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.

Print Print Cite Cite
Style: MLA APA Chicago Close


A Reminder About Hamas

by Elliott Abrams
April 16, 2014


Every once in a while we get a useful reminder why there is no peace between Israelis and Palestinians–and the answer isn’t that Israel has put up 100 or 1,000 housing units.

This week, Palestinian terrorists attacked an Israeli family on their way to a Passover seder in the West Bank. The terrorists murdered the father of the family and left the wife and nine-year-old child wounded.

Here’s part of an AP report:

The prime minister of the Hamas-ruled Gaza Strip on Tuesday praised a shooting that killed an Israeli and wounded his wife and son as they drove through the West Bank the previous evening en route to a Passover meal. Speaking in Gaza, Ismail Haniyeh said the attack outside the city of Hebron “brought back life to the path of resistance” against Israel and warned of more attacks in the Palestinian territory.

Too many commentators fail to take Hamas’s history and ideology seriously, but the Hamas charter makes it clear that the murder of Jews is not only defensible but necessary. Thus we see Hamas’s leader applauding the murder of a father and wounding of his wife and child for the crime of driving to a seder. There is a precedent: In 2002, Hamas proudly claimed responsibility for a bombing at a Passover seder in a hotel in Netanya, Israel, that killed thirty people and injured well over a hundred.

The fact that Hamas is ruling half of Palestine is the greatest obstacle to peace. Haniyeh is, after all, not a lone voice in Hamas, but its political leader and in 2006-2007 the prime minister of the Palestinian Authority. Those who continue to believe peace is “an inch away,” or that construction of houses in Israeli settlements is the true barrier to peace, should ponder Haniyeh’s celebration of terrorism and murder.

Post a Comment 26 Comments

  • Posted by ah

    A terrible attempt at obfuscation and blaming the victims as usual. Peace has not come because Palestinian terrorists killed an Israeli policeman on the way to Seder (you of course didn’t mention the Palestinian woman who was just killed by tear gas inhalation), or because any number of Israels have been murdered by Palestinians. Peace has not come, because Israel “has put up 100 or 1,000 housing units” (in fact, many many more), and has steadily taken as much Palestinian land as possible. Period.

  • Posted by Allan

    Thank you Mr.Abrams.
    Is it possible for you to email your post to the Oval Office!

  • Posted by ah

    Yes, please do email it. And everyone there will wipe their brows with relief secure in the knowledge that you no longer have any influence in putting in place extremist right-wing Israeli policies that do nothing but hurt the US.

  • Posted by david

    Peace will come ONLY when the non-israeli arabs accept defeat. Building homes? Is a great way to should the arabs that this is the final stand.

    Face the fact. 899/900th of the arab occupied middle east is virtually Jew free. Israel sits on one tiny sliver, 1/900th and has 20% arab population. Is it too much to ask that the Jewish state exist?

    It’s simple. The building of homes doesn’t prevent peace, it ensures the survival of the Jewish people. Now maybe if the Jews would just off themselves we could have a “peace” that is acceptable to Fatah and or Hamas but that aint going to happen. So in response to every terrorist attack, or if you will, “brought back life to the path of resistance” Israel should BUILD more homes. SImple really… Building is more important than life according to those that hate Israel. SO BUILD….

    Every day,…. Every where, BUILD.

  • Posted by EMT

    Why the Israelis Do Not Make Peace with the Palestinians

    For years I have received and I am still getting, from some of my good Arab and North African friends, or even from my home country, Tunisia, questions like, “Why don’t the Israelis want to make peace with the Palestinians? You, Jews, we love you, but not the Israelis.” My answer has always been simple. The fact that they like the Jews, but not the Israelis is one of the biggest mistakes on the part of these people I know well.

