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Thu Dec 20, 2012, 06:44 AM

Hagel on Hamas: U.S. Engagement Is In Israelís Best Interest

Among the litany of offenses that some hawkish pro-Israel advocates are accusing former Senator Chuck Hagelóthe Obama Administrationís presumed choice for Secretary of Defenseóof is his support for U.S. engagement with Hamas. This opinion, it is alleged, betrays a lack of commitment to Israel, which is sufficient grounds for opposing his nomination in the eyes of some members of the pro-Israel lobby. Setting aside the question of whether support for Israel should be the sole criterion to run the Pentagon, favoring a different approach to Hamas should not simply be deemed anti-Israel. On the contrary, recognizing that current American policy towards Hamas has failed and needs to be changed is in Israelís best interests.

Yes, Hamas engages in terrorism and its public rhetoric is deeply disturbing (Hamas leader Khaled Meshalís recent speech on his Ďhomecomingí to Gaza made President Abbasís U.N. speech sound like an address to AIPAC). Hamasís founding Charter, issued in 1988, is replete with anti-Semitic themes, and its alliance with Iran is problematic to say the least. Hamas is certainly not a nice organization, whatever essential benefits its social welfare arm has provided to desperately poor Palestinians. It is Israelís sworn enemy and it is unlikely to ever become its partner for peace. But none of this means that the United States shouldnít talk to Hamas or encourage it to reconcile with its rival Fatah to form a unified Palestinian government. In fact, we are already negotiating indirectly with Hamas through the Egyptians.

Talking to Hamas certainly has its drawbacks. It will enhance its international legitimacy and probably boost its popularity among Palestinians, and it will further undermine the power of President Abbas. Nor will these talks likely result in Hamasí sudden transformation into a moderate, responsible actor. At best, they might strengthen the less radical individuals and factions within the movement and encourage its slow, halting, on-again, off-again transition from being a resistance movement aimed at Israelís destruction to becoming a political movement concerned with ruling a Palestinian state that exists alongside Israel.

If talking with Hamas is bad, however, then not talking with Hamas is worse. The lamentable fact is that Hamas is firmly in control of the Gaza Strip and popular in the West Bank as well, especially since its Ďsuccessí in its recent mini-war with Israel (according to a new poll, Hamasís Prime Minister in Gaza Ismail Haniyeh would defeat Abbas if a vote were held now for the Presidency of the Palestinian Authority). Like it or not, this means that dealing with the Palestinians means dealing with Hamas. To ignore this reality or try to change it by ignoring Hamas is both futile and counterproductive.

http://www.thedailybeast.com/articles/2012/12/19/hagel-on-hamas-u-s-engagement-is-in-israel-s-best-interest.html

31 replies, 1754 views

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Arrow 31 replies Author Time Post
Reply Hagel on Hamas: U.S. Engagement Is In Israelís Best Interest (Original post)
oberliner Dec 2012 OP
leveymg Dec 2012 #1
oberliner Dec 2012 #2
leveymg Dec 2012 #5
shaayecanaan Dec 2012 #3
oberliner Dec 2012 #4
shaayecanaan Dec 2012 #7
oberliner Dec 2012 #8
shaayecanaan Dec 2012 #9
delrem Dec 2012 #10
shaayecanaan Dec 2012 #11
azurnoir Dec 2012 #14
shaayecanaan Dec 2012 #15
azurnoir Dec 2012 #6
Jefferson23 Dec 2012 #12
azurnoir Dec 2012 #13
shaayecanaan Dec 2012 #16
King_David Dec 2012 #18
King_David Dec 2012 #17
azurnoir Dec 2012 #19
King_David Dec 2012 #20
azurnoir Dec 2012 #21
King_David Dec 2012 #22
Jefferson23 Dec 2012 #23
azurnoir Dec 2012 #24
bemildred Dec 2012 #25
azurnoir Dec 2012 #26
bemildred Dec 2012 #28
oberliner Dec 2012 #29
bemildred Dec 2012 #30
Jefferson23 Dec 2012 #31
DonCoquixote Dec 2012 #27

Response to oberliner (Original post)

Thu Dec 20, 2012, 06:53 AM

1. Hamas, like Hezbollah before it, can be managed, if Israel doesn't kick the hornet's nest.

If you can't get rid of an annoyance, learn to live with it, or it will destroy your sanity and take over your existence. I don't like what the alternative course has done to Israel, and it brings out the worst in the Palestinians, too.

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Response to leveymg (Reply #1)

Thu Dec 20, 2012, 08:04 AM

2. What about Al Qaeda?

Would you put them in the same category?

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Response to oberliner (Reply #2)

Thu Dec 20, 2012, 12:19 PM

5. Al Qaeda is a bit different because it's global and largely amorphous.

That calls for a somewhat different set of approaches than a militant political organization that has popular support rooted in a specific resident population in a particular place, such as Hamas and Hezbollah enjoy.

