Once Israel destroys all the tunnels it can find dug by Hamas and withdraws its troops, demands will again be made on Prime Minister Netanyahu to agree to sit down with Hamas and work out a lasting cease-fire as well as a peace agreement. We know that as of today, Hamas’ leadership has said any such agreement must include the complete opening up of the borders on all sides of Gaza, and a lifting of the blockade imposed by Israel. Hamas’ leadership has made it most clear that they will not agree to any arrangement that does not satisfy all of their demands.
Why does Hamas make it crystal clear that it will not accept any real peace that does not give it what it desires? What else does Hamas want and why is it so determined to destroy Israel? What ideology do its leaders and members subscribe to? These are the questions most of the media fail to ask.
Today, in a pathbreaking and revealing interview, Nic Robertson of CNN sat down in Qatar — Hamas’ protector — with Hamas’ political leader, Khaled Mashaal. Robertson did not mince words, and asked Mashaal the tough questions he obviously did not expect.
Both the Israeli and American narrative, Mashaal said, was a “lie.” Hamas’ leader actually said with a straight face that Hamas did not fire rockets from schools, mosques and other populated areas, and never put the people of Gaza in harm’s way. Israeli rockets, he said, were purposefully aimed at civilian inhabitants. Moreover, he continued to claim that the thousands killed in Gaza by Israel’s forces, when compared to the relatively few Israeli deaths, is proof enough that it is Israel alone that was guilty of intentionally killing civilian non-combatants.
Robertson stood out from all his media counterparts in not letting Mashaal get away with such drivel. He pointed out that if there were not as many Israeli casualties, it was not for the lack of Hamas trying. The “Iron Dome” has saved Israeli lives, and Hamas seeks to fire so many rockets in the hope that some will get by Iron Dome’s capabilities and explode in civilian areas.
Mashaal told Robertson the following:
We are stronger than they are in the justness of our cause. We are the rightful owners of the land, and they are the thieves of the land. We are the victims and they are the murderers. But despite this we might not win a battle or two completely, but at the end we will win the war. Our steadfastness is a victory. To kill their soldiers while they kill our civilians is also a victory for the Palestinian cause and Hamas.
To understand what Hamas is all about, one has to turn to historian Jeffrey Herf’s important article about the organization. Based on a close reading of the Hamas charter, Herf shows that its aims and its ideology and philosophy are “rooted in the totalitarianism and radical anti-Semitism that has undergirded Islamism since its rise in the 1930s and 1940s.” This truth, he correctly writes, is one “unnoticed by reporters, editors, and pundits who race to comment on Hamas’ war with Israel.”