    Honestly, I’m surprised, because I am ashamed to say that my friends, whom I hold in high esteem, do not understand. At least in consideration for my parents and in general for my ancestors, whom I love and respect , and who educated us that we are brothers and not enemies of our Arab, Berber or other co-citizens , what is happening today is far from these beautiful manners, unfortunately forgotten. Whether they are dead or alive does not change my sincere thoughts. And especially in regard to my personal friends, may they be Berbers, Arabs or others, that does not change my perception.

    Several members of my family were friends of Habib Bourguiba and they respected him for his sincerity and loyalty to his origins, which were not Arab, but were really Berber. That is to say, real Berbers, for whom the force of the sword could not change their opinions. They told me they are true Berbers, or if you want, Bedouins but not Arabs. There are millions who either by stupidity or by fear or lack of courage to say that they are not Arabs but Berbers, are intimidated. Some, who are rare, have the honesty to say that they are neither Arabs nor Muslims. One of them was the brave Habib Bourguiba.

    As to the question that I do not find wise, especially from people that I consider to have the courage and dignity to look the truth in the face, I think they should recognize that the Jewish people, called Israelis today, have always existed. Since the time of Mesopotamia and ancient Egypt, the Jewish origin we know stems from Abraham, the son of Tirah and his wife Sarah.

    I always believed that the Arabs were brothers to the Jews, because they are also born of the same father, Abraham. The fact that the mother was Egyptian and worked at Abraham and Sarah’s should confirm that Ishmael was a brother of Isaac and be recognized by everyone. In addition, we have lived together for centuries, without holding grudges dating back thousands of years. Although in recent years the Arabs have expelled the Jews or made life bitter to the Jews who lived among them, keeping hatred is against all belief and does not advance a thing, it only causes destruction. We should remember though that the Arab countries kept the houses, businesses, factories, and wealth of the Jews they expelled.

    I am not against that these two brother peoples unite. Arabs and Jews could form an incredible force. The world would eventually get to respect them, including the Iranians, who currently threaten these two peoples. To begin with, the Israelis and Palestinians could live together as we lived among the Arabs and have never claimed that the country belonged to us, like the Palestinians claim Judea and Samaria (the West Bank).

    What became of Feisal’s proposal of 1919 ?
    Mr. Feisal, the last Sharif of Mecca, wrote to the Jews in 1919: “Indeed I think that neither can be really a success without the other. People less informed and less responsible than our leaders and yours, ignoring the need for co-operation of the Arabs and Jews, have been trying to exploit the local difficulties that must necessarily arise in Palestine in the early stages of our movement. Some of them have, I am afraid, misrepresented our common goals to Arabs as Jews, with the result that interested parties have been able to make capital of what they call our differences.

    I wish to give you my firm conviction that these differences are not on questions of principle but on matters of detail such as must inevitably occur in every contact of neighboring peoples, and are as easily adjusted by mutual goodwill. Indeed, nearly all of them will disappear with further knowledge.

    I look forward and my people with me look forward to a future in which we will help you and you will help us, so that the countries in which we are mutually interested may once again take their place in the community of civilized peoples of the world.”

    Here’s a wisdom that no one had considered. I think it was the British who have prevented this proposal from taking shape. In my opinion it is necessary to consider all possibilities, taking a look at Palestine as Feisal had planned or Palestine under the British, which extended from Jordan, the actual Palestine and Syria. Who is aware of this proposal and could clarify for me why it did not work? Yet it was a very reasonable proposal, and today there would be no friction between Israelis and Palestinians.

    Copyright 2014 Emile Tubiana

  • Posted by Lily

    Agreed David. Israel might as well build. She is attacked whether or not she does so.

  • Posted by Beatrix139

    Today’s conflict started in 1948 when the UN divided Palestine (the name the Romans gave Israel) and made two nations: One Jewish and one Arab. The Arabs went to war and lost to Israel, Jordan and Egypt. Israel engaged in a pre-emptive strike in 1967 winning the West Bank and Gaza from Egypt and Jordan who relinquished their land rights. When Israel built the settlements she was the owner.

