Dear Baroness Catherine Ashton

An op-ed by David A. Harris
Executive Director of the American Jewish Committee
The Jerusalem Post, March 28, 2010

Dear Baroness Ashton,

Since December 2009, you have served as the High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy of the European Union – in other words, the EU’s foreign policy czar.

A few days ago, your op-ed, “Lessons from a Gaza Trip,” was published in the International Herald Tribune.

You waxed poetic about a project for deaf children and a school for girls you visited in Gaza. You wrote: “For the sake of the little deaf boy who stood and held my hand and for the girls who want to be able to do something with that good education, we have to move from process to peace.”

Astonishingly, though, you ignored some rather obvious facts.

Not once did the word “Hamas” appear in your article. How is it possible to write about Gaza today and fail to mention its governing authority? It’s not a small oversight, either. Hamas is the crux of the problem.

How could you overlook the Hamas Charter, which defines the worldview of those in charge?

The full text should be required reading for anyone, like yourself, involved in Middle East diplomacy.

Here’s a taste of what the Charter says about Jews:

“The Prophet, Allah bless him and grant him salvation, has said: ‘The Day of Judgment will not come about until Muslims fight the Jews (killing the Jews), when the Jew will hide behind stones and trees. The stones and trees will say O Muslims, O Abdulla, there is a Jew behind me, come and kill him.'”

And here’s how the Charter views neighboring Israel:

“Israel will exist and will continue to exist until Islam will obliterate it, just as it obliterated others before it.”

Here’s how the Charter refers to so-called infidels:

“The day Islam appears, the forces of infidelity would unite to challenge it, for the infidels are of one nation. O true believers, contract not an intimate friendship with any besides yourselves: they will not fail to corrupt you. They wish for that which may cause you to perish: their hatred hath already appeared from out of their mouths; but what their breasts conceal is yet more inveterate.”

Being from Britain, Baroness, you may want to know how the Second World War really started. The Charter has the answer:

“They (the Jews) were behind World War II, through which they made huge financial gains by trading in armaments, and paved the way for the establishment of their state.”

And while you may become teary-eyed recalling the school for girls you visited, the Charter’s view of women has little to do with aspiring to a high political office like yours:

“Woman in the home of the fighting family, whether she is a mother or a sister, plays the most important role in looking after the family, rearing the children and imbuing them with moral values and thoughts derived from Islam. She has to teach them to perform the religious duties in preparation for the role of fighting awaiting them. That is why it is necessary to pay great attention to schools and the curriculum followed in educating Muslim girls, so that they would grow up to be good mothers, aware of their role in the battle of liberation.”

The next time you visit Gaza, and before you share with the world what you think you’ve seen, please inquire about the Hamas Charter, the refusal to recognize Israel’s right to exist, the role of women, the central place of Shari’a in society, and the reasons why the EU designated Hamas a terrorist organization.

Moreover, you might urge your local hosts to show you not only societies for deaf children and schools for girls, but also weapons factories and arms caches – especially those located in mosques, schools and hospitals. Perhaps you might also take a detour to their favorite missile-launching sites for attacking Israeli towns and villages. And maybe your hosts will explain their ties with Iran, including the smuggling of cash and arms, as well as the training of Hamas fighters who go in and out through hidden tunnels.

Further, you might seek a visit with Gilad Shalit, the Israeli soldier whom you oddly describe as “captured,” when he was, in fact, kidnapped in a cross-border raid from Gaza. And with the EU’s laudable commitment to international humanitarian law, press your hosts on why no one has been permitted to visit him since his abduction in 2006.

I would also recommend that, before your next visit to Gaza, you stop in Ramallah. Ask Palestinian Authority leaders to share their memories of the bloody civil war that Hamas triggered in Gaza, in 2007, leading to the PA’s expulsion. If they’re being honest, PA leaders will hardly subscribe to your sanitized view of Hamas-ruled Gaza today.

And a stop in Cairo could be beneficial. Egypt is no less concerned than Israel about what’s going on next door. That’s why it’s building a wall along the Gaza border. Hamas, after all, proudly proclaims itself part and parcel of the Muslim Brotherhood, a longtime threat to Egypt’s stability.

Frankly, when reading “Lessons from a Gaza Trip,” I couldn’t help thinking of those impressionable Western travelers who visited the Soviet Union and returned with gushing accounts of the Moscow metro, circus and ballet, the well-behaved schoolchildren, and the workers’ paradise.

Dear Baroness Ashton, please wake up.

Yes, the search for peace in the region is unquestionably a sacred duty. But it can only be attained by those truly committed to coexistence and mutual respect.

Hamas – that stunningly missing word in your op-ed – is not a peace seeker, but a peace saboteur. With the terrorist group controlling Gaza, the sooner you grasp this essential point, the better off we will all be.


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