Olmert has been trying to inflict pain on Hamas (while providing humanitarian aid to Palestinians), promising that if Shalit is released and missile attacks cease, Israeli troops will walk away. Were Hamas to comply, a new peace process could begin.Read more: What Are They Thinking?
But that is the last thing Hamas wants. Its leaders have stated their goal candidly and repeatedly: They mean to wipe Israel off the map. Living peacefully next door to a Jewish neighbor is not on their agenda.
For some reason, however, many Europeans and Americans can't bring themselves to accept that Hamas is articulating not a negotiating posture but a religious conviction. By now, most people understand that Islamists consider it impermissible for a Muslim ever to convert to another religion conversion brings a death sentence in Saudi Arabia and other countries where extreme variants of Islam hold sway. What most people may not realize is that Islamists also believe it is impermissible for land to convert: Territory once conquered by Muslims, they insist, must never revert to the rule of infidels. That includes not just Israel but large parts of Europe. Also Kashmir, they demand, must be Muslim-ruled; that almost certainly was the motive behind this week's railway bombings in India."