    In the 1990s, Israel offered the land to the Arabs, promising Jewish land to compensate for the area of the West Bank they built on. (About 5%). (Gaza formed her own Palestinian nation in 2005). Negotiations can get people killed. Both the West Bank Palestinians and the Israelis have to feel they have the backing of their people. And Abbas has to feel that he is safe from retaliation by Hamas.

  • Posted by Sheila Novitz

    Thank you, Elliott Abrams. The West is anxious to pretend Hamas is not there, so that Israel can continue being blamed for lack of a “peace” that was never going to happen.

    I agree: Build, build, build. It’s the only way to stay alive and as safe as possible with barbarians for neighbours. If we don’t build, the Arabs and the West will always find some other “reason” to hate us.

    We should be so, so yawningly accustomed to it by now, as they are so entirely predictable.

  • Posted by Mike

    To Ah, I peace is not about settlements, why was Israel attacked in 1948 and then forced to defend itself in 1967. There weren’t settlements then. Period.

  • Posted by ah

    Mike – Circumstances certainly change and have changed significantly since 1948 and 1967 (which, for the record was offensive on Israel’s part in 1967, not defensive).

    The Palestinians have recognized Israel and the Arab League – all 22 countries – have said full peace with Israel should it return to its 1967 borders. Unfortunately, Israel has gotten drunk on its own power and due to its “build build build” has ensured that it will not see peace for many decades to come. Only when it comes to the realization that it cannot colonize land that is not theirs, treat a population like animals, and then get angry when these people fight back for decent treatment and basic human rights, will Israel actually get the peace and security it allegedly wants.

  • Posted by AVI

    Lets be realistic. Is a war between religions. Not countries. Wish that Arabs leave the land of Israel. They will flood Europe, England etc. Leave the Jews alone! Leave Israel!.

  • Posted by ThirteenthLetter

    Ah: “The Palestinians have recognized Israel”

    Really? If Abbas has recognised Israel as a Jewish state that would certainly remove one of the main barriers to peace. I can’t believe I missed that! Can you post a link to back up your statement?

  • Posted by EMT

    Dear Avi, Dear ThirteenthLetter – another piece of Arab propaganda! If Abbas would recognize Israel, the Arab League would not tolerate it. Please understand that the so-called Palestinians have nothing to say, they are the puppet of the Arab League.

  • Posted by richard

    the middle east will not accept a jewish nation in their midst.that is a given

    all the rest is detail.

  • Posted by richard

    john kerry is a good man.yet there is something of overweening arrogance in his stance.he thinks he can bring peace to the region.but he does not understand.and there is no one to tell him he simply does not understand the region.

    witness his bringing 150 military officers to solve the problem for israel.naivete?at the very least.

  • Posted by richard

    hi ah

    “The Palestinians have recognized Israel and the Arab League – all 22 countries – have said full peace with Israel should it return to its 1967 borders.”

    so why ah all the “misunderstandings” in the neighbourhood?
    150000 killed in syria and daily bombings of civilians in iraq.
    israel is promised peace.should israel build its dream of peace using the syrian civil war as evidence?

  • Posted by EMT

    Dear Richard,

    Some Arabs do not have the sense of truth. Maybe they should be reminded that it was not Israel who declared war. It was Abdel Nasser who declared the war on Israel and all the Arab countries joined him. Only Israel won that war and those that followed against Israel’s will. Israel returned the Sinai to Egypt when they signed the peace treaty. Even Egypt does not get along with the Palestinian terrorists.

    The Arabs have vast lands, they just cannot take it that a small country in their midst is fighting for its existence. They could have accommodated the so-called Palestinians, who came from those Arab countries, and who have never owned this land, which is now Israel. They just want to deprive the Jews of their homeland.

