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Monday, March 13, 2006

Dreams...And Reality

All through last week, it was made clear by all who paid attention that the newly elected Hamas would in no way extend recognition to Israel.

There are many in the diplomatic community that are pressing for Hamas to modify their position. For example, Egypt is encouraging Hamas to begin a dialogue with Israel.

As is the case, Hamas- and much of the Arab world- can be measured by the friends they keep. That Hamas and other Aran nations do not recognize Israel is not a slur on the Jewish state. Israel maintains good relations with nations all over the world, and shares intellectual, academic, scientific and economic relations with all of them. Diplomatic relations with Israel have, since Israel's inception as state in 1948, has only proved to benefit those countries.

That the Arab world chooses not to recognize Israel only serves to emphasize their disconnect with the community of civilized nations. It is not as if western nations will sever ties with Israel.The UN and the EU, too, have made that clear- Israel's legitimacy as a nation is not subject to negotiation. The contrast of the nature of the relations Arab countries have with the west, versus the nature of Israel's relations are in stark contrast. Israeli companies, rank third in the countries listed on US stick markets. American and European countries vie to provide venture capital for promising Israeli start-up countries.

Israel does not really suffer from the lack of diplomatic and economic relations. In fact, it is the Arab world that suffers. The World Trade Organization (WTO) will not allow into membership those nations that engage in an economic boycott of any nation, Israel included. Applications from Arab nations have routinely been ignored because of support of the boycott. Saudi Arabia's recent membership into the WTO is dependent on the Saudi renunciation of that boycott. In the end, that the Arab world chooses not to establish diplomatic relations with Israel, only serves to highlight the distance between themselves and the civilized world.

As long as the boycott of Israel exists, Arab nations and their citizens will be precluded from riding aboard the economic train that has transformed the end of the 20th century and is moving full steam ahead into the 21st century.

Even as the mullahs of Iran have called for more violence against Israel (Mr Almedinejad does not make pronouncements without the blessings of the real power in Iran), Hamas and much of the Arab world have made their choice as to their priorities.
Since its founding, the terrorist organization Hamas has stated openly that its ultimate goal - the destruction of Israel - will unfold in stages. As the Hamas charter, written on August 18, 1988, reads, "The Islamic Resistance Movement is well qualified for the upcoming stage [of the struggle] with the Jews."

During the Palestinian-Arab elections, questions arose regarding whether Hamas's plans for the step-by-step destruction of Israel had changed since it the group's political platform did not explicitly call for such ruin. A Hamas spokesman, Sami Abu Zuhri, denied the group's purpose had been modified: "The platform refers to details and implementation methods for the next four years, while the charter lays out our permanent strategic views."

One Hamas candidate, Salah Al-Bardawil, told Islamonline on January 14, "The platform presents a realistic view that reflects Hamas's goals for the next four years. Had we spoken of eliminating and eradicating Israel within this period, we would have been deceiving our people ... But this does not stand in contradiction [of the fact that] we place emphasis on the elimination ... of Israel."

In a February 13 interview with Dream TV, the deputy head of Hamas, Musa Abu Marzouq, was asked if "Hamas is talking in two voices - to the Palestinians it says 1948, and to the foreigners it says 1967." He answered, "From the [Jordan] River to the [Mediterranean] Sea belongs to the Palestinians ..."and "we also say that we are dealing realistically with the current phase - an independent Palestinian state with full sovereignty over the West Bank, Jerusalem, and Gaza." Mr. Marzouq was then asked: "Is this a partial or phased solution?" to which he replied, "It is a temporary and phased solution. This is not the permanent solution."

At a January 29 press conference covered by Al-Jazeera, Hamas's leader, Khaled Mash'al, also discussed Hamas's philosophy. "We are realistic, and know things are done gradually, in stages," he said. He explained that Hamas understands that its "strategic goals" to "abolish Israel" cannot be accomplished in "a matter of moments." But added: "We believe in acting according to stages, gradually and realistically ... step by step. We will establish our state on any piece of land we liberate."

A Hamas representative in Lebanon, Osama Hamdan, gave an interview to ANB TV on January 26 in which he explicitly discussed the "phased solution" to destroy Israel by liberating "Acre, the Galilee, Haifa, Jaffa, Lod, Ramla, and Beersheba ... What [Hamas leader] Isma'il Haniya said about accepting a phased solution - or what we called 'liberation in phases' is possible."

In an August 18 interview with Asharq Al-Awsat, Hamas's leader Dr. Mahmoud Al-Zahar elaborated on Hamas's strategy, saying, "Our plan in the first stage is to liberate the lands occupied in 1967." In an interview broadcast by Al-Manar TV on January 25, Mr. Al-Zahar said, "Palestine means Palestine in its entirety - from the [Mediterranean] Sea to the [Jordan] River ... If at present we cannot bring about a decisive victory ... we are saying that we may agree to found a state on any part of the land."

During the week of Israel's withdrawal from Gaza, Hamas Friday sermons considered the move to be a stage leading toward Israel's dissolution. Sheik Mazzar Rayan on September 16 said, "The vanquishing of the enemy in Gaza does not mean this stage has ended. We still have Jerusalem and the pure West Bank ... We do not distinguish between what was occupied in the 1940s and what was occupied in the 1960s. Our jihad continues."

A Hamas spokesman, Mushir Al-Masri, explained in an interview on Al-Arabiya TV on December 5, 2004, "I think that the strategy of Hamas is clear: liberating the entire land of Palestine from the plunderers. Hamas ... believes that Tel Aviv is like Gaza."

Speaking to a crowd chanting, "Destroy Tel Aviv," broadcast on Al-Jazeera on December 20, Hamas leader Khaled Mash'al told the crowd: "When will we celebrate ... the liberation of the West Bank? ... the liberation of Jaffa, Haifa, Safed, and the Negev? When will we celebrate the departure of the last Zionist from our land?... It could be soon."

Hamas is not alone in its planned "staged" destruction of Israel. Following its election victory, Mr. Mash'al received a phone call from Iranian President Ahmadinejad, who was quoted by IRNA on January 30 as saying: "We thank God that struggles, self-sacrifices and martyrdom-seeking attempts of the children of [the] Palestinian nation have today resulted in the first stage of victory."

The next stage is well-known. It is Mr. Ahmadinejad's call for Israel to be wiped off the map - a dream shared by Hamas.