Monday, Oct 15, 2018
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Hamas and the romance of death

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Palestinian protesters evacuate a wounded youth during a protest at the Gaza Strip's border with Israel, east of Khan Younis.

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A mandatory precondition to any peace agreement or two-state solution between Israel and the Palestinians must include the Palestinians forsaking the romance of martyrdom.

In recent fighting at the Israel border with Gaza, a Hamas leader urged Palestinian protesters to seek and welcome martyrdom in storming the security barrier with Israel.

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The Hamas leader’s words — “When we are brave, we are getting closer toward martyrdom, martyrdom, martyrdom” — were tantamount to sending young people to their deaths.

In no small measure, thanks to Ismail Radwan, three people were killed and about 1,000 were injured, according to Gaza health officials.

It is true that every nation cherishes the memory of the dead who died in service to their country. But most true heroes do not set out to die. That is called suicide.

Encouraging young people to commit suicide for a cause is not the same as asking them to be willing to die for one.

Hamas can’t claim in one breath that its ultimate goal is peace while it pushes its young men forward to be cannon fodder.

The reality of life in Gaza is grim — appalling living conditions, 60 percent unemployment, and no hope, no way out. Indisputably, Israel is largely responsible for those conditions.

But the Palestinians have been manipulated by Arab countries for too long — betrayed and used as bargaining chip. And they are being ultimately manipulated by their own leaders when the only hope offered to the young is the cult of death.

The leadership of Mahmoud Abbas, president of the Palestinian Authority, doesn’t help either. Last week, he blackened his already damaged reputation. In a speech to the Palestine National Council, he trafficked in anti-Semitic themes and distortions of the historical record of the Holocaust.

After a chorus of denunciations from around the globe, he offered a non-apology: “If people were offended by my statement in front of the P.N.C., especially people of the Jewish faith, I apologize to them,” he said.

Enough. Hamas is leading its people off a cliff. If Mr. Radwan wants to encourage people to be martyrs, let him lead the way. If Mr. Abbas wants to retain power with bigotry, that is his business. Neither is the path of peace. Neither is a way forward.

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