    The British had conquered the land from the Ottoman Empire and the Balfour Declaration clearly assigned it for a Jewish Homeland, while 77% of Palestine was assigned to Jordan by the British as a political favor, just to please the Arabs.

    Millions of Jews have been expelled from the Arab countries and they had never claimed the right to statehood in those countries, in which they had lived for centuries before the Arab conquest of North Africa.

    Peace is not achieved by threats. The Arab League just wants to scare Israel, but they know that they will not prevail. The Arabs know it unofficially that they have no better friend than Israel.

  • Posted by Jassem Othman

    “Thus we see Hamas’s leader applauding the murder of a father and wounding of his wife and child for the crime of driving to a seder. ”

    Dear Mr. Abrams, there is nothing new by Hamas, because the charter of Hamas calls for the slaughter of Jews and the destruction of Israel.

  • Posted by Jassem Othman

    “I think they should recognize that the Jewish people, called Israelis today, have always existed. Since the time of Mesopotamia and ancient Egypt,..”

    Dear Mr. EMT, yes, the nation of Israel, have always existed there. The Land of Israel it is the birthplace of the Jewish people, it was promised as an everlasting possession to the Hebrew people, the descendants of Jewish Patriarchs that is since the Prophet Moses was the human instrument in the creation of the nation of Israel around the 13th century BC. Yet, the history of Jews extends to more than 4,000 years in that region, that is since the Patriarch of all the Prophets (Abraham) was Hebrew Jew, he and his sons (Patriarchs Isaac and Jacob) attributed as the Patriarchs of the Hebrew people (the Israelis). The patriarch Abraham born around the 18th century BC in Mesopotamia, so-called the area of the Fertile Crescent, where is the first human civilization began there…As we know that the Fertile Crescent is that area which encompasses flow the Nile in Egypt and the area flowed by the Euphrates and Tigris Rivers where the Hebrew patriarchs lived in that area (from Euphrates to the Nile) when the Patriarch Abraham’s journey began to ancient Egypt and to Bilad Alsham and also to the Southern desert “the Arabian Peninsula” when G-d ordained Abraham with his wife Hagera and his infant son Ishmael to go to the Southern desert to erect a Shrine for devout worship for all good and pious people, the Kaaba. After all, they deprived entirely from the places of worship and from their right of fortunes in our region, at least they deprived from their own safe homeland, the reason we take over everything in the region.

    “I always believed that the Arabs were brothers to the Jews, because they are also born of the same father, Abraham.”

    I think the Patriarch Abraham unresponsible for all the nations of the Middle East, yet Arabs and Jews have a lot in common, including Semitic origins. in general many of those living in the Middle East are indeed have a blood relations, after all, the Jews are most cursed and despised by those bad brothers, and I am sure that the vast majority of Arabs wishing to expel all Jews from their countries just as the Poles did here after the war. However, there are lots of Jews who are not Semites, because “Jews” refers to religion, not race or ethnicity.

  • Posted by Jassem Othman

    “I am not against that these two brother peoples unite. Arabs and Jews could form an incredible force. The world would eventually get to respect them…”

    Mr. ET, actually there is a big substantial difference between a mentality that belongs to the middle Ages and a mentality that belongs to the 21st century. The Jewish people everywhere in the world have suffered terribly for centuries from the Europeans and elsewhere in the world through discrimination, persecution and injustice, after all, they imposed their respect on the world with their sciences and knowledge, while the Arabs and Muslims with a culture of love of death and martyrdom because the real nature of Arabs and Muslims a very savage and cruel. they are very good at slaughtering each other every single day. Alas! But the European death mentality remains the most savage and cruel mentality in the human history, they who tried to wipe the Jewish people off the surface of the earth.
    However, today Israel is one of the truly great countries, and the Jews generally are privileged, wealthy, creative, and influential.

