Jon, you wrote: "I support Israel's right to exist, and I hope the new government of Palestine also sorts that issue out." I doubt that any Palestinian organization will ever acknowledge such a thing (sincerely, anyway), if it it phrased like that, and it usually is. What Israel and the West ought to be asking Hamas to do is acknowledge Israel (within the 1967 borders, not including West Bank settlements or East Jerusalem or the Jordan Valley) as a fait accompli, one that is not likely to go away. In fact I have already heard Hamas leaders doing this - one said last week (I can't remember the exact words) that no one could destroy a nuclear power with a few homemade rockets and bombs. Hamas is smart - they know that they can't destroy Israel. They might be able to make the West Bank settlements too expensive to hang onto, as they did the Gaza ones, but the WB ones are much larger and more entrenched, and furthermore are in an area that Israel thinks God gave to them, so I don't expect them to have too much luck in getting rid of them. Israelis would have to decide to do that by themselves.Thanks, cuz. If I hear you right, the term "Israel has a right to exist" placed in the mouth of a Palestinian would be for him or her to say that God approved of what was done to Palestinians by the west and Israel from its founding until now. Remember, the central issue theologically for Zionists and right-wing Christians is this: both believe that God's creation of Old Testament Israel was in effect a "forever" thing. That is, the land then, now, and forevermore belongs to the Jewish people.... an idea Palestinian Christians as well as Muslims reject. (Amazing how Palestinian Christianity is completely ignored in the Christian Right rhetoric on Israel's "rights.")
To ask Hamas to acknowledge Israel's right to exist would be to demand that they acknowledge that European Jews had the right to invade Palestine and take the land away from the Palestinians, and they certainly never had that right, either legally or morally. They might have had the right to take Bavaria, considering that it was the Germans who tried to exterminate them, but to take Palestine, making 1/3 of the Palestinians the new Wandering Jews with no right to return to their homeland ever, and another third or so prisoners in refugee camps for 58 years and counting, and the rest miserable people living under permanent occupation? NO WAY did they have that right. Palestinians had never done anything to deserve this catastrophe happening to them, any more than the Indians deserved what our ancestors did to them. The fact that many of these Jews who came from Europe were descended or partly descended from people who lived in Palestine 2000 years ago is no argument at all to anyone who does not accept the Chosen People or Rapture things. If Hamas said that they agreed with the formation of Israel on Palestinian land they would be either lying or crazy.
To ask that Hamas acknowledge pre-1967 Israel to be a permanent fait accompli ought to be enough. To have the arrogance to demand that Hamas agree that it was OK to have their country stolen is unspeakable.
There could be a different reading of history than the usual one we in the west encounter as fact. Start with the holocaust. No, Muslims shouldn't mock or deny the holocaust, as some have done. But why have they? Are they simply unreasonable, violent, and hateful by nature... unlike we civilized Judeao-Christian types? (Daisycutter, anyone?) Or is there a deeper subtext here, perhaps explaining some of that anger?
Who's fault was the holocaust, anyway? Did Hitler rise in a vacuum, or in an anti-semetic culture which had taught its citizens for 1900 years that Jews were "Christ Killers," even had secret ceremonies in which they drank the blood of gentile babies? Could this western culture, faced with the horrors of the 6,000,000 Jews who died due in part to such vicious theological ideas, hunt for the easy way out of our collective guilt? A new Christ, perhaps, to nail on the cross ourselves in place of the six million we'd already crucified? Did we try to erase the images of skeletal children and piles of gassed bodies by "giving" a slice of Palestine to the tattered remnants of the holocaust? It seemed a perfect solution. Our western guilt was eased, our Christian guilt over labeling fellow human beings "Christ killers" and other cruel and inaccurate names was eased. And all for the price of a slice of land no-one -- except intially Britian -- seemed all that upset about losing.
No one, that is, except Palestinians. No one but -- as an evangelical relative I admire much less than my Muslim cousin said to me once -- "those ragheads."
Maybe we can arrange another holocaust for them? Maybe then we can take someone else's land and give it to the shredded remnants of their families displaced by western occupiers.
Bottom line? How can the Islamic world relate to our suffering -- whether the suffering of Jews or the suffering of Christians -- when we refuse to recognize their suffering, or even their existence as persons?
I think current events offer abundant evidence answering these questions.