David Makovsky could not have been more understated in describing to the Forward Hamas’s somewhat bizarre charm offensive via Mousa Abu Marzook’s interview. “Unfortunately,” he said, “it’s a validation of those who believe Hamas has a far way to go before it becomes a legitimate Palestinian interlocutor.” It is indeed unfortunate, but hugely illuminating.
Despite the fact that Hamas is considered by the West to be a radical Islamic terror group, the international community and Israel have given it a very low threshold to cross in order to enter into a peace process. Consisting of three tests, Hamas simply needs to renounce violence, accept previous agreements between the Palestinians and Israel and recognize Israel.
Yet instead of engaging in a real peace process, Hamas is, at this very moment, engaged in a process of arming itself to the teeth. Iranian weapons — including anti-ship missiles and hundreds of military-grade missiles — have been smuggled into Gaza in just the past year alone, and they have been used to terrorize Israeli civilians. Hundreds of shoulder-fired, ground-to-air missiles and laser-guided Kornet anti-tank rockets, smuggled out of looted Libyan arms depots, have made their way to Hamas fighters. One such Kornet missile killed a 16-year-old Israeli student on a school bus less than one year ago. Hamas proudly took responsibility.
One wonders why journalist Larry Cohler-Esses did not ask his newfound dining companion what he thought about Hamas’s vow to kidnap more Israeli soldiers after the release of Gilad Shalit. Or why Hamas condemned the killing of Osama bin Laden. Or how they feel about being Iran’s proxies, still allowing themselves to be armed, trained and financed by the Islamic Republic.
Charmed? Not really.
Laura Kam is the executive director of global affairs at The Israel Project.