  • Posted by Aaron Burr

    Richard, you bad person – throwing the cold water of reality on Ah’s fantasy. truth could be disorienting.

    as stated elsewhere, Arabs and the West place the history of Israel’s sovereignty beginning in 1948 and ending with 1967 boundaries, all the while ignoring history before 1948, and after 1967. true resolution is swept under the rug, while all await a hot conflict scenario to revive interest? nay, more excuses.

    Israel is on its own; but thank God she appears capable, though at some point will need friends.

  • Posted by ah

    ThirteenthLetter –

    You are completely missing the nuances here. The Palestinian Authority has recognized Israel – period. This is indisputable. One can argue that they do not believe it, or it was a tepid recognition, but it is a fact. Read a little known document called “The Oslo Accords” (sarcasm intended)

    What you are saying is a completely different issue – recognition of Israel as a Jewish state. This is only a recent demand made by the Israeli government as a way to prevent peace talks from progressing. Abbas will not recognize Israel as a Jewish state, nor should he.

  • Posted by ah

    Hi Richard –

    Your connection is spurious here. Israel has the qualitative unmatched military-edge and an attack by all the Arab countries at once could easily be repelled by the Israel military – which I admit is one of the best in the world.

    Full peace is on the table – and the fact of the matter is, is that Israel has rejected it, because they want “peace” on their terms – which is control over all of the West Bank and Israel proper. Democracy and Palestinian human rights be damned.

  • Posted by ah

    Aaron Spur – I would suggest you go back and reach the previous posts and comments… you will then rapidly see who lives in which fantasy world.

    I’m a bit confused by your post – are you trying to say Israel had “sovereignty” before 1948? And that Israeli occupation of lands that are not theirs in 1967 are somehow legitimate now? Neither of those are true, if that is what you are trying to imply.

  • Posted by DB

    ah, one can argue about the attack on Egypt in 1967 – none of that land is now occupied – but there is simply no argument about Jerusalem and the West Bank. Jordan was repeatedly asked to stay out and due to Nasser’s lies attacked thinking they could get a chunk.

    Also you keep repeating this lie about the Saudi peace plan. Never mind the people Israel is actually fighting – Hizbollah, PIJ, Hamas and Iran – have refused to recognise the “peace plan”. Never mind whenever Israel has offered to sit down and talk about that offer, the Arabs have suddenly gone quiet. I know that in the past you have lied about this offer but one would have hoped given the number of times your mendacity has been pointed out that you’d no longer be peddling this particular falsehood.

    Also recognition of Israel as a Jewish state is not a “recent” demand. It has consistently been part of yishuv/Israel’s negotiations with the Arabs since the 30s at least.

    I have never understood how someone can claim Israel is trying to take “as much Palestinian land as possible” with a straight face. One only has to look at a map to see what a bare-faced lie this is.

    One has to wonder why people like ah, think the anti-Israeli case is so weak they have to lie to make it.

  • Posted by ah

    Sigh – DB – It seems your internet (and all the books you read) are stuck in the 1960s and haven’t been updated for the last 50 years.

    First, Jewish state demand was introduced in 2007. Not the 1930s. You are maybe referring to the idea of a “Jewish homeland”, this is vastly different.

    Second, you apparently don’t use maps that have any bearing on reality. This map is actually generous in the land it gives the Palestinians http://news.bbcimg.co.uk/media/images/63099000/gif/_63099047_westbank_old_new_624_2.gif
    So yes, I keep a straight face and a grimace when I read your comments suggestin that Israel is not trying to take land. Do you read what you write?

    Arab Peace Plan was rejected by Israel from the start, no ifs ands or buts. I will continue to point it out until you and others who have never actually read about it or its history go back and do so and realize that Israel has not and does not want to make peace, it simply wants more land.

Post a Comment

CFR seeks to foster civil and informed discussion of foreign policy issues. Opinions expressed on CFR blogs are solely those of the author or commenter, not of CFR, which takes no institutional positions. All comments must abide by CFR's guidelines and will be moderated prior to posting.

* Required