Last week, I attended a talk given by Gershom Gorenberg, who authored the nuanced and well-written “Accidental Empire,” a history of Israeli settlements following the Six-Day War. I am sorry that I cannot say as much for his talk. Like many on the Zionist left, Gorenberg blames the current political impasse entirely on the settlement movement and the Netanyahu government. I am not commenting on these views, as the settlements are a complex issue the Israeli people need to resolve without interference from the outside. Rather, I disagree with his dismissive comments regarding the threat Hamas and its allies pose to the peace process, a viable Palestinian state, and the existence of the State of Israel.
Gorenberg proposed that, under the right conditions, Hamas might make peace as part of a united Palestinian government. Ironically, two days later, a Hamas leader was quoted as saying Hamas might agree to a “temporary truce” but will never recognize Israel, and any Palestinian state would be only the first step to Israel’s destruction. Other Hamas leaders have made similar statements often. Last year, on “Nakba” day (a.k.a. Israeli Independence Day) Hamas head Ismail Haniyeh stated: “Palestinians mark the occasion this year with great hope of bringing to an end the Zionist project in Palestine.”
Hamas doesn’t just talk the talk. Its “fighters” murdered hundreds of Israelis, including dozens of children, in numerous suicide bombings, stabbings and shootings. Hamas bombarded southwestern Israel with thousands of rockets, killing several Israelis and severely disrupting daily life in the region.
I respect the fact that Gorenberg, who lives in Israel, has the moral right to decide what policies his country should take in order to best serve the interests of its people, whereas we who live here do not. Nor did I disagree with him entirely.
His ignoring or dismissing the genocidal goals and actions of the Hamas camp is not a “policy,” but wishful thinking that only increases the risks Israelis continue to face. In light of the above, I fail to see how Gorenberg or anyone else can suggest peace is remotely possible as long as the Hamas camp continues to wield power and influence among the Palestinians, regardless of what is done about the settlements.