Just consider these events of the past week:
Italian Prime Minister Romano Prodi called for negotiating with Hamas to help the movement "develop politically."
The Norwegian government annnounced it intends to maintain contact with Hamas at the envoy level. This in response to earlier mistaken reports that Norway had cut off ties with Hamas after the June massacres of Fatah forces in Gaza.
The British House of Commons Foreign Affairs Committee released a non-partisan report on Monday recommending that Westminster lawmakers "urgently consider ways of engaging politically with moderate elements within Hamas."
The UK committee appealed to former prime minister Tony Blair to join the effort to reunite Hamas with Abbas's Fatah faction. "The international community must bear in mind that Hamas came to power as a result of a democratic and free election," helpfully adds Dr. Mohamed Al-Madhoun, who heads the bureau of Hamas strong-man Ismail Haniya. (His words are echoed by many otherwise respectable, democracy-loving politicians in western countries like this British labor spokesperson quoted in the pages of the Guardian.)
(In the interests of balance, let's add that a senior un-named Palestinian Arab official in Ramallah says he is "disgusted" to hear that some Europeans were calling for negotiations with Hamas. "Those in Italy and Britain who want to talk to Hamas are undermining moderate Palestinians and emboldening the radicals. We hope that the Europeans will wake up and refrain from committing such a huge mistake.")
From Gaza, already awake, Hamas expressed its wish for a dialogue with the west in response to Prodi's call. "Such a statement by Prodi and other Western officials reflects the West's understanding that the policy of ignoring Hamas has failed," senior Hamas spokesman and part-time mule Sami Abu Zuhri said in a press statement.
Fair enough. Let's assume Abu Zuhri is right and that isolating Hamas has failed. If so, it may be time to take another look at what Hamas stands for - at the issues it believes divide Palestinian Arabs from us Israelis, and the possible basis for two people to live together in future in harmony and constructive neighborliness.
The following are the words of the official Hamas representative in Lebanon, Osama Hamdan. Hamdan's name may be less than a household word in Europe. But Google supplies more than 18,000 links to the man and his words, speaking in the name of Hamas and expressing what are clearly mainstream Hamas viewpoints.
Hamdan's statements below aired a week ago on Al-Kawthar TV (despite the unfamiliar name, a genuine and influential media entity - you can watch its live video stream here).
Interviewer: Do you consider all the Jews in Palestine to be combatants who have plundered the land? We've witnessed martyrdom operations that targeted buses and restaurants.This important speech is online, in streaming video, courtesy of MEMRI TV. View the clip here.
Osama Hamdan: First of all, let me clarify something very important. What is the ruling regarding those who live in Palestine, in the so-called Israel, and who are aggressors and plunderers of the land? The way we see it, they all came to Palestine from abroad, whether before the declaration of the Zionist entity or after it. If you were to conduct statistics within the Zionist entity, you would find that all these people have their origins in other countries - they came from Europe, Eastern Europe, from America, South America, or other places.
Interviewer: In other words, there were no Palestinian Jews?
Osama Hamdan: No, there were no Palestinian Jews. When the British Mandate began in 1917, there was only one settlement on Palestinian land, which included several dozen Jews, who were living there in violation of the law at the time. I would like to mention that under the Ottoman state - regardless of the many reservations we have about it - there was a law that prohibited the Jews from staying in Palestine for over a month. Their passports and personal documents were taken away from them, and they were given an Ottoman permit at the border, which allowed them to stay for a month on Palestinian land. The only group that can be called Jewish was the one in Nablus. They still live there to this day. The Palestinians regard them as part of the makeup of Palestinian society, and they number no more than several hundred. As for those who immigrated from various countries - they are not Jews.
Anyone who comes to live in a war zone is a combatant, regardless of whether he wears a uniform.
Secondly, neither Hamas nor the Palestinian resistance force intentionally killed civilians.
You mentioned the buses. What's an easier target - a bus, which is protected by various security measures, or a school [or] a theater, or a stadium, for example? These civilian targets - in which the killing of women and children is intentional - were not targeted by the resistance.
Why were buses targeted? Because they are the means of transport used by the soldiers as well. The Zionist soldiers, who go from their homes to their bases and back, use public transportation, because it is free or almost free. In my opinion, the occupation soldiers also have a security motive in using public transport: They shield themselves behind the so-called 'civilians' within the Zionist entity.
Therefore, the way I see it, they need to stop using public transportation, or else society should prevent them from using it, because it is the soldiers who are targeted. Just to prove it, in the dozens of operations that were carried out, the Zionists never announced, for example, that 20 children were killed, or that 50 women were killed. On the contrary, if you were to examine who was killed in martyrdom operations that targeted buses, you would find that 70% were occupation soldiers, and they may even have been in uniform at the time of the operation.
We are making the preparations for a confrontation.... The final goal of the resistance is to wipe this entity off the face of the Earth. This goal necessitates the development of the capabilities of the resistance, until this entity is wiped out."
It only remains for us non-European non-politicians to point out that every word of the Hamas representative above is a knowing lie, pumped out like those before it to an ill-informed global audience.
Hate-filled nonsense like Hamdan's, together with the naive and foolish pronouncements of parliamentarians and politicians in countries far from the scene, fuel the massacres in restaurants and the deliberate and willful targeting of innocent civilians - especially women and children - like our daughter.