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Tuesday, February 14, 2006

A Disturbing Invitation

At the Washington Post, Richard Cohen finds Russian President Vladimir Putin's invitation to Hamas to come to Moscow to be A Disturbing Invitation. I didn't think anything upset Richard Cohen other than Israelis stopping 'Palestinians' at checkpoints.

It is not easy to say what to do with Hamas. It is -- no doubt about it -- a terrorist organization. Yet it won the recent Palestinian elections -- and did so going away. It has vast support in the West Bank and Gaza Strip, and in some ways represents an improvement over Fatah, the organization of the late and hardly lamented Yasser Arafat. His collection of kleptomaniacs and thugs was mightily resented by the average Palestinian, who now at least has leaders avowedly dedicated to honest government -- and, of course, the utter destruction of Israel.

Whatever Hamas's virtues might be, its vices are far, far worse. Just to give you one example: On June 1, 2001, a Hamas suicide bomber killed 21 people and wounded 120 others in an attack on a Tel Aviv discotheque. This was a typical Hamas operation, directed at civilians and involving the use of a suicide bomber, often some addled youth seeking a good time in paradise.

What's more, Hamas is no mere (or understandably) anti-Israel or anti-Zionist organization. It is also deeply, indelibly and quite openly anti-Semitic. Its covenant, adopted Aug. 18, 1988, does not limit itself to the goal of annihilating Israel, but throws in "killing the Jews" for good measure. It mentions Jews over and over again and even cites that notorious anti-Semitic forgery, "The Protocols of the Elders of Zion," as proof of what the vile Hebrews are up to. This includes, and I am not making this up, "control of the world media, news agencies, the press" and responsibility for "the French revolution, the Communist revolution and most of the revolutions we heard and hear about."

One thing you might not have heard about: "They [Jews] were behind World War I" and, for good measure, "World War II, through which they made huge financial gains by trading armaments, and paved the way for the establishment of their state." This is 100 percent, non-alloyed, near-perfect and totally bananas anti-Semitism -- not the work of rational minds.

It is, though, the work of the very people whom Putin (with French support) would meet with. He would do so, apparently, without one word being changed in this repellent covenant -- or without Hamas's renouncing its intention to obliterate Israel. Russia and, in a way, France would overlook this salty language because, as we are so often told, they are realists and we Americans -- chuckle, chuckle -- are dreamers. In the real world, you have to talk to your enemies.

But in the real world, Putin ought to bear in mind the example he is setting. If he can talk with Hamas, why can't others talk to the Chechens? He himself takes umbrage whenever anyone meets with Chechen political leaders -- not, mind you, terrorists -- because he makes no distinction between the two. But when it comes to Hamas, Putin is willing to embrace it all -- political wing, terrorist wing: It makes no difference to him. At least until he shows differently, the only distinction he makes is between the killers of innocent Russians and the killers of innocent Israelis.

Read the whole thing.


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