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Conflict Resolution 101: Talk to Hamas

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July 23, 2014: U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry arrives in Israel. (AP Photo/Pool)

July 23, 2014: U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry arrives in Israel. (AP Photo/Pool)

The world awaits with bated breath to see if the interim truce negotiated by US Secretary of State John Kerry will lead to a long-term ceasefire. But if US mediation is to be sincere and effective, the American government needs to take Hamas off its terrorist list and allow Hamas to be fully represented at the table.

For the past month, Secretary Kerry has been traveling around the the Middle East trying to negotiate an end to the violence. He has had ongoing discussions with Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu. He consults regularly with Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas. He’s convened with the governments of influential countries in the region, such as Egypt, Turkey, and Qatar. But there’s one glaring omission in his efforts as mediator: he doesn’t talk directly to Hamas, which has been on the US terrorist list since 1997.

Conflict Resolution 101 says “negotiate with all relevant parties.” Senator George Mitchell, who successfully brokered the Good Friday Accord in Northern Ireland, said that serious negotiations were only possible once the British stopped treating the Irish Republican Army as a terrorist organization and began dealing with it as a political entity. The Turkish government learned this lesson more recently. After decades of fighting the Kurdistan Worker’s Party (PKK), Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan decided to remove the PKK from the terrorist list and began direct negotiations with imprisoned PKK leader Abdullah Ocalan–a move that has given new life to the peace process.

You can’t presume to be a mediator and then exclude one key party because you don’t like them. That lesson surely applies to Gaza. If the position of Hamas is only heard through intermediaries, Hamas is much more likely to refuse the outcome. Look at Kerry’s July 15 ceasefire proposal. It was negotiated with the Israeli government, and Netanyahu boasted about Israel’s willingness to accept the proposal. But Hamas was never consulted and actually heard about the “take it or leave it” proposal via the media. Little wonder they rejected it. Former UN rapporteur Richard Falk called Kerry’s efforts “a diplomatic analogue to the theater of the absurd.”

The military wing of Hamas, the Izz ad-Din al-Qassam Brigades, has certainly been involved in terrorist activities–from suicide bombings in the 1990s to launching rockets into civilian areas in Israel. But Hamas has a social welfare wing that has long provided social services oftentimes not provided by the Palestinian Authority. And after it won the elections in 2006, its political wing had to start functioning as a government, overseeing not only security but more mundane institutions such as the Ministries of Health, Education, Commerce and Transportation. The more moderate members of Hamas tend to run the government agencies, oftentimes at odds with the more militant members.

On one of the CODEPINK humanitarian delegations to Gaza, soon after the horrific 2009 Israeli incursion that left over 1,400 Palestinians dead, I had firsthand experience with some of these government officials when they asked for a meeting with three members of our delegation, including two of us who had identified ourselves explicitly as Jewish Americans.

I expected the meeting to be tense, with rancor expressed toward us as Americans–– after all, our government had been funding the recent operations –– and as Jews. We were not only warmly welcomed by the group of about a dozen men, but told repeatedly: “We have no problems with the Jewish religion; in fact, we find it very close to Islam. Our problem is with Israeli policies, not Jews.”

I realized that Hamas, like any political organization, is made up of a variety of individuals with different political perspectives. Some are hard-line Islamists, antagonistic toward the West and bent on the destruction of Israel. Others, like the ones we met with, had earned university degrees in Western universities, appreciated many aspects of American and European culture, and believed they could negotiate with the Israelis.

The following day, the Hamas leaders we met with gave me a letter to take back to President Obama asking for his help. It was signed by Dr. Ahmed Yousef, Deputy Foreign Minister and senior advisor to Gaza’s Prime Minister Ismael Haniya. The language was free of anti-Israel rhetoric and instead infused with references to international law and human rights. It called for a lifting of the siege on Gaza, a halt to all settlement building and a US policy shift that would show evenhandedness based on international law and norms. It stated that Hamas was willing to talk to all parties, obviously including Israel, “on the basis of mutual respect and without preconditions.”

I found it astonishing that these representatives of a government that had been subject to a recent and brutal assault, financed in large part with US tax dollars, were reaching out to President Obama with such a well-reasoned plea to intervene. Even more astonishing is the fact that they gave the letter to me–– a feminist, Jewish, American woman–to try to deliver to the administration.

Back in Washington DC, I delivered the letter but despite my insistence, the Obama administration refused to even acknowledge its receipt, much less send a reply. It was yet another loss for the Hamas moderates and a win for those who saw armed resistance as the only way to win concessions from Israel.

Like the letter I received in 2009, the counterproposals Hamas has put forth in the last month have been very reasonable, including the following:

-Withdrawal of Israeli tanks from the Gaza border
-Freeing the prisoners arrested after the killing of the three youths
-Lifting the siege and opening the border crossings to commerce and people, under UN supervision
-Establishing an international seaport and airport under U.N. supervision
-Increasing the permitted fishing zone to comply with international norms
-Reestablishing an industrial zone and improvements in further economic development in the Gaza Strip

Not only are these conditions reasonable, they form the basis of a long-lasting truce that gets at the underlying, systemic problems. The only way this will happen is if Hamas is taken off the US terrorist list and given the opportunity–and responsibility–to negotiate these systemic changes the Palestinians so desperately need and deserve.

Medea Benjamin

Medea Benjamin, cofounder of CODEPINK for Peace, is the author of The Kingdom of the Unjust: Behind the US-Saudi Connection.

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73 Responses

  1. Justpassingby on August 5, 2014, 4:16 pm

    Doesnt seem likely after israel tried to murder them for weeks now.

  2. piotr on August 5, 2014, 4:45 pm

    Shift to “evenhandedness”? This is like attacking motherhood, apple pie and the right to pack heat.

    5 seconds of history:

    [JFK] Secretary of State, Sumner Welles, once said “Somoza’s a bastard!” And Roosevelt replied, “Yes, but he’s our bastard.”

    On the other hand, men of distinction no longer ponder weighty issues of state and business while smoking cigars, sipping good whisky and groping voluptuous secretaries, so perhaps it is time to revise that tradition as well.

    On the other hand, the very idea that a problem or conflict should be resolved may be controversial. “The Prince is just about to kiss the princess when. . . . He is struck with a concept. “Awake she’s just another princess. Asleep she’s a gold mine!”

    • Peace2All on August 7, 2014, 2:38 am

      Excellent explanation just wish that more Americans and their government is make to be aware of Hamas desire for just peace !

  3. ritzl on August 5, 2014, 5:09 pm

    101 is way too gracious. Talking-as-first-principle is remedial in the extreme.

    Thanks for the examples and for pointing out how Hamas/Gaza is the exception.

  4. just on August 5, 2014, 5:10 pm

    Thank you Medea!

    I can’t believe that this just appeared after I hung up with a friend. I was saying that MSM and Israelis are bemoaning the fact that the ceasefire was on the table 5/6/7 times and Hamas ‘refused’.

    BUT HAMAS was “not at the table”. The US, Egypt, and Israel were. How in the heck can there be a negotiation when one “side” is not present or recognized and while they are resisting wholesale slaughter of their people??? Now Kerry and Israel are physically not there, and Hamas is. So far, so good.

    Hamas is a very important partner in the Unity Government of the Palestinian People, and must be removed from the “terrorist” list. Please Mr. Obama — DO IT.

    • just on August 5, 2014, 5:24 pm

      You don’t negotiate peace with your ‘friends’.

    • Peace2All on August 7, 2014, 6:33 am

      “Super” power arrogance on display – my way or the highway ! Then to add insult to injury blame Hamas shamelessly by announcing that Hamas refuse to accept the ceasefire ! Unless U.S. changes their approach to settle the conflict in a fair manner there will be no peace. Israel will plan for another assault into Gaza with another excuse probably this time around accuse Hamas for not firing any more rockets !

  5. Donald on August 5, 2014, 5:17 pm

    Okay, we can shut the comments section down now. Tom Tomorrow has pretty well summarized the whole thing right here

    • Donald on August 5, 2014, 5:22 pm

      On the post itself, I agree with Medea Benjamin and Jimmy Carter that we should recognize Hamas. We went through the same utter nonsense back in the 70’s when the US refused to talk to the PLO, though there was a back channel of sorts through a CIA guy named Robert Ames, the subject of a new book by Kai Bird. Andrew Young had to resign from the Carter Administration because he secretly met with a PLO guy at the UN and the Israelis leaked it. Anyway, it was a stupid policy then and it’s a stupid policy now.

      One reason for it is that even semi- sensible people on this subject like Andrew Sullivan (hard to believe I just wrote that) still insist on pretending that Hamas is practically the same as ISIS. People go into fits if someone says Hamas has its pragmatists. Which is just more idiocy. American foreign policy is often moralizing, and moralizing on the wrong things.

      • Kay24 on August 5, 2014, 6:15 pm

        It is not as if the US and Israel don’t work with terrorists or rebels.

        Didn’t they train them and arm in Syria? They may call them rebels, but Assad calls them terrorists. Hamas is an elected body, recognized by the Palestinian people, and considered the resistance, because they realize, when they are being slaughtered no one but Hamas resists the occupiers, no generous iron domes gifted by the US tax payers, no weapons, no shelters.

        Israel brands them as terrorists, for many reasons, and one is to justify the bombing of Gaza on a regular basis.

        Hamas is not going anywhere, and it is time Israel acknowledged this, and worked with them if they want peace. No occupation, no resistance, no rockets.

      • piotr on August 5, 2014, 7:01 pm

        US is providing support only to moderate freedom fighters. It may superficially seem that they are terrorists, only because the plant explosives in civilian neighborhoods, kidnap Christian nuns, villagers, reporters, execute civilians who disobey on the spot, execute a boy for blasphemy because (I forgot the details), but if you know all that State Department knows, you are forced to conclude that they are not terrorists. (I have no idea what does State Department know, and I do not know how to interpret rules to arrest anyone who spend time fighting together with them.)

  6. Sand on August 5, 2014, 5:35 pm

    “..Hamas off its terrorist list and allow Hamas to be fully represented at the table…” Makes sense – but The Lobby that does have access to the Administration and our Congress critters will fight like hell on that one.

    Also, there’s the question of how Israel really feels about the recent unity government between Fatah and Hamas before its slaughter campaign began? As you know Israel’s considerations comes first. It’s obvious that Hamas needs to be included, but I really think the question we all need to explore is why isn’t it?

