CAN YOU PASS THE HAMAS QUIZ?
(More detailed version)
By Jeffrey Rudolph (June 2010; last update October 2017)
Mainstream media distortion of Hamas is endemic in the US and Canada. In my local newspaper, the Montreal Gazette, one searches in vain for meaningful coverage of the respected Goldstone Report, yet references to Barak’s (mythical) “Generous Offer” persists and ahistorical reporting on Hamas rockets is common.
While one cannot entirely absolve Palestinians for their dire situation, three categorical truths should always be borne in mind to ensure that there is no confusion between victim and victimizer:
Israel is illegally occupying Palestinian land.
Occupied people have the legal right to resist occupation.
Palestinians are the only occupied people to suffer international sanctions (while Israel enjoys significant economic, military and diplomatic support from powerful states).
The following quiz is intended to provide needed context to the inadequate reporting of Hamas in the mainstream media.
THE HAMAS QUIZ
1. Has Hamas ever deliberately attacked an American target?
-No. According to Kenneth Pollack, former CIA analyst, Middle East expert and former National Security Council staffer, “[H]amas…[has] never deliberately attacked American targets. The PLO did…”
Pollack adds that in recent times Palestinian militant groups have all concentrated on Israel and one another and not the US “despite the tremendous levels of anti-Americanism in the region, the popularity that al-Qa’ida has garnered for its attacks on the United States, and the lopsided pro-Israel policies of [American] administration[s]. Consequently, it is difficult to suggest that Palestinian terrorist groups are a direct threat to the United States….[T]hey do not constitute the same kind of threat to American interests as al-Qa’ida and therefore do not merit the same response.” An objective observer is left to conclude that it is Hamas’s independence from the US orbit of control, coupled with the power of the Israel lobby, that engenders relentless US rebukes. (Kenneth M. Pollack, A Path Out of the Desert: A Grand Strategy for America in the Middle East, Random House, New York: 2008, 170.)
-It is wrong to equate Hamas with al-Qaeda or ISIS. “[Hamas] is not fighting for a world-wide Caliphate. It is a Palestinian party, totally devoted to the Palestinian cause….It did not impose religious law (the ‘sharia’) on the population.” Furthermore “there are churches in Gaza [which] Christians attend…freely, [and] there is a seat in the Gazan legislature reserved for a Christian – that’s night and day from the way ISIS treats Christians…”
By participating in elections, “Hamas has offered evidence that it is willing to function in a modern state and a democratic system. It has called for coalition governments inclusive of leftist and secular parties. Its government as well as its parliamentary list included women and its first government included Muslim and Christian ministers….[Its] position towards the Shiites is similar to that towards Christians….[H]amas refuses to denounce Shiites as apostates, and has interacted with them politically. When the relationship with Iran became strained during the Syrian crisis, the disagreement was political rather than doctrinal.” http://www.juancole.com/2016/03/no-mr-netanyahu-hamas-is-not-isil.html
-Hamas does “have a military wing [the al-Qassam Brigades] engaged in armed resistance against the State of Israel, a state that has been ethnically cleansing Palestinians from their indigenous lands…” http://www.truth-out.org/news/item/25362-israel-uses-palestinians-as-human-shields-but-us-lawmakers-condemn-hamas
-It should be obvious that simply killing “terrorists” in, say, Gaza without changing the conditions that produced them is ineffective since new “terrorists” will simply arise. For example, “Israel has assassinated dozens of Arab political and military leaders….What have the results been? Overall – nothing positive. Israel killed Hezbollah leader Abbas al-Moussawi, and got the vastly more intelligent Hassan Nasrallah instead. They killed Hamas founder Sheik Ahmad Yassin, and he was replaced by abler men. [They killed Hamas military leader Ja’abari whose] successor may be less or more able. It will make no great difference.”
“[A] characteristic feature of…interventions [such as the US’s global drone assassination campaign] is the belief that [an] insurgency will be overcome by eliminating its leaders. But when such an effort succeeds, the reviled leader is regularly replaced by someone younger, more determined, more brutal, and more effective. [William Polk’s study of insurgencies, Violent Politics,] gives many examples. Military historian Andrew Cockburn has reviewed American campaigns to kill drug and then terror ‘kingpins’ over a long period in his important study Kill Chain and found the same results.” http://www.tomdispatch.com/post/176138/tomgram%3A_noam_chomsky,_what_principles_rule_the_world/ (10 May 2016)
-For a less detailed version of this quiz, and other quizzes, go to: https://detailedpoliticalquizzes.wordpress.com/
2. True or False: Israel supported Hamas in the past.
-True. “For well over two decades after the occupation of the West Bank and Gaza in 1967, Israel…[supported] the Palestinian branch of the Muslim Brotherhood and its offshoot Hamas in Gaza as a counterweight to the nationalist…(PLO). This reached the point where the Israeli military occupation encouraged Brotherhood thugs to intimidate PLO supporters.” (Rashid Khalidi, The Iron Cage: The Story of the Palestinian Struggle for Statehood, Beacon Press, Boston: 2007, xxviii-xxix.)
According to Anthony Cordesman, respected Middle East analyst for the Center for Strategic Studies, Israel “aided Hamas directly—the Israelis wanted to use it as a counterbalance to the PLO.” (Divide and rule has long been an effective method of colonial domination.)
-In 2007, the US and Israel not only opposed a Palestinian unity government but, in a failed effort to destroy Hamas, “backed an armed force under Fatah strongman Muhammad Dahlan, touching off a bloody civil war in Gaza and leaving Hamas stronger than ever.” When the plot failed, Israel, with the support of the US and Egypt, “imposed a blockade designed not only to prevent Hamas from importing weapons, but to punish Gazans for electing it.” The result was devastation for Gaza’s economy. For example, by “2008, 90 percent of Gaza’s industrial companies had closed.” (It is worth noting that in 2006 Israel rejected Hamas’s public offer of a truce.)
(Peter Beinart, The Crisis of Zionism, Times Books, New York: 2012, 76. Hereinafter, “Beinart 2012.”)
http://www.ynetnews.com/articles/0,7340,L-3537078,00.html (28 April 2008)
“In February 2007, on the brink of [the] civil war, Fatah and Hamas leaders [had] traveled to Mecca, where they agreed to form a national unity government, a deal the United States opposed because it preferred that Fatah continue to isolate Hamas. Fayyad became finance minister in the new government, despite, he said, American pressure not to join. The Peruvian diplomat Alvaro de Soto, who had been the UN envoy to the Quartet, wrote in a confidential ‘End of Mission Report’ that the violence between Hamas and Fatah could have been avoided had the United States not strongly opposed Palestinian reconciliation. ‘The US,’ he wrote, ‘clearly pushed for a confrontation between Fatah and Hamas.’” (Nathan Thrall, The Only Language They Understand: Forcing Compromise in Israel and Palestine, Metropolitan Books, New York: 2017, 117. Hereinafter, “Thrall 2017.”)
“Once Hamas had taken control of Gaza in July 2007, [the blockade left Hamas isolated and destitute]. In this atmosphere, the levels of religiosity and piety inside Gaza increased to the point where Hamas found itself rivaling even more religious groups than itself, namely Salafi, al-Qaeda-oriented Islamists which call for the establishment of an Islamic state with strict and literal application of Sharia rule. Hamas launched massive attacks against them and their followers to the point of almost total obliteration. To justify its position, Hamas used its old standing foster-mother, the Muslim Brotherhood’s view, that it is moderate in its application of Islam and that those Salafi and al-Qaeda groups have deviated from the message of moderation which stands at the heart of Islam, quoting the Qur’anic verse, ‘And so we made you a moderate nation,…’… From such an incident, [observers should] notice the potency of [the French thinker Michel] Foucault’s analysis regarding power and the intrinsic imperatives which it sets in motion, as it becomes an end in itself alongside it being a means to perfect the hegemonic status quo and sustain its grip on power, a practice of domination which Hamas and Fatah follow unabatedly.” (Atef Alshaer, Islam In The Narrative Of Fatah and Hamas; Published in: Narrating Conflict In The Middle East: Discourse, Image And Communications Practices In Lebanon And Palestine, Edited by Dina Matar and Zahera Harb, I.B. Tauris, New York: 2013, 120-1.)
-“Hamas’s [September 2017] offer to submit to a long-delayed reconciliation process with its Fatah rivals signals that the balance of regional forces may be tipping in its favour…Hopes are that a reconciliation will end a decade of bitter feuding between Hamas and Fatah — and a parallel entrenchment of territorial divisions between Gaza and the occupied West Bank.”
“Most analysts expect the reconciliation process to fail, as previous attempts have. The biggest stumbling block is likely to be over long-promised elections. Polls suggest that Hamas would win in both Gaza and the West Bank.”
