ISRAEL IS AT WAR
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columnIsrael at War

Hamas’s deception—and our self-deception

The U.S. and Israel continue to base their policies on the fiction that the Palestinian Authority is willing to coexist with the Jewish state.

Palestinian women march in Hebron in support of Hamas in the Gaza Strip, Oct. 13, 2023. Photo by Wisam Hashlamoun/Flash90.
Palestinian women march in Hebron in support of Hamas in the Gaza Strip, Oct. 13, 2023. Photo by Wisam Hashlamoun/Flash90.
Caroline B. Glick
Caroline B. Glick is the senior contributing editor of Jewish News Syndicate and host of the “Caroline Glick Show” on JNS. She is also the diplomatic commentator for Israel’s Channel 14, as well as a columnist for Newsweek. Glick is the senior fellow for Middle Eastern Affairs at the Center for Security Policy in Washington and a lecturer at Israel’s College of Statesmanship.

Last Sunday, senior Hamas terrorist Ali Baraka told the tale of how Hamas duped Israel and the U.S. into complacency.

In an interview with RT (formerly Russia Today), Baraka said, “In the past couple of years, Hamas has adopted a ‘rational’ approach. It did not go into any war and did not join Islamic Jihad in its recent battle, [i.e., its missile assault on Israel in August 2022].

“We made them think Hamas was busy with governing Gaza, and that it wanted to focus on the 2.5 million Palestinians [there] and had abandoned the resistance altogether. All the while, under the table, Hamas was preparing for this big attack.”

In other words, Hamas pretended it was a credible partner for negotiations, and that the only problem was Palestinian Islamic Jihad, its Iranian-founded spin-off.

One of the frustrating aspects of Baraka’s admission is that there was nothing new about Hamas’s deception. Deception is an integral part of the jihadist doctrine, going back to the days of Muhammad. Just as important, and frustratingly, even those who are unaware of—or willfully blind to—the centrality of Islamic jihadist doctrine and beliefs for Hamas, should still have been familiar with Hamas’s tactic.

It comes right out of the PLO’s playbook.

Five days after Hamas’s slaughter of more than 1,300 Jews in southern Israel, and on the eve of his meeting Friday in Amman with U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken, P.A. chairman and PLO/Fatah chief Mahmoud Abbas released a statement.

“We reject the practices of killing civilians or abusing them on both sides because they contravene morals, religion and international law.”

Abbas’s statement is notable for many reasons. It doesn’t name Hamas. It draws a moral equivalence between Israel’s counterattack in Gaza and Hamas’s orgiastic rape, torture, murder, immolation and kidnapping of babies, children, women and men. And it came after five days in which Abbas and the rest of Palestinian society did nothing but celebrate and defend Hamas’s atrocities while blaming Israel for the crimes against humanity Hamas conducted against its people.

In his speech on Oct. 10, President Joe Biden intimated that Hamas isn’t representative of the aspirations of the Palestinians. In his words, “Hamas does not stand for the Palestinian people’s right to dignity and self-determination.”

The subtext was clear. Hamas is the bad guy. The Palestinian Authority is the good guy. And if that weren’t apparent as Biden spoke, Blinken’s decision to meet with Abbas made the point explicit.

Fatah and Hamas

For five days, Abbas had nothing but praise for Hamas and condemnations for Israel. As Palestinian Media Watch reported, the day after Biden’s speech, Abbas issued a statement of solidarity with Hamas. On Oct. 11, Abbas promised that the P.A. will “stand by our people, the Gaza Strip will not be alone.”

The PLO’s ruling Fatah faction (which Abbas also leads) gave gushing praise to Hamas. As MEMRI reported, on Oct. 9, Fatah’s Central Committee praised Hamas for its slaughter and called for national unity—that is, unity between the P.A. and Hamas.

The goal, Fatah stated, is “to rally in a real and conscious fashion around the possibility of national unity, unity in the struggle on the ground, political and diplomatic unity with all means possible to us in order to wage this campaign in a united fashion.”

Fatah also called for all Palestinians to join Hamas’s jihad against Israel.

“The public must answer calls to confront and stand up to the aggression and crimes in Gaza and the West Bank and to escalate all the conflict zones with the occupier [Israel] throughout our homeland Palestine, in order to defend our people and stand with our residents in the Gaza Strip.”

Fatah’s terror franchise, the al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigades, posted Koranic calls to jihad on its Telegram pages that are indistinguishable from Hamas’s propaganda. Quoting the verse from the Koran calling for the annihilation of all Jews that Hamas uses in its charter, Fatah exhorted, “Strike the sons of apes and pigs … slaughter everyone who is Israeli.”

