POSTED RESPONSE TO A COLUMN BY PETRA MARQUARDT-BIGMAN IN THE GUARDIAN
Petra Marquardt-Bigman is baldly dishonest here.
Her accusations towards liberal-minded critics as supporters or friends of Hamas sound scripted by some bitter, hateful (see his past quotes on Palestinians) Israel-firster like Netanyahu.
Her shameful words are just an inverted way of calling Israel's legitimate critics anti-Semites.
Because people like myself call for discussion, respect, and peace with Hamas certainly does not mean that we are "friends" of Hamas.
The accusation is absurd on its face because so many critics of Israel’s brutal policies are secular humanist types who are the last to look favorably upon religious fundamentalists. But truth has never been a barrier to speaking for people like Ms Marquardt-Bigman. I cannot remember the last time I heard an Israeli politician or spokesperson who said something true, other than a small number of brave individuals like Uri Avnery.
Hamas represents true feelings and thoughts of many, many Palestinians, and it was elected far more cleanly than George Bush in either of his "elections."
Indeed, it is a fact that a better, more lasting and meaningful peace could be negotiated with someone honest like Hamas than with Arafat’s pathetic party. People who don’t like each other live in civil, law-abiding arrangements all over the world, but Israel simply asserts that it cannot do so and is entitled to destroy those it calls enemies.
Israel, always loudly tooting its own horn about being the Mideast's only democracy, not only refuses to talk to Hamas officials, it has illegally arrested a major portion of its elected government and threatens to assassinate its leader. This breaks countless international laws and practices. It is not for nothing that a former prime minister of Israel said that if he were a Palestinian he would be a terrorist.
But Hamas is not even a genuine terrorist organization – the vast majority of its ast efforts are in other directions, overwhelmingly so, and it has never had even remotely the capacity to seriously hurt Israel. When one considers the long series of terrorist acts that accompanied the founding and expansion of Israel for more than fifty years, even if Hamas were a terrorist organization, there would be nothing odd or inappropriate about dealing with them to make peace.
You cannot change the entire make-up of those you regard as your adversaries. It is a preposterous notion. You must deal with them as they are, not as you wish them to be. Settlements in places like Northern Ireland could never have even begun if the demands of one side paralleled Israel's illogical demands in Palestine.
Israel's position boils down to just this: forget the fact that we keep you caged like animals and treat you constantly with abuse; forget the fact that we keep stealing your property in the West Bank; forget the fact that we hold 9,000 illegal prisoners and practice torture; forget our endless assassinations and state terror tactics; forget the constant humiliations: if you want what Israel calls peace, you must come to us properly abased, humiliate yourself yet again, having made every concession we demand in advance.
And what does Israel call peace? I think we've all got a clear idea from decades of experience including Barak's nightmare vision at Camp David: a walled-off people with no access to the world or even each other which Israel does not control; a people with no secure property rights, indeed with no rights of any kind; a people hated and abused constantly; a people who will vote just the way Israel says they'll vote before you are called democratic; a people excluded by countless apartheid-inspired laws from enjoying what Israelis themselves call life; and a people we trust will just go away eventually because we want their property but not their presence.
Nevertheless, this illogical, inhuman view is the official policy of Israel, clearly supported by Ms Marquardt-Bigman. Only Israel never, never just comes out and says so. It constantly misrepresents its true intent and blubbers about peace and motherhood while burrowing away relentlessly to collapse the homes and lives of those it should regard as neighbors.
And it calls anyone who doesn’t agree ugly names.
We used to all recognize that pattern of behavior: it’s called being an ugly bully.