HH: Let’s come back to that, but pause for a moment on Hamas. Do you think Hamas is a threat to the United States?
GG: No, I don’t think Hamas is remotely a threat to the United States. I think Saddam Hussein was more of a threat to the United States, and I don’t think he was a threat to the United States.
HH: Do you think Hamas is an extension of Iran?
GG: No, I don’t think Hamas is an extension of Iran.
HH: And so given that Hamas is a terrorist organization that denies Israel’s right to exist, how do you think Israel ought to deal with the Qassam rockets, the 7,200 rockets, I believe, that have landed in Israel in the last many years?
GG: Well, I think that in order to answer that question, you have to look at the broader context, which is the fact that while I think Israel has a right to exist, I think the Palestinians have the right to autonomy over a land that virtually everybody outside of a few extremist religious sects in the United States and Israel recognize does not belong to Israel, recognizes it and should be Palestinian land. And so it’s not just a one-sided question, which is what should the Israelis do about rocket fire, the question also is what should the Palestinians do about the fact that they’re essentially occupied for a foreign army for four decades, and have walls built around them, and blockades imposed on them. And I think all these issues need to be resolved in order to have a real resolution. I think dropping bombs in a densely populated civilian area like the Gaza Strip isn’t going to solve any of it. It’s just going to exacerbate it.
HH: So what do you want, what do you think Israel ought to do?
GG: Well, I think that, for one thing, I think that real negotiations need to ensue, and I think those can only happen with a powerful and devoted mediator, which probably is a role that only the United States can play. So I think the Israelis need to be a lot more willing to make concessions than they’ve been in the past, and I also think that doing things like expanding settlements in the West Bank and blockading the Gazans to the point where they can’t even get nutrition and medical needs for their children are things that clearly harm their own interests, and make the conflict worse. I think stopping settlements, making concessions in the West Bank, and giving the Gazans more of a decent life so they don’t think it’s worthwhile to blow themselves up and shoot rockets at their oppressors is a really good first step.
HH: Do you think that then Israel ought to be negotiating with Hamas?
GG: Yeah, I think Israel needs to negotiate with all parties. I mean, you know, for a long time, people used to say that the Egyptians and the Jordanians were so devoted to the destruction of Israel, and wouldn’t recognize Israel’s right to exist, that there was no way that those countries could ever peacefully coexist with Israel, that negotiating with them was worthless, they only understood bombs and violence and superior military force. And of course, for many, many years now, there’s been peaceful coexistence between the Egyptians, the Jordanians and the Israelis. And sure, there’s always going to be extremists on both sides, and you have sects in Israel that will never, ever accept a two state solution, the kind who killed Yitzhak Rabin and associated with Meir Kahane, you know, extremists on both sides. But you can marginalize extremists so that decent people on both sides who comprise the overall majority are able to forge a peaceful resolution.
HH: They’ve said that the banner of Allah shall fly over every inch of Palestine. How do you negotiate with that? I think that’s different from Egypt and Jordan.
GG: Well, I’m not sure that it is. I mean, if you look at the position of the Egyptians and the Jordanians prior to the peace treaties, and there’s lots of Arab countries now, actually, Muslim countries, that to this day still say that they don’t recognize the existence of Israel. I mean, some of our allies in the Middle East, like the United Arab Emirates, for example, will put Israel in quotation marks whenever they use the word, and don’t allow Israeli citizens into their country. They don’t recognize the existence, or the right of Israel to exist, and yet they’ve been able to reach essentially a rapprochement where violence is not the norm. As I said, people, groups all the time, especially ones involved in very intense and hateful conflicts will adopt goals or policies or aspirations that are extremist, but the process of negotiation, as you know from being a lawyer, is about getting intractable parties to give up on their unrealistic and extremist positions, and by getting things in return, give up on goals that they can’t achieve and that aren’t realistic. And I think Hamas knows that destroying Israel is not something they’re ever going to be able to accomplish, and they’ve talked openly about being receptive to a long term truce, which is already a concession from that 1988 charter document.
HH: do you have any evidence that they would ever be willing to accept the existence of Israel for longer than a period of even a long term truce, because I’ve never seen that. I’m just curious on what you base your optimism for Hamas.
GG: Well, I think that again, I mean, you look at, my optimism is based on the fact that human beings have pretty universal characteristics. And there have been parties who looked to be completely fanatically devoted to one another’s destruction who have been able to achieve peaceful resolutions, even though they long swore that they never would. You know, you look at warring factions in Ireland and the Balkans, and even in the Middle East, and you see parties that have long sworn to destroy one another now living side by side in peace as a result of the diplomatic process. So are there elements in Hamas who are so religiously radicalized that they will never, ever accept a solution that recognizes Israel’s right to exist? I’m sure that’s true, and I’m sure there are lots of Israelis, right wing religious figures who will never accept the Palestinians’ right to have a state in the West Bank or Gaza. There’s American Evangelicals who never will. But I think that what you do is you focus on the more reasonable parties, and you marginalize and render impotent those extremists who continue to object. And that’s how you get security and peace for Israel and for its neighbors.
HH: Well, that brings me back, then, to the actual concrete steps that you think Israel ought to be doing, because should they negotiate despite the fact that 7,200 missiles have fallen on their land over five years?
GG: Well, I mean I think you know, those are a lot of missiles, the damage that has been done relative to the damage inflicted on the Palestinians over the course of that time period, of course, is something like 1/100th of the number of Palestinians who have been killed during that same time. So the rockets are definitely a problem. The government can’t allow rockets to be shot into their civilian populations. There’s no question about that. The question is what is the more effective course for ending terrorism? Is it to find a diplomatic solution, to offer concessions, even if they’re unilateral concessions, that diffuse the anger in the population? You know, we’re going to dismantle these settlements in the West Bank, we’re going to give you the right to control your own airspace, we’re going to let you have an airport, we’re going to stop blockading medicine that your children need. If you start doing that, isn’t that more likely to diffuse the extremism that feeds terrorism?
HH: No, I don’t, but what do you think? Do you think they will be stronger? Can they be eradicated?
GG: I think they’re absolutely…I mean, I think they’re going to end up like Hezbollah. I think they’re going to end up strengthened, with enormous amounts of credibility around the Arab world for having stood up to the Israelis and not been obliterated. I think that the idea that Gazans, for any foreseeable future, are going to support more moderate factions inside of Gaza after enduring what they’ve endured. I mean, if any politician stands up and says I want to have rapprochement with the Israelis, I think they’re going to be run out of town, and exactly the way that in the wake of 9/11 if a politician stood up and tried to convince Americans that peaceful resolution was the optimal course, they would have, too. I think you radicalize populations when you drop bombs on civilians.
HH: So there’s nothing…
GG: That’s what Hamas feeds on.
HH: Well, given your understanding of the world, then there’s nothing Israel can do, if the rockets keep falling, except endure rocket fire.
GG: No, I think you can get to the point where Hamas no longer has the support that they have, because the hatred towards Israel that Hamas feeds on, that is their nutrition and strength, that hatred can be diffused in virtually all of the Arab world, including in Gaza, if Israel is no longer seen as a violent oppressor and an aggressor, which is how they’re seen now, rightly or wrongly. That’s the perception that needs to be undermined.
Thats probably about as much as I can get away with and there is plenty more where that came on. If we could only have some politicians and or media folks who could follow Greenwald's lead the conflict in Gaza would probably be over by now and IMHO the world would be a much safer place.