Springtime for Hamas

Posted: Apr 25, 2005 12:00 AM

There's something in the air -- and it's not the prattle of baby birds. It's chatter. Some people listen to the sound, hear dialogue and say it's swell. I think it sounds like a new language of capitulation.

It surfaced in a Beirut hotel, and spread to a castle in Luxembourg; it whipped through a convention in Qatar, and last week popped up in the White House. There, Scott McLellan -- spokesman for the president who told the world that when it comes to fighting terrorism, you're either with us or you're with the terrorists -- lapsed into this new lingo. He shut his eyes to reality and opened his mouth to sophistry to say that the Hamas ticket in the Palestinian Authority was A-OK; just a bunch of "businesspeople." He continued: "While they might have been members of Hamas, they were business professionals" interested in "improving the quality of life for the Palestinian people," he said. "Not terrorists."

Since when? Maybe since the Bush administration realized that democratic yearnings in the Palestinian Authority might actually find fulfillment in these same "business professionals" -- whose charter, not incidentally, draws inspiration from the Quran and cites the fraudulent "Protocols of the Elders of Zion" in its calls for the total destruction of Israel.

As Andrew C. McCarthy noted at National Review Online, the old "improving people's lives" routine is a hallmark of every terror organization from the Nazis to Al Qaeda. And as Islamic history professor Raphael Israeli has explained, "The so-called military wing (of Hamas) cannot exist without the financial backing of the so-called social welfare wing." This suggests both so-called "wings" find the words of the Hamas charter equally thrilling: "Israel will rise and remain erect until Islam eliminates it as it had eliminated all its predecessors."

More shocking than the White House seal of approval for Hamas "business professionals" is an emerging consensus that the murder "wing" of the outfit isn't so heinous after all. Last week, Reuters reported that E.U. foreign ministers gathered at a Luxembourg castle to consider "the previously taboo idea of dialogue with Islamic opposition groups" -- namely, Hamas and Hezbollah. The question before them, posed by E.U. foreign minister Javier Solana, was: "Has the time come for the E.U. to become more engaged with Islamic 'faith-based' civil societies?"

Silly them. The European Union has been engaged in multifarious ways with such "faith-based" societies since lo, about, 1973, according to Bat Ye'or's new book, "Eurabia" (Farleigh Dickinson University Press). Still, the bloc could always become more openly engaged. No more skulking around, as revealed by a recently released transcript of a secret 2002 meeting between Alistair Crooke, then a high-ranking E.U. official, and Hamas leader Sheikh Ahmed Yassin, subsequently assassinated by Israel in 2004. In the 2002 meeting, according to WorldNetDaily.com, Crooke blamed terrorism on "Israeli occupation," referred to Hamas terrorists as "freedom fighters," and let stand a Hamas claim that Israel was behind the Sept. 11 attacks.

Crooke remains "faith-based" busy, having launched Conflicts Forum, a think tank devoted to finding common ground between jihadists and Westerners (gag). Last month in Beirut, Crooke hosted policy-interested Yanks and Brits and terrorists from Hamas, Hezbollah, the Muslim Brotherhood and Pakistan's Jamaa Islamiyya. Said Crooke to the Lebanese newspaper, The Daily Star: "The issues of use of violence and accusations of terrorism must be addressed, of course" -- of course -- "but frontloading the process by demanding that groups be disarmed before anything else can happen is likely to fail." I wonder if he asked any of his guests to check their suicide-belts at the door.

Such spring feverishness seems contagious. Last week, the Brookings Institution and Qatar assembled 150 international notables, including a former White House adviser (Rand Beers), Euro-Islamist Tariq Ramadan, Judea Pearl (Daniel Pearl's father) and a deputy assistant secretary of state, to discuss, among other things, as the Daily Star put it, "whether and how" to include jihadist groups in democracies. Even broaching the subject has got to be encouraging to terrorists, rewarding murder and intimidation with the increasingly tawdry trappings of self-rule and international recognition. By conference's end, Islam Online, reliably or not, was trumpeting "the U.S. is ready to 'accept' the involvement of Islamist groups ... should they understand 'the rules of the game.'"

But they already do. Also this spring, at yet another convention, Hamas's Khaled Mashal declared, according to a MEMRI translation, that "tahdiah," or calm, in the Palestinian Authority was only a trick and that "resistance" would continue as long as the "occupation" (read: Israel) exists.

Some trick. Some rules. Maybe the real problem is that the West doesn't realize it's all a deadly game.