Perhaps the most stunning aspect of the current Hamas battle against Israel is the exasperation expressed by Westerners. Incredulity by some that Hamas would use the people it was elected to represent as human shields, and by others, that Israel would persist when the deaths to Palestinians are so out of proportion with those to Israel is a prominent sentiment seen throughout the media. Each time it becomes apparent that double standards and false moral equivalences are being inappropriately applied, even more frustration is provoked. So many others, meanwhile, are simply weary from the very notion of violence.
Such responses indicate the degree to which Westerners are invested in seeing anything but the simple truth: Hamas, along with the rest of Palestinian leadership, declared WAR on Israel and Jews everywhere years ago and everything since is nothing more than battle maneuvers- EVERYTHING! Each day the West insists upon creating fantasies to disguise this truth it moves closer to bringing the same fate Israel experiences to its shores.
One need only digest the 1988 Hamas charter to understand. True, many attempts have been made to emasculate the power of the charter. Some write that it is an old document and no longer applicable to the aims of the organization. They point out that the charter was withdrawn from the Hamas website in favor of an election manifesto which itself omits a call for Israel's destruction. Carter Center advisor Robert Pastor has written that reputed billionaire Hamas leader in hiding, Khaled Meshal, told him that the charter is "a piece of history and no longer relevant, but cannot be changed for internal reasons." Peace negotiators try to assure us that, when in the room, Hamas representatives express different views.
These and other excuses fail to demonstrate that Hamas is anything other than what its charter describes. The US Constitution is also an old document and, to many, an aggravating obstacle to accomplishing many progressive goals. Nonetheless, until that Constitution is changed or eliminated, it will always be the best evidence of American principles, values, and intentions. Eliminating direct calls for the destruction of Israel and Jews from an election manifesto, essentially remaining silent on the subject, is insufficient to demonstrate any radical transformation of Hamas' principles, values, and intentions. Further, it is unclear what "internal reasons" could possibly stand in the way of the suggested major overhaul of Hamas' fundamental raison d'etre. If Islamists are known for anything, it is their ability while negotiating, to say anything with a straight face.
All of this is nothing more than Hamas' use of tawriya or simple lying and deception. Much as the Islamic Republic of Iran has used taqiyya to fertilize our own willful blindness in order to advance its march to becoming a nuclear weapons state, Hamas will use whatever battle tactic it can to advance its mission. Both organizations are crystal clear that they are fighting a war that takes primacy over everything else. Still, Western politicians and intellectuals and a media amplifying their hopes to resolve an irresolvable conflict fail to see it.
Simply put, the Hamas charter is a genocidal war document, nothing else. Hamas, the "Islamic Resistance Movement," is "one of the wings of the Moslem Brotherhood in Palestine" and the charter quotes Brotherhood founder, Hassan al-Banna, in saying that "Israel will exist and will continue to exist until Islam will obliterate it, just as it obliterated others before it." It defines its mission, "[o]ur struggle against the Jews is very great and very serious" and the movement is "one of the links in the chain of the struggle against the Zionist invaders." The movement's "programme is Islam" and the essence of its purpose is to return Palestine to Muslim control on route to the Islamic promise that Judgment Day will arrive after the last Jew is eliminated. Palestine is an "Islamic Waqf, consecrated for future Moslem generations" until Judgment Day and therefore Muslims must be entrusted to its representation. No "part of it" can be "squandered" or "given up." "Neither a single Arab country nor all Arab countries, neither any king or president, nor all kings and presidents, neither any organization nor all of them, be they Palestinian or Arab, possess the right to do that."
A Jewish state, therefore, simply cannot exist. The "liberation of Palestine is then an individual duty for every Moslem wherever he may be." Further, the "day that enemies usurp part of Moslem land, Jihad becomes the individual duty of every Moslem." No holds barred on what one is required to endure. "Jihad is not confined to the carrying of arms and the confrontation of the enemy." The charter calls for everyone, including the most educated, to take part. "Leaving the circle of struggle with Zionism is high treason, and cursed be he who does that."
