Monday, January 30, 2006
***DISCLAIMER: I DO NOT IN ANY WAY SUPPORT THE PAST ACTIONS OF HAMAS OR AGREE WITH EITHER HAMAS' OR ISRAEL'S VIOLENT DIALOGUE***
That being said, Hamas' electoral victory deserves better treatment than has been given in much of the media. When the election results were announced on Thursday, Hannity was going nuts, saying the Palestinians were going to join forces with the Iranians and work towards eliminating Israel. The destruction of Israel, after all, is a part of Hamas' platform. But Netenyahu was on Hannity' show that day. He went on to say that the terror of Hamas was going to spread across Israel and then end up in America. Nothing could be further from the truth. Hamas is not leading a global jihad. They are fighting for their homeland. They have contained their violence in the past, when disagreements were much more heated.
In fact there is much historical evidence that the democratic process actually moderates many groups. Hamas is now accountable to all Palestinian people, not just their group members. They will be held responsible for any loss of aid or lack of services. They will be held responsible for international dealings. Furthermore, rhetoric should not be taken so seriously right now. The call for the destruction of Israel has been on the table for a long long time, whether in times of peace or war. A Guardian columnist put it this way:
Sheikh Ahmad Yassin...spelled it out long ago. We shall never recognise the theft of our land, he said, but we are willing to negotiate a ceasefire whose duration can be as a long as a generation, and let future generations on both sides decide where to go then. His ceasefire conditions are fully compatible with international law. Israel would have to give back what it occupied in 1967 - then without any Jewish settlements - and release all Palestinian prisoners. For that Hamas would halt its armed struggle and instead pursue peaceful means.
The IRA, whose leaders negotiated a deal with the British government, continues to dream of uniting Northern Ireland with the Republic; it was never a condition for the peace talks that they should first abandon that dream.
Well, let the Palestinians dream of the end of Israel and let the Israelis dream of Eretz Yisrael from the Nile to the Euphrates, but let's negotiate an end to the violence. Hamas alone is capable of that because Hamas will not give up the right of Palestinians to go back to the villages and towns from which the terrorists who stole their land drove them.
Obviously, this author has his bias, but that shouldn't detract from his main points. Peace is still possible. Political realitites will abound, putting restrictions on Hamas' actions. What's more, Hamas has only been in power for a number of days. Why should I automatically assume they are going to step up attacks on Israel? They ran on a domestic agenda all the way; end corruption, give the people the services they deserve. Israel was not their main campaign talking point. We need to continue to work with the freely elected leaders of the Palestinian territories. Did appeasement work for Hitler? Not at all. But we watched Hitler consolidate power. Hamas was just freely and fairly elected. There isn't an inkling of aggression in their posture right now.
But as an aside, if we need any reminder of what Hamas has done in the past, here ya go: