An adder and a cobra

November 1, 2006

Make a choice: which of the two is better? They sure differ in appearance – one is big and has a hood, another is just a modest-looking little creature. One makes a lot of show and noise, the other is modest and quiet.

So which should we prefer? Well, the venom of either one is deadly. Perhaps, there is no choice here. Both are essentially the same.

Which is not infrequently the case of seemingly opposite political figures, too. The west is strongly backing Palestinian president Abbas against Hamas that was elected by the Palestinians to rule, because the “moderate” Abbas backs a deal with Israel that would end the conflict, while to Hamas the very idea of Israel is an anathema. Isn’t there a huge difference between the two?

Not really – when it comes to what is really important, to the goals rather than tactics to achieve them.

Gaza is the case in point. One would think that, after Israelis exited Gaza, “moderate” Abbas would nurture the chance to show the world that Palestinians can be good neighbors of Israel, and would prove wrong those foretelling that the withdrawal will only result in further attacks on Israel from Gaza.

He did not – because such approach is not on his mind. The title of this morning’s AFP report from Ramallah – “Abbas, Hamas PM condemns Israeli ‘massacre’ in Gaza” says it all. Israelis entered a town in Northern Gaza to stop firing of rockets from there. In ensuing firefight, six Palestinians and an Israeli soldier were killed. Hamas condemned the “massacre.” But how about a “moderate,” “peaceful” Abbas? Did he tell the Palestinians that to end killing in Gaza they should – guess what – stop shelling Israel, release the Israeli soldier they dragged into Gaza from Israel, and focus on something more productive than building tunnels under the Egypt border and smuggle in massive quantities of weapons?

Surprise, surprise! He said nothing of a kind. Along with Hamas, he condemned the “massacre.” The language of the two is interchangeable. Attribute Abbas’ remarks to Hamas and you will never notice that something is off.

So is Abbas any good? Is he any different from Hamas?

Well, to be sure, he is – his “peaceful” tactic is to smother Israel by flood of “refugees” while Hamas’ “violent” tactic is to destroy it by the force of arms.

Which is about tantamount to the difference between an adder and a cobra.

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