Perhaps the dynamic most common to those who call others to Jihad is the psychological maneuver of projection. Projection underlies the Hamas narrative of its enemy. The charter tells a tale of Jews who operate as "Nazis" (who even caused the Holocaust to take place in order to generate the sympathy necessary to have Palestine transferred to Zionist control). The Jews are evil and intend world domination and stop at nothing to reach their goal. This is precisely the goal of Islam as referenced throughout the charter and the Islamic mind is facile at projecting this pure violent and totalitarian desire onto any in its way.
Projection onto Jews of what they themselves would like to do continues. "With their money" these enemies of Islam "took control of world media" and "stirred revolutions in various parts of the world" to achieve their purposes. These include "the French Revolution, the Communist Revolution" and most others. They even formed secret societies "such as Freemasons...for the purpose of sabotaging societies and achieving Zionist interests." Not to forget, they "were able to destroy the Islamic Caliphate" and, along with obtaining the Balfour Declaration, they caused the World Wars, formed the League of Nations and the UN in order to control the world. "The imperialistic forces in the Capitalist West and Communist East support the enemy with all their might, in money and men." While prima facie absurd, these allegations are sold and accepted at gunpoint throughout the region.
To be clear, the enemy is the Jews. It is not an "occupation" that, if terminated, would represent the fulfillment of Hamas' dream. Rather, the ethnic cleansing of Jews worldwide is a condition precedent to the longed for Judgment day. Nor would any division of land other than complete control of Palestine suffice. The goal is not capable of compromise, negotiable, or able to be assuaged, no matter how many times Secretary of State John Kerry travels to the region. Again, the "programme is Islam" and Hamas defines itself as and requires all to be engaged in Islam's highest duty, Jihad. This is a war and will be fought as a war so long as one party, Hamas, sees it that way.
For decades, Westerners have refused to digest and accept what the charter makes so clear. Instead, we similarly project onto Hamas, and Palestinians in general, our own desires for peace. Consequently, we have an unholy exchange of inappropriate projections: Hamas projects onto the West its own dark Islamic desires for Jihad and world domination at any cost while the West projects onto Hamas its own wish for no conflict at any cost. Unfortunately, this can only be a prescription for Hamas victory.
Nonetheless, we endlessly seek "talk," as if our uniquely gifted diplomats are capable of crafting solutions the parties just haven't thought of before. At its core, this is pure arrogance; the same conceit that propels so many politicians to pontificate "needs to" phrases such as "Hamas needs to understand..." and "Israel needs to come up with big ideas." Former federal prosecutor Andy McCarthy has outlined the compelling Western delusion that there is an international community out there that "functions like a global body politic with universal values and common interests under a recognized 'rule of law'." If only we could bring these parties into this community, all would favorably resolve. It does not exist! We cling to this fantasy precisely because the reality is too frightening and distant from our experience to be allowed to peek through. Consequently, the endless call for talk, discussions, looking for "common ground," and coming to the table has mostly resulted in prolonging the war. Former Senate candidate and Hewlett-Packard CEO, Carly Fiorina, recently advised correctly: "Stop talking." As she pointed out, silence is itself a meaningful and powerful tool.
The Hamas charter, itself, explicitly dispels this fantasy. "Initiatives, and so called peaceful solutions and international conferences, are in contradiction to the principles of the Islamic Resistance Movement... Now and then the call goes out for the convening of an international conference to look for ways of solving the (Palestinian) question... the Islamic Resistance Movement does not consider these conferences capable of realizing the demands, restoring the rights, or doing justice to the oppressed. These conferences are only ways of setting the infidels in the land of Moslems as arbitraters. When did the infidels do justice to the believers?" The unambiguous conclusion: "There is no solution for the Palestinian question except through Jihad. Initiatives, proposals and international conferences are all a waste of time and vain endeavors."