Egypt supports the talks to “forestall another war” between Israel and Gaza. Egypt fears that such a war could lead to Gazans “storming the Rafah crossing into Egypt” and to greater extremism in the Sinai. (“[H]amas’s revised charter, published in May , had opened the door to further cooperation with Cairo by effectively renouncing the group’s ties to the Muslim Brotherhood.”)
“[H]amas [wants] to extend its rule from Gaza to the West Bank. ‘Then it can negotiate a long-term [truce] with Israel…based on the 1967 borders. It needs Egypt’s help [to accomplish this].’ [As well,] no serious pressure can be exerted on Israel for talks unless Hamas and Fatah reconcile….[However, to solidify its hold on the West Bank, Israel’s] priority [has been] to foil reconciliation and maintain the territorial split between Gaza and the occupied West Bank.”
-Hamas maintains varying degrees of popularity due to Israel. Israel’s actions have shown “Palestinians that nonviolence and mutual recognition are futile….[H]amas’ greatest asset…is not rockets and tunnels. Hamas’ greatest asset is the Palestinian belief that Israel only understands the language of force….The people of Gaza will win [some] relief [after the 2014 ‘war’] not because Salam Fayyad painstakingly built up Palestinian institutions, not because Mahmoud Abbas repeatedly recognized Israel’s right to exist and not because Bassem Tamimi protested nonviolently in partnership with Israelis. Tragically, under this Israeli government, those efforts have brought Palestinians virtually no concessions at all. The people of Gaza will win some relief from the blockade – as they did when the last Gaza war ended [in 2012] – because Hamas launched rockets designed to kill.” http://www.haaretz.com/mobile/.premium-1.609257?v=F2E00FCD55B7B0599D387420A637B393
“In May 2016, the Israeli newspaper Haaretz obtained a leaked copy of a state comptroller’s report on the 2014 war. According to Haaretz’s summary, the audit stated ‘that the Israeli leadership didn’t seriously consider easing the economic restrictions on Gaza, which might have delayed the eruption of the 50-day war in the summer of 2014.’ Yet well before the appearance of the leaked draft, the government appeared to have understood some of its past mistakes: it reversed its refusal to recognize the Palestinian consensus government; retracted its veto over the payment of salaries to Gaza government employees hired by Hamas; permitted limited exports to the West Bank; expanded the quantity and variety of imports to Gaza; and increased the number of Gaza patients and traders allowed to exit the territory.” Accordingly, “the lesson of the 2014 conflict [for Gazans] was…: although a devastating war had brought only limited and meager relaxations of the closure, the benefits of cooperating—indeed, of continuing to provide Israel with the sort of security that its top generals openly praised—were more meager still.” (Thrall 2017, 176-7)
3. Which groups committed the following terrorist acts in Palestine to further nationalist goals during the British Mandate period?
3.1 July 22, 1946: Terrorists blew up the King David Hotel in Jerusalem killing 91 persons.
3.2 December 19, 1947: Terrorists attacked a village near Safad, blowing up two houses, in the ruins of which were found the bodies of 10 persons, including 5 children.
3.3 December 30, 1947: Terrorists attacked the village of Balad al Sheikh, killing more than 60 persons.
3.4 March 3, 1948: Terrorists drove an army truck up to a building in Haifa and escaped before the detonation of 400 pounds of explosives that killed 14 persons and injured 23.
-3.1 The Irgun: Zionist paramilitary group led by future prime minister Menachem Begin. It was classified as a terrorist organization by Israel itself when it became a state in 1948.
-3.2 The Haganah: Jewish paramilitary organization which became the core of the Israel Defense Forces. Members of the Haganah included future prime ministers Yitzhak Rabin and Ariel Sharon.
-3.3 The Palmach: Elite fighting force of the Haganah. (The Palmach’s last operation as an independent unit was against the Irgun. Perhaps right-wing Jews should not be so smug when they hear of fighting between Fatah and Hamas.)
-3.4 The Stern Gang: Radical Zionist paramilitary group that split from the Irgun in 1940. Future Israeli prime minister Yitzhak Shamir was among its leaders.
The “prestate Zionist underground organizations Irgun and Lehi [Stern] executed many suspected Jewish collaborators. They also deliberately bombed crowds of civilians, hid behind their own civilian population, and had maximalist territorial goals. The Irgun and Lehi, the progenitors of Likud, practiced what could be called ‘Judeofascism,’ and, minus the religious fundamentalism, could be compared to Hamas.” http://972mag.com/no-hamas-isnt-isis-isis-isnt-hamas/95957/
-It is not disputed that Hamas has engaged in terrorism — some of it with the clear intention of frustrating peace efforts by other Arab actors. (For example, soon after the 1993 Oslo Agreement signing, Hamas “issued a statement calling the Oslo deal a disgrace and a sellout and urging Palestinians to oppose it. The group, which rejected any compromise with Israel, would devote itself in the coming years to scuttling the reconciliation.” (Dan Ephron, Killing A King: The Assassination of Yitzhak Rabin and the Remaking of Israel, W. W. Norton, New York: 2015, 20.)) However, the relevant point is that now Hamas should be accepted as an important and legitimate Palestinian party.
In December 2014, “A European Union court…removed the Palestinian Islamist group Hamas from its terrorist list…Hamas appealed a 2001 decision by the EU to place it on the list which followed similar actions by the United States and Israel. The EU’s General Court found the decision was ‘based not on acts examined and confirmed in decisions of competent authorities but on factual imputations derived from the press and the internet.’…[According to] Hamas’ lawyer…‘Every decision since 2001 imposing restrictive measures, including on the armed wing, have been annulled….[T]his judgement shows the whole world that [Hamas] exists and is legal.’” Nevertheless, the EU is keeping Hamas on the list until an appeal process is complete. http://time.com/3637355/european-union-hamas-terrorist-list/
The inclusion of Hamas as a whole, or in some cases just its military wing, on terrorism lists in the US, EU, and UK “is clearly politically motivated: Unlike Daesh, Hamas has neither targeted nor called for targeting any entity other than the Israeli occupation. Hamas was added to the list of terrorist organizations following the events of Sept. 11, 2001, even though it had nothing to do with this terrorist attack.” http://www.juancole.com/2016/03/no-mr-netanyahu-hamas-is-not-isil.html
Worth remembering that soon after its 2006 election victory, Hamas publicly “offered a truce in Gaza but Israel rejected the [ceasefire] offer.”
http://www.ynetnews.com/articles/0,7340,L-3537078,00.html (28 April 2008)
-During the 2014 Israel-Gaza conflict, Netanyahu, “in a national broadcast, stated that the sole purpose of Hamas’ tunnels was ‘to annihilate our civilians and to kill our children’. However, Israel had already seen six instances in which Hamas was able to use the tunnels against Israel. Once when Gilad Shalit was captured [in 2006], and the rest during the [2014 conflict]. In all instances, Hamas’ target were [Israeli] soldiers, not [Israeli] communities.” http://972mag.com/were-gaza-tunnels-built-to-harm-israeli-civilians/95279/
“The UN Human Rights Council report pointed out that, although Hamas militants did cross into Israel via the tunnels, they never once targeted Israeli civilians, only IDF combatants. In fact, Israelis themselves have conceded this. It finally sunk in on Hamas: Israel only cares if you kill or capture combatants. Israel’s a Sparta-like society, which mourns first and foremost the death of its fallen soldiers.” http://mondoweiss.net/2016/04/norman-finkelstein-on-sanders-the-first-intifada-bds-and-ten-years-of-unemployment/ (April 2016)
Hamas is not a meaningful threat to Israel. While Hamas can be a brutal organization, “so were any number of national liberation movements – that didn’t make the foreign occupation of their countries and the wars fought to maintain those occupations any more just.” http://972mag.com/no-hamas-isnt-isis-isis-isnt-hamas/95957/
-There are many groups more extreme than Hamas that have operated in Gaza. In fact, Hamas has acted against several of such groups when they interfere with Hamas’s objectives. In 2011, for example, Hamas arrested a jihadist “after he had issued a self-styled ‘fatwa’ justifying the murder of Christian civilians. The jihadists were believed to have been responsible for a series of attacks on the Christian community in Gaza, which had been reduced to 3000 people…This contrasted with the attitude of Hamas, which had included in its electoral list for Gaza a Greek Orthodox Christian, Hussam Tawil.”
These more extreme groups are thought to have also been “responsible for numerous attacks on internet cafes and family celebrations, all deemed impious by the Salafists.”
