'There Is No Breakthrough Here'

Reading Hamas

By Yossi Alpher

Published April 29, 2012, issue of May 04, 2012.
  • Print
  • Share Share

The real significance of Mousa Abu Marzook’s Forward interview appears to be that the Hamas leadership wants to make sure that Israelis and the American pro-Israel community understand its positions and its terms. Under the influence of its mentor, the Egyptian Muslim Brotherhood, which is ascending to power in Cairo, it wants to be understood as a “player” in the political sense.

This is important because, in view of Hamas’s stable grip on Gaza, no significant progress toward a territorially comprehensive two-state solution appears possible without its participation.

Yet, judging from the interview, we can’t expect much. Hamas’s positions are as intransigent as ever. For example, Abu Marzook indicates that his movement won’t control terrorist violence emanating from Gaza and, indeed, won’t renounce terrorism against Israeli targets, even if he lamely excuses the deliberate targeting of civilians.

Nor does the Hamas leader offer any serious prospect of Hamas respecting a peace treaty negotiated by Israel with the more moderate West Bank-based Palestinian leadership. Abu Marzook proposes to treat a two-state peace treaty between Israel and the Palestine Liberation Organization as a hudna, or cease-fire. This might be intriguing had he not described the proposed Israel-Hamas hudna relationship with reference to Syria — with which Israel remains legally in a state of war — rather than, say, Morocco or the Gulf emirates, with which Israel has a variety of quiet contacts. Nor, he asserts, can that proposed relationship be negotiated with Israel. Doesn’t Hamas know that even the Syrians have, on occasion, negotiated with Israel?

Further, as a condition for a hudna, Abu Marzook insists on a comprehensive right of return to Israel for all 1948 refugees, while pretending to ignore the contradiction: The “return” of millions of “refugees” means the end of the Jewish state. To make sure we understand the real import of his position on “peace,” he wants the entire Palestinian diaspora, most of which is made up of such refugees, to approve in a referendum a PLO-Israel deal that still leaves Hamas in a state of war with Israel.

There are in this interview no serious prospects for peace or even stable coexistence. How can there be, when Abu Marzook’s answers regarding the Hamas charter and the Protocols of the Elders of Zion place him and his movement in a category of willfully ignorant and hateful anti-Semites? There is no breakthrough here, no significant compromise. We’re still dealing with militant Islam.

Yossi Alpher is the former director of Tel Aviv University’s Jaffee Center for Strategic Studies. He currently co-edits bitterlemons.net.


The Jewish Daily Forward welcomes reader comments in order to promote thoughtful discussion on issues of importance to the Jewish community. In the interest of maintaining a civil forum, The Jewish Daily Forwardrequires that all commenters be appropriately respectful toward our writers, other commenters and the subjects of the articles. Vigorous debate and reasoned critique are welcome; name-calling and personal invective are not. While we generally do not seek to edit or actively moderate comments, our spam filter prevents most links and certain key words from being posted and The Jewish Daily Forward reserves the right to remove comments for any reason.





Find us on Facebook!
  • Could Spider-Man be Jewish? Andrew Garfield thinks so.
  • Most tasteless video ever? A new video shows Jesus Christ dying at Auschwitz.
  • "It’s the smell that hits me first — musty, almost sweet, emanating from the green felt that cradles each piece of silver cutlery in its own place." Only one week left to submit! Tell us the story of your family's Jewish heirloom.
  • Mazel tov to Chelsea Clinton and Marc Mezvinsky!
  • If it's true, it's pretty terrifying news.
  • “My mom went to cook at the White House and all I got was this tiny piece of leftover raspberry ganache."
  • Planning on catching "Fading Gigolo" this weekend? Read our review.
  • A new initiative will spend $300 million a year towards strengthening Israel's relationship with the Diaspora. http://jd.fo/q3Iaj Is this money spent wisely?
  • Lusia Horowitz left pre-state Israel to fight fascism in Spain — and wound up being captured by the Nazis and sent to die at Auschwitz. Share her remarkable story — told in her letters.
  • Vered Guttman doesn't usually get nervous about cooking for 20 people, even for Passover. But last night was a bit different. She was cooking for the Obamas at the White House Seder.
  • A grumpy Jewish grandfather is wary of his granddaughter's celebrating Easter with the in-laws. But the Seesaw says it might just make her appreciate Judaism more. What do you think?
  • “Twist and Shout.” “Under the Boardwalk.” “Brown-Eyed Girl.” What do these great songs have in common? A forgotten Jewish songwriter. We tracked him down.
  • What can we learn from tragedies like the rampage in suburban Kansas City? For one thing, we must keep our eyes on the real threats that we as Jews face.
  • When is a legume not necessarily a legume? Philologos has the answer.
  • from-cache

Would you like to receive updates about new stories?




















We will not share your e-mail address or other personal information.

Already subscribed? Manage your subscription.