July 21, 2002 Special Dispatch No. 401

Liberal Columnist Calls on Hamas to Stop Terrorism

July 21, 2002
North Africa, Tunisia | Special Dispatch No. 401

Tunisian liberal Lafif Lakhdar, who resides in Paris and writes for the London-based Arabic-language daily Al-Hayat, published an open letter to Hamas in which he called on the organization to stop suicide bombings. Following are excerpts from his article:

Serving Israel

"…Your suicide operations and your arrogant declarations regarding the necessity of eliminating the State of Israel, which is a U.N. member, gives Israeli propaganda a trump card [that enables it] to win the propaganda war with the claim that the Palestinians do not want a state alongside Israel but a state on the ruins of the State of Israel. This statement is not acceptable to international consensus, and thus is not fitting for a reasonable politician because it leads to diplomatic and media isolation and exposes his people to tragedies…"

"What is the aim of these suicide attacks, and can this aim be accomplished in the foreseeable future?"

"The armed violence used by national liberation movements [across the world] since the second half of the 20th century, for example in Algeria and Vietnam, did not intentionally target civilians. Its declared aim was to force the enemy to sit down at the negotiating table to reach a settlement. In contrast, you, in Hamas, have broken away from this political-military path by choosing to target Israeli civilians, and by stating that negotiating with Israel is a crime. You even refused to participate in the 1994 elections, because the Palestinian National Authority which organized them was born from the womb of negotiations with Israel…"

"Irrational Nihilist Behavior"

"This irrational nihilist behavior has a name: 'worst-case nihilistic policy.' It is the worst because it takes unwise risks, following the logic of [Biblical Samson] 'let me die with the Philistines.' It is nihilist because it effectively negates all the values and norms underpinning the international community. You are indifferent to the destructive results of [suicide operations], such as the increased repression of your people and the war's spread to Arab countries in the region, with the aim of disseminating anarchy in them and making them ungovernable."

"This indifference to human pain, considering their blood to be cheap, being contemptuous of their lives, and expropriating their future on the altar of the naïve illusion of 'liberating Palestine to the last grain of soil' expresses a hallucinatory paranoia that views murder and suicide as goals in themselves, and the kind of identity beloved by those who hunger for power and blood, [who] despise religious values as well as the values of this world."

"This worst-case is the source of all political blindness. It is what has made you shoot yourselves in the foot and explode human bombs [against] the future of your people. It is what has made your political options converge with everything that benefits the enemies of your land. The proof of this is the timing of your suicide attacks and your shameful [cooperation] with Sharon about resistance to anything promoting peace."

You Failed All Chances in the Last Decades

"In 1996, you timed your suicide attacks to coincide with Israeli elections, in order to extend a helping hand to Netanyahu, to cut off the peace process, and to topple Peres, whose agenda was to go down in history as the crafter of the Arab-Israeli peace. In 1997, the late Syrian president [Hafez Al-Assad] said, 'Had Peres been elected, there would already be peace between us and Israel.'"

" Rabin's assassination by a Jewish terrorist, and the toppling of his ally Peres by you killed the peace dynamic. The sick Palestinian people and its leaders are still paying for this mistake. Hamas and the Likud leadership's common denominator is resolute opposition to every direction of peace, and preventing the establishment of a Palestinian state, which the Likud sees as the beginning of the end of Israel and you see as guaranteeing Israel's existence! Thus, when Sharon voted, in the Knesset, against Egyptian-Israeli peace, you voted against it in the streets of Cairo, through the Muslim Brotherhood… Sharon voted against the Madrid peace conference, and so did you, in your own special way. He voted against the Oslo accords, and so did you, saying these accords were heresy. The hero of Sabra and Shatila voted against the Israeli-Jordanian peace, and so did you."

"What makes your positions converge with those of the enemies of your people and your nation? Could it be collaboration? God forbid! There is another reason, with results no less grave. It is your inability to move from theology to politics."

"[The journalist] Huda Al-Husseini wrote: 'In a phone conversation, a British expert on Islamist movements told me that Hamas' aim was to eliminate the State of Israel...' This expert said, 'While meeting with the Hamas leaders, I was surprised to discover that most of its members maintain that the founding of an Islamic state in Palestine would come about in 2022-3… There must be some mistake with the date, because a 1999 religious ruling by Hamas spiritual leader Sheikh Ahmad Yassin says that the date of the establishment of the Islamist state in Palestine, on the ruins of Israel and in accordance with his understanding of Torah prophecy, would be in 2027 – that is, 40 years after the outbreak of the first Intifada.'"

Without a Change You Will Lose More

"I ask the intelligent among you: 'Do your religion and your moral conscience permit you to brainwash the Palestinian youth whose lives you risk with such nonsense?' How can you allow your strategy to be based on a hallucinatory reading of Jewish theology? Isn't this theological reading of the issue of the Palestinian people what created its tragedies? [Because of such theology,] Haj Amin Al-Husseini collaborated with Hitler and rejected the settlement offered him by the Peel Commission in 1937 to partition Palestine, with 20% going to the Jews and 80% to Palestine. Then, he repeated his mistake by rejecting the Partition Plan that this time would have given 55% to the Jews and the rest to Palestine…you rejected Clinton's proposal, which gave your people 96-97% of the West Bank, citing the religious ruling that you rejected it because it was an American-Jewish conspiracy against the Palestinian people…"

"I am not demanding that you develop strategic thought, although your political activity is impossible without strategy. All I demand of you is that you maintain a degree of realism that will help you understand the disconnect between your desires and regional and international reality. If you do not abandon this approach, you will continue to carry out, to the bitter end, the role of stubborn rejectionists who err with illusions about themselves and the world."

"[Without change], you will not grasp the message of September 11 – that the era of suicide operations is over and any violence whatsoever is unacceptable internationally and constitutes terror, whatever the reasons behind it. Violence will achieve no political reward whatsoever. The pre-emptive war, that is, offense as the best form of defense, is the strategic rule of the war on terror. It is no accident that the E.U. countries recently added the Popular Front [for the Liberation of Palestine] and the Al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigades to their list of terrorist organizations – the list in which you and Islamic Jihad were the first." [1]

[1] Al-Hayat (London), July 14, 2002.

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