Violence between Hamas and such jihadist groups is the result of “irreconcilable differences…[Hamas] has always been identified with a Palestinian territory that needs to be liberated….The jihadist philosophy, however, was totally untrammelled by territorial restrictions, with global ambitions that transcended frontiers. Hamas claimed to represent the only legitimate Palestinian Authority: Osama Bin Laden and al-Qaida on the other hand accused it for this very reason of neglecting its religious duty and of allowing itself to be bound by international treaties. These charges were explicitly made by Bin Laden in December 2007 and were constantly reiterated in the accusations made against Hamas by al-Qaida and associated groups. While Hamas’s ambition was to consolidate its power in the only part of Palestine that was under exclusively Palestinian control, the ambition of the jihadists was to subvert this very control in order to precipitate a more apocalyptic conflict. Hamas is characterised in jihadist millenarian rhetoric as the principal enemy, and even as ‘Shi’ite’, and is destined to be brought low by the establishment in Gaza of a ‘Caliphate’ in anticipation of the universal victory of Islam.”
However, in competition with more extremist groups in Gaza, Hamas has supported a greater “adherence to Islamic norms…[For example, after the 2008 ‘Cast Lead’ confrontation with Israel,] “Boys were banned from mixing with girls, the smoking of shisha pipes was forbidden and public dancing was outlawed….In a region so badly overstretched by constant conflict and crippling blockade, this was experienced as an additional and unwelcome burden.” (J.P. Filiu, Gaza: A History, Oxford University Press, 2014, 334-7.)
-In 2009, Hamas appointed a commission “to investigate the roots of the Salafi jihadist phenomenon in Gaza and determine how it could be dealt with more successfully.” The resulting approach “resembled measures for dealing with violent radicalization that had previously been adopted in other Muslim-majority entities, notably the Gulf states, Saudi Arabia, and Indonesia….Through innovative means such as monitoring, respectful treatment, dialogue, and religious debate, the Hamas government opted for containment of the Salafi jihadist problem and possibly even the rehabilitation of the individuals involved. The commission’s report concluded that the local Gaza presence of Salafi jihadists was not primarily due to radicalization among the existing Salafi community. Rather, the problem lay within the political factions themselves. The majority of Salafi jihadists were found to be young and current (or former) members of Hamas, Islamic Jihad, and Fatah seeking alternative ways of channeling their despair and lack of hope in the future.” http://www.inss.org.il/wp-content/uploads/2017/05/SA20.1_Brenner.pdf (April 2017)
4. Who said the following in 1998? “If I were a young Palestinian, it is possible I would join a terrorist organization.”
-Ehud Barak: Prime Minister of Israel from 1999 to 2001 and former Minister of Defence. This was Barak’s response to Gideon Levy, a columnist for Ha’aretz, when Barak was asked what he would have done if he had been born a Palestinian. http://www.haaretz.com/print-edition/opinion/yossi-sarid-if-you-or-i-were-palestinian-1.267316 http://transcripts.cnn.com/TRANSCRIPTS/0306/25/se.13.html
Perhaps Barak, like former New York Times reporter Chris Hedges, witnessed the following: “I [Hedges] saw small boys baited and killed by Israeli soldiers in the Gaza refugee camp of Khan Younis. The soldiers swore at the boys in Arabic over the loudspeakers of their armored jeep. The boys, about 10 years old, then threw stones at an Israeli vehicle and the soldiers opened fire, killing some, wounding others. I was present more than once as Israeli troops drew out and shot Palestinian children in this way. Such incidents, in the Israeli lexicon, become children caught in crossfire.” http://www.truthdig.com/report/item/why_israel_lies_20140803
-In 2017, it’s nearly certain that if Barak were a Gazan youth that he would join a militant group. In her visit to Gaza in 2017, “two things struck [Sara Roy, a senior research scholar at Harvard’s Center for Middle Eastern Studies,] particularly: the now devastating impact of Gaza’s decade-long isolation from the rest of the world, and the sense that an increasing number of people are reaching the limit of what they can endure. [Essentially,] Gaza is in a state of humanitarian shock, due primarily to Israel’s blockade, supported by the US, the EU and Egypt and now entering its 11th year. Historically a place of trade and commerce, Gaza has relatively little production left, and the economy is now largely dependent on consumption.”
“Gaza’s debility, carefully planned and successfully executed, has left almost half the labour force without any means to earn a living. Unemployment – especially youth unemployment – is the defining feature of life. It now hovers around 42 per cent (it has been higher), but for young people (between the ages of 15 and 29) it stands at 60 per cent. Everyone is consumed by the need to find a job or some way of earning money.” (“[Yet] Gaza has a talented, tech-savvy population; if ever there were peace, an American investor said, ‘Gaza’s internet sector would become another India.’ [A] small number are already subcontracting for companies in India, Bangladesh and Israel.”)
“At least 1.3 million out of 1.9 million people, or 70 per cent of the population (other estimates are higher), receive international humanitarian assistance, the bulk of which is food (sugar, rice, oil, milk), without which the majority could not meet their basic needs.…[S]uicide [and drug-use and prostitution] rates [are rising]…Gaza’s divorce rate, once just 2 per cent, now approaches 40 per cent…”
“It’s important to remember that nearly three-quarters of Gaza’s inhabitants are under thirty and remain confined to Gaza, prohibited from leaving the territory; most never have. Amid such disempowerment, young people have increasingly turned to militancy as a livelihood, joining various militant or extremist organisations simply to secure a paying job.…It seems that unemployed young men in Gaza increasingly face two options: join a military faction or give up.”
“There isn’t much more Hamas can do to strengthen its control over Gaza:…its control is already total.…[I]ts military wing appears to be an increasing presence in political decision-making and governance – a change that was made clear with the election [in 2017] of Yahya Sinwar [known as a founding member of Hamas’s military wing] to head Hamas’s political wing in Gaza.…But Hamas has its critics, particularly among the young [who critique] its use of religion as a coercive tool…”
“Israel has exhausted all the ways it has of putting pressure on Gaza.…[A]ll that remains is menace – a policy towards Gaza that emerges not from any sense or logic but from what Ehud Barak once called ‘inertia’.” https://www.lrb.co.uk/v39/n12/sara-roy/if-israel-were-smart (15 June 2017)
5. True or False: The Palestinian school curriculum incites hatred and anti-Semitism.
-False. “A landmark [US] State Department-funded study has cleared the Palestinians of demonizing Jews in school textbooks but contends that both Israeli and Palestinian teachers use classroom materials that distort the history of the Middle East conflict.” http://forward.com/news/israel/170451/palestinian-textbooks-dont-vilify-jews-new-study-r/ (4 Feb. 2013)
-Nathan Brown, Professor of Political Science and International Affairs at George Washington University, after a detailed study on The Palestinian Curriculum, writes: “[T]he Palestinian curriculum is not a war curriculum; while highly nationalistic, it does not incite hatred, violence, and anti-Semitism.”
Right-wing supporters of Israel, seeking reasons why Palestinians harbor resentment against Israel and Jews, often point to Palestinian textbooks that purportedly instill such hatred. Prof. Brown demonstrates that a better explanation is to be found in the harsh occupation administered by Israel. As Prof. Brown writes in his conclusion, “With the effects of conflict felt on a daily basis, what textbooks and teachers say is probably irrelevant in any case.”
6. Identify the Middle East entities responsible for the following promulgations:
6.1 “Armed struggle is the only way to liberate Palestine. This is the overall strategy, not merely a tactical phase.” “[We aim] at the elimination of Zionism in Palestine.” “The…establishment of the state of Israel [is]…entirely illegal, regardless of the passage of time…”
6.2 “The [entity]…flatly rejects the establishment of a Palestinian Arab state west of the Jordan River.”
6.3 “Jerusalem, complete and united, is the capital of Israel.”
6.4 “Israel will exist and will continue to exist until Islam will obliterate it, just as it obliterated others before it.” “[We strive] to raise the banner of Allah over every inch of Palestine, for under the wing of Islam followers of all religions can coexist in security…”
-6.1 These are portions from the 1968 Palestine National Charter of the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO). http://www.jewishvirtuallibrary.org/jsource/Peace/PLO_Covenant.html
Israel negotiated peace accords with the PLO despite the fact that the 1968 Palestinian National Charter was in force at the time of the relevant negotiations. Clauses from the Charter were rendered void only after the 1993 Oslo Declaration of Principles was signed. “[P]rior to the Oslo agreement, the PLO itself was officially described by Israel (and the USA) as a terrorist organization. At the time of the  signing on the White House lawn, the PLO charter was still in force. It called for the destruction of the illegal State of Israel and the return of practically all its citizens to their countries of origin….Only after the Oslo agreement came into force, did the PLO National Council abolish these clauses of their charter in a festive ceremony, attended by President Bill Clinton.” http://zope.gush-shalom.org/home/en/channels/avnery/1399048629/
Before the early 1990s, The PLO Charter was regularly denounced by Israelis as an insurmountable obstacle to peace and “paraded around endlessly in Israeli propaganda.” http://zope.gush-shalom.org/home/en/channels/avnery/1407502014/
-6.2 This explicit rejection of a Palestinian state was part of Likud’s platform at the time of the 2009 Israeli elections; the elections led to a Likud-led government. http://www.cbc.ca/world/story/2009/02/09/f-rfa-armstrong.html
Despite this clause of the Likud platform, which contravenes international law, Hamas has indicated a willingness to support talks with Israel.
