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Israel and Hamas: Just the facts, please

November 21, 2012|By Uri Resnick
  • During the last hour of hostilities with Israel before a cease-fire took effect Wednesday, militants launch rockets from Gaza City.
During the last hour of hostilities with Israel before a cease-fire took… (Getty Images )

Aeschylus said that "in war, truth is the first casualty." Daud Kuttab has apparently taken this somewhat coy aphorism too literally, writing a Times Op-Ed article ("Israel's failed strategy," Nov. 20) so filled with manipulative argumentation that it wouldn't normally merit serious rebuttal, had it not appeared in this newspaper.

Kuttab argues that Israel embraces a "theory of deterrence" with respect to the Gaza Strip. What he fails to point out is that Israel vacated Gaza completely in August 2005, uprooting thousands of Israelis from their homes in the process. What country in history, other than Israel, has forcibly removed its own people from their ancestral homes -- presently disputed or not -- in the hope that such withdrawal would open a door toward a more peaceful future? "Theory of deterrence?" This looks more like "theory of wishful thinking," given the belligerent path that Hamas has taken in Gaza since Israel's withdrawal.

Kuttab cites Palestinian claims to the effect that the rocket attacks against Israel are "acts of self-defense" in response to the naval blockade imposed by Israel on Gaza in 2007. What he fails to note is that Hamas fired more than 3,500 rockets and mortars at Israel in the seven years prior to 2007. The naval blockade was only imposed after Hamas violently seized power in June 2007 with an attendant surge in rocket attacks. Kuttab also fails to note the legality and legitimacy of the blockade, as confirmed by the 2011 United Nations commission tasked with analyzing it, which concluded that "Israel faces a real threat to its security from militant groups in Gaza."

Kuttab’s argumentation reaches the patently absurd when he writes, "By refusing to politically deal with those in power in Gaza, Israel is seeking a solely military solution to what is mostly a political conflict." Israel is refusing to "politically deal" with Hamas? This is the Hamas that recently posted online videos declaring: "All of Palestine is ours. There is nothing here for you but death. There is nothing here for you but to be killed and to leave." It is the same Hamas whose foundational charter calls on its members -- and all Muslims -- to kill Jews wherever they are found and rejects any form of peaceful solution regarding "any part of Palestine."

Thankfully, Israel is joined by the international community, represented by the Quartet on the Middle East, in affirming that Hamas must recognize Israel's right to exist, renounce terrorism and agree to abide by previous agreements before any kind of political dialogue can be contemplated.

Kuttab laudably notes that "Israelis and Palestinians will need to find a formula to live side by side." Israel could not agree more. But this formula cannot -- nor ultimately will -- involve a party that dehumanizes Israelis and denies their fundamental right to live in peace.

By skirting these disturbing facts, Kuttab and other supporters of the Palestinians do the people of Gaza no favor. Unless Hamas fundamentally changes its positions or is replaced in Gaza by someone who will, it is difficult to see a way toward a political breakthrough. Justifying Hamas' 12-year rocket onslaught against Israeli civilians, or denying Israel's right to defend against it, won’t bring this breakthrough any closer.

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Uri Resnick is the deputy consul general of Israel in Los Angeles.

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