Urging Diplomacy with Those Who Believe in Violence

There are those who are  constructing the arena of popular ideas  about the Israeli- Palestinian peace process in such a way that Israel will emerge as the responsible party when the Annapolis talks fail. This is reminiscent of those who blame the failure of Oslo on Israeli settlements, and not on Palestinian terror and rejectionism directed by Yasser Arafat. To prepare the contemporary battlefield, they argue for engagement with Hamas. Knowing that Israel will refuse, and that Hamas itself will torpedo any progress, they are then free to point a finger at Israel’s intransigence.

Engaging with Hamas would undo the progress made by Israeli and international pressure and isolation. Hamas’ approval ratings have fallen below those of Fatah, and they are unable to point to any economic gains since coming to power. Legitimizing Hamas rule now leaves two options- leaving them in power as the de facto Palestinian ruler for years to come, or unleashing a Defensive Shield mini-war in Gaza.

Moreover, Hamas has already started its campaign against the Annapolis conference. The Israel Intelligence Heritage and Commemoration Center released an overview of Hamas’ efforts in recent weeks as the conference approaches. Noah Pollak wrote the following article in Commentary’s blog, Contentions.

Annapolis: Engaging With What?
Noah Pollak – 11.21.2007 – 15:30
Yesterday I attended two Annapolis-related presentations in Washington, the first at the New America Foundation and the second at the National Press Club, sponsored by The Israel Project. The events offered a useful contrast in the way that two camps view not just the state of the peace process, but the conflict itself. The Israel Project symposium featured Shmuel Rosner of Haaretz, Tamara Cofman Wittes of Brookings, and David Wurmser, the former Middle East adviser to Vice President Cheney. This was by far the more interesting presentation, as the three participants were serious people trafficking in serious ideas.
The New America event, on the other hand, was intended to publicize the “re-release” of a letter first published in the New York Review of Books on October 10th, most notably signed by Zbigniew Brzezinski, Lee Hamilton, and Brent Scowcroft, which has now attracted a couple dozen more signatories. It was ignored the first time it was published, and it’s enjoyable to predict that the addition of the signatures of Joseph Wilson and Gary Hart is going to further cement its irrelevance.
In any event, the New America panelists were Daniel Levy, Robert Malley, Ghaith al-Omari, and Steve Clemons, and they lodged as their major criticism the United States and Israel’s refusal to “engage” Hamas. That refusal is shaping up, for the realist and leftist critics of the peace process, as a primary objection, and in the coming months it will likely be invoked by the same critics as a major reason why Annapolis accomplished nothing. This faction is positioning its argument so that the failure of Annapolis can be leveraged to undermine the isolation of Hamas. As such, it is worth wondering whether people like Malley and Levy actually have a point.
The engagement camp says that it wishes to bolster the moderates while engaging the extremists, which is presented as a cost-free way to conduct diplomacy-never mind that U.S. diplomatic attention directed at Hamas thoroughly would discredit Mahmoud Abbas, whose only selling point to the Palestinian people at this point is the fact that he is the Palestinians’ only focal point for American and Israeli attention. That is a rather obvious point, of course. But the one I wish to emphasize involves the incompleteness with which the engagement camp makes its case.
What I have always found strange about the engagers is their reluctance to make arguments that move beyond bumper-sticker bromides about the need to talk to your enemies, and to explain precisely what would be up for discussion with Hamas. The Hamas charter seems to preempt diplomacy insofar as it says that “there is no solution for the Palestinian question except through jihad. Initiatives, proposals and international conferences are all a waste of time and vain endeavors.” I say “seems,” because perhaps in practice Hamas does not hew to the strict language of its founding declaration-but alas, there is no historic or contemporary evidence for this conceit. Hamas is famous for denying the right of Israel to exist, but not many people seem to pay much regard to the fact that Hamas also denies the right of Palestine to exist: Hamas has always been abundantly clear that its goal is the violent imposition of an Islamic caliphate throughout the Middle East-not the establishment of a Palestinian state.
So what, pray tell, do people like Daniel Levy and Robert Malley propose is up for negotiation with Hamas? In the face of both Hamas’s plainly stated antipathy to diplomacy, in addition to decades of concrete experience of the same, would it not behoove Levy and Malley to pay special attention to this particular aspect of engaging Hamas? Shouldn’t an explanation about the contours of, and prospects for, a successful pursuit of diplomacy with Hamas indeed be the very first thing to which Levy and Malley set themselves? I know that if I were arguing in good faith for engagement, this is where I would be compelled to start: to provide an answer to the question, What can Israel offer Hamas other than its own suicide?
At yesterday’s event, as he has elsewhere, Levy proposed an Israel-Hamas cease-fire as a starting measure…and then changed the subject. Well, what comes after that, Daniel? How many times has Hamas agreed to cease-fires with Israel (and with Fatah) out of its own need to regroup and rearm, only to attack later at a time of its choosing? At what point in the course of the “engagement” process do the leaders of Hamas renounce the basic premises and tactics for which their movement stands? Does Khaled Mashal march down to his local Al Jazeera office in Damascus to announce to the world that because he got a phone call from a member of the Quartet, he’s realized that all the crazy stuff in the Hamas charter-about how the Jews started the French Revolution, the Communist Revolution, both World Wars, the League of Nations, the United Nations, the Rotary Club and the Freemasons, all in pursuit of Zionist world domination-was perhaps a bit too anti-Semitic? Can you tell us, Robert Malley-you who has argued repeatedly that giving money, diplomatic attention, and concessions to Hamas will change the group-of a single instance in which Hamas permanently has moderated a position or altered its behavior because of diplomatic pressure? As people who continuously are banging on the table about “genuine engagement” with Hamas, is it too much to ask, you know, for some genuine details?
As it stands right now, the intellectual output of the Levy-Malley faction involves bromides about “engagement” that are quickly buried in an avalanche of ambiguous diplomatic jargon designed to avoid the possibility of having to commit themselves to engaging in a serious explanation of how diplomacy is going to transform Hamas from a genocidal Islamic supremacist group to a peaceful Palestinian nationalist movement. This is an act of alchemy that Levy and Malley cannot credibly perform, and it is the reason why all of their voluminous babble about engagement never manages to rise above the level of the vague cliché.
There are dozens of reasons why Annapolis will be unable to achieve anything close to its stated goals, but, contrary to popular opinion, one of them is not the absence, next week, of representatives of Hamas at the Naval Academy. Nevertheless, that absence will emerge, from the Scowcrofts and Malleys, as a major source of the peace process’s failure. I propose a different failure: the refusal of the most prolific advocates for engagement to display a little intellectual courage and put themselves on the record explaining how their concessions are going to transform Hamas. Because if that actually works, and one of the most intransigent Islamist groups in the world can be defeated by diplomacy, then clearly there are two other diplomatic summits that should be convened-between Israel and Hizballah, and the United States and al Qaeda.