  7. Sand on August 5, 2014, 6:09 pm

    Wanted to include this recent FP article link which I thought was relevant to the discussion:

    From Foreign Policy:
    ARGUMENT How to Fix It
    Ending this war in Gaza begins with recognizing Hamas as a legitimate political actor.

  8. globalconsciousness on August 5, 2014, 6:24 pm

    Regarding talking to Hamas :

    too bad Jimmy Carter has to publish this in the Guardian in the UK and not an american paper –
    fwiw Mary Robinson is Irish (but not an opportunist like Samantha Power).

  9. Citizen on August 5, 2014, 6:29 pm

    It’s always good for Zionists when the US has an official terrorist hate list. That way they can continue on with their agenda, not having to explain themselves or their conduct. Dick and Jane will pay them nicely, totally oblivious.

  10. lysias on August 5, 2014, 6:47 pm

    The U.S. forced the UK to negotiate with (and eventually to make a peace agreement with) the IRA, which the UK considered terrorists. And Northern Ireland — as well as Ireland as a whole, as well as the UK — is now all the better for it.

  11. Kay24 on August 5, 2014, 6:51 pm

    OMGosh Blitzer is talking to one of Israel’s radical lawmakers (Moshe Feignlin ?). He truly sounds like he belongs to the nazis.. Such hatred spewing out of his mouth, he wants the most populated areas of Gaza bombed, he wants them all gone, kept in tents until they are sent to other nations, he must be one of those homeless europeans who live in illegal settlements, sounds vicious as they are. He calls this conflict between good (ha that was a good laugh) and evil, light versus darkness. If this man had his way, the entire population in Gaza would be under the rubble.
    Are these the types that Bibi is desperate to please, when he slaughters civilians?

    • piotr on August 5, 2014, 7:22 pm

      Moshe Zalman Feiglin is an Israeli politician and columnist. He is Deputy Speaker of the Knesset, Knesset Member, and head of the Manhigut Yehudit faction of Israel’s governing Likud party. Wikipedia

      Deputy Speaker, not “one of radical lawmakers”. Believe it or not, some former MKs became former on the account of being too radical.

      Feiglin has detractors: “A letter to Feiglin from the Home Office said that Smith based her decision [not to allow Feiglin to visit UK] on an assessment that his activities “foment or justify terrorist violence in furtherance of particular beliefs; seek to provoke others to terrorist acts; foment other serious criminal activity or seek to provoke others to serious criminal acts and foster hatred which might lead to inter-community violence in the UK.”

      And supporters: “The Jewish Defense League (JDL) is a Jewish far-right religious-political militant organization classified as “a right-wing terrorist group” by the FBI in 2001. According to the FBI, the JDL has been involved in plotting and executing acts of terrorism within the United States.

      Feiglin, an observant right-wing hardliner, will talk [in Toronto] about the highlights and personal experiences of his successful first year as Deputy Speaker of the Knesset, according to the invitation. [April 14th, this year]”

      Which raises an interesting question: why is the Administration communicating directly with a regime that harbors an organization classified as terrorist by USA? How long will we tolerate Canadian support of terrorism?

    • Bumblebye on August 5, 2014, 7:28 pm

      This is the (translation of) letter Moshe Feiglin wrote for Netanyahu from his facebook page:

      “With God’s Help


      Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu

      Mr. Prime Minister,

      We have just heard that Hamas has used the ceasefire to abduct an officer. It turns out that this operation is not about to be over any too soon.

      The failures of this operation were inherent to it from the outset, because:

      a) It has no proper and clear goal;
      b) there is no appropriate moral framework to support our soldiers.

      What is required now is that we internalize the fact that Oslo is finished, that this is our country – our country exclusively, including Gaza.

      There are no two states, and there are no two peoples. There is only one state for one people.

      Having internalized this, what is needed is a deep and thorough strategic review, in terms of the definition of the enemy, of the operational tasks, of the strategic goals, and of course, of appropriate necessary war ethics.

      (1) Defining the enemy:

      The strategic enemy is extremist Arab Islam in all its varieties, from Iran to Gaza, which seeks to annihilate Israel in its entirety. The immediate enemy is Hamas. (Not the tunnels, not the rockets, but Hamas.)

      (2) Defining the tasks

      Conquest of the entire Gaza Strip, and annihilation of all fighting forces and their supporters.

      (3) Defining the strategic goal:

      To turn Gaza into Jaffa, a flourishing Israeli city with a minimum number of hostile civilians.

      (4) Defining war ethics: “Woe to the evildoer, and woe to his neighbor”

      In light of these four points, Israel must do the following:

      a) The IDF [Israeli army] shall designate certain open areas on the Sinai border, adjacent to the sea, in which the civilian population will be concentrated, far from the built-up areas that are used for launches and tunneling. In these areas, tent encampments will be established, until relevant emigration destinations are determined.

