Since the latest Arab attacks on the streets of Tel-Aviv and Jerusalem, the fashionably operative counterterrorism strategy in Israel has focused on "smashing the infrastructure of Hamas." With this in mind, the United States will now send at least $100 million of equipment to Israel for advanced bomb detection devices, X-ray systems, and robotics devices as well as for advanced thermal and radar sensors. But such equipment transfers, however trendy and well-intentioned, will certainly miss the true infrastructure of Hamas. Not surprisingly, Hamas terrorism will likely proceed at its own pace, largely unaffected by tactical judgments reached by policymakers in Washington/Jerusalem or by the daring Summit Peacemakers at Sharm el-Sheik.
What is this true Hamas infrastructure? More than anything else, it is the Hamas orientation to death, specifically its unambiguous linkage of martyrdom with the obligatory murder of Jews (it is always Jews, not Israelis, that figure in this suicidal orientation.). It is also the incomprehensible complicity of Israel's government in persistent capitulations to PLO demands, especially in that government's willful surrender of essential strategic territories to forces that are sworn explicitly to Israel's annihilation. Thus, in what amounts to an authentically perverse paradox of Israeli security preparations, the present Government of Israel is now itself an integral part of the Hamas infrastructure. (An end to this Israeli government would likely impair the Hamas infrastructure.) Moreover, to the extent that the United States aids the Peres Labor Government in incrementally transferring pieces of the Jewish State to enemy forces, our government, too, must be counted as a portion of the Hamas infrastructure. To be blunt, Hamas is delighted by Clinton policies on the "pursuit of peace."
At Sharm el-Sheik, the "peacemakers," many of whom continue to bankroll and sustain Hamas and PLO (there is no consequential difference) pledged to help "smash the Hamas infrastructure." Here, Yasser Arafat, collaborating closely with Hamas, was promised tens of millions of dollars in U.S. assistance to help the Palestine Authority "defeat terrorism." Informed by the cliched wisdom of President Clinton, we the people of the United States are now effectively committed to help "smash the Hamas infrastructure" by transferring our tax dollars to the one who is singularly dedicated to maintaining this infrastructure.
But surely I must be mistaken. After all, THE NEW YORK TIMES, in an instructive editorial on March 15, 1996, announced authoritatively that the recent Summit of the Peacemakers bestowed a real blessing on the Middle East. For the TIMES editorial writers, who assuredly know a great deal about such matters, and who have vast experience in the realm of counterterrorism, prospects for peace in the region "have not been extinguished, thanks in part to the leaders who clasped hands and closed ranks at Sharm el-Sheik."
What moving words! What profound and subtle assessments! Clearly, the editorial writers have no use for such extraneous data as the PLO Covenant or the Hamas Charter. Surely it would be a waste of space for them to point out that Hamas is already decisively winning the war against Israel or that Hamas has absolutely no incentives - particularly when one considers the fusion of martyrdom with the overriding commitment to slay Jews and the predictably craven surrenders of the Peres Government - to cease its suicide attacks.
Hundreds of Palestinian youths are "waiting in line" to commit suicide attacks for Hamas, General Security Service Head Ami Ayalon told the Knesset Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee on March 4, 1996. They will not get out of line because they fear detection occasioned by American transfers of high-technology sensing equipment. They will get out of line only if they are already dead or if they no longer view death in association with slaughtering Jews as purposeful, i.e., as a proper form of martyrdom. Alternatively, even if they remain in line, the harms that they might inflict could in some measure still be prevented by refusing to grant them safe havens in lands surrendered by Israel to the Palestine Authority/PLO.
Hamas, according to commentary in MA'ARIV by Brig.Gen. (Res.) David Agmon (February 28, 1996), has "made the Jihad its top priority, as a contemporary and immediate holy war to liberate the Palestinian people and the Land of Palestine from the foreign, heretical Israeli occupier." Looking over its Charter, it becomes clear that Hamas has only one path toward the Jews, a path "to be dealt with on this premise../..../..`I swear by that who holds in His Hands the Soul of Muhammad! I indeed wish to go to war for the sake of Allah! I will assault and kill; assault and kill; assault and kill.'"
Hamas is widely alleged to be in a firmly adversarial relationship with PLO. What does its Charter say about such a relationship? "The PLO," says the Hamas Charter, "is among the closest to the Hamas, for it constitutes a father, a brother, a relative, a friend. Can a Muslim turn away from his father, his brother, his relative or his friend? Our homeland is one, our calamity is one, our destiny is one and our enemy is common to both of us../..../.."
To "smash the Hamas infrastructure," it is essential to recall that Israel is despised because it is Jewish; Jews are not despised only if they are Israelis. Again, the Hamas Charter is instructive: "Israel, by virtue of its being Jewish and of having a Jewish population, defies Islam and the Muslims." How shall this Hamas infrastructure be "smashed?" Recalling Yasser Arafat's January 30, 1996 remarks at the Grand Hotel in Stockholm, Sweden ("You understand that we plan to eliminate the State of Israel and establish a purely Palestinian State../..../..I have no use for Jews; they are and remain Jews../..../.."), it is time to acknowledge the true Hamas infrastructure: (1) The Hamas orientation to martyrdom and murder; and (2) The obscene synergy between this orientation and Israeli government "peace" policies.
Israel has no chance whatever to smash the first. Its only smashing option is to aim at the second. In this connection, it may already be too late, but there is no other way.
Louis Rene Beres is a Professor of International Law, Department of Political Science, Purdue University and was educated at Princeton (Ph.D., 1971). He is the author of many books and articles dealing with counterterrorism. His book TERRORISM AND GLOBAL SECURITY: THE NUCLEAR THREAT (1980), was one of the earliest works dealing with the threat of nuclear terrorism, and was the January 1980 Main Selection of the MacMillan Library of Political and International Affairs. Over the past ten years, Professor Beres has lectured widely in Israel on security matters. Recently, he debated the Middle East Peace Process with Maj.Gen. (Res.) Shlomo Gazit, former Chief of the IDF Intelligence Branch, and co-authored several articles with AMB. Zalman Shoval on the subject of "demilitarization." He has also co-authored a recent law journal article, on the Osiraq raid, with COL. (IDF/Res.) Yoash Tsiddon-Chatto, a former Chief of IAF Planning and former MK.