The real intransigent barrier to Mid-East peace

By John Torode, February 24, 2011
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Tyrants tumble. Repressive regimes are rocked by people power. Who could fail to be impressed by the calm control, determination and dignity of the Tahir Square protestors? Or the sheer courage of the hundreds dying while defying Gaddafi.

As I write, we have seen no demonstrators in any Arab city burning Israeli flags or waving obnoxious Der Stürmer-style cartoons of Jews with swastika armbands, waving dollar bills while trampling on gallant little Palestinians.

The new Middle-East regimes may well turn out to be running rough-and-ready populist democracies, but the primary aim of any such democracy should surely be freedom and prosperity at home and not a futile preoccupation with wiping Israel from the map. Even the Muslim Brotherhood has said it supports Egypt's international obligations - code for maintaining existing diplomatic ties with Israel.

Some optimistic analysts claim WikiLeak revelations point to a new realism among Palestinians, too, citing the bold concessions shown, in the Palestine Papers, to have been floated by the Palestinian Authority in secret negotiations with the Israeli government.

Hamas’s one-state solution is not the idealistic one of Arabs and Jews living together

So dare we now look forward to the legendary two-state solution being realised? To a secure and fully recognised Israel, living in peace in a reborn Middle East, alongside a stable, democratic and moderate Palestine?

I fear not - for one reason: Hamas. This Islamo-fascist body that describes itself as a branch of the Muslim Brotherhood and rules Gaza, loathes the PA and will exercise a veto on any peace deal. Hamas remains resolutely more concerned with hatred of Israel - and Jews in general - than with the Palestinians' peace and prosperity.

If you want to know what Hamas stands for, you have only to look on the net. There, you can find the full text of the organisation's Covenant or Founding Charter of August 18, 1988, to which its members always point by way of explanation for its policies.

It is 10,000 words long and a bit of a slog, especially in the official, flowery and rhetorical Hamas translation. The Founding Charter is the Mein Kampf of Hamas, and is just as paranoid, poisonous, murderously antisemitic - and brutally frank -as Hitler's original version.

Many decent, intelligent, liberal-minded people - including a surprising number of German Jews - refused to accept that Hitler was saying in Mein Kampf exactly what he meant. The world, and European Jewry in particular, paid a hell of a price for such naïve optimism.

The central message of the Hamas Charter is that the whole of Palestine (including Israel) must be "an Islamic waqf until Judgment Day". No part of it should be given up and violence is the only way to reclaim the land lost to Zionism: "There is no solution except the Jihad. Initiatives, proposals and international conferences are all a waste of time and vain endeavour".

Hamas's one-state solution is not the idealistic one of Arabs and Jews living together. It cites approvingly a notorious verse of the Prophet that says the Jews will hide behind rocks and trees, which will cry out: "Oh Muslims, come and kill the Jews". The Charter appears to regard this as an invitation to genocide.

It also treats that classic forgery and long discredited garbage about a "Jewish plot" to take over the world, The Protocols of the Elders of Zion, as literal truth. Hamas concludes from the Protocols that the Jews, using such front organisations as Rotary clubs and Freemasons, run "the global drugs and alcohol trades". This has allowed them to take "control of the world media, the news agencies, the press, publishing houses and broadcasting stations".

Oh, and it seems that Jews were behind the French and Russian Revolutions, organised both World Wars, and then set up the United Nations to enable them to rule the world. "Today, it is Palestine, tomorrow it will be one country or another. The Zionist plan is limitless". You would laugh at such gibberish, if you didn't want to cry.

The bien-pensants tell us that Hamas, like the rest of the Arab world, is evolving; that it is now thoroughly pragmatic. And, despite their public declarations, its members probably don't take the Charter literally. In any case, many liberal commentators will protest, Hamas's excesses are merely inevitable responses to Israeli "intransigence" and "brutality".

In which case, here is a challenge for Tony Blair, the international community's under-employed Middle East peace envoy. When Blair took over the leadership of the Labour Party, he decided the party was unelectable as long as it retained Clause 4 of its constitution (the one that pledged Labour to nationalise the entire "means of production, distribution and exchange") and so he dumped it.

If Blair can work the same magic on Hamas, and get its leaders to disown its dangerous and demented Founding Charter and endorse negotiations leading to a genuine two-state solution, I would be prepared to give them a chance. Until that happy day, I wouldn't give them an inch.

John Torode is a political and diplomatic journalist

    Last updated: 10:27am, February 24 2011