      The supply of electricity and water to the formerly populated areas will be disconnected.

      b) The formerly populated areas will be shelled with maximum fire power. The entire civilian and military infrastructure of Hamas, its means of communication and of logistics, will be destroyed entirely, down to their foundations.

      c) The IDF will divide the Gaza Strip laterally and crosswise, significantly expand the corridors, occupy commanding positions, and exterminate nests of resistance, in the event that any should remain.

      d) Israel will start searching for emigration destinations and quotas for the refugees from Gaza. Those who wish to emigrate will be given a generous economic support package, and will arrive at the receiving countries with considerable economic capabilities.

      e) Those who insist on staying, if they can be proven to have no affiliation with Hamas, will be required to publicly sign a declaration of loyalty to Israel, and receive a blue ID card similar to that of the Arabs of East Jerusalem.

      f) When the fighting will end, Israeli law will be extended to cover the entire Gaza Strip, the people evicted from the Gush Katif will be invited to return to their settlements, and the city of Gaza and its suburbs will be rebuilt as true Israeli touristic and commercial cities.

      Mr. Prime Minister,

      This is the a fateful hour of decision in the history of the State of Israel.

      All metastases of our enemy, from Iran and Hizballah through ISIS and the Muslim Brotherhood, are rubbing their hands gleefully and preparing themselves for the next round.

      I am warning that any outcome that is less than what I defined here means encouraging the continued offensive against Israel. Only when Hizballah will understand how we have dealt with Hamas in the south, it will refrain from launching its 100,000 missiles from the north.

      I call on you to adopt the strategy proposed here.

      I have no doubt that the entire Israeli people will stand to your right with its overwhelming majority, like myself – if only you will adopt it.

      With high regards, respectfully,

      Moshe Feiglin”

      Deputy Speaker of the Knesset. Member of Netanyahu’s Likud. Full on facsist.

      Must be Blitzer’s hero.

      • piotr on August 5, 2014, 7:52 pm

        Wikipedia is a bit funny, because contentious articles are edited by mutually opposing parties, resulting in utterly inconsistent text. Feiglin is depicted as fanatic ideologue, chummy with extremists and terrorists, plus

        “Feiglin advocates predicating Israeli policy on three principles: Liberty, Jewish Identity and restoring Meaning into Israeli life.[1] In this context, he opposes coercion of any sort, religious or anti-religious.[2]” No coercion, just artillery barrages to encourage relocation to tents in the desert surrounded by barbed wire.

        Feiglin, austere, humorless, intelligent and fanatical, reminds me a movie character. In 1922, Polish parliament elected, in the most Byzantine fashion, first President of the independent state. Elected on Sunday, sworn on Monday, nationalist pandemonium of Tuesday, riots on Wednesday, Jewish pogroms on Thursday (he got Jewish and Ukrainian votes, no Ukrainians at hand in Warsaw), and so on, until lighter schedule on Saturday: opening of an exhibition in the Society of Encouragement of Arts. One exhibited painter shot the President dead. 40+ years ago a movie was made, and court testimony of the killer is a large part of it, based on actual records. [I described the week of the presidency of Narutowicz to make it fit with a song “If I were a President”, but all of that happened in one week]

      • Mooser on August 6, 2014, 1:03 pm

        “One exhibited painter shot the President dead”

        Is this going to develop into that old joke about hanging the artist instead of his paintings?

      • just on August 5, 2014, 8:19 pm

        G-d’s probably not a fan of Moshe’s wishes nor his ideas…

      • Mooser on August 6, 2014, 1:05 pm

        “G-d’s probably not a fan of Moshe’s wishes nor his ideas…”

        A mentsh tracht und Gott lacht

      • just on August 6, 2014, 1:17 pm

        Precisely, with a tweak.

        I think that G-tt is weeping…

      • Kay24 on August 5, 2014, 9:26 pm

        To think they keep accusing the other side of making hate speeches and and wanting to wipe Israel off the map, seems like Israel is full of these extremists who make terroristic threats. What hypocrites.

      • RoHa on August 6, 2014, 5:01 am

        Nice to see someone’s got clear plans of what to do. Not quite sure I would approve of them, though.

    • Pixel on August 6, 2014, 9:12 am

      O. M. G.

      Just watched this. My jaw dropped to the floor the minute the guy said “kill them,” followed by “shoot them,” and it stayed there, throughout.

      Well, there it is. One succinct statement that says – everything!! Truth spoken – at last. He had the guts to say it, straight and clear and with confidence. And what a strong, powerful, unambiguous, unapologetic message it was.

      And the guy isn’t some kid sitting at his computer in Long Island, New York, or a woman in Israel worried that she may have to start wearing Spanx, he’s the [email protected] [email protected]^^n DEPUTY SPEAKER of the KNESSET!!

      WHAT a slip up to let that guy publish anything on the web, including on his personal facebook page, or say anything at all on camera. To me, he says it all.

      • Tuyzentfloot on August 6, 2014, 9:55 am

        Which brings us to the question whether Hamas has a partner for peace.

      • Kay24 on August 6, 2014, 10:43 am

        Deep down they all have that hatred and murderous tendencies, some are to cunning to let it show, and act soulful wanting peace.

        Every time a zionist shill accuses the other side of hateful statements, perhaps the media should challenge them with this. But they won’t.

    • Peace2All on August 7, 2014, 6:44 am

      Bibi, Blitzer and Moshe Feignlin true blue nazis now known as zionism but Bibi said that he does not want to kill babies children and women Hamas made him to slaughter them.

