Finally, some great news from the Middle East. Days ago, the Israeli newspaper Haaretz reported that Hamas established a force “whose sole task is to prevent the firing of rockets into Israel.” While some seek to paint Hamas as a monolithic terrorist group that cannot be negotiated with, this development makes clear that the organization is taking concrete steps toward peace. “Interesting news from Gaza,” Israeli activist Gershon Baskin wrote, contrasting Hamas’ move with Israel’s “deepening and expanding the occupation.”
Haaretz observes, “Hamas, which has always championed jihad against Israel, is now using its authority to foil the firing efforts of cells from other organizations such as the Islamic Jihad and the Popular Resistance Committees.” The force of 300 men operates “day and night, 24 hours, everywhere in the Strip,” according to a source in Gaza, “particularly near the borders with Israel."
Of course, those seeking to scuttle peace between Israelis and Palestinians will point to mere facts to belittle this hopeful news. The anti-peace camp will bring up that Hamas spokesmen Ihab al Ghussein and Fawzi Barhoum immediately denied the existence of this anti-rocket force calling the reports “Zionist propaganda.” They will cite the spokesman of the Popular Resistance Committees in Gaza, Abu Mujahid, who said recently that Hamas grants his group total freedom of action.
The anti-peace camp will say it is hard to trust a regime that quashes human rights, imposes dictatorship and regularly arrests and tortures opposition activists. They will observe that Hamas leaders work daily to destroy Israel and incite genocide of Jews. They will explain that Hamas is confiscating the rockets of others for their own use. They will note that every single ceasefire to date has been used to regroup and rearm thus strengthening Hamas to fight the next battle. Those same anti-peace folks will cite the fact that the founder and commander of this new unit is Hamas Interior Minister, Fathi Hammad, a man who lauds Palestinian children, women and the elderly for forming “human shields.” And that he says, “The Jews have become abhorred and loathed outcasts, because they live off corruption and the plundering of the peoples—not only the Arab and Islamic peoples, but all the peoples of the world.” But who among us has not had a few slips of the tongue?
The anti-peace contingent will come up with pithy retorts to this welcome development like, “Hamas should get as much credit for stopping rockets as a serial arsonist would get for putting out the fires of other arsonists—and collecting their matches in the process.” How unfortunate that many will try to drown out the great news about Hamas by using logic, reason, fact and sensibility. They are missing the point: Hamas may be stopping rocket fire and that cannot be bad. If Hamas wanted war, it would wage war. Can anyone think of an example when a regime bided its time waiting until the right moment to attack? Besides Germany in 1938, Japan in 1941, North Korea in 1950, the Soviet Union in 1956, Egypt and Syria in 1973, Iraq in 1990, Gaza in 2009 and a few hundred other cases, I can’t think of a single one!
Hamas desires peace no less than any other group that incites to genocide, calls for the destruction of a member state of the United Nations, imposes dictatorship, blows up cafes, uses human shields, denies women basic rights, destroys any semblance of freedom, arrests bloggers, tortures dissidents and wants to get all the credit for launching rockets at civilian targets.