The Hamas Challenge to Israel

Note: This article has been adapted from a presentation made by the author before the 4th International Conference against  the Occupations, in March, 2006, in Cairo.

By William A. Cook

“Great is truth, but still greater … is silence about truth.” – (Aldous Huxley)

Huxley captures in that observation the power that comes to those who control  truth, what will be made manifest to the people and what will be withheld; silence about truth corrodes knowledge, fosters ignorance, and enslaves the minds of the masses to the will of the dominant elite. Next to wanton slaughter, no sin against humanity is more evil. In my lifetime, from the Second World War to the present, the erosion of knowledge by controlled truth, by omission, by deceit, by bigotry, by racism, by intentional, calculated and absolute monopoly of the primary modes of communication to foster the goals of a dominant elite, resident predominantly in the United States and Israel, has metastasized like a cancer, spread, and now threatens to destroy a major portion of the mid-east even as it destroys the very blood cells that have given life to the principles of Democracy in America.

As a citizen and victim of this malignancy I must stand against my government, condemn it for its invasion of Iraq and its support of the corrosive evil perpetrated by Israel on the Palestinian people. I have spent these past six years chronicling the deception that has brought America shame throughout the world and bundled my condemnation in a book, Tracking Deception: Bush Mid-East Policy.  

“Injustice anywhere,” Martin Luther King intoned, “is a threat to justice everywhere.”

Apply this statement to the conditions existing in Israel as it occupies and oppresses the Palestinian people. These past a few years, Sharon left a legacy of humiliation, torture, powerlessness, and fear on the population living under the boots of Israel’s IOF. He began by mocking their faith as he marched into the al Aqsa Mosque with 1000 troops in September of 2000; he stole their land and placed squatters in illegal cities and settlements throughout the West Bank and Gaza; he subjugated Palestinians to incessant harassment by establishing over 200 military checkpoints on their land; he issued prison lock downs incarcerating the people in their homes for weeks on end; he demolished homes at will and without warning forcing thousands into the streets, killing many in the process; he instituted extra-judicial executions resulting in hundreds of assassinations of Palestinians denying them in the process due rights under democratic and international law; he imprisoned and his government continues to imprison without charge over 8000 men and women; he constructed a hideous wall that incarcerates an entire people in the greatest open air prison ever devised by a racist mentality; and he accepted as members of his government, racist fanatics who have declared their right to harm and kill Palestinians and a right to drive them from their land.

Is it any wonder that the Palestinians voted Hamas into office overwhelmingly as the expression of their will to show that “Oppressed people cannot remain oppressed forever”?  Sharon ridiculed the Palestinians by “making irrelevant” their elected officials, by bulldozing down their state offices, by assassinating their leaders at will. He built an Israeli state with borders unilaterally declared taking whatever land he wished to take. He attempted to divide the Palestinians by creating divisions between the PLO and Hamas. But the Palestinians have defied him and his mercenary army that is paid to occupy and subdue the indigenous people of Palestine by democratically electing the one group that demands that the people of Palestine be accorded respect, personal and political rights, and justice.

Russia’s Defense Minister, Sergei Ivanov, when asked to renounce Hamas, stated the reality that the West has created by seeking democracy in the mid-east, “at the end of the day, the whole world will talk with Hamas.” (Aruz Sheva-Israel National News, 2/12/06). That statement recognizes what America and Israel do not wish to face: the Palestinian people have taken the boldest initiative to date against their nemesis by peacefully, without violence or terrorism, electing a government that will demand that the legitimate rights of the Palestinians be granted and that the illegal occupation be ended.           

In short, the Palestinians have opened a door to quiet revolution by electing into office an organization free of corruption and prior commitments to Israel and the United States as the one hope that their voice might reach the people of the world who have been locked out of contact by the controlling hand of Israel’s IDF that commands Palestinian air space, water access, and land routes through a humiliating network of ID cards, cattle like corrals, colored license plates, cement Walls guarded by armed military in watch towers, electronic chain link fencing that prevents access to Palestinian farms, olive groves, schools, and mosques, and over 217 checkpoints situated throughout Palestinian land. Even as they lock in the Palestinians, the Israelis have locked out the world so that injustice remains invisible to all.

