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The peace-meal approach

“Our position is clear. We insist all aggressive military actions against the Palestinian people in the Gaza Strip stop, we demand all the troops be pulled back, the lifting of the siege and the opening of all crossings, with Rafah first. This is the basic equation. This is our position and we hope the Egyptians will have a positive message. Israel has found that it cannot eliminate the resistance. Israel cannot stop the rocket fire, even after 10 days of aerial assaults, navy fire and attacks on the ground – the rocket fire has not stopped. On the contrary, the resistance is now targeting strategic places in Israel.”

This is what Osama Hamdan, a Hamas spokesperson, speaking from Lebanon, told al-Jazeera, according to Ynet News.

So, given that Hamas, the democratically elected and popularly mandated government of Gaza – as we are constantly reminded – is not seeking a ceasefire with Israel and, on the contrary, is threatening both to continue firing rockets and to seek other strategic targets, why should Israel call off it’s military campaign?

Hamas’s hostile intentions towards Israel were not a secret when they were apparently, we are told, selected to lead in a transparent and democratic fashion by the people of Gaza.  The conflict we are watching unfold is a consequence of that decision. Of all the voices calling for a ceasefire, the leadership of Gaza is not one of them. On the contrary, they are taunting the Israelis towards greater violence. News reports ceaselessy report that Israel is rejecting calls for a ceasefire, but rarely do they mention the fact that so is Hamas!

I find it astounding then that people who claim to have the best interests of the people of Gaza at heart simultaneously defend and promote  Hamas.

Those who march for “peace” should reflect on two things. Firstly, where were you when Hamas thumbed its nose up at threats of Israeli retaliation to its constant rocket barrage? Did you give them moral aid and comfort or did you seek to promote peace then? Secondly, are you not shocked and horrified that you are calling for peace on behalf of a group who categorically reject that call themselves?

Who in the “peace movement” sought to persuade Hamas that their grievances – the security wall and the blockade – were all in place because of their attempts to bomb Israelis and could thus likely be addressed if they stopped bombing? None, I’d guess, because it’s easier to chant slogans about the “apartheid wall” than to acknowledge that Israelis had a genuine fear of suicide bombers. When rockets are not raining down on your cities, it’s easy to ignore and dismiss, isn’t it?

The failure of the suddenly mobilised “peace movement” has been a failure to acknowledge that Israelhas legitimate concerns over the safety of its citizens. Perhaps because it looks cool and radical, it has instead bigged-up Hamas, a thuggish group of clerical fascists, and in consequence has amplified the fears of the Israelis, not diminished them. And thus, it has made war inevitable.

There has been speculation – reasonable, in my view – that Hamas actually relish the death and destruction. They perceive this a victory in a propaganda war fought in the arena of public opinion. That is why they incite more violence. Sane and moral people are always saddened and horrified by the death of civilians. I hope therefore that those in the PSC and the StWC who wave flags for Hamas are not colluding in their sick strategy. I hope the tears they shed for the innocent are real and not crocodile tears.

I hope that is the case. But I regret that I am not persuaded. The call for “peace” – it seems to me – is just another cynical tool used by people who actually have little committment to it. It is deployed strategically but its damage is collatoral and just as deadly.