Monday, May 4, 2009

Hamas Singing a New Tune?

I had reason to be optimistic today when I caught this NY Times headline: http://www.nytimes.com/2009/05/05/world/middleeast/05meshal.html?_r=1&hp

In the story, Khaled Meshal, Hamas' leader, advocates a very Palestinian Authority-ish stance, calling for a return to pre-1967 borders, dismantling of settlements, and right of return for Palestinian refugees.

I know the right of return issue makes the whole thing a non-starter for many, who fear the consequences of the numbers who could be involved may threaten Israel's existence.

Still, the fact that anyone from Hamas -- let alone its leader -- is calling for anything other than pushing the Israeli state right into the sea has got to be cause for optimism on some level.

Surely, a two-state solution will not mean the end to all terrorism in the region. If we ever reach such a solution, and isolated terror attacks still occur (which they will), there will undoubtedly be a chorus of "I told you sos," from the naysayers. But if we make the total cessation of attacks a precursor to the two states, that only ensures we'll never see such a solution, because it makes any teenager with a chest full of nails and ball bearings more powerful than the U.S., the UN, and the EU put together.

And it will give many of the people in the world who don't see this conflict the way most Americans do continued reason to offer moral support to the stateless, who, by accident of birth, happen to find their homes in the West Bank or Gaza Strip.

3 comments:

C R Krieger said...

I was head down writing a paper for tonight's class and clean missed this.  I take it to be good news.  Right of return is still a big issue, but we do have movement.  I finished former President James Earl Carter's latest book on this problem and need to blog about it.

Regards  —  Cliff

jonathan said...

What's to be optimistic about? The program laid out by Meshal calls for Israel to make a wide range of concessions -- defensible borders, land, settlemen4ts, governance of Jerusalem and the right of return -- in exchange for what? Not recognition of Israel's right to exist. Meshal remains emphatic on that point. But for a "10 year truce." Recall that Hamas had agreed to a truce with Israel prior to the recent Gaza rocket war. Hamas truces don't mean much.

The New Englander said...

Guys,

I look forward to hearing your thoughts on the Jimmy Carter book...reading Jonathan's comments, I was reminded of what my neighbor back in NJ used to always say about MEPP (Middle East Peace Process).

He was an Israeli emigre and a veteran from 1967. Every time I would get excited about some Times headline about a supposed breakthrough, he would sort of sigh and say, "Don't get too worked up about that, it'll revert back to what it was in no time." And inevitably, it did, as he had seen happen so many times before. I'll take a hit on Pollyanna-ism for not pointing out the words-actions gap from Hamas prior to the latest round of Katyushas from Gaza..

Still, it was unusual to hear ANYTHING conciliatory from Hamas. And I still won't budge on my two-state solution comment that it won't stop terrorism, but it will change the equation as far as the moral *weight* in the world's eyes towards the two sides..and that does matter.

best,
gp