  12. joemowrey on August 5, 2014, 6:59 pm

    As is so often the case with well-intentioned and heroic activists such as Benjamin, she is having a conversation with herself based on nonsensical, magical thinking.

    “For the past month, Secretary Kerry has been traveling around the Middle East trying to negotiate an end to the violence.”

    As Glenn Greenwald points out in his recent article, the notion that the U.S. has even the slightest interest in trying to negotiate an end to the violence is absurd.

    In fact, the U.S. is part and parcel of the problem, which would not exist without U.S. support and funding of Israel, and is part and parcel of the current rampage in Gaza which would not be happening if the U.S. had not given Israel a green light to proceed.

    “You can’t presume to be a mediator and then exclude one key party because you don’t like them.”

    More importantly, you can’t presume, as Benjamin does, that the U.S. is interested in being a mediator. That’s just crazy talk.

    It’s not about whether U.S. strategy in excluding Hamas makes sense, or whether the U.S. is or is not effectively attempting to be a mediator. That suggestion is Orwellian, at best. The U.S. is not interested in mediating anything. The U.S. is interested in promoting and defending Israel, period. Any suggestion to the contrary, which is what Benjamin’s article is about, it pure fantasy.

    Include Hamas? Include Hamas in what, Israel’s and the US’s collusion to dispossess and oppress the Palestinian people? Of course the counterproposals Hamas has put forward are reasonable. Of course including Hamas in any supposed negation or peace process is logical. But reason and logic have no bearing on what is being done in Palestine. Israel and the U.S. have no interest in “getting at the underlying systemic problem.” So there is no use in making suggestions about how they might accomplish that. It’s the wrong conversation.

    Much as I admire many of Media Benjamin’s direct actions and her courage and willingness to put herself on the line physically, she should quit with this sort of “here’s how we can all just get along” thinking. We can only all get along when we all want to get along. Neither Israel nor the U.S. has or ever has had any such intention. That is the issue which should be addressed.

  13. Throwing Stones on August 5, 2014, 8:11 pm

    Great article!

    Back in Washington DC, I delivered the letter but despite my insistence, the Obama administration refused to even acknowledge its receipt, much less send a reply. It was yet another loss for the Hamas moderates and a win for those who saw armed resistance as the only way to win concessions from Israel.

    It seems US and Israel administrations don’t recognize moderates, on purpose no doubt. After all, what’s a class-polarized, highly militarized society, without terrorists to justify the State and distract from the misery? What’s a Jewish State, without anti-Semites to give it purpose and identity?

    Regarding Hamas military tactics, this is revealing, about recent tactics at least, from the Israeli-intelligence-connected website Debka Files:
    DEBKAfile‘s military sources note that Hamas’ success in disrupting civilian air traffic to and from Israel exposed a hidden side of its war on Israel. Most of the nearly 2,000 rockets fired over the last 16 days did not miss Israel’s urban centers by chance, although many were deflected by Iron Dome interceptors. Hamas was focusing on strategic targets, such Israeli Air Force bases and facilities in the south and center. When IDF communiqués report that rockets land in open areas, this does not necessarily rule out their explosion in or near military bases.” (emphasis mine)
    Search on debka com 24122

  14. American on August 5, 2014, 10:19 pm

    Dont expect anything of the US gov, it supports the big lie.

    Chris Hedges: Why Israel Lies – Chris Hedges – Truthdig –

    “All governments lie, as I.F. Stone pointed out, including Israel and Hamas.

    But Israel engages in the kinds of jaw-dropping lies that characterize despotic and totalitarian regimes. It does not deform the truth; it inverts it. It routinely paints a picture for the outside world that is diametrically opposed to reality. And all of us reporters who have covered the occupied territories have run into Israel’s Alice-in-Wonderland narratives, which we dutifully insert into our stories—required under the rules of American journalism—although we know they are untrue.”

    “I saw small boys baited and killed by Israeli soldiers in the Gaza refugee camp of Khan Younis. The soldiers swore at the boys in Arabic over the loudspeakers of their armored jeep. The boys, about 10 years old, then threw stones at an Israeli vehicle and the soldiers opened fire, killing some, wounding others.

    I was present more than once as Israeli troops drew out and shot Palestinian children in this way. Such incidents, in the Israeli lexicon, become children caught in crossfire.

    I was in Gaza when F-16 attack jets dropped 1,000-pound iron fragmentation bombs on overcrowded hovels in Gaza City. I saw the corpses of the victims, including children.
    This became a surgical strike on a bomb-making factory.

    I have watched Israel demolish homes and entire apartment blocks to create wide buffer zones between the Palestinians and the Israeli troops that ring Gaza. I have interviewed the destitute and homeless families, some camped out in crude shelters erected in the rubble.
    The destruction becomes the demolition of the homes of terrorists. con’t..

    This article received 594 comments. Top comment: “I am a former pastor of a main line church in the middle of the United States. Two summers ago, I visited the West Bank, East Jerusalem, and Israel. I left the church because I could not reconcile serving in a “church” that did not stand against the gut wrenching reality I witnessed there in any meaningful way. Since, I’ve been trapped in the circumstances so brilliantly articulated by Mr. Hedges. Perhaps, there is no more a meaningful way to stand against it. I am grateful for his word, and I am hopeful still.”