Shouldn’t it be clear by now that Israel had and continues to have designs to confiscate as much Palestinian land as possible as it erases the visible presence of the indigenous people from the hills and valleys of Palestine.

Shouldn’t it be clear by now, today, that Israel and its obedient partner in war crime, the United States, has no intentions of seeking peace with the Palestinians? How else maintain an unending war of terror? How else fuel division, hatred, vengeance, retaliation and destruction than to systematically strangle by slow, insidious suffocation the rights of a people declared openly in a mutually accepted Universal Declaration of Human Rights? How else continue expansion and acquisition of another’s land than to foster violence with violence and cry aloud to the world your pain even as the cries and torment of the Palestinians are muffled behind the Wall of Fear Sharon leaves as his memorial to a lifetime of savagery and death?

Now, as this monstrous monument to human depravity encircles the Palestinians, as it lumbers over hills, slithers into barren valleys, slices its way through groves and fields of fruit and vegetables, cuts towns in two, indeed, cuts families apart, deprives children of access to their schools and families from their mosques, as it steals 60% of the agricultural land of the citizens of Bil’in and other villages and forces farmers in Jayyous to walk for hours to get to their olive trees, it also serves to protect the illegal squatters that live in American subsidized homes curried with lush grounds and foliage. This 400 miles of fear, stretched around the Palestinians like a taut steel belt constricting their every move, breeds the very seeds of vengeance that make peace impossible, not only because it suffocates the spirit that through hope gives purpose to life, but because it strangles the moral fiber of the Jewish faith, that grew so strong from the middle of the last century it became a code of conduct, by inflicting on another what their forebears suffered so ignominiously at the hands of the Nazis. Both peoples are forced into a nadir of destructive action creating in that wake a vortex of anguish that engulfs the world.

Let it be said loud and clear, Israel alone can bring peace to the mid-east. Despite its protestations to the contrary, Israel exists as a major military force in the world, a silent member of the nuclear club, the only such in the mid-east. Yet it cries wolf to the world that Hamas threatens its existence even as Hamas stands imprisoned behind Israeli walls unable to leave by land, sea or air without Israeli IDF approval, unable to receive goods of any kind, including weapons of consequence with which to face the third largest military in the world. Thus does the oppressor become the victim.

That is the reality in Palestine and it has forced the people to elect an organization that has no obligations to the Israeli government or to the United States, only to them. They have nothing to lose but everything to gain. The United States extolled the virtues of democracy, the right of a people to choose their own government, especially in the mid-east, and they responded in a manner that puts the elections of 2000 and 2004 in this country to shame only to find that Bush didn’t mean what he said nor did its erstwhile partner in democracy in the mid-east, Israel.

But this election is a victory for the Palestinian people; it is the catapult that can breach the Walls of the Israeli prison which has silenced the Palestinians so completely.  And that reality Israel fears more than any army or terrorism Hamas can field against them; indeed, the continuation of terrorism benefits Israel because it supports their arguments for further lock downs and imprisonment and house demolitions and land confiscation. But if Hamas can invite Putin and Chirac and Chavez and diplomats from around the world to Ramallah, if the TV cameras arrive to put before the world the tangible humiliation that wraps the Palestinian people in the infectious disease of Israeli dominance in every facet of their day to day existence, then, perhaps, the devastating silence of truth, the absolute muffling of their voice, the solitary confinement imposed by Israel on an entire people locked behind Walls of cement and steel, prevented from speaking out against this intolerable and illegal imprisonment, will be broken and the truth revealed to all the world.

