The Arab-Israeli conflict has inflamed the Middle East for more than 60 years.
In addition, most political attempts have not succeeded in bringing an enduring solution to the problem. Peace at government levels occurred between Israel and neighboring countries such as Egypt and the kingdom of Jordan.
However, peace treaties and agreements failed to stop the ideology behind the growing anti-Semitism in the Middle East, the rise of radical Islamism fueled.
The growth of Islamic radicalism has resulted in the creation of radical Islamic organizations such as the Hamas organization (Islamic Resistance Movement). This organization, which the majority of Palestinians elected in a democratic vote, promotes religiously based annihilation of all Jews and the eradication of the state of Israel. Hamas was behind hundreds of terror attacks and thousands of rockets aimed at killing Israeli civilians.
Negotiations with Hamas failed to change its aggressive attitudes. This should not be surprising, as history has taught us that the ONLY way to stop tyrants and barbarians is not to negotiate with them but to defeat them decisively. Until recently, softness and weakness characterized the attitude toward Hamas in many situations.
Analysis of the factors that contributed to the survival of Hamas is important. These factors include:
Financial support from sympathizers. This support comes from individuals, from Hezbollah in Lebanon, and from an Iranian regime that shamelessly declared its desire to erase Israel from the map.
Smuggling weapons via the borders between Gaza and Egypt.
Political support from several leaders such as former President Carter, who expressed many anti-Israeli views, and from Nobel Peace Prize laureate Marrti Ahtisaari, former president of Finland, who supported an end to boycotting Hamas. Many Hamas sympathizers have used Carter’s book “Palestine: Peace Not Apartheid” to promote its agenda.
Ideological support from well-known, leading Islamic scholars such as Sheikh Yusuf al-Qaradawi, who supported the suicidal ideology of Hamas and its mission to kill innocent Jews.
A false sense of victory that was based on the soft Israeli response to Palestinian terrorism for several years.
The ability to "market" their ideas under the banner of the Muslim Brotherhood or “Islam is the Solution." This marketing strategy attracted many young Palestinians and Muslims worldwide to support Hamas by thinking that the Hamas Islamist agenda will solve all the problems of the Palestinian people.
Changing these factors is vital to defeat Hamas and change the course of the Arab-Israeli conflict.
We must acknowledge several potentially positive steps taken recently to weaken Hamas because they may contribute significantly to defeating Hamas and thus potentially assisting in a nonviolent solution to the Arab-Israeli conflict. These include:
The devastating military defeat of Hamas in the Israeli attack on Gaza in January 2009 has given leaders of the organization a sense of military defeat (even if they did not or do not admit it publicly!) and dramatically reduced the number of rockets launched against Israeli civilians.
The Egyptian government recently took a very courageous and correct decision to build a wall on its borders with Gaza to stop the smuggling of weapons to the Palestinian terrorists and to protect Egyptian national security. This bold decision significantly enhances the efforts to demilitarize Hamas to force it to accept peaceful solutions.
The recent apology of former President Carter to the state of Israel, asking for the Jewish community's forgiveness for any negative stigma he may have caused Israel over the years, is another blow to Hamas at the political level.
Failure to achieve economic prosperity for the people in Gaza disproves the slogan “Islam is the Solution."
Meanwhile, the missing components that are needed today to defeat Hamas and bring some hope for peaceful or political solutions to the Arab-Israeli conflict include:
- Weakening all possible financial sources to Hamas. This approach must include weakening the Iranian regime and Hezbollah in Lebanon so they become unable to support Hamas. In addition, carefully tracing the money of charitable Islamic organizations is vital, as some part of this money could be given to support Hamas activity.
- Defeating the ideology of terror and anti-Semitism by encouraging and supporting peaceful interpretations for Islamic texts and developing effective educational systems to stop the ongoing hatred and anti-Semitism.
- Criminalizing the radical Islamic scholars who promote anti-Semitism and justify suicide bombings.
- Supporting the efforts of the Egyptian government to weaken the Muslim Brotherhood group, as it is the mother organization for Hamas.
- Standing with the Israeli government in its legitimate measures to defend itself from terrorism (such as building a security barrier) and support its actions to give Hamas a sense of military defeat as this psychological element is fundamental to bringing peace to the area. We need to always remember that peace came to the world in World War II ONLY after achieving devastating military and psychological defeat for the enemies of humanity (such as the Nazi regime).
We need to use this effective cocktail of approaches to achieve ultimate victory over Hamas to bring new hopes for the Middle East peace process.
Dr. Tawfik Hamid is the author of "Inside Jihad." A former associate of Dr. al-Zawahiri (second in command of al-Qaida), he now is a reformer of Islam. For information, visit www.tawfikhamid.com. Hamid's writings in this blog represent only his thoughts and not the views of the institute where he works.
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