raising the stakes

In “Why I’m a Pacifist: The Dangerous Myth of the Good War”, published in Harper’s May 2011 issue, Nicholson Baker argues that Hitler’s Jewish policy was that of a hostage-taker. Baker concludes that the Allies should have heeded the pacifists such as Abraham Kaufman, Dorothy Day, Jessie Wallace Hughan, Rabbi Abraham Cronbach, Vera Brittain, Arthur Ponsonby, Clarence Pickett, Bertha Bracey, Runham Brown, Grace Beaton, and Victor Gollancz, by negotiating peace with Hitler in order to rescue Jews, instead of demanding unconditional surrender of Germany. According to Baker, this insistence inculpates Winston Churchill and FDR in Nazi genocide of the Jews.

So the Allies should have let The Axis absorb most of Europe in Germany and let Greater East Asia Co-Prosperity Sphere pay tribute to Japan, in exchange for Hitler letting the Jews go? I see no clues as to what Nicholson Baker might recognize as bargaining chips for the Allies to control and trade with the Axis. The Untermenschen residing in the occupied territories might want to have their say. Furthermore, the notion of Hitler holding Jews hostage against escalation of a European conflict into a world war is belied by the body count achieved by the Einsatzgruppen prior to America’s declaration of war against Germany. In the event, the lesson Hitler failed to teach to his adversaries, that terrorism on large enough scale can earn immunity from prosecution and be traded for political gains, is recapitulated today in the position taken by that Hamas-Fatah alliance:

ROBERT SIEGEL: You said recently that by signing this accord with Fatah, Hamas, and I quote you now, “became part of the Palestinian legitimacy,” that the movement gained legitimacy. The Israelis and others, some others, point to the 1988 Hamas charter very often and say that you should renounce that.

And I looked at the document, and, you know, at one point it claims that the Jews started the French Revolution, the Russian Revolution, both World Wars, that they operate in league with the Freemasons and set up the Rotary Clubs and Lions Clubs to do their bidding. Do you think that Western democracies are going to grant legitimacy to people with a document that reads like the paranoid conspiracies of the Ku Klux Klan or the American Nazi Party?

Mr. HAMAD: Look, and first of all, I think people should not judge Hamas according to their charter because many changes happened inside Hamas. But many people in United States and the West or in Israel, they say no, no. Hamas is still as it is before 20 years, no. I think Hamas show a lot of flexibility, and it became more pragmatic, more realistic. Hamas could be a good player in making peace in this region, but please don’t use stick against them and punishment against Hamas.

SIEGEL: But people who point to the charter say, well, even if Hamas says it has changed and there’s evidence that it has changed, the charter hasn’t changed. These are still the declared principles of your movement, aren’t they?

Mr. HAMAD: No one talk about removal of Israel. We’re only talking about removal of the occupation, and I think this is according to United Nations resolution, this is legitimate.

For example, my parents were born in Tel Aviv. We have seven millions Palestinian refugee – as refugees living in Lebanon, Jordan, Syria, every – and Europe and Brazil and everywhere. They have no chance to return to their homeland. Is it their destiny to live as refugees forever? And Israel have a right to bring the Jews from South Africa, from the United States, from Russia, from everywhere to live inside the Palestinian territory, in settlements in the West Bank. I think it’s not logic. It’s not fair.

SIEGEL: Well, Mr. Hamad, thank you very much for…

Mr. HAMAD: Thank you.

SIEGEL: …spending time with us.

That’s Ghazi Hamad, who is deputy foreign minister of Hamas. He spoke to us from Gaza City. And we’ve also requested interviews, I should add, with a leader of Fatah and also with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

This is the endgame. Hamas will renounce its “great hope of bringing to an end the Zionist project in Palestine”, avowed three days ago by Ismail Haniyeh, the prime minister of the its government in Gaza, in exchange for Israel recognizing a Hamas-led Palestinian state in Gaza and the West Bank with its capital in Jerusalem.




Hard-liners in Israel and the U.S. will resist this capitulation to two generations of terrorists taking Jews and gentiles hostage, when not blowing them up. But there is a difference between Israel considering a compromise with Hamas and Fatah and the Allies considering a compromise with the Axis. Unlike the Nanking massacre and Babi Yar, Arab terrorism did not proceed under the color of authority endowed with international legitimacy. It must be well understood by both sides in asymmetrical warfare, that terrorist acts lose their advantage of asymmetry upon being perpetrated in the name of a state that itself is liable to be held hostage to a crushing military defeat, the likes of which befell Germany and Japan sixty-six years ago. So let the terrorists raise the stakes by getting their state this time. We’ll always have our recourse to carpet bombing and show trials.