Hamas has answered President Obama

David Meyers | Former White House Staffer

In his Middle East speech last month, President Obama called on Israel to “act boldly” and make the tough choices that he believes are needed for peace. To the Palestinians, he posed a question: “The recent . . . agreement between Fatah and Hamas raises profound and legitimate questions for Israel — how can one negotiate with a party that has shown itself unwilling to recognize your right to exist? In the weeks and months to come, Palestinian leaders will have to provide a credible answer to that question.”

Hamas has answered. The terrorist organization (which is now a legitimate leader of the Palestinian government) has not denounced violence or abandoned its goal of destroying Israel. Instead, Hamas is increasing its efforts to indoctrinate Palestinian children and train them to use violence and terrorism to destroy Israel.

According to Israel National News, enrollment in Hamas “summer camps” is at an all-time high. Lest you think this is merely Israeli propaganda, a Hamas spokesman is quoted numerous times in the article, boasting about it.

Hamas spokesman Ismail Radwan says the camps will be filled with “children working for the interests of their homeland and to educate them to the culture of the Islamic faith so they will remember their goals, including Jerusalem and the prisoners.”

What exactly are these goals? To retake Jerusalem by murdering innocent men, women, and children as Hamas has proudly done since its founding? To kidnap more Israeli soldiers in an effort to pressure Israel into releasing hardened terrorists with innocent blood on their hands?

The only way to achieve a lasting peace is to change the hearts and minds of Israelis and Palestinians. Not only is Hamas continuing to use violence and terror, it is continuing to poison the minds of future generations so that there can never be peace.

Hamas typically eliminates its political competition through force, intimidation, and violence. And this applies even when it comes to summer camps, according to the Israel National News.

In 2010, the United Nations (certainly no friend of Israel) tried to set up competing summer camps to counter Hamas’s indoctrination and radicalization efforts. Hamas responded by burning down the camps. In an irony of ironies, the UN asked Hamas to investigate the arsons. Maybe next they’ll ask Mullah Omar to investigate a Taliban terrorist attack.

Hamas was founded for the sole purpose of destroying Israel. Even if Hamas were to recognize Israel’s right to exist, it wouldn’t be nearly enough. Hamas’s cheap words wouldn’t be worth the paper they’re printed on. Would it have been acceptable to negotiate with the late Osama bin Laden as long as he recognized America’s right to exist? I think not.

To be a real partner in peace, Hamas must immediately renounce terror and violence, stop indoctrinating their children to hate Israelis, and whole-heartedly embrace the vision of Israeli and Palestinian states living side-by-side. Until this happens, how can anyone ask Israel to negotiate with Hamas? America does not negotiate with terrorists committed to its destruction, and Israel should not be expected to do so either.

Hamas has answered President Obama. Now it’s time for President Obama to tell Hamas that the United States does not negotiate with terrorists and that he will fully support Israel’s decision not to negotiate with Hamas until it truly renounces and stops using terror and violence.

Maybe this will break the already strained alliance between Fatah and Hamas and pressure Fatah into confronting Hamas. Maybe it will lead to another standstill. But whatever happens, President Obama must do it, because standing firm against terror and violence is the right thing to do.

David Meyers served in the White House from 2006 to 2009, and later in the United States Senate. He is currently pursuing graduate studies at Columbia University.

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