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PMW in the Media
See Hamas for what it is
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Globe and Mail questions President Putin's judgment after inviting Hamas leaders to Russia last week. With Hamas' ongoing vow to eradicate Israel, surely they need not to be so encouraged.
Optimists take the view that the Hamas victory in last month's Palestinian election will lead the militant Islamist movement to moderate its views. With the responsibility of governing on its shoulders, Hamas will have to put aside its campaign to obliterate Israel and concentrate on delivering public services instead.
Those who take that view should take a look at a video presented on the Hamas website this week. It shows suicide bombers delivering statements before they begin their mission. The first, a young man in green battle gear, sits in front of a Hamas banner with a rifle in his hand and crossed rocket launchers in the foreground.
Here is what he says: "My message to the loathed Jews is that there is no god but Allah, we will chase you everywhere! We are a nation that drinks blood, and we know that there is no blood better than the blood of Jews. We will not leave you alone until we have quenched our thirst with your blood, and our childrens thirst with your blood. We will not leave until you leave the Muslim countries."
The second suicide bomber, similarly arrayed in front of the Hamas banner, says: "In the name of Allah, we will destroy you, blow you up, take revenge against you, [and] purify the land of you, pigs that have defiled our country... This operation is revenge against the sons of monkeys and pigs... Jihad is the only way to liberate Palestine -- all of Palestine -- from the impurity of the Jews."
The second bomber is then shown saying goodbye to his mother, who drapes him with a combat belt. He tells her not to grieve on his "wedding day with the Maidens of Paradise... Be happy and not sad, because in the name of Allah, after death is merciful Allahs paradise."
After the video was made, the two men went to a frontier crossing and killed an Israeli soldier. That attack took place more than a year ago, on Dec. 7, 2004, but the fact that Hamas is airing it now shows it has not changed its depraved views or methods just because of winning an election. To the contrary, Hamas leaders have made it clear that they reserve the right to use suicide bombing as a means of resistance to Israeli occupation. Their goal of liberating "all of Palestine" -- by which they mean Tel Aviv and Haifa, as well as Jerusalem -- remains unchanged.
Indeed, according to its covenant, Hamas "strives to raise the banner of Allah over every inch of Palestine." Dismissing the notion of a peaceful settlement between Israel and the Palestinians, it declares that "there is no solution for the Palestinian question except through Jihad. Initiatives, proposals and international conferences are all a waste of time and vain endeavours."
Of course, it is always possible that Hamas will have a sudden change of heart and disavow its twisted views. But it would be rash in the extreme simply to sit back and expect it to happen as a matter of course. A movement that considers it beyond the pale for a faraway newspaper to publish a few cartoons of the Prophet Mohammed but perfectly acceptable for a man with dynamite strapped to his body to blow himself up in a restaurant full of families and children is not likely to see reason all of a sudden.
There is no guarantee that holding office will tame Hamas. Just as likely, it will see its election victory as an endorsement of its program (if that's the word for such a mission of violence and hate).
Hamas has already given itself credit for last year's Israeli withdrawal from the Gaza Strip. Its sense of empowerment is unlikely to wane once it holds the reins of power.
The West must take an unblinkered view of Hamas. In practice, that means withholding all aid from a Hamas-run Palestinian government until it forswears terrorism as a method and the destruction of Israel as a goal. Russian President Vladimir Putin set a terrible precedent last week when he indicated that he would invite Hamas leaders to Moscow, the first crack in the diplomatic attempt to freeze the movement out of international society. Hamas is not just an anti-Zionist but an anti-Semitic organization, whose covenant cites the infamous forgery, The Protocols of the Elders of Zion, that claims to document a worldwide Jewish conspiracy. The race hatred that drips from the suicide bombers' farewell video is typical of the movement.
The international community should have no truck with a group that embraces such loathsome views.


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