On the idea that Hamas can be annihilated
A great commentary by Israeli novelist A. B. Yehoshua at Project Syndicate:
They [the Palestinians] are our neighbors, and they will be our neighbors in the future. So, when we decide to fight a war against them, we have to consider very carefully the character of that war, its duration, and the effect of its violence. We Israelis have no power to extirpate the Hamas government from Gaza, much as we did not have the power to eliminate the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) as the voice of the Palestinian people’s national aspirations, or Hezbollah from Lebanon in the war of 2006.
Ariel Sharon and Menachem Begin went all the way to Beirut in the early 1980’s, paying a terrible and bloody price, to try to eliminate the PLO – a result that could never be obtained. And what happened? In the end, Sharon and then Binyamin Netanyahu both ended up sitting down at the negotiating table with Yassir Arafat and his representatives to try to reach an agreement. Now Arafat’s former deputy, Abu Mazen, is a frequent and welcome guest in our country.
We Israelis must begin to realize this simple fact: the Arabs are not metaphysical creatures, but human beings, and human beings have it within themselves to change. After all, we Israelis change our positions, mitigate our opinions, and open ourselves up to new ideas. So we would do well to get out of our heads as quickly as possible the illusion that we can somehow annihilate Hamas or eradicate them from the Gaza strip.
Instead, we have to work, with caution and good sense, to reach a reasonable and detailed agreement for a lasting ceasefire that has within it the perspective that Hamas can change. Such a change is possible and can be acted upon. Such fundamental changes of heart and mind have happened many times in the course of history.
Read the full text here.