    • annie on August 6, 2014, 11:28 am

      american, can you please read ( and internalize)this comment:


      • seanmcbride on August 6, 2014, 12:19 pm


        anyway, as i said before, we just disagree. and thanks for asking about my tooth! i am in severe pain, have been told it has to be pulled, and i am in complete denial (left the dentist’s chair!). just suffering away while holding onto my tooth til it becomes unbearable. oh well. this too shall pass.

        I had a similar problem recently and can relate completely — that can be agonizing. I hope you are soon pain-free.

        And thanks for the informative statistical data in the other comment — which I fully digested.

        (Commenting to you here because the original thread is closed.)

      • annie on August 6, 2014, 12:59 pm

        thanks sean.

      • lysias on August 6, 2014, 12:40 pm

        Annie, OT (but the thread where you mentioned your tooth is now closed for comments): I heard this past weekend from a couple of people who have tried this method with success: if you swirl whiskey around in your mouth around a sore tooth, it relieves the pain. I’ve never tried this method myself, but apparently it works.

      • annie on August 6, 2014, 12:57 pm

        thanks lysias, i’ve definitely been doing that in the evenings and it helps. however, i don’t really want to be drinking too early in the day, i have this affliction where i simply cannot spit out whiskey. ;)

      • just on August 6, 2014, 1:09 pm

        lysias– NEVER? You seem a reasonable and logical person to me.


      • Mooser on August 6, 2014, 1:26 pm


        Tooth pain? I can easily overcome tooth pain using spiritual techniques. I transcend dental medication.

      • just on August 6, 2014, 1:30 pm


      • lysias on August 6, 2014, 2:22 pm

        I almost never get a toothache, because I get my teeth cleaned twice a year. And it’s a long time since I tasted any hard liquor. I drink a lot of beer, wine, and cider, but I avoid hard liquor. I used occasionally to have desserts that were soaked in whiskey or cognac, but, since I developed borderline diabetes, I seldom have dessert.

      • American on August 6, 2014, 1:43 pm

        Annie…..I am not sure what you mean….did I quote the whole article?
        Actually I borrowed it from a post by Sean elsewhere so if it was the entire article my bad…I didnt check it…due to being in a hurry.

      • annie on August 6, 2014, 2:25 pm

        american, you mean did i go search for the article since you didn’t actually link to it and check whether you posted the whole thing? no. i might have had you linked to it, which everyone likes and i wish you would do more.

        but i do recall stripping away over 1/2 the text you copied. in the fair use link i directed you to it says “If you use the copied work in a way that substitutes for the original in the market, it’s unlikely to be a fair use;”. substitute meaning, the reader does not have to go to the source to read most of the text.

        most blogs like traffic, we do. we support driving traffic at truthdig as opposed to ripping them off.

        notice on our front page, when we blockquote from someone else we rarely do that with more than 4 paragraphs unless we have permission, except for gov stuff like daily press briefings because that’s different, it’s publicly owned.

        we don’t want people posting whole articles in the comment section or even 8 paragraphs is way too much. it’s best to provide the link and quote enough so people are interested and go to the source. then it drives the traffic of our colleagues.

        btw, i do it to your copy/paste comments a lot. it’s time consuming. generally i don’t like to have conversations about the comment section in threads but i think this is worth repeating.

        and for the commenter who just left a 30 paragraph copy/paste comment that got deleted, now you’ll know why. i’m going to start deleting comments the infringe on fair use more so please everyone, just repost it with a shorter clip from the article. it’s nothing personal.

        the exceptions is full articles that are short/3 paragraphs (ma’an news). or ILM has given us permission to copy anytime.

        i hope that clears things up.

    • Mooser on August 6, 2014, 1:24 pm

      “Perhaps, there is no more a meaningful way to stand against it.”

      Gosh, that’s funny. I thought preachers usually stand in a pulpit, preaching against evil, as they see it. Always thought that was pretty meaningful, but maybe not.

  15. Palikari on August 5, 2014, 10:30 pm

    Hamas’ goal is to destroy Israel and throw all Israeli Jews to sea. They don’t want to negotiate and are not willing to change their extremist views.

    How can you talk to someone that wants you dead, and whose stance is not negotiable?

    • annie on August 6, 2014, 12:59 pm

      that’s just got to be one of the most original comments i have ever heard palikari. thanks for sharing!

      • DoubleStandard on August 6, 2014, 1:32 pm

        Lack of originality doesn’t mean lack of validity. Your “israeli apartheid” line is highly unoriginal… should the frequent repetition of an idea render it unworthy of consideration?

      • annie on August 6, 2014, 2:45 pm

        a lie is a lie. so yes, the comment lacked validity. speaking of pushing people into the sea, have you ever checked out the nakba photos of palestinians being driving into the sea?


        anyway, we get lots of those kinds of comments that never see the light of day. blatant lying isn’t worth publishing except to ridicule imho.

      • Mooser on August 6, 2014, 6:44 pm

        “Lack of originality doesn’t mean lack of validity. Your “israeli apartheid” line is highly unoriginal…”

        But, as you say that doesn’t make it invalid. Anyway, you better consider it, you’ll be hearing it a lot, and the comparison may be more apt than some of the more tendentious Nazi-Israel comparisons.
        I mean, consider it a reprieve. I don’t think Apartheid South Africa is despised quite as much as Nazi Germany. Not quite as much.

