Elliott Abrams

Pressure Points

Abrams gives his take on U.S. foreign policy, with special focus on the Middle East and democracy and human rights issues.

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A Reminder From Hamas

by Elliott Abrams
August 2, 2012

View of the Auschwitz Museum's main gate near the former death camp Auschwitz-Birkenau in Oswiecim January 18, 2010. (Courtesy REUTERS/Eric Gaillard). View of the Auschwitz Museum's main gate near the former death camp Auschwitz-Birkenau in Oswiecim January 18, 2010. (Courtesy REUTERS/Eric Gaillard).


What are the beliefs of the terrorist group Hamas and how likely is it any peace can be negotiated with Hamas?  Hamas is a part of the Muslim Brotherhood, and the advent of an MB government in Egypt–with which American officials at the level of the Secretaries of Defense and State are now dealing happily–may lead some analysts to suggest that we, and Israel, should overcome our refusal to deal with Hamas.

So we can be grateful that Hamas supplied us with a useful reminder of who it is and what it believes.  The Arab news site Maan today reports that Hamas has denounced the visit to Auschwitz of a Palestinian Authority official named Ziad al-Bandak, who is an aide to PA president Mahmoud Abbas.

“It was an unjustified and unhelpful visit that served only the Zionist occupation,” said Fawzi Barhoum, a spokesman for Hamas….Barhoum further called Bandak’s visit to Auschwitz, a camp where the Nazis killed 1.5 million people, most of them Jews but also other Polish citizens, during World War Two, as “a marketing of a false Zionist alleged tragedy.”

The Hamas Charter, the group’s constitutional or founding document, is a vicious anti-Semitic screed, but once in a while it is suggested that that’s an old document that does not really represent the organization’s views any more. That’s false, as this incident shows: hatred of Jews, including Holocaust denial, remains central to the Hamas belief system. It is a terrorist group, not a potential negotiating partner. Its hold on Gaza must be ended, not accommodated.

Post a Comment 12 Comments

  • Posted by A Tchockwork Naranja

    “If I get old, I will not give in.”

    Neither will Hamas. Jamás.

    Perhaps they deny the Holocaust because ‘the whole’ was not ‘burnt’? Is it a ‘false Zionist alleged tragedy’ because even the design of Yad Vashem affirms that it led, eventually, to Jerusalem? Or is it pointless to ascribe rationality to such a zealous pack of slighted curs?

    The Palestinian Zionists must stop chasing down past glories, but so must secular Israel. In the absence of a long-term strategic plan, it is the default of Shoah guilt as statist purpose which leads to this confusion.

    Only through Torah can Israel distinguish itself from the nations its 19th century ideology seeks to emulate, conjuring the Perizzites and the Hivites and the Jebusites, occupiers all, and finally put these latter-day Philistines to bed.

    Is it the internalization of ‘work sets free’ which propels Tel Aviv to slog through its daily muddle, in the false belief that its neighbors will someday give up like it has?

    In a religious war of attrition, Hellenistic, Ba’al-worshipping (the ‘god’ of fertility, glorified ignorantly in a vacuum) consumerism will be swept away by ‘Jews on horseback.’

  • Posted by Mike

    so Israel should renounce a 19th Century idea in favor of a bronze age one??? Nations ruled by religion are the most backward and the least prosperous of all. It is no coincidence that the Renaissance in Europe coincided with the breaking of the stranglehold of religious authority. No modern person would want to live in a Jewish version of Iran.

  • Posted by Michael Kliegman

    I feel a little like Tom Friedman in suggesting this, but wouldn’t this be a good opportunity for Mahmoud Abbas to lift himself up onto the “high road” by defending his aide and at least endorsing the proposition that the Holocaust did occur? Is even that much of a nod toward the Jews political (if not physical) suicide in the Arab world?

  • Posted by Elliott Abrams

    That idea is logical from the American perspective, but not I think from Abbas’s. He will be denounced in much of the Arab world, and get little credit here or in Israel in this sense: not much will be done on issues he cares about this year, until after the US elections and perhaps untl after Israel’s next elections.

  • Posted by Nuttin Yahoo

    I see my previous post has been censored. Is CFR only allowing posts that support their position?

  • Posted by Elliott Abrams

    CFR has a policy against permitting extreme, ad hominem attacks.

  • Posted by OH

    I often wonder why Holocaust denial is repeated in the Middle East. It’s not just Hamas. But it is also not just about the Holocaust. It’s also 911 denial (“Bin Laden could not do it, its a big conspiracy”). I can’t pretend to have an answer, but I suspect that maintaining the myth of a big global conspiracy is a convenient excuse when all you have to show is failure.