At least Likud has been consistent: “In a speech to Likud’s central committee a few months after taking office [as prime minister in 1996], Netanyahu flatly declared, ‘There will never be a Palestinian state between the Mediterranean and the Jordan.’ To make good on that pledge, Netanyahu created a government dominated by parties hostile to the peace process, and repeatedly used their hostility as an excuse for avoiding the steps that Oslo required.” While Netanyahu endorsed a Palestinian state in 2009, the conditions he attached made the endorsement meaningless. (Beinart 2012, 118, 133)
While the “Likud Constitution of May 2014…contains commitments to the strengthening of Jewish settlement in Judea and Samaria, it does not explicitly rule out the establishment of a Palestinian state.” http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Likud
-6.3 This is a clause of one of Israel’s Basic Laws. http://www.knesset.gov.il/laws/special/eng/basic10_eng.htm
Despite this official law of Israel, which contravenes international law, Hamas has shown a willingness to support talks with Israel. (Even the US does not recognize Jerusalem as Israel’s capital; the US embassy is located in Tel Aviv.)
Martin Indyk, former US ambassador to Israel, argues that “It was not reasonable to expect that Arafat, or any Arab leader…, would agree to an end-of-conflict agreement that left sovereignty over the Haram-al-Sharif [Temple Mount] in Israeli hands forever.” (Beinart 2012, 72)
-6.4 The portions are from the 1988 Hamas Charter. In 2017, Hamas issued a new charter which, inter alia, (i) accepts a transitional Palestinian state in the West Bank (including East Jerusalem) and Gaza (and therefore, indirectly, “accepts that there will be another state entity outside these borders, even if it does not mention Israel”); and, (ii) states that Zionism, not the Jewish people, is the enemy to be defeated as it is responsible for the “occupation of Palestine”. The new charter, which does not explicitly supplant the previous charter, “was announced by the [then] head of the movement’s political bureau, Khaled Meshal… ‘Hamas advocates the liberation of all of Palestine but is ready to support the state on 1967 borders without recognising Israel or ceding any rights,’ he said.”
While the Charter is one tool used by Israel to largely refuse to deal with Hamas, similarly odious clauses—provided above—did not prevent Israel from negotiating with the PLO. In any event, would it make a difference to Israeli leaders if a Hamas leader made more conciliating statements? See question 7.
7. Who made the following statements in 2007? “[T]here will remain a state called Israel—this is a matter of fact.…The problem is not that there is an entity called Israel. The problem is that the Palestinian state is non-existent.” “As a Palestinian…I speak…for a state on 1967 borders. It is true that in reality there will be an entity or state called Israel on the rest of Palestinian land.”
-Khaled Meshal: Former Chairman of the Hamas Political Bureau. Meshal made similar statements in 2014, as well. (In May 2017, Ismail Haniyeh replaced Meshal as Chairman.)
-According to Islam, once an area has become part of the Islamic world, it is considered Muslim and should always remain part of the Ummah (community). Due to this religious restriction, “Hamas itself cannot sign a peace agreement [with Israel]. But, like religious people everywhere (especially Jews and Christians), it has found ways around God’s commandments. The founder of Hamas, the paralyzed Sheik Ahmad Yassin (who wrote the [first Hamas] Charter and was assassinated by Israel [in March 2004]) proposed a 30-year Hudna. A Hudna is a truce sanctified by Allah, which can be renewed until the Last Judgment.” http://zope.gush-shalom.org/home/en/channels/avnery/1407502014/
-A 2009 study by an official US government agency concluded that “Although peaceful coexistence between Israel and Hamas is clearly not possible under the formulations that comprise Hamas’s 1988 charter, Hamas has, in practice, moved well beyond its charter. Indeed, Hamas has been carefully and consciously adjusting its political program for years and has sent repeated signals that it may be ready to begin a process of coexisting with Israel. [And,] As evidenced by numerous statements, Hamas is not hostile to Jews because of religion. Rather, Hamas’s view toward Israel is based on a fundamental belief that Israel has occupied land that is inherently Palestinian and Islamic.” http://www.usip.org/sites/default/files/resources/Special%20Report%20224_Hamas.pdf
The respectable economic and political performance of Turkey under the Justice and Development Party — Turkey is the fifteenth-largest economy in the world — demonstrates that Islam can coexist with a sound economy and a (seriously flawed) democracy. However, it should be noted that Turkey’s constitution has compelled Islamist parties “to de-Islamize their entire political platforms. The constitution [is] rather explicit about secularism. The preamble states that ‘there shall be no interference whatsoever by sacred feelings in state affairs and politics,’ while Article 2 enshrines the secular order ‘based on the fundamental tenets set forth in the preamble.'” http://www.canadaexportcentre.com/index.php/press-release-mena-region-turkey (Shadi Hamid, Temptations Of Power: Islamists and Illiberal Democracy in a New Middle East, Oxford University Press, New York: 2014, 186.)
Malaysia is another Muslim-majority country which has demonstrated “that Islam [is] not incompatible with economic dynamism and social energy.” In fact, “Malaysia is the most affluent large state in Southeast Asia, according to the United Nations Human Development Index (2011).” Mahathir bin Mohamad, Malaysia’s prime minister from 1981-2003, used Islam’s “strict ethical standards to root out cronyism and corruption. By his ability to combine religiosity and devoutness with science and technology, Mahathir made Malaysia…central to the values debate in the Middle East.” (Robert D. Kaplan, Asia’s Cauldron: The South China Sea and the End of a Stable Pacific, Random House, New York: 2014, 75, 83.)
-Ethan Bronner, the Jerusalem bureau chief for the New York Times, had this to say concerning Gaza under Hamas in early 2009: “Honestly, the idea that this is some totalitarian spot where you can’t write honestly is not true….Hamas is not al-Qaeda….I can’t tell you whether they are going to accept Israel. What they basically say…is if we can go back to the ’67 borders and we can deal with the question of a right of return and all Palestinians agree…we won’t stand in the way….[A]s a broad observation, it seems almost impossible to imagine that there could be a Palestinian state that doesn’t include Hamas as part of a political structure. And if that’s true, then Israel will not have the security of being a Jewish democratic state, not an occupier, without some relationship with the Hamas movement.” http://www.npr.org/templates/transcript/transcript.php?storyId=99901768
-According to an October 2012 New York Times article, “Hamas…is working to suppress the more radical Islamic militant groups that have emerged [in Gaza]. The jihadist extremists, known as Salafists and inspired by the ideology of Al Qaeda, are challenging Hamas’s informal and fragile cease-fire with Israel.” After the 2006 elections, “militant jihadists began attacks against Israel and also against Internet cafes, restaurants and women’s hair salons in Gaza, places they saw as being at odds with their deeply conservative interpretation of Islam.” http://www.nytimes.com/2012/10/20/world/middleeast/hamas-works-to-suppress-militant-groups-in-gaza.html?_r=1&src=rechp&pagewanted=print
In March 2014, Hamas militiamen continue to “find and stop renegade militants inside Gaza from firing rockets into southern Israel in violation of the ceasefire declared after the end in November 2012 of Operation Pillar of Defence, in which about 150 Palestinians and six Israelis were killed….Israeli officials share the assessment that Hamas is working actively to contain militants from firing into their country. ‘Today we can describe Hamas as a much more…responsible organisation than it used to be a decade or two decades ago — this all in light of their statehood experience,’ says a senior Israel Defence Forces officer…” (Financial Times, 5 March 2014, World News, 4)
“Like so many former liberation organizations around the world, including Begin’s Likud, [Hamas] is transforming itself from a terrorist organization into a political party.” http://zope.gush-shalom.org/home/en/channels/avnery/1399048629/
-In an important 2012 book by Shlomi Eldar, Getting to Know Hamas, high-level officials in Hamas, such as its then political chief Khaled Meshal, are shown to be strategic and pragmatic, not fanatical ideologues as commonly portrayed by Israeli leaders. For example, after “Shalit was seized by Palestinian militants in a 2006 cross-border raid” a detailed document was “sent by messenger to then-Prime Minister Ehud Olmert.” The document included the following: “Hamas offers two alternatives: 1. A separate track, dealing only with the release of Gilad Shalit in return for 1,000 Palestinian political prisoners. 2. A release of prisoners will take place in the broader context of a strategic approach (as follows), and the number of prisoners released will not be in the hundreds.”