      • Kay24 on August 6, 2014, 2:08 pm

        Lol nice response Annie. :))

    • Chu on August 6, 2014, 2:36 pm

      lol. Hamas is the one pushed into the sea (4milesx25miles and shrinking).
      No need to psychologically ‘project’.

      Can’t you clown’s come up with better material? Stop buzzing around the hive. Go out and learn something on your own for once in your life.

    • Peace2All on August 7, 2014, 7:24 am

      Palikari that is the way to play victim just like your Bibi said : ” Blame It On Hamas”

  16. Bandolero on August 5, 2014, 10:30 pm



    Ebbing support for Israel among key groups stirring alarm

    … Last Friday, a select group of Jewish institutions was sent a confidential summary of the staffers discussing the recent Gaza conflict. The tone of the summary, which was obtained by JTA, was one of alarm.

    “Congress is supposed to be our fortress,” wrote authors Jennifer Laszlo Mizrahi and Meagan Buren, the founder and a former top aide, respectively, at The Israel Project. “… it appears that the negativity and lack of support among young people is tunneling its way into congressional offices, even while the congressmen and senators remain steadfast on the surface.”

    … Among the statements the dozen congressional staffers agreed on: “Israel attacked Gaza in a wild overreaction.” “It’s Groundhog Day every 18 months, perennial conflict, doesn’t seem like anyone wants peace anymore.” [The Israeli government is] “not peace loving.”

    Several JTA interviews with staffers for pro-Israel lawmakers suggested that the Mizrahi report’s conclusion is on target. …

    AIPAC’s pitch to students is more apt to include pro-Israel students from traditionally black colleges, Obama voters and feminists, said a former senior Senate aide who is familiar with the lobby’s strategies.

    “They know they have a problem; they’re working on it,” the former staffer said. “Go to their events for students and you’re likelier to see a female rabbi who identifies as progressive. You’ll see black pastors.” …

    “And yet it moves” – What we all do here has an effect.

  17. just on August 5, 2014, 10:36 pm

    hallelujah Bandolero! I feel positively adolescent all over again…

    ““Congress is supposed to be our fortress,” wrote authors Jennifer Laszlo Mizrahi and Meagan Buren, the founder and a former top aide, respectively, at The Israel Project.”

    That bought and paid for “mighty fortress” is a- crumbling! Can you hear the groaning?

    • Kay24 on August 6, 2014, 7:48 am

      But leave it to them, to make desperate attempts to win them back. What next ? Non birthright trips to all young people, and brainwashing sessions?

  18. DoubleStandard on August 6, 2014, 1:16 am

    “The following day, the Hamas leaders we met with gave me a letter to take back to President Obama asking for his help. It was signed by Dr. Ahmed Yousef, Deputy Foreign Minister and senior advisor to Gaza’s Prime Minister Ismael Haniya. The language was free of anti-Israel rhetoric and instead infused with references to international law and human rights. It called for a lifting of the siege on Gaza, a halt to all settlement building and a US policy shift that would show evenhandedness based on international law and norms. It stated that Hamas was willing to talk to all parties, obviously including Israel, “on the basis of mutual respect and without preconditions.”

    1) “an end to all settlement building” — to Hamas, Tel Aviv and Sderot are settlements.

    2) Hamas is a terrorist organization — go to Youtube’s MEMRI TV channel, watch a bit, and that becomes evident pretty quickly.

    3) “international law and human rights” Yes, Hamas’ area of expertise lol.

    4) ““on the basis of mutual respect and without preconditions.” — you’ve got to be kidding me; Ma’shal was recently interviewed on American TV basically saying he can’t live with the state of Israel.

    There’s such a thing as being so open-minded that your brains fall out.

    Anyone who seriously believes that Hamas desires anything other than a world without Israel is living it up in a steep, severe fantasy.

    I realize 95% of the readers here probably have the same goal, so why do you have such a hard time recognizing that it’s Hamas’ as well?

    • annie on August 6, 2014, 1:34 pm

      Ma’shal was recently interviewed on American TV basically saying he can’t live with the state of Israel.

      no, basically he did not say that. if you have to lie and twist someone’s words to make your argument you should examine your argument. and from all evidence, it appears it is israel who refuses to live along side a sovereign palestinian state.

      Anyone who seriously believes that Israel desires anything other than a world without Palestine is living it up in a steep, severe fantasy. you probably have the same goal, so why do you have such a hard time recognizing that it’s Israels’ as well?

    • Mooser on August 6, 2014, 6:58 pm

      “Anyone who seriously believes that Hamas desires anything other than a world without Israel is living it up in a steep, severe fantasy I realize 95% of the readers here probably have the same goal,”

      And did you look around the room, snarling, as you said that? Brave guy. I would bet money that 95% of the readers here would be overjoyed at the slightest amelioration, the smallest lessening, of Israeli intransigence.
      Double Standard, you do understand that you are completely insufferable, don’t you? Is that part of the Zionist charm offensive or something, you being such a git?

      • just on August 6, 2014, 7:06 pm

        KERPOW and a big ditto!

