Hamas is “objectively even if not subjectively” the best friend of the Israeli settlers, right-wing Israeli extremists, and the Netanyahu government. Hamas leaders know very well that their bombs are not getting through Israel’s missile shield. There is no possible military advantage to continuing these futile attempts to rectify the imbalance in casualties between the 200 Palestinians already killed by Israeli attacks and the one Israeli killed by Hamas shells. But the extremists in Hamas, like the rogue band of criminals who murdered three Israeli youth, have succeeded in their goal: to create fear among Israelis that leads them to rally to those racists who wish to punish the entire Palestinian people for the actions of a few. Such reactionaries wish to thereby “prove” to the Palestinian people that there is no possibility of peace with Israel and to discredit the strategy of the Palestinian Authority that has renounced violence for the past 8 years.
Still, the Palestinian Authority achieves little in the way of independence and dignity for all its efforts at negotiations with Netanyahu. Hamas’ actions, particularly its bombings of Israeli civilian targets, are as unethical and outrageous as the human rights violations carried out by Israel in its bombings of Gaza that have caused widespread death and injuries, even while Israel’s seven-year blockade of Gaza leaves the Gazans, most of whom have never endorsed Hamas’ policies, without the medical supplies necessary to heal the wounded.
The message to Hamas from Spiritual Progressives is this: Stop the attempts to bomb Israel. These acts are immoral, ineffective, and counter-productive toward the only legitimate goal: peace and openhearted reconciliation among the people of the region.
Yes, I know that Israel’s policies over the past three decades have set all this up. We at Tikkun have been consistent critics of Israel’s Occupation of the West Bank, its blockade of Gaza, and its talking of peace while building more and more settlements thereby “creating facts” on the ground that make it harder and harder for there to be a place for an independent Palestinian state. We criticize Israel’s violation of the dignity and human rights of the Palestinian people. Israel could change all this by adopting humane policies toward the West Bank and Gaza. Instead, its recent actions terrorizing the Palestinian population gives Hamas the support it needs. But the Israeli government is more concerned to destroy the alliance between the Palestinian Authority and Hamas than to provide a reasonable life for Palestinians. So the tragedy continues and Israelis and Palestinians both suffer.
This is not to minimize the pain of Israelis—rushing to shelters to avoid missiles that are thankfully being intercepted. If such attacks were to happen in the U.S., the result would be a right-wing triumph even worse than the one after 9/11. Netanyahu’s recent statement essentially confirming that he will never accept an independent Palestinian state show how foolish the U.S.’s calls for “more negotiations” are, because the U.S. just adds fuel to the fire by simultaneously asserting that it supports Israel’s right to defend itself when in danger. Israel’s legitimate fear of ISIS, Iran, and fundamentalist forces in the Middle East, does not excuse the state from confronting those of us who argue that the strategy of “power over” is not one that will strengthen Israel in the long run—it will weaken it. It is a strategy of generosity of spirit and generosity of action that could undermine the emerging anti-Israel coalition.
But that is exactly what Hamas seeks to head off, because Hamas wants to encourage those forces in Israel that will, through their repressive actions toward Palestinians, convince much of the rest of the world that Israel is an evil force that must be eliminated. In the short run, Hamas’ goal is to weaken the Palestinian Authority and to emerge as the champion of Palestinian suffering at the hands of Israel’s immoral policies toward the Palestinian people. Hamas’s demands all seem quite reasonable to most Palestinians, and really make sense: free the newly arrested Palestinians who were doing nothing but sitting in their homes when Israeli troops invaded looking for the three kidnapped Israeli teens (a complete sham since the Israeli top leadership knew that those teens had already been murdered the very night they were kidnapped), stop the blockade of Gaza and allow Gazans access to the Mediterranean sea for fishing purposes, and end the targeted assassinations of Palestinians and the drone strikes that have caused an average of 2-3 children to die every week for the past eight years (something that most Israelis and most Americans don’t know or can’t grasp). This form of state terrorism is either ignored or excused away by many Israelis and by the media and therefore most people have no idea of how awful it is for Palestinians to live under these conditions.
Of course, the only real solution is a peace agreement. We at Tikkun have already outlined the terms of that agreement, and they are described more fully in Embracing Israel/Palestine.