17 Responses to Urging Diplomacy with Those Who Believe in Violence

  1. [...] blocSonicâ¢: Spotlighting music gems and announcing the latest releases from the world o… wrote an interesting post today!.Here’s a quick excerpt There are those who are  constructing the arena of popular ideas  about the Israeli- Palestinian peace process in such a way that Israel will emerge as the responsible party when the Annapolis talks fail. This is reminiscent of those who blame the failure of Oslo on Israeli settlements, and not on Palestinian terror and rejectionism directed by Yasser Arafat. To prepare the contemporary battlefield, they argue for engagement with Hamas. Knowing that Israel will refuse, and that Hamas itself wil [...]

  2. [...] Ellen And Jim Have A Blog, Too wrote an interesting post today!.Here’s a quick excerpt There are those who are  constructing the arena of popular ideas  about the Israeli- Palestinian peace process in such a way that Israel will emerge as the responsible party when the Annapolis talks fail. This is reminiscent of those who blame the failure of Oslo on Israeli settlements, and not on Palestinian terror and rejectionism directed by Yasser Arafat. To prepare the contemporary battlefield, they argue for engagement with Hamas. Knowing that Israel will refuse, and that Hamas itself wil [...]

  3. [...] Iostoconmancini.com – Il sito per chi è con Roberto Mancini wrote an interesting post today!.Here’s a quick excerpt There are those who are  constructing the arena of popular ideas  about the Israeli- Palestinian peace process in such a way that Israel will emerge as the responsible party when the Annapolis talks fail. This is reminiscent of those who blame the failure of Oslo on Israeli settlements, and not on Palestinian terror and rejectionism directed by Yasser Arafat. To prepare the contemporary battlefield, they argue for engagement with Hamas. Knowing that Israel will refuse, and that Hamas itself wil [...]

  4. fp says:

    What do you know, fp the “pessimist” proves to be a realist again.

    Go back to some previous threads and see how I argued that the isolation of Hamas will never hold and that no matter what Hamas will do, they will be saved from their own self-destruction.

    actually, the annapolis situation is much, much worse than those who damned it suspect. Here’s the reality:

    American folly
    http://www.jpost.com/servlet/Satellite?
    cid=1195546703899&pagename=JPost%2FJPArticle%2FShowFull

    now, tell me the consequences of this criminal stupidity can be fixed.

    fp
    http://www.dbdebunk.com/page/page/4304773.htm

  5. fp says:

    Heh, heh, what do you know: fp proved again that he is no “pessimist” but realist.

    Go back to previous threads and see that I argued that the isolation for Hamas will not hold and that it will not be allowed to self-destruct.

    In fact, the Annapolis situation is much worse than even those exposing its nonsense suspect:

    American folly
    http://www.jpost.com/servlet/Satellite?cid=1195546703899&pagename=JPost%2FJPArticle%2FShowFull

    Pls tell me that the consequences of this criminal incompetence can be fixed or reversed.