The detailed document, “whose existence and transmission to the prime minister were denied completely by Olmert’s office at the time, constituted an offer by Hamas to conduct a multilevel dialogue with Israel, beginning with discussion about a cease-fire and the building of long-term trust, and ending with a coexistence agreement to last 25 years, and the establishment of a Palestinian state within 1967 borders.”
The book explains that the “Shalit kidnapping was a premeditated action carried out by the Hamas military wing, led by Ahmed Jabari; the Popular Resistance Committee, headed by the Abu Samhadana family; and the Army of Islam, led by the Dormush family. Eldar describes it as an independent operation carried out despite the Hamas political leadership’s opposition. This and other…examples [in the book] offer proof that the organization is rife with divisions.”
Israel’s lack of understanding of Hamas, according to Eldar, “may be rooted in Israel’s acceptance of Hamas activities before the first intifada broke out in 1987, when Israel believed that it was worthwhile to let a religious and social movement compete with Fatah, as a way of neutralizing the influence of then-Fatah leader Yasser Arafat in the occupied territories. The first intifada, and even more so the second one, [wrongly] made clear to Israel that the double front it had hoped to create between Hamas and Fatah and between Israel and Fatah was to all intents and purposes a single and more violent front…” http://www.haaretz.com/culture/books/giving-israel-a-new-look-at-hamas.premium-1.465584
-Question 7 demonstrates that Hamas essentially accepts the existence of the state of Israel. Nevertheless, right-wing supporters of Israel argue that “words are cheap,” and Hamas doesn’t keep its word. However, see question 8.
8. Which party, Israel or Hamas, broke the six-month ceasefire that was agreed to in June 2008?
-In June 2008, “Egypt had brokered a ceasefire between Israel and Hamas…[that] was a success: the average number of rockets fired monthly from Gaza dropped from 179 to three. Yet on 4 November Israel violated the ceasefire by launching a raid into Gaza, killing six Hamas fighters.” http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2010/feb/03/gaza-tony-blair-betrayal
In a “document entitled ‘The Hamas terror war against Israel,’ The Israeli Ministry of Foreign Affairs provides striking visual evidence of Hamas’s good faith during the lull. It reproduces two graphs drawn up by the Intelligence and Terrorism Information Center at the Israel Intelligence Heritage & Commemoration Center: [Graphs provided] The graphs show that the total number of rocket and mortar attacks shrank from 245 in June to 26 total for July through October, a reduction of 97 percent.” http://electronicintifada.net/v2/article10123.shtml
-While Netanyahu constantly expresses his disgust and mistrust of Hamas, since he became prime minister in 2009 “he has negotiated with Hamas…with far more good will than with Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas. [N]etanyahu reached at least two written agreements with the Gaza terror group; one in the 2011 deal in return for the kidnapped soldier Gilad Shalit, and the second confirming the cease-fire that ended Operation Pillar of Defense in 2012. Netanyahu, who squeezed Abbas hard in exchange for freeing 80 pension-age prisoners who had been sitting in Israeli jails for more than 20 years and who broke up [US-led] negotiations [in April 2014] with the Palestinian Authority over the release of 14 Arab Israeli prisoners, was prepared to give Hamas 1,000 young and healthy terrorists, among them Arab Israelis. While Netanyahu refused to allow Abbas any sign of Palestinian sovereignty in the West Bank, he did not hesitate to recognize Hamas as sovereign in Gaza.” http://normanfinkelstein.com/2014/excellent-commentary-on-hamas-pa-unity-deal/
“People everywhere wonder why Netanyahu daily denounces Abbas as an ‘inciter’ and ‘sponsor of terror’, while not mentioning Hamas. To solve this mystery, one must understand that the Israeli Right does not fear war, but is afraid of international pressure – and therefore the ‘moderate’ Abbas is much more dangerous than the ‘terrorist’ Hamas.” http://www.counterpunch.org/2016/09/30/abu-mazens-balance-sheet/
-Hamas has demonstrated that it does in fact keep its word. Therefore, Israel knows how to prevent rocket and other attacks from Gaza: enter good faith talks with Hamas. However, it is precisely Hamas’s potential as a serious and independent negotiating partner that threatens “Greater Israel.” Israeli policymakers know that upon proper negotiations, Israel will have to give up land and resources. (As Prime Minister Rabin stated, “Peace has a cost.”) But, right-wing supporters of Israel argue: What about Barak’s “Generous Offer”? See Question 9.
9. Who stated the following in 2006? “Camp David was not the missed opportunity for the Palestinians, and if I were a Palestinian I would have rejected Camp David, as well.”
-Shlomo Ben-Ami: Israel’s Minister of Public Security in 1999, Minister of Foreign Affairs from 2000-2001, and Israel’s top negotiator at Camp David and Taba negotiations. (What Ben-Ami recognized was that Israel in fact offered the Palestinians an unviable Middle East Bantustan — several blocks of West Bank land with huge Jewish settlements in between.)
Mainstream commentators continue to reproduce the baseless Israeli claim that former Prime Minister Ehud Barak was very generous in the offer he made to the Palestinians at Camp David in 2000. The quote by Ben-Ami should be sufficient to end this harmful myth.
-The conclusion of questions 6 to 9 is that Israel will not negotiate fairly unless forced by US pressure—for example, in March 1957 Israel was forced to withdraw from Gaza, following the Suez War, after US President Eisenhower applied heavy diplomatic pressure and threatened economic sanctions—or Arab strength—for example, Egypt’s effectiveness in the 1973 war led to Israel’s willingness to negotiate an agreement at Camp David in 1978 which led to a peace treaty in 1979. Without such pressure, Palestinians will continue to suffer from tactics such as the one presented in question 15.
Besides Eisenhower in 1957, other US presidents have applied pressure on Israel when necessary. “After Israel attacked Iraq’s Osirak nuclear reactor in 1981, the Reagan administration had not only supported a UN resolution condemning Israel, it had delayed various arms sales. Between 1990 and 1992, George H. W. Bush’s administration had not only conditioned loan guarantees on a settlement freeze, it had backed six UN Security Council resolutions criticizing the policies of the Jewish state. [Bush’s tough stance contributed to Shamir’s dethroning as prime minister.] In 2004, after Israel repaired and upgraded an unmanned aerial vehicle it had sold to China, the Pentagon had demanded the resignation of the director general of the Israeli Defense Ministry.” (Beinart 2012, 136)
-It should be noted that the Palestinians did try a largely non-violent resistance to Israel’s occupation during the first intifada (1987-1993). And, in September 2000, Palestinians again launched a rebellion, the second intifada (2000-2006), which was overwhelmingly nonviolent at its inception. However, in both cases, Israel responded with disproportionate, lethal force.
According to a leading American academic specialist on nonviolent resistance, commenting more than a year into the uprising, “The [first] intifada has thus far been distinguished on the Palestinian side by predominantly nonviolent forms of struggle…Considering…the severity of Israeli repression in the form of beatings, shootings, killings, house demolitions, uprooting of trees, deportations, extended imprisonments and detentions without trial, and so on, the Palestinians…have shown impressive restraint.” “Amnesty [International] reported that the number of Palestinians held in Israeli prisons during each of the first years of the [first] intifada hovered around 25,000, of whom 4-5,000 were administrative detainees.” (Norman G. Finkelstein, Knowing Too Much: Why the American Jewish Romance with Israel Is Coming to an End, OR Books, New York: 2012, 103, 108-9. Hereinafter, “Finkelstein 2012.”)
It is telling that one of “Israel’s early acts of retaliation [during the first intifada] was to deport the Palestinian-American pacifist Mubarak Awad of the Center for the Study of Nonviolence.” (Finkelstein 2012, 114)
In the 2000 rebellion, instigated by Israel’s growing occupation and Sharon’s “walk” to the ultrasensitive Temple Mount, “Palestinians began throwing stones…Israeli forces responded with rubber bullets, killing six. In the days that followed, the Palestinians escalated to Molotov cocktails and Israeli forces kept firing, discharging over a million bullets in the first three weeks of violence.” (The IDF “knew it could only take advantage of its technological superiority over the Palestinians if the  uprising became an armed struggle…In order to achieve this desired transformation, the army massively overreacted to the riots.”) “It is now largely forgotten that the first Hamas suicide bombing…did not occur until five months into Israel’s relentless bloodletting.” (Beinart 2012, 70) (Ahron Bregman, Cursed Victory: A History of Israel and the Occupied Territories, Allen Lane, London: 2014, 250.) (Finkelstein 2010, 20)
“[In March 2017] B’Tselem, the Israeli Information Center for Human Rights in the Occupied Territories, published a report [which] reveals that, from the start of the second intifada, in September 2000, to the end of February 2017, Israel killed 4,868 noncombatant Palestinian civilians, more than one-third of them (1,793) were children and adolescents below the age of 18. Thousands of others, who were also not involved in fighting, have been wounded and permanently incapacitated. Next to none have received their due: compensation from the state that caused their condition.” http://www.haaretz.com/israel-news/.premium-1.783329 (April 2017)
10. Who wrote the following after serving six US secretaries of state on Arab-Israeli negotiations? “For far too long, many American officials involved in Arab-Israeli peacemaking, myself included, have acted as Israel’s attorney, catering and coordinating with the Israelis at the expense of successful peace negotiations. If the United States wants to be an honest and effective broker on the Arab-Israeli issue, then surely it can have only one client: the pursuit of a solution that meets the needs and requirements of both sides.”