Al Qaeda is more of a transnational ideological movement with shifting sets of leaders and activists in many places. That makes dealing with it easier and harder. Easier because military action against AQ is relatively small-scale and highly discriminatory in its targeting, and doesn't involve the sorts of mass collateral damage that attends attacks directed at numerous fixed buildings in specific neighborhoods in Gaza or Beirut. Simultaneously, it's harder to fight AQ than mass-based organizations because it requires a lot more intelligence work to identify and locate moving individual targets.

The distinction isn't absolute, obviously, but generally indiscriminate attacks on neighborhoods is a very bad idea. Targeted killings, similarly, should be avoided unless they have a definite link to a specific action by the targeted individual -- such as that person's proven direct involvement in an act of terror -- and can be justified on the basis that the individual presents a plausible danger of further imminent harm.

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Response to oberliner (Original post)

Thu Dec 20, 2012, 08:54 AM

3. Both the US and Israel already talk to Hamas...

granted, they normally do so through the Egyptians, or sometimes the Germans, but that is really just an artifice. Negotiations are negotiations.

Indeed, Israel seems a lot more genuine when it negotiates with Hamas (over a ceasefire or a prisoner exchange) than with Mahmoud Abbas, with whom Israel goes through the motions of a peace process primarily as a public relations exercise. Sometimes Israel's negotiations with Hamas even result in an outcome, such as in the case of Gilad Shalit.

Much the same can be said of Israel's negotiations with Hezbollah. Twenty years of negotiations with the Palestinians, and not a single Israeli soldier has left the West Bank, because of supposed security concerns. Hezbollah got rid of Israel in 35 days, security concerns be damned, and got a prisoner exchange to boot. The fact that Israelis clearly admire Hassan Nasrallah more than they respect Mahmoud Abbas probably helped as well.

Anyway, Hamas are not interested in talking to the Americans for the sake of talking to the Americans. They believe, with some justification, that that ends up being a waste of time. The US would be better off trying to shore up Abbas, who is taking a beating at the moment.

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Response to shaayecanaan (Reply #3)

Thu Dec 20, 2012, 09:19 AM

4. "Hezbollah got rid of Israel in 35 days, security concerns be damned"

It's fascinating to read the way you view this sort of thing. Would you be willing to examine why what you wrote above might say more about you than you currently realize? I mean that sincerely.

And to your other comment, namely:

"Israelis clearly admire Hassan Nasrallah more than they respect Mahmoud Abbas"

Perhaps it is you who clearly admires Hassah Nasrallah more than you respect Mahmoud Abbas.

Would that be a fair statement?

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Response to oberliner (Reply #4)

Thu Dec 20, 2012, 04:23 PM

7. Perhaps this comparison would assist...

think of the Jews sitting in concentration camps in World War II desperately waiting for the Red Army to come and rescue them. The fact that they were probably overjoyed to see the first Soviet troops arrive did not nevertheless make them heartfelt supporters of Stalin.

In the same way, I am not a fan of Hezbollah in the abstract, but if it comes down to them or an Israeli occupation of Lebanon, then I am hardly going to support the Israelis.

But I am certainly happy to see their side lose in the Syrian Civil War, which will do a fair bit to clip their wings. And I was as critical as anyone of their sectarian battles with Sunni militias in Beirut as well as their abortive attempt to try and seize territory from the Druze in the Chouf.

This is what you call having a nuanced position. Most Lebanese understand this sort of thing readily, Americans perhaps less so.

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Response to shaayecanaan (Reply #7)

Thu Dec 20, 2012, 06:52 PM

8. It doesn't

Using the Holocaust as a go-to comparison for everything and anything is, at best, pointless.

How about this:

There are hundreds of thousands of Israeli citizens living in the West Bank.

There are zero living in southern Lebanon.

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Response to oberliner (Reply #8)

Thu Dec 20, 2012, 09:29 PM

9. That is a very apt comparison as well

It is one that Hezbollah themselves make routinely.

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Response to delrem (Reply #10)

Thu Dec 20, 2012, 10:46 PM

11. Not that one

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Response to shaayecanaan (Reply #11)

Thu Dec 20, 2012, 11:51 PM

14. +1

I've never really believed the stuff about the Litani River being a reason

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Response to azurnoir (Reply #14)

Fri Dec 21, 2012, 12:52 AM

15. Israel threatened war in 2002

when Lebanon installed a 10cm water bore to supply a village of 200 people. Such a peace-loving nation.

They're threatening war again because of a tourist resort which will draw water from the Hasbani:-

http://www.dailystar.com.lb/News/Local-News/2012/Jul-11/180128-in-defiance-of-israel-hasbani-resort-expands.ashx#axzz2FetCrnqH

They're concerned about Arab sewage, apparently, although God knows they tip enough shit of their own into the Jordan river.

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Response to oberliner (Original post)

Thu Dec 20, 2012, 02:24 PM

6. ah thank you should we consider thiis OP the opening volley

in the 'Chas Freemaning' of Chuck Hagel?