    When I am in the region, and I hear such statements, my reaction is simply to ignore them and simply speak as though I heard nothing at all. Whoever makes such claims is usually desperate for a provocation, so why grant it to them?

  • Posted by Once I Was Me


    A brilliant comment, but keep in mind that the 19th Century framework you defend has its roots in the Iron Age, as does the Renaissance ‘enlightenment’ you speak of. Torah and Islam are revelatory leaps in human organization, that hurdle which confounds us most at present. They are ring-fences against the basic mistakes we consistently make in ‘free’ societies. Truly, it is the Law which sets us free, which lets us proceed from the past and move in a linear fashion, rather than the secular back-and-forth that envelops us and has virtually bankrupted the financial system. The prosperity you speak of us is an illusion fueled by an explosion of credit and government spending- the balance sheets of democratic capitalist societies are all underwater. Perhaps the greatest long-term threat to Israel is its side-pocket dependence on the creaking, derelict European and American financial regime.

    Socially, you are right to say that it could be a difficult transition. Some of the shenanigans which take place in Tel Aviv could be transplanted to Eilat, which exists outside the biblical confines of the Land and is already facing competition from Aqaba, which could never duplicate Eilat’s potential for depravity if it were to redefine itself.(Aqaba exists in its own Special Economic Zone, complete with a full-fledged checkpoint into and out of the rest of Jordan; post-bus attack Eilat already shows traces of the same, for different reasons.)

    To your point of ‘modernity,’ you are right in its relevance to the economics of Haredization, which is almost fully subsidized by the State and its tax base. But Tel Aviv could blossom in a regionwide awakening of trade, the inevitability of which is yet another obstacle to Israel’s posture within Western economies, which are in desperate need of new markets and growth. Jerusalem bites back against encroaching Haredization, but with exile in abeyance, some of the Talmudic strictures that govern the Galut seem less relevant. Jerusalem is a city of neighborhoods. Does Borough Park diminish Brooklyn Heights? A settling-out should bring a semblance of peace.

    Finally, your note about Iran is particularly cogent. If all options vis-à-vis Iran are acceptable, surely one of religious reconciliation is a possibility? It is often cited that there are Jewish members of Iran’s parliament. One should be wary of it- Hamas considers the Jews ‘cursed’- but there is a logic beyond what some might suspect is trivial. Judaism is revered in Iran as a revealed faith. The Iranians have a problem with Israel, not Judaism. So do many in the West, including, alarmingly, our President and Russia’s. The latter is a covert pogrom away from cementing the status to which he aspires.

  • Posted by Nuttin Yahoo

    > Posted by Nuttin Yahoo August 3, 2012 at 2:45 am
    > I see my previous post has been censored. Is CFR only allowing posts that support their position?

    > Posted by Elliott Abrams August 3, 2012 at 9:27 am
    > CFR has a policy against permitting extreme, ad hominem attacks

    I see. While my statements was just quoting the private journal entries of Zionist leader Theodore Herzl and select speech fragments of Israels first Premier. These quotes showed how racist the Zionist system had become by their own words. They expose the unsophisticated lie that surround the ideas of Zionism as it was implemented. And you are well aware of all this history, so I attributed your cognizance and therefore also that you a party to this racism. SO its very relevant when you attack Hamas, especially when it is realized that Israel earlier supported Hamas as it wanted to weaken the PLO in the early days. If you really cared for peace for the Semites (which by the way include the Arabs) you wouldn’t be polemic against Hamas, but would try to find a way to speak to them.

    Besides all this you now have a reputation built by your past actions in the Iraq war etc., along with other neocon compatriots. Given that I totally understand why my statements needed censoring from your point of view. However its rather ironic that we are not the Soviet Union, and an even more sad reflection that you have contributed largely to reducing the chance of peace for your own jewish people, for whom I have respect as for any other people. Do you know hate, or do you feel you are only a victim of it? You don’t have to answer me, just answer your heart, and consider the seeds that you plant in the lives of your own loved ones.

  • Posted by Paratroopers Day

    I should have put the Radiohead title in quotes. Amateur hour for me, with a couple typos and impugning Pooty-Poot. It’s all about oil prices for Russia.

  • Posted by Mawloud Ould Daddah

    The only way to obtain peace with Hamas is by removing it

  • Posted by Fake William Allman

    For Mike:
    “Our modern skulls house a stone age mind”

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