In Hill Times Column, Former Senator & MP Says Only End to Israel’s “Occupation” Will Stop Hamas

October 11, 2023

Seeing the stomach-churning testimonials, photos, and videos of Hamas’ unprecedented and unprovoked barbaric massacre of innocent Israeli civilians is a shock to Canadians. But as upsetting as the images are, they should not come as a surprise to anyone who understands the true nature of Hamas: an Islamist terrorist group that is dedicated to the total destruction of Israel.

However, even in the face of this indescribable targeting and murder of innocent Israelis, including entire families, babies, and the elderly, there are still some commentators who continue to be under the misperception that somehow, a negotiated settlement is possible between Israel and Hamas.

In an opinion column published on October 9 in The Hill Times entitled: “Darkness of violence must not kill hopes for peace,” author Douglas Roche, a former senator and member of parliament, rightly condemned Hamas’ murder of Israeli civilians, labeling them “abhorrent attacks.”

But it didn’t take long before he provided simple and false platitudes, writing that “This most recent violence does not come in a vacuum…The reality is that it grows out of a long-standing conflict, with a 56-year long occupation of Palestine and no political end in sight.” He continued by saying that “only a negotiated peace that fulfills the legitimate national aspirations of Palestinians and Israelis can bring long-term stability to the Middle East.”

While it is certainly true that Hamas’ most recent terrorist attack – the deadliest assault on Jews since the Holocaust – did not take place in a vacuum, the context Roche is attempting to provide only obfuscates the truth and serves to rationalize Hamas terrorism.

Hamas seeks the elimination of Israel as a Jewish State, and in its place, the establishment of a totalitarian Islamist theocracy. It is, both ideologically and tactically, extremely reminiscent of Islamic State (ISIS), which became infamous for its horrific brutality against civilians.

Against that backdrop, what possible room for negotiation between Israel and a party that seeks its total destruction?

As for Roche’s assertion that Israel’s “56-year-long occupation of Palestinians” is responsible for the violence, this contention is wrong on at least two counts.

For more than 18 years, Israel has not occupied a single square inch of Gaza. As for Judea & Samaria (often called the “West Bank” by news media outlets), Israel possesses extensive legal rights to the land in question, but ultimately, this is totally besides the point.

The Palestinians could have created an independent state by now if their leadership had accepted Israel’s hand in peace, including the 2000 Camp David offer, where then-Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Barak offered the Palestinians the Gaza Strip, Judea & Samaria, and even eastern Jerusalem, only to have his offer rejected by Yasser Arafat, the Palestinian leader.

Even more fundamentally, the unspeakable cruelty and barbarism of Hamas’ massacre in southern Israel – where body parts of children and decapitated babies were found in one Israeli kibbutz – shows that Hamas is driven by a monstrous hatred of Jews. A dispute over real estate does not create that kind of brutality.

As The Globe & Mail wrote on October 11, “Destroying Hamas is not only a legitimate aim for Israel, but an act of self-preservation.” Until the world can recognize with clarity that Israel cannot continue to exist alongside a terrorist group that seeks its destruction, and consequently gives full support to Israel as it takes the necessary and imperative steps to eliminate Hamas, violence will never end. The most moral step for any commentator in Canada to make is to voice support for Canada’s solidarity with Israel, and push back against the lazy and trite claim that if only Israel gave Hamas a state of its own, then Hamas would cease to murder Israeli civilians.

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