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Response to azurnoir (Reply #6)

Thu Dec 20, 2012, 11:14 PM

12. Obama faces backlash over Hagel's Israel record

By REUTERS
12/19/2012 06:00
Pro-Israel groups confront US president over possible nomination of ex-Republican senator Chuck Hagel.

WASHINGTON - Pro-Israel groups, neoconservatives and even some former colleagues on Capitol Hill are confronting US President Barack Obama with a growing backlash against Chuck Hagel, the ex-Republican senator tipped as his leading candidate for defense secretary.

Obama's aides have given no sign of dropping Hagel from consideration - even after several American Jewish leaders privately complained about his policy views, most notably on Israel and Iran, at a White House-hosted Hanukkah party last week, according to one attendee.
Related:

Kerry and Hagel: Hardly Israelís preferred choices

But what has become clear in recent days is that the Democratic president will have a Senate confirmation fight on his hands if he decides to nominate the former Nebraska lawmaker, regarded as a moderate Republican, to replace Leon Panetta at the Pentagon.

The White House is preparing for a major realignment of Obama's national security team, possibly by the end of this week, sources familiar with the process have said. But the announcement could be delayed by the difficult "fiscal cliff" negotiations with congressional Republicans.

http://www.jpost.com/International/Article.aspx?id=2965



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Response to Jefferson23 (Reply #12)

Thu Dec 20, 2012, 11:49 PM

13. No the possible kill shot has been made and it's not Israel

http://www.democraticunderground.com/1014343932

eta apparently he's homophobic which is disappointing

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Response to azurnoir (Reply #13)

Fri Dec 21, 2012, 12:54 AM

16. No doubt some folks will suddenly become profoundly concerned

about those homophobic statements, the same way they were so concerned about Chas Freeman's views on China.

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Response to shaayecanaan (Reply #16)

Fri Dec 21, 2012, 02:23 AM

18. You are not concerned ?

I am....

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Response to azurnoir (Reply #13)

Fri Dec 21, 2012, 02:20 AM

17. Very Disappointing

Awful Choice ...

And in the link you provided the LGBT community agree with me.

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Response to King_David (Reply #17)

Fri Dec 21, 2012, 03:09 AM

19. yes but there's always John Kerry for SoS and he is a Democrat n/t

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Response to King_David (Reply #20)

Fri Dec 21, 2012, 03:19 AM

21. That's good n/t

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Response to azurnoir (Reply #21)

Fri Dec 21, 2012, 03:37 AM

22. Thanks :-)

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Response to azurnoir (Reply #13)

Fri Dec 21, 2012, 01:53 PM

23. Oh, ok..well there ya go. Thanks for the info. n/t

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Response to Jefferson23 (Reply #23)

Fri Dec 21, 2012, 02:01 PM

24. well he has apologized for his comment

http://www.democraticunderground.com/1014344715

just how much traction that has is yet to be seen though

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Response to azurnoir (Reply #24)

Fri Dec 21, 2012, 02:59 PM

25. This is going to be an interesting argument over Hagel.

One has to assume Hagel was chosen in full knowledge of the objections he would raise, not just a trial balloon, so unlike Ms Rice for SoS this should be a real fight, and in the new Congress, under Harry Reid's new rules. He is a critical choice, and somewhat in your face, a challenge to the Neocons in every respect. I am cynical enough to wonder if the entire uproar over Ms Rice was a stalking horse for later and more controversial nominations to come. Let them expend their vituperation into emptiness for a while before bringing up your real agenda. This is going to be a very noisy four years I predict.

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Response to bemildred (Reply #25)

Fri Dec 21, 2012, 03:11 PM

26. yep we live in interesting times lol

but this one presents a whole new angle as Hagel is a Republican yes it will be interesting will the GOP trash one of their own because Obama chose him?

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Response to azurnoir (Reply #26)

Fri Dec 21, 2012, 03:29 PM

28. You bet they will.

Apostates are the worst of all.

Also, has there been any depth of stupid they would shrink from yet? Not that I see. Mere reason has nothing to do with it, they are in a world of abstract logic where mere facts carry no weight and having correct opinions is all that matters. Once you start babbling on about being an empire now and making your own reality, you don't have a lot of flexibility left, things have to go the way you say all the time or you're a bullshitter, like Rove is now, a loser. Masters of the Universe don't get to be reasonable, it dimishes their brand. Look at this clown LaPierre today.

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Response to bemildred (Reply #25)

Fri Dec 21, 2012, 04:04 PM

29. Has he already been chosen?

I thought he was still just a possible nominee.

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Response to oberliner (Reply #29)

Fri Dec 21, 2012, 06:21 PM

30. I got the impression today it was no longer speculative.

Of course that mean little.

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Response to azurnoir (Reply #24)

Fri Dec 21, 2012, 08:25 PM

31. Hagel will be aplogizing a lot, we'll see what good it does him and who has his back. n/t

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Response to oberliner (Original post)

Fri Dec 21, 2012, 03:24 PM

27. it is sad to think

that a GOP like Hagel can be more sensible on the mid east than so called democrats who act like America's prime duty is to be Israel's bodyguard and enabler.

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