The Philosophy of Disengagement

(New Republic) Martin Peretz - Close observers of the Palestinians will tell you to put your money on Hamas in the elections scheduled for January 25. And Hamas has been making its point of view abundantly clear. Do you recall the name Khaled Mashaal, the Hamas official whom an Israeli agent tried to kill in Amman in January 1997, to the outrage of nearly everyone? Now the effective head of Hamas, Mashaal told reporters in Beirut that the Israeli withdrawals marked the beginning of the end of the Zionist dream in Palestine. One of Mashaal's lieutenants, Mahmoud Zahar, impressed upon the pan-Arab daily Arshaq Al Awsat that "neither the liberation of the Gaza Strip nor the liberation of the West Bank or even Jerusalem will suffice us. Hamas will pursue the armed struggle until the liberation of all our lands." In the Jerusalem Post, political commentator Saul Singer astutely observed that the Greater Israel movement may have been broken by - of all people - Ariel Sharon, but what almost nobody has noticed is that Greater Palestine is still alive. Its irredentist and jihadist idea suffuses each and every Palestinian crowd. "Palestinians," Singer wrote, "including Abbas, do not even have to call their goal 'Greater Palestine' because to them that is what the word 'Palestine' means. The Palestine of Palestinian maps, poetry, dreams, and legal claims includes all of Israel." There is no reason for great optimism. Gaza will be a relief to Israel. But partial relief: It does not change the stakes or even the odds.

2005-08-26 00:00:00

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