A Middle East Reality Check Revisited

[Jewish Telegraphic Agency] Uriel Heilman - There's no denying Hizbullah and Hamas are "entrenched political and social movements," as New York Times columnist Roger Cohen writes. So is al-Qaeda in parts of southeast Asia and northern Africa and, in past eras, the apartheid regime in South Africa and the Ku Klux Klan in the U.S. Does this mean the civilized peoples of the world - that is, those of us who don't make a goal of killing innocent civilians, women and children - ought to engage and compromise with them? On Hamas, Cohen gets some of the facts wrong. For starters, Hamas has not offered Israel a decades-long truce. More importantly, why must we assume the best of Hamas and the worst of Israel? Cohen suggests that we should not take Hamas at its word when it comes to pledges to destroy Israel, but we should also not take Israel at its word when it says it wants a Palestinian state. The "sporadic Hamas rockets" to which Cohen refers fall daily in southern Israel in an ever-expanding radius that already has reached Ashdod and Beersheva and soon will threaten metropolitan Tel Aviv. As for the Gaza blockade - Gaza is enemy territory controlled by a radical Islamist group that represses its own population and is bent on Israel's destruction. Why should Israel open its borders to Gaza or encourage Egypt, Gaza's other neighbor, to do so? Cohen may be right that the Western approach over the last few years toward Hamas and Hizbullah have not worked well. Both groups have gained strength, and held their respective populations hostage in one form or another. But ignoring the reality of what those groups stand for and undertake will only get us further into the muck in the Middle East, not lift us out of it.

2009-03-10 06:00:00

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