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The Silver Lining

Reader comment on item: [The Hamas Electoral Victory:] Democracy's Bitter Fruit

Submitted by J Harris (United States), Jan 27, 2006 at 11:02

I view the Hamas victory differently than most, and certainly through the prism of Western history rather than Middle Eastern.

With that disclaimer, I cannot help but interpret the Hamas victory as a reflection of what has almost always worked here in America electorally: people voting their pocketbooks; people voting for the potential of a better life with a less corrupt government (and almost as an ante to the game, people voting for a strong defense/security). Fatah were crooks; bald-faced thieves.

This was understandable when the only option seemed to be Arafat. Hamas pays for meals, schools -- the basics that Fatah refused to provide as it lined the walls of its French villas and Swiss bank accounts with UN and American aid monies. Palestinians reached their breaking point just as an organized alternative party emerged.

The question we should be asking as much as how Hamas was elected was why they didn't come to power sooner.

As it relates to stability in the region, the election of Hamas will likely result in one of two outcomes, neither of which will be quick in coming:

1. The Final War between Palestinians and the State of Israel.
2. Cold peace between a sustainable Palestine and a smaller Israel

Just as it took Nixon to go to China, any peace made by anyone but the most radicalized/militant elements of Arab/Palestinian society would be vulnerable to the machinations of those populists even more opposed. With Hamas, Palestinians have elected the only organization capable of making even a cold peace that can hold.

The best thing that could happen to Israel is that Hamas proves it can actually govern; that it can improve the lives of its subjects meaningfully. If they can't, they will do what bogus governments throughout the region (and throughout history) have done: Blame the Jews and blame Israel. It's the ultimate game of political sleight of hand, and is what might likely lead to out and out war. The more we see public statements with this on the agenda -- the more the West forces Hamas' hand early -- the more likely this outcome.

Discounting wildcards like Iran and Bibi, there's a real chance for a lasting cessation of violence between Israel and the Palestinians now in a way that didn't exist 48 hours ago. It will be slow in coming, but after thousands of years of conflict, what's a few more years?
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Note: Opinions expressed in comments are those of the authors alone and not necessarily those of Daniel Pipes. Original writing only, please. Comments are screened and in some cases edited before posting. Reasoned disagreement is welcome but not comments that are scurrilous, off-topic, commercial, disparaging religions, or otherwise inappropriate. For complete regulations, see the "Guidelines for Reader Comments".

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