s telling, been lying for decades about what they want. You thought Khaled Meshaal and Ismail Haniyeh wish to destroy Israel, because that’s what they’ve promised to do over and over again? Well, you must be a simpleton. Or maybe you read the Hamas charter: “The Islamic Resistance Movement . . . strives to raise the banner of Allah over every inch of Palestine.” Is it possible that Levy doesn’t understand that when Hamas leaders talk about “the occupation,” they mean Tel Aviv, not the West Bank? No — he certainly knows this. Maybe he received a secret communiqué in which Hamas rescinded its most basic principles?

And Hamas as a nationalist movement? Also a figment Levy’s imagination. Here’s the Charter again:

As for the objectives: They are the fighting against the false, defeating it and vanquishing it so that justice could prevail, homelands be retrieved and from its mosques would the voice of the mu’azen emerge declaring the establishment of the state of Islam, so that people and things would return each to their right places and Allah is our helper.

“The state of Islam.” Note to Levy: this is different than the state of Palestine.

All of this reminded me of Michael Young’s most recent column in the Beirut Daily Star, which perfectly anticipated Levy’s essay. Young’s topic is the foolishness of western apologists for Islamist groups:

Why is the topic important? Because over the years academics, analysts, journalists, and others, particularly the Westerners among them, who write about militant Islamist groups, have tended to project their own liberal attitudes and desires onto such groups, misinterpreting their intentions and largely ignoring what these groups say about themselves. Inasmuch as most such observers cannot really fathom the totalitarian strain in the aims and language of armed Islamists, totalitarian in the sense of pursuing a total idea, total in its purity, they cannot accept that the total idea can also be apocalyptic. Where Nasrallah and the leaders of Hamas will repeat that Israel’s elimination is a quasi-religious duty, the sympathetic Westernized observer, for whom the concept of elimination is intolerable, will think much more benignly in terms of well-intentioned “bargaining.” Hamas and Hizbullah are pragmatic, they will argue, so that their statements and deeds are only leverage to achieve specific political ends that, once attained, will allow a return to harmonious equilibrium.

This argument, so tirelessly made, is tiresomely irrelevant.

Young concludes: “For outside observers to ignore or reinterpret their words in order to justify a personal weakness for these groups’ revolutionary seductions is both self-centered and analytically useless.”

I don’t know how self-centered Levy is. But analytically useless? Most definitely.

Read Less




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