Barack Obama, with a huge assist from the American media, accused George Bush of playing electoral politics with his otherwise unremarkable and rather general condemnation of appeasement in the Israeli Knesset. Bush never mentioned anyone by name and only made one reference to a specific person in the speech, a Republican Senator in 1939, but he did frame the remarks by referring to those who had suggested that we cut ties to Israel and engage with their enemies in terrorist groups like Hamas. Now the country whose ambassador to Britain once called Israel a “s****y little country” reveals that they have indeed engaged Hamas, at least informally:
France has had informal contacts with Hamas, the militant Palestinian group that rules Gaza, Foreign Minister Bernard Kouchner said Monday.
Kouchner, speaking on Europe-1 radio, was confirming a report in the daily Le Figaro that quoted a retired diplomat as saying he met with Hamas leaders a month ago.
Hamas is considered a terrorist organization by the European Union and the United States. Fatah had dominated Palestinian politics for decades, but was trounced by Hamas in 2006 parliamentary elections. In June 2007, the militant Islamic group took Gaza by force, triggering a crisis among Palestinians.
France has had contacts with Hamas leaders “for several months,” Kouchner said, adding that France was not in formal negotiations. “These are not relations, they are contacts. We must be able to talk if we want to play a role,” the minister said.
A series of contacts constitutes relations, regardless of whatever sophistry Kouchner utilizes. It’s a distinction without a difference, and it flies in the face of the West’s stated policy of non-negotiation with terrorist groups. The more outrageous aspect of it is that Hamas doesn’t target France. How would France react if Israel began a series of “contacts” with ETA in order to “play a role” in resolving the standoff with Basque separatists?
Whatever the international community rewards, it will encourage to increase. If Hamas gets diplomatic engagement without forswearing terrorism and Israel’s destruction, what would motivate them to abandon those positions? Regardless of what Kouchner claims, Hamas isn’t engaged in a border dispute with Israel, they have an existential struggle against the Israelis, and they prove it every time a missile lands in Sderot and Ashkelon.
At least ETA recognizes France’s right to exist.
Given this revelation, and the likelihood that the US already knew about these diplomatic engagements between France and Hamas, the Bush speech appears to quite obviously reference this without explicitly embarrassing France. Let’s go back to the speech (via The Anchoress):
And that is why the founding charter of Hamas calls for the “elimination” of Israel. And that is why the followers of Hezbollah chant “Death to Israel, Death to America!” That is why Osama bin Laden teaches that “the killing of Jews and Americans is one of the biggest duties.” And that is why the President of Iran dreams of returning the Middle East to the Middle Ages and calls for Israel to be wiped off the map.
There are good and decent people who cannot fathom the darkness in these men and try to explain away their words. It’s natural, but it is deadly wrong. As witnesses to evil in the past, we carry a solemn responsibility to take these words seriously. Jews and Americans have seen the consequences of disregarding the words of leaders who espouse hatred. And that is a mistake the world must not repeat in the 21st century.
Some seem to believe that we should negotiate with the terrorists and radicals, as if some ingenious argument will persuade them they have been wrong all along. We have heard this foolish delusion before. As Nazi tanks crossed into Poland in 1939, an American senator declared: “Lord, if I could only have talked to Hitler, all this might have been avoided.” We have an obligation to call this what it is — the false comfort of appeasement, which has been repeatedly discredited by history.
Some people suggest if the United States would just break ties with Israel, all our problems in the Middle East would go away. This is a tired argument that buys into the propaganda of the enemies of peace, and America utterly rejects it.
With Kouchner’s statement, the French seem the most likely reference for this disputed section of Bush’s rejection of appeasement, not Barack Obama and the Democrats. Unless they have changed positions lately, the Democrats have never publicly suggested that the US cut ties with Israel, but we certainly have heard voices in Europe suggesting that over the year, before and after Oslo. The appeasers are the ones talking with terrorists to see how moderate they can get while still demanding the destruction of Israel and using terrorism against civilians to strengthen their political hand.
If Obama wants to volunteer that he should be cast into the same lot as Kouchner, then that’s his decision — but it looks pretty obvious that neither he nor the media paid attention to the speech or the situation with Hamas. Obama threw himself under a bus that wasn’t rolling in his direction at all.