A reader writes:
The reader who wrote claiming that the enemies of Israel possess no self-interest or sanity is, at the very least, unhinged.
If the Iranian Republic truly believed that wiping Israel off the face of the Earth were "righteous and beautiful", that Israel's destruction was a goal of ultimate primacy before even the lives of the Iranian people, then the Ayatollahs would have made a peace with Saddam Hussein in the 80's and 90's, when he was the most influential supporter of militant Palestinian groups, and marched their combined armies through the contiguous bridge of the Iran-Iraq-Syria alliance to crush the hated Jewish enemy. Instead, the Iranians spent the 80's and 90's vying with Mr. Hussein for regional supremacy, attempting to play Iran's historical role (a role they have played off and on since before monotheism existed) as arbiter of politics and culture in the Fertile Crescent.
If the leaders of Hamas were only concerned with killing Israelis, with training suicide-bombers and sending them out to destroy shopping centers, then they'd dedicate the majority of their funding to that purpose. Instead, they build and operate hospitals, schools, soup kitchens, car pools, cell services, and all the other goods, public and private, that organizations without an explicit military arm would provide for the Palestinians if any building was allowed to stay standing long enough to house them. All those doctors and teachers and cooks and bureaucrats who are part of Hamas must be pretty poor members, failing to murder Israelis everyday as they do; one wonders how some of them ever managed to rise to positions of authority without ever having killed an Israeli at all in an organization only dedicated to military objectives.
Extreme? Yes. Intransigent? Yes. Far too violent and stubborn for their own good, or their people's good? Yes. But willing to watch the Palestinian people destroyed utterly to achieve the destruction of Israel? Indifferent to Palestinian suffering? Hardly. If that were the case, why negotiate cease-fire agreements? Why capture Israeli soldiers explicitly to extract concessions and revenues that they cannot extract from the Israelis at the negotiating table? That organization exists precisely because of Palestinian suffering; it fights specifically to alleviate that suffering, as wrong-headed as that is, but desperation and rage are not known for instilling logic.
And as for the "right to live" line, one could just as easily say that Israel could have peace tomorrow if they recognized a Palestinian right to return. That position is not more politically viable than it would be for Hamas, as the duly elected government of the Palestinian authority, to lay down the gun without a settlement freeze or the territorial concessions needed to make a Palestinian state viable. If Israel cannot even bring itself to give these concessions to the generally peaceful Palestinians of the West Bank; if Israel cannot even bring itself to stop settlements from being built in the West Bank, then what reason could Hamas possibly have for thinking that unilaterally forsaking the fight would lead to a real, respected sovereignty in Gaza?
This claim that Israel's enemies are irrational, blood-thirsty, slavering man-beasts, unable to contain their lust for spilling Jewish blood in the name of Allah is, quite simply, not supported by the behavior of either regime, or of Syria, for that matter, which has always coolly and calmly steered for that course most likely to insure its continued existence and indispensability. If either were indifferent to destruction, so long as Israel were destroyed, then they would have risked global wrath and war striking at Israel and illegal Israeli settlements long ago. Instead of spending decades jockeying for internal or regional supremacy they would have made the deals necessary to press genocide with heedless fanaticism, and would be throwing themselves on the walls of Jerusalem, right this very minute, with hatred in their eyes and paradise on their lips.
Of course this never has, and never will, happen. Israel's enemies aren't monsters anymore than they are caricatures; they are men, despicable men largely, but still men, and with all the concerns and desire to live that comes with that.
And Israel, it should be pointed out, has its own fair share of despicable men, just as intractable, just as hateful of peace as any Hamas bomber or Revolutionary Guard thug. Perhaps it would be easier for Israel if they WERE beasts and the IDF could simply sit atop their walls with flame-throwers and machine guns slaughtering them as they threw themselves at the interloper in a blind rage. But men are patient, and men plan, and in the end, you have to sit down and deal with them or they'll never go away. The longer Israel and the defenders of her most fanatical citizens put that off, the heavier the toll of that final squaring will be.
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