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Only gullible see ‘moderate’ Hamas

Updated: January 12, 2013 6:12AM

It keeps cropping up in news coverage of Hamas leader Khaleh Mashaal — he’s something of a moderate by Palestinian standards, or he is “known as a relative pragmatist inside the movement,” as the AP put it. None of that was on display Saturday as Mashaal called for a campaign of terror to replace Israel with a Palestinian state.

“We will never recognize the legitimacy of the Israeli occupation, and therefore there is no legitimacy for Israel,” he told tens of thousands in the Gaza Strip in a speech marking the 25th anniversary of the founding of Hamas, labeled by the State Department as a terrorist organization. “Palestine is ours from the [Jordan] river to the [Mediterranean] sea and from the south to the north. There will be no concession on any inch of the land.”

“The state,” he said, “will come from resistance, not negotiation.” Resistance is Palestinian-speak for blowing to bits teenagers at a Tel Aviv disco, slaughtering commuters with bus bombings in Jerusalem, and generally killing Jews by any means anywhere.

Yet, the myth of Mashaal’s pragmatism perseveres. It’s promoted by apologists for Palestinian terrorism as a way to lure gullible Westerners, particularly in Europe and among American liberals, into daydreams of Palestinians aspiring to a negotiated two-state solution to the conflict.

It’s an old tune, one perfected by the paterfamilias of terrorism, the wretched Yasser Arafat. In English, he would soothe, lull and entice Westerners with words seeming to hint at peaceful pursuits. But speaking in Arabic to the Palestinians and the wider Arab world, it was always jihad, jihad, jihad.

It’s pretty much the same story with his successor as head of the Palestinian Authority, Mahmoud Abbas. He too talks the talk of peace but can’t walk the walk by accepting Israel’s offer of talks without preconditions. It’s true that he was boxed in by President Barack Obama’s bungling 2009 diplomacy of making a demand for negotiations that the Palestinians themselves had never made — that Israel halt all construction in the disputed territories. Israel did for 10 months only to see Palestinians come to the table at almost the last minute and then walk away. So Obama’s bungling only opened a new avenue for Palestinian intransigence.

Like Arafat, Abbas will say one thing for Western ears and another for his own people. He talks of peace overtures but refuses to acknowledge Israel as the Jewish state. And, as Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu notes, Abbas can’t bring himself to separate himself from Mashaal’s rejectionist stance. Netanyahu observes that Abbas “did not issue a condemnation, not against words calling for the destruction of Israel, just as he did not condemn the firing of missiles at Israel.” The latter was a reference to the hundreds of missiles fired into Israel by Hamas from Gaza that set off the eight days of fighting between Israel and Hamas last month.

After the U.N. General Assembly voted to grant the Palestinian Authority observer nation status, its official Voice of Palestine radio station played a song glorifying suicide terrorism. The song’s lyrics, according to a translation by the Palestinian Media Watch, go: “We are bombs when the homeland calls . . . the enemies were beheaded . . .”

It’s pretty amazing: Palestinian leaders, for Western consumption, promote a fable of being moderate and reasonable but go to no trouble to hide their true intentions. And the gullible left in Europe and America swallow the fiction hook, line and sinker.

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