-Aaron David Miller: Middle East negotiator and adviser on Arab-Israeli affairs at the US State Department for 25 years. http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2005/05/22/AR2005052200883.html
-During the Clinton administration, Aaron David Miller “saw Bibi [Netanyahu] as a kind of speed bump that would have to be negotiated along the way until a new Israeli prime minister came along who was more serious about peace. In the words of Miller’s boss, Dennis Ross, ‘neither President Clinton nor Secretary Albright believed that Bibi had any real interest in pursuing peace.’ But every time the Clinton administration tried to drag Netanyahu in the direction of a viable Palestinian state, Netanyahu rallied American Jewish groups and conservative Republicans to his defense.” Netanyahu has remained consistent in his vision. “In 2005, he resigned as Sharon’s finance minister to protest Israel’s dismantling of settlements in Gaza.” (Beinart 2012, 122, 123)
“[In August 2017,] Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu…told an audience of Jewish settlers that he has no intention of dismantling Israeli settlements in the West Bank in exchange for peace with the Palestinians. ‘We are here to stay, forever,’ Netanyahu said…‘There will be no more uprooting of settlements in the land of Israel,’ he vowed….Netanyahu’s comments run counter to decades of stated US policy calling for some settlements to be evacuated as part of a peace deal with the Palestinians. Under previous US administrations, Netanyahu would have been rebuked.” (Netanyahu likewise stated in January 2014 that he had no intention of “‘evacuating any settlement or uprooting any Israeli.’”) https://www.vox.com/world/2017/8/29/16220132/netanyahu-settlements-we-will-stay-forever-west-bank
-“Where the issue of Palestine is concerned, American Middle East policy from [President] Truman down to Obama has consistently hewn to…three patterns…: an almost total lack of pressure from the Arab Gulf monarchies [which rely on US protection, and are threatened by Palestinian democratic movements]; the impact of US domestic politics, driven by the Israel lobby; and an unconcern about Palestinian rights [due largely to the powerlessness of the Palestinians]. The preferred approach of US presidents has therefore generally involved deferring to Israel and its American supporters, and refusing to advocate forcefully for inalienable Palestinian national and political rights.” (Rashid Khalidi, Brokers Of Deceit: How the US Has Undermined Peace in the Middle East, Beacon Press, Boston: 2013, 1.)
11. Who said the following? “Arab anger over the Palestinian question limits the strength and depth of US partnerships with governments and peoples [in the Middle East and surrounding regions].”
-General David Petraeus: US Army general, former Commander of the US Central Command, and former director of the CIA. http://www.haaretz.com/news/u-s-general-israel-palestinian-conflict-foments-anti-u-s-sentiment-1.264910
-One reason Arabs are angry is because of the deep psychological damage Israel has caused in Gaza. Consider the words of James S. Gordon, a psychiatrist: “I’ve worked for 20 years with psychological trauma – during and after the war in Kosovo, after the earthquake in Haiti, with US troops returning from Iraq and Afghanistan, and in Israeli towns like Sderot that have been continually shelled by Hamas for years…And since 2002, I’ve worked here, in long-beleaguered, isolated Gaza, leading workshops, training local clinicians and leaders and setting up a program of self-care and group support to deal with the population-wide psychological trauma. In those decades, I’ve never seen psychological devastation this intense.” http://www.washingtonpost.com/posteverything/wp/2014/11/03/gaza-isnt-just-a-physical-wreck-the-psychological-damage-is-even-worse/
12. According to the United Nations 1947 Partition Resolution was the Gaza Strip to be part of the Jewish State or the Arab State
-Arab State. (Arab rejection of the 1947 Partition Plan is understandable as Jews made up 37% of the population of mandatory Palestine, owned 7% of the land, yet the Jewish state was given 55% percent of the land. (Benny Morris, Righteous Victims: A History of the Zionist-Arab Conflict, 1881 – 2001, Vintage, New York: 2001, 186.))
-After the 1948-9 War, Gaza came under Egypt’s administrative control. And, as a result of the 1967 War, Gaza was occupied by Israel.
“The persecution of Gazans took new forms when Israel conquered the Strip in 1967. From recent Israeli scholarship we learn that the goal of the [Israeli] government was to drive the [Palestinian] refugees [in Gaza due to the 1948 War] into the Sinai, and if feasible the rest of the population too. Expulsions from Gaza were carried out under the direct orders of General Yeshayahu Gavish…Expulsions from the West Bank were far more extreme, and Israel resorted to devious means to prevent the return of those expelled, in direct violation of Security Council orders. The reasons were made clear in internal discussion immediately after the war. Golda Meir, later Prime Minister, informed her Labor colleagues that Israel should keep the Gaza Strip while ‘getting rid of its Arabs.’ Defense Minister Dayan and others agreed. Prime Minister Eshkol explained that those expelled cannot be allowed to return because ‘We cannot increase the Arab population in Israel’ — referring to the newly occupied territories, already tacitly considered part of Israel. In accord with this conception, all of Israel’s maps were changed, expunging the Green Line (the internationally recognized borders)…” http://chomsky.info/articles/20121201.htm
According to minutes of meetings of the inner Israeli cabinet within six months of the end of the June 1967 War, Prime Minister Eshkol said, “‘We are interested in emptying out Gaza [of Arabs] first’…To which Labor Minister Yigal Allon suggested ‘thinning the Galilee of Arabs,’ while Religious Affairs Minister Zerah Warhaftig said, ‘We must increase [the number of] Jews and take all possible measures to reduce the number of Arabs.’” https://www.haaretz.com/israel-news/.premium-1.823075
-According to Sara Roy, a Senior Research Scholar at the Center for Middle Eastern Studies at Harvard University (and child of Holocaust survivors), Gaza under Israel’s occupation suffered “de-development” as “the native population [was deprived] of its most important economic resources—land, water and labor—as well as the internal capacity and potential for developing those resources.” According to Benny Morris, an Israeli historian, “like all occupations, Israel’s was founded on brute force, repression and fear, collaboration and treachery, beatings and torture chambers, and daily intimidation, humiliation, and manipulation”. (Norman G. Finkelstein, This Time We Went Too Far: Truth and Consequences of the Gaza Invasion, OR Books, New York: 2010, 16-17. Hereinafter, “Finkelstein 2010.”)
13. Whose account of the forced expulsion of Palestinians by Jewish fighters in 1948, on the orders of David Ben-Gurion, was censored from his memoirs?
-Yitzhak Rabin: Prime Minister of Israel, 1992-1995. In July 1948, Ben Gurion gave orders “for the operations in Lydda and Ramleh: ‘Expel them!’ he told Yigal Allon and Yitzhak Rabin – a section censored out of Rabin’s memoirs, but published thirty years later in the New York Times.”
(David Gardner, Last Chance: The Middle East in the Balance, I.B. Tauris, New York: 2009, 161-2.)
It was as a result of expulsions and fighting that “Approximately 250,000 Palestinians driven out of their homes during the 1948 war and its aftermath fled to Gaza and overwhelmed the indigenous population of some 80,000.” (Finkelstein 2010, 15)
14. When Israel disengaged from the Gaza Strip in 2005, what percentage of the population of Gaza was Jews and what percentage of the land of Gaza was controlled by Israel and Jewish settlers?
-When Israel withdrew from Gaza in August 2005, Jews constituted 0.6 percent of the population (as approximately 8,000 Jewish settlers and 1.5 million Palestinians lived in Gaza) and Israel and Jewish settlers controlled 25 percent of the territory, 40 percent of the arable land and a disproportionate share of the scarce water resources. (Avi Shlaim, Israel and Palestine: Reappraisals, Revisions, Refutations, Verso, London: 2009, 308.)
-The 2005 withdrawal was generally seen as a victory for Hamas and a humiliation for the Israel Defence Forces.
