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Dan Liljenquist: Israel's right to defend itself: Hamas not productive peace participant

Published: Thursday, Aug. 7 2014 12:00 a.m. MDT

Updated: Wednesday, Aug. 6 2014 10:11 p.m. MDT

The United States must not alter its stance toward Hamas. While Hamas undoubtedly has some clout with the Palestinian people, this does not warrant official recognition or the lifting of sanctions.

Adel Hana, Associated Press

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I was disgusted and angry to read former president Jimmy Carter’s puerile column, published Monday on foreignpolicy.com. Blaming the recent conflagration of violence in Israel and Gaza on the Israelis, Carter argues that Israel’s refusal in April to open its arms and embrace a new coalition government in Gaza resulted in the “humanitarian catastrophe.” Apparently, Israel was supposed to overlook that Hamas, in full view of the new government, was operating freely in Gaza, arming to the teeth, tunneling into Israel and preparing thousands of suicide troops to terrorize the Jewish people.

Citing the disparities in civilian casualties, Carter then blasts the Israeli Defense Forces for their conduct of the war, concluding that the Israelis deliberately attacked civilians. Carter conveniently ignores the overwhelming evidence, including widespread video evidence, that Hamas staged its offensive operations from densely populated neighborhoods. Apparently, Israel was expected to stand down and allow Hamas to continue to launch thousands of rockets from Palestinian neighborhoods into Israeli neighborhoods, confining 50 percent of the Israeli population to bomb shelters. Somehow, Carter expects Israel to prioritize the safety of the Palestinian people and Hamas militants over their own families.

Finally, Carter concludes – amazingly – that the United States and the European Union should recognize Hamas’ “legitimacy as a political actor” so the West can “begin to provide the right incentives for Hamas to lay down its weapons.” Clearly, Carter does not understand Hamas and its objectives.

Hamas is a terrorist organization. It is committed to the complete destruction of Israel. It’s charter states that its objective is to “raise the banner of Allah over every inch of Palestine” and that “renouncing any part of Palestine means renouncing part of the religion” of Islam. It has refused to acknowledge Israel’s existence, refused to accept a two-state solution, and has refused to stop trying to kill every Jew they can kill. This week on Twitter, Hamas’ Al-Qassam Brigades exulted that “We killed 150 Zionist soldiers. Here’s a photo of killed soldiers which the Zionist enemy, Israel officially recognized”, followed by a collage of the dead.

While Article 31 of the Hamas charter claims “Under the wing of Islam, it is possible for the followers of the three religions – Islam, Christianity and Judaism – to coexist in peace and quiet with each other,” sad experience with Islamic militants reveals that while such an outcome might be possible in theory, it is exceedingly unlikely. Right now, ISIS militants attempting to create as Islamic Caliphate in Iraq and Syria are systematically forcing Arab Christians to convert to Islam, leave the country or be killed, stating that “there is nothing to give them but the sword.” Under Hamas’ rule, the Jews of Israel would be exterminated.

Israel is a sovereign country and has the absolute right to defend itself against all of its enemies. Can we reasonably expect Israel to submit with patience and restraint to continuous rocket attacks from Gaza? Can we reasonably expect Israel’s economy to survive when its people are huddled in bomb shelters? Can we reasonably expect Israel to allow Hamas to tunnel into its territory and unleash suicide bombers on Jewish buses and shopping centers? Would we allow the same to be done to us here in the United States?

The United States must not alter its stance toward Hamas. While Hamas undoubtedly has some clout with the Palestinian people, this does not warrant official recognition or the lifting of sanctions, despite Jimmy Carter’s arguments to the contrary. Until Hamas renounces its charter, recognizes Israel’s right to exist, disarms and fosters goodwill, it will not be a productive participant in the peace process.

Dan Liljenquist is a former state senator and former U.S. Senate candidate.

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