Hamas victory a win-win situation
Despite their position as unreconstructed terrorist and anti-Semites, Hamas’ victory in the Palestinian elections is likely a win-win situation, at least in the long run. Before I continue, let me make it clear that if every member of Hamas died a painful death, that would be perfectly fine with me. They are terrorist murderers and I wish for nothing but their permanent elimintation. But, as that is not going to happen in the next few months.... The first step after Hamas assumes power is most likely to be a substantial disengagement between the Palestinians and Israel, as well as between the Palestinians and the US. The words have been strong from both sides, with Israel and the US saying they will not work with Hamas, and Hamas saying they will not engage with the “Christian/Zionist” dialog. Furthermore, Hamas’ designation as a terrorist organization means that the US must by law stop giving money to the Palestinian Authority as soon as Hamas takes control. Hamas will continue to have other sources of funding, including from Europe (if the US can’t talk them out of continuing to send money) and the Middle East. But the cut-off of American financing could be a clear demonstration to the Palestinian people that Hamas must change its charter, and more importantly its actions, if the Palestinians are to have any chance of a stable independent state recognized by the world. The internal fighting in Gaza is predictable and, if it does not get too bloody, very healthy. Fatah was corrupt and sclerotic in the extreme. They surely deserved to lose. It’s too bad that Hamas was the only real alternative, but that is the hand the world (including the Palestinians) has been dealt. Hamas now has a serious decision to make: Whether to continue to support terrorism. If they do while running the government, murderous acts in Israel are no longer simply terrorism by a fringe group, but state-sponsored acts which Israel should (and probably would) consider acts of war and retaliate accordingly. So, either Hamas restrains terrorists or they risk serious destruction within Palestinian areas. Of course, the Palestinian people will first and foremost continue to hate Israel and the US but they will have no choice but to attribute responsibility to Hamas if things go badly. It’s easy to take rhetorical (or literal) shots at the establishment when your group is not in power. But once in power everything changes, including a new appreciation for where the buck stops. A huge question is whether Hamas actually has the talent and experience to run a government on the scale of the entire Palestinian territory. Hamas must wonder the same thing since even they probably didn’t expect to win an outright majority. But they have no choice. Even if they want help from Fatah, they are not likely to receive it. Hamas won and now they have to take the reins. My guess is that they will struggle mightily and lose much public support. This will force them to act either more radically or more reasonably. While in the past they have always chosen the former, the typical desire of those elected to office to remain in office might force them down a more constructive path. As we watch this develop it will be particularly important to watch what Hamas does rather than just what they say. They may be very different things. Hamas will either have to moderate their hatred for Israel and work toward a political solution, or they will be responsible for the destruction of the little bit of hope the Palestinian people still have, from which would likely follow the end of Hamas itself as an influential organization. In either case, the world will be a better place. So, the election of Hamas probably means serious and interesting short-term trouble for the Palestinians but is probably a good thing in the long run. Maybe not as good as all Hamas members being killed by a cleverly-engineered anti-terrorist virus, but better than the status quo of the past decade.
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