-As indicated in question 15, the withdrawal was not intended to enhance peace prospects. In fact, in the year after the withdrawal another 12,000 Israelis settled on the West Bank—hardly a sign of Israeli goodwill. http://www.haaretz.com/print-edition/opinion/what-do-you-mean-when-you-say-no-1.233463
-In terms of land mass, “the Gaza Strip encompasses just under 1.5 percent of the total area of British Mandate-era Palestine, (or ‘Greater Israel’ as the settlers like to call it). However, that same tiny area is [in 2012] home to approximately 1.7 million Palestinians, or over a quarter of the total Palestinian population between the Jordan River and the Mediterranean Sea. So, in divesting itself of just 1.5 percent of the land, Israel significantly recalibrated the so-called ‘demographic equation’ (the ratio of Jews to Arabs in the area under its control). [This recalibration] paves the way to permanent Israeli control of 98.5 percent of the land. West Bank Palestinians can either join their left-behind-in-1948 confreres as second-class citizens in an enlarged Jewish state or continue their stateless existence in insecure and disconnected enclaves of limited autonomy, a kind of Bantustan status. Meanwhile the inhabitants of [Gaza] remain isolated in an area that a recent United Nations report concluded might not be ‘a liveable place’ by 2020.” http://www.nytimes.com/2012/09/11/opinion/seven-lean-years-of-peacemaking.html?_r=1
15. Who made the the following 2004 statement indicating the primary motivation for Israel’s 2005 withdrawal from the Gaza Strip? “The significance of the disengagement plan is the freezing of the peace process…And when you freeze that process, you prevent the establishment of a Palestinian state, and you prevent a discussion on the refugees, the borders and Jerusalem. Effectively, this whole package called the Palestinian state, with all that it entails, has been removed indefinitely from our agenda. And all this with authority and permission. All with a presidential blessing and the ratification of both houses of [the US] Congress.”
-Dov Weisglass: Senior adviser to then Prime Minister Ariel Sharon. http://www.haaretz.com/print-edition/news/top-pm-aide-gaza-plan-aims-to-freeze-the-peace-process-1.136686
-“[Ariel] Sharon and his top advisors said…that the Gaza evacuation was meant not to create a Palestinian state, but to forestall one. By 2004, the second intifada had fizzled, Arafat was dead, and America’s sequel to Oslo, the Road Map, was going nowhere. Into the breach came two initiatives. The first was the offer, drafted by Saudi Arabia and endorsed by the entire Arab League, to recognize Israel if it returned to the 1967 lines and negotiated a ‘just’ and ‘agreed upon’ solution for the Palestinian refugees. The second was the Geneva Accord, a model peace agreement signed by former Israeli and Palestinian negotiators that would have required Israel to dismantle major settlements like Ariel. These moves terrified Sharon, a lifelong opponent of a Palestinian state who feared international pressure to agree to the kind of deal that Clinton had proposed in December 2000.” (Thus the above Weisglass quote clearly reflected Sharon’s goal to exploit an Israeli unilateral withdrawal to prevent Israel from being dragged into initiatives like the Geneva Accord and the Arab League offer.)
Despite the Gaza withdrawal, argued former Israeli foreign minister “Shlomo Ben-Ami in 2005, ‘Sharon’s hidden agenda, which he has been harbouring for years, remains unchanged[:] the confinement of a Palestinian homeland within scattered enclaves surrounded by Israeli settlements, strategic military areas and a network of bypass roads.'” (Beinart 2012, 72-3)
Furthermore, in Gaza, “Sharon knew that Hamas was by far more powerful than the security forces of the Palestinian Authority, and poised to take over. [While his] main objective…was to rid Israel of the economic and security burdens that Gaza posed, [if the unilateral withdrawal] would divide the Palestinians, so much the better.” http://www.alonben-meir.com/article/the-truth-about-israels-national-security/ (4 Feb. 2016)
“[A] separate Gaza Strip is an Israeli invention. In the Oslo agreement, Israel undertook to open four ‘safe passages’ between the West Bank and the Gaza Strip. Under the influence of the army, Rabin violated this obligation right from the beginning. As a result, the West Bank was [and continues to be] totally cut off from the Strip…” http://www.counterpunch.org/2016/09/30/abu-mazens-balance-sheet/
-According to Human Rights Watch, “While Israel has since [its 2005 withdrawal] declared the Gaza Strip a ‘foreign territory’ and the crossings between Gaza and Israel ‘international borders,’ under international humanitarian law (IHL), Gaza remains occupied, and Israel retains its responsibilities for the welfare of Gaza residents. Israel maintains effective control over Gaza by regulating movement in and out of the Strip [in conjunction with Egypt, which controls the Rafah checkpoint in Gaza’s south] as well as the airspace, sea space, public utilities and population registry [through which Gazans are issued identification cards].” Israel also bars most Palestinians from roughly one-third of the arable land inside Gaza. “In addition, Israel declared the right to re-enter Gaza militarily at any time in its ‘Disengagement Plan.’ Since the withdrawal, Israel has carried out aerial bombardments…” (Norman G. Finkelstein, Beyond Chutzpah: On the Misuse of Anti-Semitism and the Abuse of History, UC Press, Berkeley: 2008, xvii.) (Beinart 2012, 77)
Since Israel occupies Gaza, it’s simpleminded “to analogize Hamas’ rockets — repugnant as they are — to Mexico or Canada attacking the United States. The United States is not occupying Mexico or Canada.” (According even to the US, Israel has been occupying Gaza since 1967.)
Liberal Zionists “can’t keep saying ‘both sides are to blame.’ Israel is a free country that denies millions of Palestinians their freedom at gunpoint, and has done so since 1967. There is no moral equivalence between the two sides in this conflict.” http://www.haaretz.com/opinion/.premium-1.702155 (8 Feb. 2016)
16. Who stated the following concerning Hamas’s victory in the 2006 Palestinian parliamentary elections? “The boycott of Hamas after winning a free and fair election in 2006, and subsequent punishment of the people of Gaza, have backfired and the group may be more popular than ever. Polls show that Palestinians voted for Hamas members because of frustration with corruption in the dominant party, Fatah, and because Hamas’ humanitarian efforts and good governance of municipalities had helped people educate and provide for their children amidst a crippling occupation. The same polls show that popular support for Hamas in 2006 was not based on support for the group’s religious or political ideologies. The international community and Israel should have seized on the opportunity to persuade more Palestinians to participate in the political process, which would have done more to undermine extremist ideologies than the current course.”
-Jimmy Carter: President of the United States, 1977-1981. The Carter Center, in partnership with the National Democratic Institute, sent an 85-member team to observe the election which was found to be peaceful, competitive, and genuinely democratic. http://www.cartercenter.org/news/features/p/conflict_resolution/gaza_questions_042108.html
-A “report by the Congressional Research Service noted that the election ‘was widely considered to be free and fair.'” Nevertheless mainstream American Jewish groups “supported an Israeli blockade aimed at undoing that victory via economic pain.” (Beinart 2012, 50, 51)
-In fall 2012, Fatah did poorly in municipal elections across the West Bank. “The old Fatah leadership has already lost most of its moral prestige, having bet it on being able to deliver a state with American and European backing.” “Because of the rift between Fatah and Hamas, there were no elections in the Gaza Strip, and no official Hamas candidates competing in the West Bank.” http://bernardavishai.blogspot.ca/2012/11/what-does-israeli-right-really-want.html http://www.nytimes.com/2012/10/21/world/middleeast/west-bank-elections-show-mixed-results-for-fatah.html?_r=0
17. What is the name of the Israeli soldier who was captured on 25 June 2006 by Palestinian fighters in a cross-border raid and was subsequently held as a prisoner in Gaza by Hamas?
-Gilad Shalit: He was probably the world’s best known captive. (Shalit “was released on Oct. 18, 2011, as part of a deal between Hamas and Israel under which over 1,000 Palestinian prisoners were to be freed.”) http://topics.nytimes.com/top/reference/timestopics/people/s/gilad_shalit/index.html
-After the 2006 election victory by Hamas, the US and Israel “quickly moved from a crippling financial siege of the PA, with the aim of bringing down that government, to an escalation of Israeli assassinations of Palestinian militants, and to artillery and air attacks in Gaza that killed and wounded scores of civilians. Hamas had for 18 months observed a cease-fire in the face of these and earlier provocations (other factions were not so restrained, firing rockets into Israel). However, after a major spike in Palestinian civilian deaths and the particularly provocative Israeli assassination of militant leader Jamal Abu Samhadana, whom the PA government had just named to a security post, Hamas finally took the bait and responded with the capture of one Israeli soldier [Shalit] and the killing of others. The predictably ferocious Israeli response—even more killings of civilians, more assassinations, and ground incursions in Gaza…” (Rashid Khalidi, The Iron Cage: The Story of the Palestinian Struggle for Statehood, Beacon Press, Boston: 2007, xv-xvi.)
