Recently, I read in a prominent newspaper an op-ed that concluded as follows:
The only small chance for peace today is the same chance that existed before the Gaza invasion: Europe, the United States and, mainly the Arab states , must help the Likud's enemy, Labor, prepare Israel for a complete withdrawal from the West Bank, and then hope that the Israelis, vast numbers of whom are unsympathetic to the Likud, see a Palestinian state on the West Bank as an alternative to the squalid vision of Bibi Netanyahu and Avigdor Lieberman.
Although I agree with the sentiment, and although, frankly, I would welcome anybody to help Israel out of mess it has gotten itself into, the world declaring war on the Likud doesn't seem to be such a great idea. Knowing Israelis, they would resent such blatant interference in their internal affairs, especially if it is backed by sanctions. Liberal fantasies aside, it is counter-productive to appeal to external pressure. It didn't work in Iraq. And it hasn't worked in Iran. Any innocent knows that.
Not, apparently, Jeffrey ("Hey-I-am-American-Israeli-Who-Understands-What-It-Takes-To-Get-Rid-of-Hamas") Goldberg. The above quotation was taken, with obvious modifications, from his latest op-ed in the New York Times. Only he wrote, of course,
The only small chance for peace today is the same chance that existed before the Gaza invasion: The moderate Arab states, Europe, the United States and, mainly, Israel, must help Hamas's enemy, Fatah, prepare the West Bank for real freedom, and then hope that the people of Gaza, vast numbers of whom are unsympathetic to Hamas, see the West Bank as an alternative to the squalid vision of Hassan Nasrallah and Nizar Rayyan.
Since the squalid vision of Nasrallah and Riyyan is no different from the squalid vision of the Israeli right, especially the religious Jewish right – it certainly is no more racist or bigoted – and since, the religious right has not been ostracized from Israeli society, one wonders why Goldberg doesn't offer the same prescription to Israel? Well, the answer is obvious. The Israeli religious right, while calling (and shooting) the shots on the West Bank, still doesn't run Israel's government. Of course, if the Palestinians had a state as strong and secure as Israeli, neither would Hamas. One has to thank Israeli interference, a corrupt Fatah, and Hamas' network of social and charitable organizations, for Hamas' power today.
What Goldberg should have said is as follows: The countries of the world should recognize the result of the Palestinian elections. They should make Palestinian security and well-being no less a priority than Israel's security and well-being. They should not interfere in the Palestinians' internal affairs, but they certainly can make their preferences known, the same way that the US and Europe clearly favor a Labour government over a Likud government in every election.
Moreover, the Palestinian people should get their act together and present a united front in dealings with Israel and the world. A divided Palestinian people is bad for them, good for the Israeli rejectionists, and plays into the hands of their own extremists.
As for Hamas, I yield to no person in my disgust with its charter and its theology, which I take as seriously as I take the theology of the rightwing religious Zionists in Israel, Hamas' ideological counterparts among the Jews. I live among them and read what they write. A lot of it is damn scary.
But I also know that nothing in Goldberg's article – or in anything I have read about Hamas – suggests that they would not welcome a long-term truce with Israel, in which they could build their Shari'a state, waiting, of course, for Allah to strike down the Jewish pigs and apes, in the way that the religious right in Israel prepares for the building of the Third Temple, and the destruction of Amalek. I assure you that I can live with that, just as I can daven with people who pray for similar things to happen to the Palestinians. (And imagine how they will feel – and how they will act -- when the Palestinians have their own state in the heart of Judea, Samaria, and Jerusalem.)
Haaretz journalist Akiva Eldar, whose opinions on Hamas are a lot more reliable than Goldberg's, wrote recently about how the campaign against Gaza is handing the West Bank to Hamas. Goldberg apparently still believes that Israel, American, and Arab governments can bring about regime change and weaken Hamas. The idea wasn't convincing when Krauthammer was cheerleading the American invasion of Iraq. Why think it will work better in Palestine? At least America holds out the promise of withdrawing from Iraq totally.
And precisely what is the "real freedom" that Goldberg is willing to offer the Palestinians? A single state on the West Bank and Gaza, with a strong army – at least as strong as Jordan's – that can defend itself from the threat of Israeli aggression?
Or two quasi-states with a police force, a pretty flag, stamps, and casinos, whose economy is controlled by – you guessed it – Israel.
Now that sounds like a recipe for a Hamas take-over.