      • DoubleStandard on August 7, 2014, 12:29 am

        Well, the goal of BDS is a world without a Jewish state of Israel. Barghouti and Abuminah don’t even deny this really. The first BDS goal is to make Israel’s borders indefensible. The second to strip all of the Jewish legal character of the state, which I assume means get rid of all laws that privilege Judaism over other religions. Palestinian-Arab citizens already have full civil/legal equality, so BDS must mean dismantling the “inherently discriminatory” Jewish character of Israel.

        And yes, Ma’ashal said he couldn’t live with a State of Israel as we know it today. He said he can never coexist with “the occupation” — which we very well know to him means all of Israel as well, not just the 1967 borders. If you are, than you are much more reasonable than 80-90% of the pro-Palestinian crowd.

        @mooser It’s funny, I find you (and your ilk) just as insufferable as you find me.

        Annie, the current Israeli government is resistant (maybe unwilling) to agree to a sovereign Palestinian state, but you guys typically fail to point out that there have been much less hawkish governments (Barak, Olmert) that weren’t able to finish the peace-process either.

        You raise a good point though: are you saying that you would accept a Palestinian state on 1967 lines and give up the other 2 demands? If so, that would make you significantly more reasonable/moderate than a lot of the pro-Palestinian crowd.

    • Peace2All on August 7, 2014, 7:34 am

      Yes; Hamas is evil , Israel is the victim ..latest incursion 60 + idf killed by Hamas the evil force while the “victim’s ” precision ever caring bombing slaughtered more than 1800 babies pregnant women handicapped people …surgical bombed schools crowded hospitals and even U.N. shelters !!! Yes Hamas can’t live with Israel; can anyone live with a “victim” that kills innocent people ?

  19. just on August 6, 2014, 7:49 am

    Ari Shavit and Ari Fleischer stroking one another and the “moderate” Arab states who side with Israel– what could go wrong? All on MSNBC.

    Katrina vanden Heuvel puts up a good argument for the Palestinians and Joe puts her down in her “place”. He shouts as well. He’s probably “heartbroken”, too.

    Good morning.

    Next up, Reagan revisited with Rick Perlstein with a nod to Bill Kristol.

  20. Kay24 on August 6, 2014, 8:53 am

    New York Times editorial:

    “Until the United States withholds the subsidies that Israel uses to pay for the confiscation and settlement of Palestinian land, there will be no resolution to the conflict in Palestine-Israel. Until Israel gives back what it has taken and agrees to live peacefully beside a state in which the Palestinians exercise self-determination, there will be no peace. For their part, the Palestinians must convince Israelis that they would not use an independent state in the West Bank and Gaza as a base for future attacks. These issues are secular, political and capable of solution.

    James Carroll writes, “At stake in their dealings now, beyond all that they hold against one another, is nothing less than an ultimate and long overdue exorcism of demons set loose when Christians got it so wrong.”

    • MHughes976 on August 6, 2014, 9:58 am

      Nothing that Christians or anyone might or might not have done in the fourth century determines what is right and wrong now. It may be useful to deflect blame in this way but it is in the end a way of refusing to face up to the validity (or not) of claims made in the modern world. Charles Glass, the author of the critique of James Carroll, is right to suggest this. On the other hand, his own prescription is the same old 2-statism which has never got anyone anywhere. The Palestinians will never see a permanent 2ss, with a goodly proportion of Palestine alienated to a state based on an exclusive claim of right on behalf of people who are Jewish, as anything but screamingly unjust. Any apparent acceptance by them would be unsustainable and the Israelis could and would only regard it as insincere. Moreover, any arrangement which concedes that non-Jewish people can live anywhere in Erez Israel with absolutely as much right as Jewish people have is contradictory to Zionism and would in time be fatal to it: so the Zionist state will never accept a 2ss, though it prefers not to say this directly.

  21. Kathleen on August 6, 2014, 10:54 am

    Great piece Medea. President Carter has said been saying this for several decades…negotiate with Hamas. Instead Reps Ros Lehiton and others have created legislation to isolate Palestinians after they voted for Hamas. destructive legislation not productive at all

  22. Justathought on August 6, 2014, 3:01 pm

    I find the underlying concept of coming to the table with a Palestinian government to come up with a peaceful, long lasting compromise to not only be acceptable, but an ideal end to the conflict. The issue that I have with the case presented here is that Hamas will be able to act as a partner in that peace process. The charter of the Hamas government makes express mention to the fact that conferences and mediation are not an acceptable solution in their minds, and that there is no solution except for Jihad. This is not some press release, but a basic, immutable governing principle of Hamas that will still remain even if Israel accepted the six demands reflected in this article.

  23. Tuyzentfloot on August 6, 2014, 5:08 pm

    In this panel with Nathan Sachs, Kaled Elgindhi and Martin Indyk see what Elghindi says in Q&A near the end: from 1:16 on (question: what would satisfy Hamas) then skip over Indyk to 1:21.
    Elghindi explains the relation between Gazans and Hamas.
    – Hamas is not any different than Fatah 30 years ago
    – What Hamas wants is the end of the occupation
    – They want to be taken seriously
    – they’re willing to accept the palestinian state in 67 borders
    – minus recognition of Israel.
    – is not looking to create a caliphate
    and he follows up with : you make peace with your enemies. as they are.
    At the end he points to the extremists on Israeli side.

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