Tag Archives: Hamas

Bush, Like Bin Laden, on the Sidelines

By measure of each man’s negligible influence over events in the Middle East — despite florid denunciations of all compromise and accomodation with those each brands as evil — President George W. Bush and Osama bin Laden appear to have more in common than either would care to admit. In Lebanon, Israel, Syria and the Palestinian territories, protagonists in key conflicts are ignoring both Bush and Bin Laden to forge a new pragmatic politics of coexistence. Continue reading

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Hamas as ‘Willie Horton’

By insisting that he never advocated talking to Hamas, Obama digs himself a hole — anyone who seeks peace in the Middle East will have to talk to Hamas Continue reading

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Bush and Israel’s Alamo

Sobriety remains elusive in Bush’s Middle East policy as he tells the Knesset, “Masada will never fall again!” — as in, “Remember the Alamo!” Having visited the iconic site at which Jewish Jihadists of yore are said to have committed mass suicide rather than surrender to the Romans, Bush was plainly moved to substitute war cries for serious policy. Long on the vacuous militancy that has characterized his entire tenure, Bush reprised the infantile posturing that compared talking to Hamas with appeasing the Nazis (uh, is that what Olmert is doing by negotiating a cease-fire with it via Egypt?), branding Iran the fount of global terrorism and warning that “Permitting the world’s leading sponsor of terror to possess the world’s deadliest weapon would be an unforgivable betrayal of future generations,” Bush told the Israeli parliament to mark its 60th birthday. “For the sake of peace, the world must not allow Iran to have a nuclear weapon.”

Don’t talk to Hamas or Iran, don’t allow Iran to have nuclear weapons, etc. etc. But what exactly is he offering? Is he going to bomb Iran? And then what? There’s no policy here, just testoterone. Continue reading

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Jimmy Carter and the Art of Growing Up

You could say Jimmy Carter was tempting fate by meeting with Hamas leader Khaled Meshal — after all, his entirely appropriate evocation of apartheid in reference to the regime Israel has created on the West Bank earned him the label “Holocaust-denier.” But Carter, bless him, his sticking to his guns, insisting that peace only becomes possible when you talk to everyone involved in a conflict. And I’d say Carter has reason to suspect that despite the pro-forma criticisms of his Meshal meeting from Secretary of State Condi Rice as well as the McCain-Clinton-Obama roadshow, the backlash won’t be anything like the firestorm created by his apartheid book. It was reported today, in fact, that the Bush Administration is regularly briefed on back-channel talks between Iranian officials and a group of former U.S. diplomats led by Papa Bush’s U.N. ambassador, Thomas Pickering. So, far all the posturing and bluster, there’s a back channel. And I’d wager that despite the official sanctimony, Carter will be debriefed on his conversations with Meshal by both Israeli and American officials — because Meshal is a key player, like it or not.

The inevitability of talking with Hamas is already widely recognized in U.S. policy circles, and especially in Israel. Already, the Israelis negotiate secretly over issues such as the fate of Corporal Gilad Shalit, prisoner exchanges and a cease-fire with Hamas through intermediaries such as Egypt. And a poll published by the Israeli daily Haaretz in February showed that two out of three Israelis support direct talks between their government and Hamas — an option publicly advocated by such high-profile Israeli leaders as former Mossad chief Ephraim Halevy and former foreign minister Shlomo Ben Ami. And just as some Israelis are recognizing that Hamas cannot be eliminated, so too do some Hamas leaders appear to realizing that Israel isn’t going to be militarily defeated, either. Continue reading

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The Abbas-Hamas Delirium

Those who’re always seeking a Palestinian Mandela ought to take notice of the latest survey results of Palestinian public opinion, that show the only candidate capable of beating Hamas in a free and fair election is the imprisoned Fatah leader Marwan Barghouti. The problem, of course, is that Barghouti — far more popular in Fatah than is Abbas — is an Israeli prison. And more importantly, he has no intention of playing the Palestinian Petain role that has been created for Abbas Continue reading

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