In 1812, Napoleon
invaded Russia with what was known as the Grande Armee. The French
captured Moscow before the harsh winter and a stubborn Russian
resistance forced them to turn back, leaving behind only the inspiration
for a bombastic Tchaikovsky overture and the seeds for an irrational
foreign policy. Now, both countries -- France and Russia -- agree
Their stance is foreboding.
Russian President Vladimir Putin said he was considering inviting
the leaders of Hamas to Moscow for talks and almost immediately,
and predictably, the French pronounced this a wonderful idea.
Putin, I don't think, would have been quite so quick to extend
a welcome to the Chechen rebels he considers to be terrorists,
but the murderers of Jews are apparently a different matter. This,
after all, is a long Russian tradition.
The French, too,
have their traditions. One of them -- in fact their sole animating
foreign policy objective -- is to make life difficult for the
United States. This has been the case since Charles de Gaulle,
a man of fixed fixations who resented the fact that France was
no longer a great power, just a cuisine or, in some years, a good
runway show. It is not surprising that France supported this Russian
initiative, although it itself will refrain from such a meeting.
Still, you can see which way the French are going.
It is not easy to
say what to do with Hamas. It is -- no doubt about it -- a terrorist
organization. Yet it won the recent Palestinians elections --
and did so going away. It has vast support in the West Bank and
Gaza Strip and in some ways represents an improvement over Fatah,
the organization of the late and hardly lamented Yasser Arafat.
His collection of kleptomaniacs and thugs was mightily resented
by the average Palestinian who now, at least, has leaders avowedly
dedicated to honest government -- and, of course, the utter destruction
But whatever Hamas'
virtues might be, its vices are far, far worse. Just to give you
one example: On June 1, 2001, a Hamas suicide bomber killed 21
people and wounded 120 others in an attack on a Tel Aviv discotheque.
This was a typical Hamas operation, directed at civilians and
involving the use of a suicide bomber, often some addled youth
seeking a good time in paradise.
What's more, Hamas
is no mere (or understandably) anti-Israel or anti-Zionist organization.
It is also deeply, indelibly and quite openly anti-Semitic. Its
covenant, adopted Aug. 18, 1988, does not limit itself to the
goal of annihilating Israel, but throws in ``killing the Jews''
for good measure. It mentions Jews over and over again and even
cites that notorious anti-Semitic forgery, ``The Protocols of
the Elders of Zion," as proof of what the vile Hebrews are
up to. This includes, and I am not making this up, ``control of
the world media, news agencies, the press'' and responsibility
for ``the French revolution, the Communist revolution and most
of the revolutions we heard and hear about.''
One thing you might
not have heard about: ``They (Jews) were behind World War I''
and, for good measure, ``World War II, through which they made
huge financial gains by trading armaments, and paved the way for
the establishment of their state.'' This is 100 percent, non-alloyed,
near-perfect and totally bananas anti-Semitism -- not the work
of rational minds.
It is, though, the
work of the very people Putin (with French support) would meet
with. He would do so, apparently, without one word being changed
in this repellent covenant -- or without Hamas renouncing its
intention to obliterate Israel. Russia and, in a way, France would
overlook this salty language because, as we are so often told,
they are realists and we Americans -- chuckle, chuckle -- are
dreamers. In the real world, you have to talk to your enemies.
But in the real world,
Putin ought to bear in mind the example he is setting. If he can
talk with Hamas, why can't others talk to the Chechens? He himself
takes umbrage whenever anyone meets with Chechen political leaders
-- not, mind you, terrorists -- because he makes no distinction
between the two. But when it comes to Hamas, Putin is willing
to embrace it all -- political wing, terrorist wing: it makes
no difference to him. At least until he shows differently, the
only distinction he makes is between the killers of innocent Russians
and the killers of innocent Israelis.
In retrospect, Napoleon
was lucky to have gotten out.
2006, Washington Post Writers Group