Monday, October 6, 2014

How should the West view Hamas, IS and Israel?

On September 29, 2014, Israel Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu spoke to the United Nations General Assembly. In his speech, he declared that Hamas wants to destroy Israel. But, he said, referring to the similarity between Hamas and The Islamic State (IS), “Hamas has a broader objective. They [sic] also want a caliphate. Hamas shares the global ambitions of its fellow militant Islamists,” the IS (“Transcript of Benjamin Netanyahu's address to the 2014 UN General Assembly”, Haaretz, September 29, 2014).

Netanyahu had made this association because he felt that “Israel's fight against Hamas and the US military campaign against the Islamic State are part of the same cause --the defeat of Islamic extremism” (ibid).

On the surface, he made perfect sense. Both the US and Israel, each in its own way and each for its own reasons, face a threat from Islamic extremism. But his linking Hamas with the IS didn’t sit well with everyone. Apparently, some either can’t give credence to anything a Jewish leader of Israel says, or they are reluctant to grant Israel any right to discuss Islamic extremism--or, they are so focused on the general threat we face from Islamic extremists they completely dismiss the threat Jewish Israel faces from Hamas.
For example, Nathan Brown, writing in The Jewish Daily Forward (“Netanyahu's Convenient Lies About ISIS and Hamas”, September 30, 2014), dismisses Netanyahu’s attempt to compare Hamas to IS. He further argues that IS brutality is not the problem. The real problem, he suggests, is that IS political adeptness is admired by so many Arabs. He argues that Arabs aren’t so much challenged by the Stone Age brutality of IS as they are by ‘political realities’ the IS raises. He concludes that Israel would be wiser to face the ‘political realities’ it has with Hamas than to demonize Hamas with non-productive comparisons.

His argument is intriguing, nuanced—and extremely dangerous. It suggests you should ignore the violence and ideology of the IS and look instead at its political influence. His focus downplays the IS’s brutal drive for Islamic rule just as IS threatens to overrun a region that contains more than half of the world’s oil supply (“Mideast Risks Warlord Era as Jihadists Rise, Nations Fail”, Bloomberg News, October 3, 2014). 

Brown presents an interesting argument—if you want to deflect your audience from any urgency over the danger IS creates for Western economic stability. Political influence isn’t the issue here. If the IS shuts off the West’s oil supply, the West won’t be talking about IS political influence.

Larry Derfner isn’t so nuanced with his argument against Netanyahu’s associating Hamas with IS (“No, Hamas isn’t ISIS, ISIS isn’t Hamas”, +972Magazine, August 24, 2014).  He sees any attempt to equate Hamas with IS as nothing more than an ‘idiotic’ and crude attempt to brainwash us to side with Israel’s oppression of the ‘Palestinians’. He says Hamas is different from IS: “Hamas is not slaughtering and beheading and crucifying people by the thousands, it’s not committing gang rape, it’s not massacring people because they practice a different religion” (ibid). He says the most telling difference between Hamas and IS is that Hamas is a nationalistic movement, fighting to free its people—and IS is not. This difference, he argues, is crucial because “ISIS is a threat to take over all of Iraq (and maybe later Syria); Hamas isn’t a threat to take over a blade of grass in Israel” (ibid).

Derfner doesn’t say that Hamas has no intent to take over Israel. He simply argues that Hamas isn’t like IS because it isn’t a threat to Israel, while IS is certainly a threat to Iraq.

Put another way, Derfner suggests that if Hamas isn’t an imminent threat to Israel, it’s wrong to call it a form of extremist Islam—as if it is beheadings or rapes that determine a terror organization’s extremism and not the rhetoric, ideology, incitement, dehumanization and persistent attacks that come out of that terror organization.

Seven weeks after Derfner published his attack of Netanyahu (who had already compared Hamas to IS before his UN speech), Hamas agreed with Netanyahu. It announced that, yes, it did indeed want an Islamic state (“Hamas Agrees with Netanyahu: 'We want an Islamic State'”, Arutz Sheva, October 2, 2014).

This is disturbing. In the face of brutal Islamic terror organizations (Hamas and IS) which threaten the Western world, Western essayists dismiss both the threat and the messenger (Netanyahu) who spells out that threat.  

The truth is, Netanyahu is correct. Hamas and IS come from the same poisonous tree. They share ideological DNA markers that come directly from that tree: radical Islam and terrorism.

Here are a couple of survival tips. First, it’s never a good idea to advise someone about to go into battle to don a blindfold. Second, it’s never a good idea to dismiss the only participant who has actually fought a similar enemy.

Apparently, Brown and Derfner prefer blindness.

The G-d of Israel has a Jewish Story He wants you to see. That Story is about how the Final Jewish Redemption unfolds.

Will IS, Hamas and a scorn for Israel play a part in that Story?

Stay tuned.

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