Birds do it, bees do it
Even educated fleas do it
Let’s do it, let’s fall in love
A tip of the hat to Cole Porter for inspiration for my post title. The N.Y. Times reports that everybody and their uncle seems to be either talking to Hamas or contemplating doing so:
France confirmed on Monday that it has been engaged in contacts with the leaders of Hamas…for several months to try to better understand its positions.
The Bush administration, which recently likened talks with Hamas to appeasement of the Nazis, quickly criticized the French for the contacts, calling them unhelpful. There was no immediate comment from the Palestinian president, Mahmoud Abbas of Fatah, who has said that he will not talk to Hamas, which he accuses of carrying out a bloody coup in Gaza last June.
Foreign Minister Bernard Kouchner emphasized that there were no negotiations with Hamas, labeled a terrorist group by the United States, Israel and the European Union.
“These are not relations, they are contacts,” Mr. Kouchner said on Europe1 radio. “We are not the only ones to have them,” he said. “We must be able to talk if we want to play a role.”
Mr. Kouchner confirmed a report in the daily Le Figaro, quoting a retired French diplomat and former ambassador to Iraq, Yves Aubin de La Messuzière, saying that he had met a month ago in Gaza with Ismail Haniyeh, the Hamas prime minister, and Mahmoud Zahar, among the most important Hamas leaders in the Palestinian territories.
That of course leaves the Bush Administration out in the cold. This reminds me of the old joke about Israel in the economic doldrums of the 1970s: “will the last Israeli leaving Ben Gurion please turn out the lights.” Bush is one of the last holdouts (except for AIPAC and other hardliners) for a policy everyone except him realizes is bankrupt, counter-productive and fruitless.
For Pete’s sake, even 64% of Israelis are in favor of direct Israeli negotiations with Hamas. The Israeli government is negotiating indirectly through Egypt with Hamas. 53 U.S. congressmembers signed the LaHood-Price letter calling for negotiations and a ceasefire between Israel and Hamas.
Are all of these terrorist appeasers like Neville Chamberlain as Bush so ‘aptly’ put it in his Knesset speech? Is it truly 1938, or even worse 1939, as Bush and Netanyahu put it? Is Hamas Nazi Germany? Come off it. If Bernard Kouchner and Nicholas Sarkozy, known for their pro-Israel views, can think pragmatically about this, why can’t George Bush? Our policy is sclerotic.
Unlike the lyrics of Cole Porter’s Let’s Fall in Love, no one is expecting anyone to fall in love with Hamas. There’s clearly not going to be any honeymoon here. But what about talking, what harm can talking do? What harm can a ceasefire do? What harm can freeing Gilad Shalit do? It might even help, God forbid.