Last weekend, as Jews around the world began celebrating the festival of Chanukah (the triumph of light over darkness), in Gaza there was a different kind of ‘celebration’, marking the 25th anniversary of the start of the first Palestinian intifada.
The intifada, from 1987 to 1993, was a violent Palestinian uprising against Israel, in which 27 Israelis were killed and an estimated 3,000 were injured. It was choreographed from start to finish by the PLO, not just the precursor to today’s Palestinian Authority, but still a major component of it.
Hamas’s ‘celebrations’ were also timed to coincide with the 25th anniversary of the founding of the terrorist group.
Now, what, you may ask, were they celebrating?
Equal rights for minorities in Gaza, including women, Christians, and homosexuals?
What about freedom of speech, rule of law, and democracy?
Or, God forbid, maybe their hopes and aspirations for peace in the Middle East and a Two State Solution: Israel and Palestine living side-by-side in safety and security?
Regrettably not. Leopards don’t change their spots. After 25 years, all Hamas has to show for is death, murder, terror, and hate.
No sooner had Hamas leader Khaled Mashaal passed through the Egyptian border, in his first ever trip to Gaza, than he told the world, and Israel, exactly what he hoped to celebrate:
“Today is Gaza. Tomorrow will be Ramallah and after that Jerusalem then Haifa and Jaffa.”
As the ‘celebrations’ commenced, in front of an estimated half a million people in Gaza, Mashaal reiterated the above call for the destruction of Israel, saying:
“Palestine is our homeland from the sea to the river, from north to south, and we will not give up any part of our land.”
Meanwhile, just in case it wasn’t clear, one of his spokesmen added:
“Zionists, you should prepare your passports and get ready to disappear”.
Here is a video of Mashaal’s full speech, in all its rabid, hate-filled, genocidal glory. This video ought to shake every decent, peace-loving human to the core. But it won’t. The international community has been only too willing to condemn Israel for every possible misdemeanor, while turning a blind eye or whitewashing Palestinian terror.
Even despite the daily bombardment of rocket attacks from Hamas and its incessant proclamations to destroy the Jewish state, there are many who still entertain the illusion that Hamas is somehow ‘moderating.’
Some have even suggested Israel ought to directly negotiate with Hamas. But where does one begin negotiations with an enemy that does not even recognise your basic right to exist?
As Ron Prosor, Israel’s Ambassador to the UN, said in a recent interview with CNN’s Piers Morgan:
“What would we negotiate with them: how big the coffin should be, how deep the hole or what flowers to send to my funeral?“
There are also many who appear to be blind to the fact, or worse overlook, that Iran, which has called for Israel to be wiped off the map and now seeks to obtain nuclear weapons, is the primary funder and supplier of arms to Hamas.
Equally disturbing is the severe bout of amnesia which seemingly has caused masses of people to forget that in 2005 Israel completely left Gaza, including every last settlement and soldier; but instead of a new-found state living in peace with the Jewish state, Israel was met with a relentless barrage of rockets and terror.
Yet what is most disturbing about this ‘celebration of terror’ is that it marks the first time in over a decade that Mahmoud Abbas’s Fatah party accepted Hamas’s invitation to participate in the annual event.
Yehya Rabah, a senior Fatah official in the Gaza Strip, confirmed that Abbas’s party would attend, saying: “there is no reason why we should not participate with our Hamas brothers in the celebrations.”
Nabil Sha’ath, senior Fatah official, former Palestinian Ambassador to the UN, and a key advisor to Abbas went on stage with Hamas during its recent war with Israel a few weeks ago to praise the Hamas “martyrs”, like the “hero” Ahmad Jabari – deceased terrorist and commander of Hamas’s ‘military wing’.
This is the same Mahmoud Abbas who only last week stood before the UN demanding recognition of Palestinian statehood, saying: “Palestine comes today to the General Assembly because it believes in peace” and “to breathe new life into the negotiations.”
It is a lie that 138 member states of the UN who voted ‘yes’, fell for, hook, line, and sinker.
That Abbas would rather shun repeated offers from Israel to negotiate a two-state solution, and instead embrace the terrorist group Hamas, indicates that yet again, when presented with a path for peace, the Palestinians chose rejection and terror.
Arsen Ostrovsky is an international human rights lawyer and freelance journalist. Follow him on Twitter @Ostrov_A. This article was originally published by The Commentator.