    And here is the root of the problem:

    The Condoleezza story
    http://www.haaretz.com/hasen/spages/927235.html

    fp
    http://fallofknowledgeandreason.blogspot.com/

  6. fp says:

    And here’s the source of incompetence:

    The Condoleezza story
    http://www.haaretz.com/hasen/spages/927235.html

  7. Michael N says:

    This is why I no longer bother posting comments here.

  8. igout says:

    I suppose what’s rattling around in the noggins of Bush & Condi is something like this. We need prove to Muslim moderates (I believe in them as much as I do in unicorns) that the USA can make good things happen and Iran, Russia, etc, etc, can’t. Muscling Israel to part with some Sudetenland, against vague and uncollectible promises to come to her defense, is a quick and cheap way to make that point.

    But the only thing that’s proven by this will be that it’s possible to be very cynical and dumb at paint at the same time.

  9. fp says:

    igout,

    if they think at all — i doubt it — rice and bush haven’t a clue that they are achieving exactly the opposite of what they think. they are appeasing the extremists and whetting their appetites and undermining whatever few moderates, if any, are left. they have betrayed every ally and reversed every declaration that they ever made.

    the amount of ignorance, stupidity and wishful thinking of this administration has accelerated american decline by several decades.

    the problem is that there is nobody coming after them that can or will fix the consequences, because it is no longer possible.

    it is over for america, and i would not wanna be in israel right now.

  10. fp says:

    And among the many who thinks the same:

    America, bone-headedly stupid and amoral
    http://www.spectator.co.uk/melaniephillips/371071/israel-as-czechoslovakia.thtml

    Years if not decades before the existence of this site i knew and said that all those virtues that america claims for itself would hold at least in part as long as its affluence and dominant position in the world can be maintained. but watch out if they are erroded, as they will be at some point. there won’t a more cowardly and self-destructive society than the US. it won’t be pretty and we are seeing the beginning of the end.

  11. igout says:

    If I held Israel’s crappy cards, I’d go shopping around for a brighter and less goofy champion, possibly China and or India. Sadly, the only thing I’d have to offer would be the IDF, which would take on the role of a kind of Mid-East Pinkerton’s Agency to protect their oil supplies. These up and coming powers, unburdened by honky-guilt might well prefer dealing with one sensible cold-blooded goon than the crew of fanatics and nutjobs currently in possession of the oil fields. Alternatively, Russia might find it useful to have Israel around to keep a resurgent Islam from getting too resurgent. Their own Southern borderlands aren’t exactly Moslem-rein.

    But the Jews aren’t known for stupidity, no doubt they won’t fall for the old Munich trick.

  12. fp says:

    igout,

    unfortunately israel has nowhere to go shopping. the jews have always been the scapegoat of the world for various reasons, not the least of which is ignorance and envy.

    there are some interests that the emerging powers have in maintaining some relationships with israel, but their history and position with the arab/muslim world will not result in more than that. some of them have the same appeasing attitudes as the US.

    israel will probably be one of the first losses in the long process of the end of the west.

  13. igout says:

    fp:

    You raise an interesting point. Israel’s problem is that nobody needs her; she’s just a pain in the ass, getting the arabs riled; who after all have the oil. The USA’s support is mostly sentimental; probably everybody else would be perfectly happy if the damn little country just went away.

    As a marketing problem, what global need might Israel be able to satisfy? The only one I can think of is that Israel might make herself indispensable to the outside world if she were to be a sort of Knights of Malta of the world’s oil supply lines.

    Jewish Knights of Malta. It’s no dumber than the suicide note Bush & Rice want Israel to sign.

  14. fp says:

    dumb is not the word.

    do you know of any other country which is supposed to justify its existence this way?

    anyway, eliminate all the inventions, innovations and science that was done in Israel and see what would have happened to the world without them.

    what have the palestinians done for the world that everybody wants that sorry group of treacherous and murderous arabs to have a state?

  15. igout says:

    fp–

    What can I say? The world’s a nuthouse. And in the nuthouse Israel is bad and palistinians are totally awesomely cool.

    The single thread connecting the situation to sanity is the hard fact of who’s got the oil and who needs it. And Israel might find a new career in facilitating the transfer of it from group 1 to the vastly larger group 2.

  16. fp says:

    i don’t see that as a feasible strategy which will solve israel’s problem. or the world’s, for that matter.

    the tragedy here is that if israel goes, it won’t make one iota of difference as to the energy situation. the arabs will continue to use the oil and the money they make from it to blackmail and undermine the west.

    and unless the world changes its lifestyle and wean itself of oil — which is too disruptive and scary to contemplate — there will be some sort of showdown between the emerging asian powers, the US and the islamists (europe will be a component of the latter).

    Who do you think will win? The pampered, spoiled west without their oil or the Osama cave-men?

  17. Alex says:

    And what do you think of Obadiah Shoher’s arguments against the peace process ( samsonblinded.org/blog/we-need-a-respite-from-peace.htm )?

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>