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The Hamas election - a possible victory for the West?

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

Submitted by ron thompson (United States), Jan 29, 2006 at 15:49

The more I think about it, the more I think the Hamas victory could be a potential victory for the West although, to apply Abba Eban's famous quote in a new way, it seems more likely that it is the West rather than the Palestinians that will, yet again, not "miss an opportunity to miss an opportunity."

For yet again, for almost 60 years now, no matter how clear Islamic "radicalism" makes its intolerance of the existence of Israel, and its equal intolerance of any method of dealing of with political conflict except the immediate resort to lethal violence, politicians and commentators in the West, not only Liberals but also supposed hard line Conservatives, will fail to fully confront Hamas' ideas.

Those on the Left will say, well, now that they have to govern, they will 'moderate' (what does that word mean with regard to an 'up or down' stance on the Legitimacy of the existence of Israel?) their views. And the Right will say they must be opposed and
"encouraged", as Daniel Pipes says, "to see the error of their ways".

I think the latter stance is insidiously mistaken, because it involves believing there is a real possibility that, faced with the loss of material aid (that is implicitly temporary) and political rejection (that is obviously only conditional), they will 'come to their senses' and become 'more like us.'

I think this is profoundly foolish, and that the Hamas leadership and their many allies throughout the Arab world, including the populations of our 'allies in the war on terrorism', will simply and with the considerable adroitness they have successfully practiced for decades, play on Western squeamishness - Right as well as Left - about allowing the spread of chaos and violence among the Palestinians.

It's a shame it won't happen, but it would be a forceful dose of reality if most of the spectrum of opinion, Left and Right in the United States, and throughout Europe, could simply say, and mean,
"You voted for this gov't and you must live with all the consequences of its speech and
actions.

And if you receive no further humanitarian material aid or services from Western Gov'ts or
NGOs, well, look for it from Iran or elsewhere - at the same time, we agree that Israel has the
right as a matter of national defense to monitor the logistics of any such aid to make sure it
is humanitarian only".

Paradoxically, if we could be this blunt, having clarified and fortified ourselves mentally and psychologically beforehand, knowing that things might get hotter rhetorically and maybe even physically for awhile, we might actually effect lasting change in the Middle East by proving that we can stand consistently and without reservations for what we claim are both our values and our national interest.

Unfortunately, I suspect it is much more likely that we will, in various ways, and on the Right as well as the Left, implicitly condone the continuing practice of lethal speech and action by the elected Hamas regime, and at the same time allow it to continue to play the victim card. And so Abba Eban's great comment will become as true of the West as it once was for the Palestinians.
Although .... come to think of it, perhaps this never was a good comment about Palestinian behavior, because Eban based his thought on an assumption about Palestinian identity and its supposed willingness to accept certain (Western) values that in fact has never been true.

And never will be true, at least until the United States and the West confront that Palestinian identity undisguised by a dense fog of psychological projection and wishful thinking. Ron Thompson

Submitting....

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