That is what Israel and the Bush administration fear, the truth that exposes their lies — their absolute disregard for international law, their defiance of all UN resolutions, their theft of another people’s land, the illegal imprisonment of 8000 without charge, the abandonment of due justice before the courts, the infliction of hundreds of military check points throughout the West Bank, the acres upon acres of demolished homes, the collective punishment that Israel imposes on the Palestinian people by the stealing of land, the destruction of their fields and produce, and by torture. This Israel rightly fears. This disassembling of their total control of what the world sees will be the battering ram that destroys the deceit that has made Hamas the fearsome enemy that can bring devastation to Israel and its people.

When this Wall of silence is breached, when the truth is made manifest, what the world will see and what Jews around the world will see, is that Sharon has destroyed the moral fiber of Judaism. What Jews suffered under the boots of Nazi Germany — the humiliation, torture, powerlessness, and fear – impressed on them by a racist nation arrogant in their superiority, the Israelis now inflict on the hapless people of Palestine.

This silence, built like the four hundred miles of cement forms, barbed wire and steel that entombs the Palestinians as though it stood an eloquent testimonial of racism run rampant, Sharon’s epitaph for his life of crime, begins now to unravel as the lies and deceit fall away and the sun’s light rises above the debris left in its wake. The Palestinian quiet revolution, the election of a government by the people, of the people, and for the people, has the potential to let the sun shine in and open the door to peace, if only the world would treat that government with the respect it deserves. And that brings us back to the Israeli election this month, an election that can force its new government to move ineluctably toward real peace or to continue the violence that comes with spreading fear.

Hamas can force Israel and the United States to sue for peace by presenting to the United Nations a “The People’s Plan for Peace in Palestine.” Call Israel’s bluff; force truth into the open; make the reality on the ground evident to the people of the world; present the United Nations with its own Resolutions, actions already determined to have validity — Resolutions 181, 198, 242, 252, 338, 446, 465, 471, 799, 1405, 1435, 1544 – resolutions stretching as far back as 1947, resolutions requiring Israel to accept right of return, to respect international humanitarian rights, to return land stolen in the wars, to affirm the 4th Geneva Convention against deportation of civilians, to cease construction of the illegal settlements, to stop demolition of homes and all collective punishment, to cease their illegal change in the legal status of Jerusalem, to stop the illegal assassination of Palestinians, to accept the existence of a Palestinian state and the borders that have been determined by the UN.

Offer the United Nations a People’s Plan for Peace similar in kind to the one suggested here:

The Hamas Challenge to Israel and the World for Peace in Palestine:

“Step 1. We declare open the gates of Palestine to all governments of good will that they may visit the land we own as mandated by the United Nations and referenced in Resolutions 181 and 242. We open these gates for the next six months in hopes that the people of the world, through their governmental representatives, would come to Palestine to see for themselves the conditions imposed upon us by the occupation, to record what they see via TV cameras and reporters, and spread the truth of the occupation to all the world.
 
We make this offer in full understanding of the conditions that incarcerate us behind the illegal Wall of Fear erected by Ariel Sharon and condemned by the International Court of Justice. But the issue is one that the world must confront: does the state of Israel defy the United Nations and its Resolutions and prevent the leaders of the world from visiting a democratically elected government of the people of Palestine or must the state of Israel conform to the desires of that international body, admit delegates from around the world, and comply with UN resolutions?
 
We, the people of Palestine, wish the world to see what we see every day: we wish them to travel the back roads of Palestine, to confront the road blocks bulldozed there by the IDF, to wait for hours in the boiling sun at 100s of checkpoints guarded by armed IDF soldiers, to stand like cattle in chained linked fencing to pass to Jerusalem, to stand on a hill side in Jayyous to see the hideous wall slink across our land as it winds its way to encircle and protect the stolen land of the settlers, to see the impoverishment it places on the farmers and families and children that must walk for hours to get to a mosque or a school or a family home when it stands just a hundred yards away, to witness the thousands of homes demolished by the collective punishment policies of the Israeli government, to stand, perhaps, a bystander as the IDF unleashes an F-16 missile into a crowded street to kill, to murder a person that has not been brought to trial, had no attorney present to protect his rights, but judged and executed by the will of one man by the barbarous policy of extrajudicial execution otherwise known as assassination, to walk beneath the canopy of garbage hurled at our people as they make their way to enter the Al-Ibrahim Mosque in Hebron where one must go through a series of Israeli armed gates to pray to our God; let all experience what we experience and make it visible to all the world.   