Following along the lines of “diplomatic unity” that the Fatah Central Committee called for, the P.A. is serving as Hamas’s foreign ministry. On Tuesday, its U.N. ambassador Riyad Mansour wrote a letter to the Security Council accusing Israel of carrying out “war crimes,” and called its decision to stop providing Gaza with free water and electricity “nothing less than genocidal.”

On the ground in the Palestinian Authority, the crowds greeted the news of Hamas’s atrocities with jubilation. Celebrations, victory marches and public parties were held from northern Samaria to the South Hebron Hills. Palestinians mocked the Jewish victims on their social media accounts and celebrated their mass murder. In Huwara in Samaria, a pizzeria posted an advertisement featuring a Holocaust survivor grandmother who is now a hostage in Gaza, holding a pizza.

Sufficient to convince Blinken

The fakery of Abbas’s milquetoast condemnation of Hamas’s atrocities is self-evident when seen in the context of his actions and statements and those of the P.A., PLO, Fatah and the Palestinian public. But it was clearly sufficient to convince Blinken that it is reasonable to meet with him and continue to base U.S. policy on the fiction that the P.A. represents a moderate force within Palestinian society that is willing to peacefully coexist with the Jewish state.

Abbas’s lies and deceptions are his modus operandi just as they were the modus operandi of his predecessor Yassir Arafat and their comrades in the PLO and Hamas. It is a testament to Abbas’s confidence, and his contempt for the U.S., that he felt strong enough not to bother with a full-throated fake condemnation of Hamas.

In the P.A.’s early days in the 1990s, Arafat would routinely condemn Hamas terror attacks against Israel in English and then call for the Palestinians to slaughter the Jews through jihad in Arabic. Just months after the P.A. was formed in Gaza and Jericho in 1994, Arafat sent his security chief Mohammed Dahlan to negotiate a cooperation pact with Hamas. The deal that was forged gave Hamas a free hand to slaughter Jews so long as the PLO wasn’t implicated.

At the same time, Dahlan was the head of the PLO’s negotiations team on military affairs with Israel. He charmed his Israeli interlocutors by speaking to them in the pigeon Hebrew he learned in Israeli prison, where he was jailed on terrorism convictions in the 1980s. They viewed Dahlan as a moderate, as the tough guy who would take out Hamas for Israel. Dahlan smoked cigarettes with IDF generals at the same time that he closed a cooperation deal with Hamas terror master Mohammed Deif.

In times of calm, Hamas and the P.A. operated separately. And U.S.-funded and trained P.A. security services gave Israel valuable intelligence that led to the break-up of many Hamas cells. But in times of terror offensives, they worked together. The most murderous terror group that operated during the 2000-2004 Palestinian terror war (aka the Second Intifada) was the so-called “Popular Resistance Committees.” It was composed of terrorists from Fatah, Hamas and Islamic Jihad.

Hamas’s pretend separation from Islamic Jihad, and its use of Islamic Jihad to persuade Israel and the U.S. that it had moderated, was the same trick.

The lie of Palestinian moderation

Israel and the U.S. have refused to acknowledge that they have been played by the P.A. the same way they were played by Hamas for the past two years, and Hamas was able to deceive Israel and the U.S. for two years because they wanted to be deceived. Israel’s generals wanted to believe that the Palestinians writ large aren’t implacable foes. They can be appeased. We don’t have to defeat them.

And the Biden administration, like most of its predecessors, wanted to believe the deception—and to still believe it in the P.A.’s case—because they want to believe that Israel is to blame for the violence waged against it. The lie of Israeli culpability is the foundation of 50 years of U.S. Middle East peacemaking efforts. The lie of Palestinian moderation is the rationale for 50 years of near-continuous U.S. pressure on Israel to concede territory to the Palestinians. It has been the justification and rationale for the U.S. opposition to any effort by Israel to defeat the PLO on the battlefield.

The constant assertion “There is no military solution to the Palestinian conflict with Israel” is predicated on the notion that there is a political solution.

But Saturday’s slaughter made clear—and not for the first or the hundredth time—that this isn’t a political conflict. It is an existential one. And it isn’t only between Israel and Hamas. It is between the vast majority of the Palestinian people, and the entirety of the Palestinian leadership, who actively seek Israel’s physical annihilation and the genocide of world Jewry, and the Jews, who seek to live in peace and freedom in the Jewish State of Israel.

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