-“Ignoring immediate Hamas offers of a truce after the 2006 election, Israel launched attacks that killed 660 Palestinians in 2006, mostly civilians, one-third minors. The escalation of attacks in 2007 killed 816 Palestinians, 360 civilians and 152 minors. The UN reports that 2879 Palestinians were killed by Israeli fire from April 2006 through July 2012, along with several dozen Israelis killed by fire from Gaza.” http://chomsky.info/articles/20121201.htm
-Hamas’s missiles are really “enhanced fireworks. According to UN figures, Hamas fired 5000 missiles and 2000 mortar shells during Protective Edge [in 2014]. Israel’s official number is that Iron Dome deflected 740 of the Hamas missiles. That still leaves [over] 4200 missiles that weren’t disabled. But, according to Israeli reports, only one Israeli house was destroyed during Protective Edge. You can perhaps argue that so few Israeli civilians were killed because Israel has a sophisticated early warning/shelter system. But houses don’t take cover in shelters. How can it be that only one house was destroyed? Because they weren’t missiles, they’re enhanced fireworks…Hamas also perpetuates [the myth of its “missiles” by saying that] armed resistance does work, look at how afraid they are of our missiles.” http://mondoweiss.net/2016/04/norman-finkelstein-on-sanders-the-first-intifada-bds-and-ten-years-of-unemployment/ (April 2016)
18. What are the names of the two Palestinians that were kidnapped from Gaza by Israeli soldiers on 24 June 2006 (i.e., one day before the Shalit capture)?
-Osama Abu Muamar and Mustafa Abu Muamar: Probably among the world’s least known captives. (Israel claimed the brothers were planning attacks on Israel.) http://newsvote.bbc.co.uk/mpapps/pagetools/print/news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/middle_east/5112846.stm
-According to the Israeli human rights group B’Tselem, “At the end of Dec. 2012, some 4,517 Palestinian security detainees and prisoners were held in Israeli prisons. A few dozen other Palestinians…are held in IDF facilities for short periods of time.” http://www.btselem.org/statistics/detainees_and_prisoners
-According to Daoud Kuttab, a Palestinian journalist and a former Ferris professor of journalism at Princeton University, Israel holds thousands of Palestinians, “some without charge or trial. Almost all of these prisoners are being held in contradiction to various international laws and treaties, particularly the Geneva Conventions, which regulate the actions of a prolonged occupying power.” http://roomfordebate.blogs.nytimes.com/2009/11/23/israels-gamble-in-a-prisoner-swap/#daoud
19. Who made the following 2006 statement when referring to the purpose of economic pressure exerted on Gazans after the election victory of Hamas? “The idea is to put the Palestinians on a diet, but not to make them die of hunger.”
-Dov Weisglass: Adviser to then-Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert. http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2006/apr/16/israel/print
-The forced diet (i.e., illegal collective punishment) is working as “data from UNRWA, [indicate that] children’s inadequate nutrition is stunting their growth in Gaza. Israeli military do not allow vitamins and other essential nutrients into Gaza, so older persons and children, particularly, suffer from malnourishment.”
http://globalag.igc.org/armedconflict/unrwa_gaza.htm (28 May 2009)
-In 2012 “An Israeli human rights organization, Gisha, sued in Israeli courts to force the release of a planning document for ‘putting the Palestinians on a diet’ without risking the bad press of mass starvation, and the courts concurred. The document, produced by the Israeli army, appears to be a calculation of how to make sure, despite the Israeli blockade, that Palestinians got an average of 2279 calories a day, the basic need. But by planning on limiting the calories in that way, the Israeli military was actually plotting to keep Palestinians in Gaza (half of them children) permanently on the brink of malnutrition, what health professionals call ‘food insecurity’.” http://www.juancole.com/2012/10/creepy-israeli-planning-for-palestinian-food-insecurity-in-gaza-revealed.html
20. Which US leader said the following on 25 January 2006, the day after Hamas won the Gaza elections? “So the Palestinians had an election yesterday, and the results of which remind me about the power of democracy….And there was a peaceful process as people went to the polls, and that’s positive.”
-George W. Bush: President of the United States, 2001-2009. http://www.presidency.ucsb.edu/ws/index.php?pid=65146
-Bush had a stake in the election as his Administration had demanded them. However, soon after making the statement, Bush supported sanctions against the Hamas government. Apparently, democracy is the right to elect someone the US approves of—Venezuela, Iran, and other countries have also learned this lesson.
Thomas Carothers, who was “director of the Democracy and Rule of Law Project at the Carnegie Endowment”, published a book “reviewing the record of democracy promotion by the United States since the end of the Cold War. He finds ‘a strong line of continuity’ running through all administrations, including Bush II: democracy is promoted by the US government if and only if it conforms to strategic and economic interests.” (Noam Chomsky, Hopes and Prospects, Haymarket Books, Chicago: 2010, 45.)
21. True or False: Who was the head of the United Nations fact finding mission mandated to investigate the 2008-2009 military operations in Gaza?
-Richard Goldstone: Former judge of the Constitutional Court of South Africa, former Prosecutor of the International Criminal Tribunals for the former Yugoslavia and Rwanda, and member of the Board of Governors of the Hebrew University. He is not only Jewish but is also a self-declared Zionist who firmly supports Israel as the state of the Jewish people. He identifies the Nazi holocaust as the inspiration for his pursuit of international and human rights law.
The Goldstone Report found that Israel’s assault was based in a military doctrine that “views disproportionate destruction…as a legitimate means to achieve military and political goals,” and was “designed to have inevitable dire consequences for the non-combatants in Gaza.” Although Israel justified the attack as self-defense against Hamas rockets, the Report concluded that the attack was “a deliberately disproportionate attack designed to punish, humiliate and terrorize a civilian population, radically diminish its local economic capacity both to work and to provide for itself, and to force upon it an ever increasing sense of dependency and vulnerability.” (Report of the United Nations Fact Finding Mission on the Gaza Conflict, 25 September 2009, paras. 63, 1213-14 and 1893.)
22. Which human rights organization reported the following concerning the 2008-2009 military operation in Gaza? “[We] found no evidence that Hamas…directed the movement of civilians to shield military objectives from attacks….In all of the cases investigated…of families killed when their homes were bombed…by Israeli forces…none of the houses struck was being used by armed groups for military activities.…[However we did find that Israeli soldiers] used civilians, including children, as ‘human shields’, endangering their lives…”
-Amnesty International. Investigations by other human rights organizations, including Israeli ones, were likewise very critical of Israel’s—and to a much lesser extent, Hamas’s—actions. (Finkelstein 2010, 84-5)
The war “took thirteen Israeli and fourteen hundred Palestinian lives. Despite Israel’s genuine efforts to limit civilian damage, the war partially or completely destroyed 14 percent of Gaza’s buildings, including sixteen hospitals, thirty-eight health clinics, and 280 schools, some of which were in session when the bombs fell.” (Beinart 2012, 77)
-During the summer 2014 Israel-Gaza conflict, the US State Department and Israeli government have “repeatedly claimed that Hamas is using women and children as human shields to protect its weapons and rocket launchers, forcing Israel to massacre innocent Palestinians. [However,] The only evidence Israel has provided for this unsubstantiated accusation is cartoon sketches. [And] even The New York Times has conceded that ‘There is no evidence that Hamas and other militants force civilians to stay in areas that are under attack.’…Ironically, it is Israel that has a well-documented history of using Palestinian civilians, including children, as human shields. In what is referred to as ‘the neighbor procedure,’ Israeli soldiers force Palestinian civilians to approach armed suspects and homes potentially rigged with explosives to protect the lives of soldiers.” http://www.truth-out.org/news/item/25362-israel-uses-palestinians-as-human-shields-but-us-lawmakers-condemn-hamas
An Amnesty International report on the 2014 war reveals “a pattern of attacks on civilian homes by Israeli forces which have shown a shocking disregard for the lives of Palestinian civilians, who were given no warning and had no chance to flee.” http://amnesty.ca/news/news-releases/israeli-forces-displayed-%E2%80%98callous-indifference%E2%80%99-in-deadly-attacks-on-family-homes
Jeffrey Rudolph, a Montreal college professor, was the Quebec representative of the East Timor Alert Network and presented a paper on its behalf at the United Nations. He was awarded the prestigious Cheryl Rosa Teresa Doran Prize upon graduation from McGill University’s faculty of law; has worked at one of the world’s largest public accounting firms; and, has taught at McGill University. He has prepared widely-distributed quizzes on Israel-Palestine, Iran, Hamas, Terrorism, Saudi Arabia, US Inequality, the US Christian Right, Hezbollah, the Israeli Ultra-Orthodox, Qatar, and China. These quizzes are available at, https://detailedpoliticalquizzes.wordpress.com/
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