The idea of direct Israeli negotiations with Hamas — once the province of doves — has gained an unlikely advocate in The Jewish Week’s decidedly right-leaning associate editor, Jonathan Mark.
In his column this week, Mark writes:
I understand the right. I don’t flinch when Palestinians, even civilians, catch an IDF bullet. When Arabs say massacre, I hear fraud. Talking politics, you lose me at “What would the world say?” I don’t believe survivors of slavery would spill seder wine with their pinkies because Egypt got hit by frogs. My idea of a leader is Zev Jabotinsky, my favorite prime minister was Menachem Begin, and I’m convinced we’d have a military solution to terror if Ariel Sharon was 40 again and didn’t have to fight by Marquis of Queensbury rules that apply only to Jews.
And now I understand the left: Let’s talk to Hamas.
To turn the old neo-con line on its head, I’ve been mugged by reality. It’s time for Israel to ask Hamas for a cease-fire. If Israel can’t end the death, amputations and trauma with a sustained military offensive that will crush the enemy, something the Israelis don’t want to do and don’t think will work; if Israel can’t save Sderot through third-party diplomacy, and it’s obvious they can’t — as proven by 8,000 rockets this decade — then take the blue off the flag and talk directly to Hamas.
The question of what level of diplomatic contact Israel — and the international community — should have with Hamas is a tough call. At the very least, both sides in this debate deserve a respectful hearing. Mark’s column (along with support for talking to Hamas from the likes of former Mossad chief Ephraim Halevy) shows that advocates of negotiating with the Islamist militant group can’t simply be dismissed as naïve doves.
While reasonable people can differ on the issue of how to deal with Hamas, I do hope that there can be a communal consensus to (at the very least) flinch when Palestinian civilians “catch an IDF bullet.”
Read Jonathan Mark’s full article.