Step 2. We ask the leaders of all nations of good will to judge Palestine’s situation on the basis of the United Nations Charter, its Conventions against Torture and Genocide, and the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. Having traveled the length and breadth of the West Bank and Gaza, we ask that you return to the United Nations and place your findings before that community of nations to judge whether or not that body should accept the recommendations for peace that we propose.
 
We ask that the United Nations present before its assembled body an interim process to oversee the creation of a Palestinian State, the nature of which is presented below for consideration and adoption, yet to be modified or altered in accordance with the experience and investigation that the nation states that visited Palestine might suggest. Peace in Palestine can be a reality within a year should all of good will desire it. This interim period would be under the guidance and control of the Peace Keeping Forces of the United Nations that would replace the forces of Israel on all land belonging to Palestine.

Step 3. We offer to the nations of the world a government of the Palestinian people that will ensure a period of sustained peace that they may visit our country without fear, assuming that Israel will allow them to enter our prison or face the wrath of the world that must wonder what Israel has to fear should it refuse to open the prison gates. We offer to the governments of the world a visit that will provide as adequate accommodations as we can, with such comfort as is possible in the West Bank and Gaza, but a visit of human comfort and kindness provided by the Palestinian people who will welcome you to their country with open arms.
 
Step 4. These provisions will constitute the Palestinian Peace Process:
 
A. The proposed state of Palestine will encompass that land proposed by the UN in 1947 in Resolution 181 with all of its natural resources in tact.
 
B. The new state of Palestine will recognize the state of Israel as it will exist on the 55% of Palestine proposed for it by the UN in 1947 if the state of Israel recognizes the state of Palestine.

C. The United Nations will mandate the unalienable “Right of Return” to all Palestinians driven from their homes in 1947/48 and in the 1967 war in
accordance  with International Law,  and/or  make arrangements for these people to be compensated for the loss of their homes and the intervening pain and suffering they have endured.
 
D. The Wall erected by Ariel Sharon will be torn down and the land restored to its former state and returned to its rightful owners.
 
E. The state of Palestine will have no standing army as it is a people of peace, but on condition that Israel will sign the Non-proliferation Agreement and rid itself of its nuclear weapons and conform to all provisions of the United Nations Charter, especially those that require respect for neighboring states.

We present this plan for peace before the entire world that all may know the Palestinian people are of good heart, good intentions, and seek nothing that is not our due under international law and already determined as such by the United Nations.”

Should Hamas present such a challenge to Israel and the world, it will be incumbent on all of us here, and all of our associates around the world in every country in the mid-east, in Asia, in Europe, and, yes, in America, to go before their representatives in their respective Parliaments and Congresses, and to their United Nation’s Representatives to accept this challenge to bring peace to the mid-east. Hamas will offer what the United Nations has determined to be just; who can object? Only Israel and the United States. 
 
It is the sower of peace and prosperity not the sower of discord and deceit that assures the harvest; it is in trust and tolerance not accusation and anger that accord can be reached; it is in recognition of right and justice for all not fanatical beliefs for those initiated that renders peace possible. That is the choice the Israelis bring to the election booth this month, and their choice will usher in a day of calm for all the world, or a day of chaos.
 
-William A. Cook is a professor of English at the University of La Verne in southern California and author of Tracking Deception: Bush’s Mideast Policy. He contributed this article to PalestineChronicle.com. He can be reached at: cookb@ulv.edu.

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