Wednesday, June 22, 2005

German Normality and Hamas

On the theme of the allegedly merely "technical" EU-Hamas contacts, Matt at Eurabian Times points me to this article from The Jerusalem Post on meetings between Hamas and what Hamas leader Mahmoud Zahar, without naming names, identifies as a senior German government official. Hamas spokesperson Mushir al-Masri – whose “Hamas is open to dialogue with all countries, except with the Zionist enemy” I cited in my previous post on the subject – is also quoted in the article, confirming the contact with the German official and placing it in the broader context of Hamas contacts with EU officials (here identified, n.B., as “top EU officials”). “We are telling them that the resistance (against Israel) is legitimate and should not be seen as terrorism,” Mr. al-Masri says: “We are also reminding the Europeans that their resistance against occupation was never considered terrorism.”

It is interesting that Mr. al-Masri should speak of “reminding the Europeans that their resistance against occupation was never considered terrorism” in confirming reported contacts with a German official. Evidently, it must be the “resistance” of Nazi remnants – the so-called “werewolves” – to the Allied occupation following the defeat of Nazi Germany that he had in mind.

I asked Matthias Küntzel whether he had come across anything more on this story in the German media. He said that he had not noticed any reports in the local press on the German contacts with Hamas. The remainder of his response is worth quoting at length:
And why should there be any? Here the elections in Iran are regarded as fully democratic and contact with Hamas as normal.

The crazy ones are just those in the USA, who, in the words of the former German government spokesperson Klaus Bölling (SPD) “want to force a form of democracy upon the peoples of the Middle East that fits the pious and peaceable adherents of Islam about as well as the proverbial saddle on the cow” [letter to the editor in Tuesday's [21 June] Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung].

The largest public radio (Deutschlandfunk) broadcast a report this morning [21 June] that ended with the voice of Barghouti and his words to the effect that the Gaza Strip evacuated of the colonies would be just a “concentration camp surrounded by a big wall”. The station had nothing to say about
the attempted suicide bombing yesterday morning by the Palestinian woman who wanted to blow herself up in a hospital.

For anyone here who does not consult English-language sources (and who does?), it is as if one lived in quarantine.

To my mind the new insouciance of Europe in its relations with Hamas is an expression of a shift in the relations between the EU and the US. When the US was strong, the Europeans found themselves obliged to curtail their contacts to Islamist terror or at least to appear to do so. Today, the Bush administration seems prepared to come to terms with the European approach.

When Condi was asked on 16 June 2005 "What's your reaction about the contacts between the EU's officials and Hamas movement?", her response was:

"Our EU colleagues fundamentally understand that Hamas cannot be in a position of threatening the peace process with arms and then say it is a part of the political process. I think that is something that we share." (

Such nice words will not moderate the anti-American course of the EU, but rather encourage it. Leaving this aside, any implicit suggestion about what Hamas can or cannot be expected to do is grotesque. Gerald M. Steinberg makes this point particularly clear in his June 19th article in the Jerusalem Post titled
“The ‘Pragmatic’ Hamas Myth”.