Nor is there a meaningful difference with the charters of Hamas' new unity government partner, Fatah and the PLO. Fatah's goal is the "eradication of Zionist economic, political, military and cultural existence" to be achieved through "[a]rmed public revolution" which is "the inevitable method to liberating Palestine." "Opposing any political solution offered as alternative to demolishing the Zionist occupation in Palestine" clearly forbids acceptance of a deal which embodies a Jewish state. The PLO charter, unchanged to delete the destruction of Israel despite Yasser Arafat's promise to do so, similarly states that "[a]rmed struggle is the only way to liberate Palestine."
Compare a little of Israel's still descriptive 1948 Declaration of Independence. It appeals "to the Arab inhabitants of the State of Israel to preserve peace and participate in the upbuilding of the State on the basis of full and equal citizenship and due representation in all its provisional and permanent institutions." Further, it extends "our hand to all neighboring states and their peoples in an offer of peace and good neighborliness, and appeal to them to establish bonds of cooperation and mutual help with the sovereign Jewish people settled in its own land. The state of Israel is prepared to do its share in a common effort for the advancement of the entire Middle East."
Perhaps due in part to the powerful "progressive" drive seen in the US that many Americans tend discount their own two hundred year old Constitution and sees it as a document constantly in need of updating and reorientation. We then project that orientation onto Hamas and somehow accept that their only decades old words are insignificant and should be ignored. This is our doing, not theirs, and it is dire that we recognize the difference.
With all due respect to Palestinian leaders who have learned the arts of wearing finely tailored suits and State Department speak, the substance of the charter is not erased by simply not repeating a call for the destruction of Israel in an election manifesto. If the profound and extreme goals so thoroughly voiced in the charter are to be convincingly ignored, Hamas must make a clear and loud refutation and restate what is to replace these goals in equally strident terms. It is their words; it is their responsibility, not ours, to clarify beyond any doubt. Taking on this responsibility is simply another self-destructive mental maneuver we engage to make ourselves feel less threatened.
Until such repudiation is made, there is no option for Israel and the West other than to fight the war, boldly, without hesitation or self-doubt, and completely until each mission is accomplished. We must accept that we really do not yet know how to effectively fight this global war against all Jihadists without also some who might be labeled "innocent civilians;" a construct we value greatly. Yet that only means we must learn quickly, not surrender in the many ways we have done to date. Mistakes will be made as with any other learning process; but the process must be allowed to continue in order for that learning to take place. Yet, whether more "civilian lives" (if that is appropriate with an electorate that chose Hamas) are lost than we would wish or we face the horrors of our own kidnapped and tortured victims or we feel mortified at some of what our weapons do, we must always remind ourselves that this is war. And wars must be fought to win- not complicated.
Somewhere along the march for democracy in the Middle East, the notion crept in that a regime duly elected by its people deserves the respect of the imagined "community of nations." Rather, it is incumbent on other nations to treat a hostile government as hostile precisely so its people can learn that their votes have consequences. Legitimacy is earned, not bestowed by votes, and the people must be held responsible for their election results. Ultimately, Palestinians, not Israelis or Westerners, are responsible for their fate and that clarity must be kept in focus constantly. Unfortunately, Hamas is not working for its electorate. That wish is of our own projection. Hamas leaders are corrupt (just as much so as the Palestinian Authority leadership), having absconded with billions of dollars earmarked for their people. Leadership is a two-way proposition. Their people must also take responsibility for their leadership and, unfortunately, the tragedies of war are often man's most efficient mechanism for motivating them to do so.
Israel and the West have tremendous technological advantages over Hamas but that gap is rapidly narrowing due to Hamas' unfettered use of innovative asymmetrical tactics. And should Iran acquire nuclear capabilities, advantage Jihadists! We must wake up quickly.
It is high time we stop being exasperated and shocked whenever we discover (and rediscover, and rediscover...) the enemy is not acting the way we would hope. History is replete with examples of well-intentioned people failing to heed the explicit words of their enemies. Our exasperation is a sign that we still have a great deal of learning left to do to survive and win this war.
Bill Siegel is the author of The Control Factor - Our Struggle to See the True Threat published by Hamilton Books.