Hamas leader Mahmoud al-Zahar recently set out what Israel faces when he noted: "We do not recognize the State of Israel or its right to control any of the land of Palestine. Palestine is holy Islamic land. Our national problem is not related only to the West Bank, Gaza, and al-Quds (Jerusalem)...but to Palestine, all [the territory of] Palestine." By that he means Israel proper or what he terms "the Zionist entity." So far as Hamas is concerned, the battle will continue until Israel is destroyed, even if that takes decades. He must be taken at his word.
He is not alone in this thinking. In a recent poll of Palestinians, when asked, "Do you support or oppose suicide bombings against Israeli civilians?" 56% said they supported it. This poll paralleled the results of an earlier survey conducted jointly by Public Opinion Research of Israel and the Palestinian Center for Public Opinion which found that only 13% of Palestinians agreed with the statement that "Hamas was a terrorist group"; 82% agreed that Hamas was a "freedom-fighting organization"; and a mere 10% believed that bombings targeting Israeli civilians in buses and restaurants could be classified as "acts of terrorism." The world may have been appalled when Israelis are murdered in their schools, cafes, discotheque, wedding halls or buses by Palestinian holy warriors, but the Palestinian Center for Policy and Survey Research reports that 84% of Palestinians approved of these acts of terrorism.
Such attitudes suggest an enormous ethical and moral divide separating Palestinian and Israeli cultures. What the Obama Administration and the Europeans fail to understand -- or pretend not to understand -- is that Hamas was elected in 2006 because its very rationale for existence -- the destruction of Israel as a Jewish state - - reflects the prevailing attitude of mainstream Palestinian society. For the Palestinians, terrorism is not a weapon borne of desperation or poverty; it is a strategic choice.Supporters of both Hamas and the Palestinian Authority both seek the annihilation of Israel, as is openly stated in their charters.
As military historian Victor Davis Hanson writes: "Modern Western man is faced with an awful dilemma, from which he recoils: Real peace and successful reconstruction are in direct proportion to the degree to which an enemy is defeated and acknowledges it - the aim being that he will come to feel that he cannot go on being what he has been." That moment is reached when an enemy is rendered incapable of and unwilling to continue the conflict; only then can an enemy's terror apparatus be dismantled (as was the case of the Tamil Tigers in Sri Lanka and the FARC in Columbia); its leadership replaced, its capacity to wage further war eliminated; its weapons seized; its militias hunted down; its propaganda machine terminated; its educational system reformed; its human and financial resources channeled into massive social and economic reconstruction, its government and judiciary made transparent, its universities updated, and its population prepared for future of building rather than destroying.. If his historical analysis is correct, neither Israel nor the US will be able to accommodate -- or moderate -- an ideologically-driven enemy, be it Iran or any of its its Middle East proxies whose divinely-inspired mission is to conquer Israel (for starters) and compel its citizens to submit to Islam.
Faced with a choice between annihilation and survival, the Israelis will choose survival. For post-modern children of the Enlightenment, the idea that we would ever have to destroy our enemies to ensure our survival is disturbing. War is neither pleasant nor desirable, but in an environment where a society educates its population virtually from birth to hate Jews and to revere suicide bombers as "martyrs," where Palestinian mothers celebrate the "martyrdom" of their children, name town squares and tournaments after them, and where Palestinians are taught a culture of death in their kindergartens, children's TV programs, textbooks, schools, summer camps, mosques and marketplaces, video games and on the Internet [see www.palwatch.org], war may become necessary to respond to the culture that spawns such officially-sanctioned sadism, as well as violating of the human rights of the child -- about which putative human rights groups have been mystifyingly silent, perhaps from a bias that should merit examination.
In their time, great generals such as Churchill, Eisenhower and Patton were driven by a concept rarely heard or spoken of these days by Western powers, although referred to incessantly by our enemies: Victory. During World War II, these leaders understood that it would be impossible to end Japanese militarism in the Far East and to dismantle the Hitler Youth, the Nazi SS, the death camps and the cult of Aryan supremacy without the complete destruction of the Third Reich. Only such destruction permitted the re-birth of a new Germany and Japan -- and even then it took seven years before Adenauer came to power. Today, the belief that genocidal, messianic regimes like Iran or Hamas can be bribed or cajoled into overturning the reasons for their existence flies in the face of history.
Eventually, a point will be reached when Palestinian society will be forced to undergo a profound metamorphosis that will sweep away the culture of "martyrdom" and religiously-inspired genocide and sow the political, social, cultural and economic seeds for a new tomorrow. This will not be achieved by forcing the Israelis to concede Palestinian statehood to terrorists, relinquishing the Golan Heights to Syria, returning the Sheba 'a Farms area to Hezbollah-controlled Lebanon, dividing Jerusalem so that it could be taken overt he next day by a new hostile or failed state, rectifying Israel's borders, or settling on a refugee compensation formula – at least, not at present.
Real peace will be achieved only after the Palestinians have been brought to the realization that their dream of conquering Israel is futile, and that whatever the future holds for them, it will be far better than the war they have brought upon themselves.
The US administration and the Europeans are misguided in believing that there is "no military solution" to the problems caused by Iran, Hamas and Hezbollah throughout the Middle East. Multicultural tolerance, appeasement, concessions, and utopian pacifism do not work well against radical Islamists who seek absolute power.
Conflict-resolution theory taught in our universities and the belief that disagreements between nations are not really the result of evil actions or incompatible worldviews, but simply misunderstandings requiring an analysis of the "root causes" of their "grievances" that can be rectified through dialogue and reason will not resolve the "problem" these Islamists see in Israel's existence. As we saw in Mumbai, Islamists are just as violently affronted when Hindus, Buddhists or Christians exercise sovereignty over Muslim minorities. As Michael Ledeen points out, "Peace cannot be accomplished simply because some visiting envoy, with or without an advanced degree in negotiating from the Harvard Business School, sits everyone down around a table so they can all reason together." Unfortunately, in the case of radical Islamists, these are actions best taken after causing them to soberly assessing that their current methods will not gain them anything.
If the Palestinians choose to abrogate their side of international treaties with Israel, this act simply liberates Israel to abrogates its side.
Israel might then re-occupy significant areas of the West Bank with impunity and return to its pre-Oslo administration -- permitting Palestinian society to be re-structured and rebuilt under a new generation of moderate Palestinian leaders.
In Lebanon, breaking the power of Hezbollah would permit the Lebanese army and Lebanese government to regain control of their country, an act that would pave the way for a restoration of the democratic Cedar Revolution that was quashed by Syria and Hezbollah under Iranian tutelage.
The Palestinians could eventually learn to reject violence as both politically ineffective and morally wrong, although that level of understanding may take decades to evolve. One thing is certain - only a society freed from the mental illness that now controls it can evolve into a proper state that can take its rightful place in the family of nations. The imaginary rewards of "martyrdom" -- an act never performed by the children of leaders or dispatchers -- and the aggression that epitomizes Hamas and Hezbollah must be defeated. Anything short of this merely prolongs the conflict; delays reconstruction; sows the seeds for future conflict, and renders peaceful Middle East impossible.