PROFESSORS PUSH ISRAEL TO NEGOTIATE WITH HAMAS
By Janet Doerflinger
Among these Professors, are the following:
Fawaz Gerges (Sarah Lawrence College and the London School of Economics), who claims -- against all evidence -- that Hamas has become more moderate. He argues that engaging Hamas would encourage it to continue to moderate, and strengthen moderates in the Palestinian territories and throughout the region. Gerges agrees with Khalidi that there can be no viable, lasting peace while Hamas is excluded from the process and the Palestinians are divided.
Augustus Richard Norton (Boston University) and Sara Roy (Harvard University), who, in a joint op-ed, also argue that Hamas has moderated. They oppose the policy begun under former U.S. President George W. Bush of favoring the Palestinian Authority, while isolating and penalizing Hamas, to encourage Palestinians to choose the moderate path.
Ian Lustik (University of Pennsylvania), who believes Israel can have peace with Hamas, even without difficult final status negotiations, by simply accepting a 20 to 30-year hudna, or ceasefire, which he says Hamas has offered.
Lawrence Davidson (West Chester University), who seconds the notion of a longterm hudna and explains Israel's failure to accept Hamas's olive branches resulting from what he calls an Israeli mindset that "favors endless war."
John Esposito, Director of Georgetown University's Prince Alwaleed bin Talal Center for Muslim-Christian Understanding, who advocates treating Hamas, Israel, and the Palestinian Authority evenhandedly and pressuring Israel to enhance America's popularity among Muslims.
These strategies are ill-advised. Hamas has shown no proclivity to recognizing Israel's right to exist or to abiding by previous cease-fires. They are, after all, terrorists who specialize in killing innocent civilians. Their corrupt, brutal rule in Gaza reveals their true nature far more than any apologias from their academic defenders.
Moreover, the Middle East Studies establishment has, for years, held Israel to significantly higher standards of conduct than neighboring Arab states. Amidst their constant criticisms of Israeli policy and society, one hears precious little about the brutality of Arab regimes, the treatment of women in traditional Muslim societies, or other social pathologies common in the region. With such a record, one wonders why Israelis should turn to Middle East Studies Professors for advice and counsel on what is, for Israel, an existential question: trusting those sworn to killing Israelis and undermining the State of Israel.
This advice, if followed, would weaken Israel in two important ways. First, negotiating with terrorists is generally a bad idea because it legitimizes them and weakens the moderates. Engagement convinces the terrorists that their target state is weak, that terrorism is a successful tactic, and that additional terrorist acts will achieve their goals. In this sense, negotiation encourages terrorism, unless a terror group has been defeated militarily. Examples of counterproductive negotiations with terrorists include those with the Irish Republican Army (IRA) before its defeat, the Oslo Accords with Yasser Arafat, and those in Fallujah, Iraq, following the April, 2004 siege.
The desire to engage with terrorists betrays a failure to understand either the terrorists or civilized society. It asks the negotiators to overlook the terrorists' convictions, delude themselves into thinking that terrorists are more like them than they, in fact, are, and blinds the negotiators to their own weaknesses. As Middle East analyst Lee Smith observed, in the Mideast, diplomacy is usually an instrument of warfare used to stall, exact concessions, or confuse the other side.
All these Professors are united by their failure to recognize (or admit) the true nature and goals of Hamas, a militant Islamist terror organization dedicated to killing Jews and ending Jewish sovereignty and self-determination in the Middle East. Nor do they acknowledge that Israel is a constitutional democracy whose exemplary human rights record is all the more extraordinary, since it constantly needs to battle the aggression of its neighbors. Urging Israel to hold peace talks with Hamas is yet another example of the poor foreign policy prescriptions that result from the distorted viewpoint that is, unfortunately, so prevalent today among the Middle East Studies faculties of our colleges and universities.
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Janet Doerflinger is a writer whose interests include public affairs and foreign policy. This essay was written for Campus Watch, a program of the Middle East Forum.
The foregoing article by Janet Doerflinger was originally published in American Thinker, February 6, 2011, and can be found on the Internet website maintained by the Middle East Forum, a foreign policy think tank which seeks to define and promote American interests in the Middle East, defining U.S. interests to include fighting radical Islam, working for Palestinian Arab acceptance of the State of Israel, improving the management of U.S. efforts to promote constitutional democracy in the Middle East, reducing America's energy dependence on the Middle East, more robustly asserting U.S. interests vis-à-vis Saudi Arabia, and countering the Iranian threat. (URL: http://www.meforum.org//2829/hamas- professors)
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