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Palestine without Illusions

Palestine without Illusions

If the world responds correctly, the Hamas victory will mark a turning point for the better.


Amid much gnashing of teeth, the Hamas victory in the Palestinian elections is being called a disaster. On the contrary. It is deeply clarifying and ultimately cleansing. If the world responds correctly, it will mark a turning point for the better.

The Palestinian people have spoken. According to their apologists, sure, Hamas wants to destroy Israel, wage permanent war and send suicide bombers into discotheques to drive nails into the skulls of young Israelis, but what the Palestinians were really voting for was efficient garbage collection.

It is time to stop infantilizing the Palestinians. As Hamas leader Khaled Meshal said at a news conference four days after the election, "The Palestinian people have chosen Hamas with its known stances." By a landslide, the Palestinian people have chosen these known stances: rejectionism, Islamism, terrorism, rank anti-Semitism and the destruction of Israel in a romance of blood, death and revolution. Garbage collection on Wednesdays.

Everyone is lamenting the fall of Fatah and the marginalization of its leader, Mahmoud Abbas. This is ridiculous. The election exposed what everyone knew and would not admit: Abbas has no constituency. Would it have been better to keep funneling billions of dollars from the European Union and a gullible United States to the thoroughly corrupt administration of a hapless figurehead? Billions that either end up in Swiss bank accounts or subsidize countless gangs of young men carrying guns?

The current nostalgia for Fatah moderation is absurd. What moderation? Yasser Arafat's 1993 paper recognition of Israel's right to exist was as fraudulent as his famous Oslo side letter renouncing terrorism. He spent the next seven years clandestinely sponsoring it, then openly launched a four-year terrorist war, the most vicious in the history of the Arab-Israeli conflict.

With this election, we can no longer hide from the truth: After 60 years, the Palestinian people continue to reject the right of a Jewish state to exist side by side with them.

With this election, we can no longer hide from the truth: After 60 years, the Palestinian people continue to reject the right of a Jewish state to exist side by side with them. Fatah -- secular, worldly and wise -- learned to lie to the West and pretend otherwise. Hamas -- less sophisticated, more literal and more bound by religious obligation to expel the Jews -- is simply more honest.

This election was truth in advertising. Now we know. What to do?

The world must impress upon the Palestinians that there are consequences for their choices. And so long as they choose rejectionism -- the source of a 60-year conflict the Israelis have long been ready to resolve -- the world will not continue to support and subsidize them.

And that means cutting off Hamas completely: no recognition, no negotiation, no aid, nothing. And not just assistance to a Hamas government but all assistance. The Bush administration suggests continuing financial support for "humanitarian" services. This is a serious mistake.

First, because money is fungible. Every dollar we spend for Palestinian social services is a dollar freed up for a Hamas government to purchase rockets, guns and suicide belts for the "Palestinian army" that Meshal has already declared he intends to build.

Second, because it sends the Palestinians precisely the wrong message. If they were under a dictatorship that imposed rejectionism on them, there would be a case for helping a disenfranchised Palestinian people. But they just held the most open and honest exercise of democracy in Palestinian history. The Palestinian people chose. However much they love victimhood, they are not victims here. They are actors. And historical actors have to take responsibility.

They want blood and death and romance? They will get nothing. They choose peace and coexistence? Then, as President Bush pledged in June 2002, they will get everything: world recognition, financial assistance, their own state with independence and dignity.

In August 2001, Hamas sent a suicide bomber into a Sbarro pizzeria in Jerusalem. He killed 15 innocent Israelis, mutilating many dozens more. A month later, Hamas student activists at al-Najah University in Nablus celebrated the attack with an exhibit, a mockup of the smashed Sbarro shop strewn with blood and fake body parts -- a severed leg, still dressed in jeans; a human hand dangling from the ceiling. The inscription (with a reference to the Qassam military wing of Hamas) read: "Qassami Pizza is more delicious."

The correct term for such a mentality is not militancy, not extremism, but moral depravity. The world must advise the Palestinian people that if their national will is to embrace Hamas -- its methods and its madness -- then their national will is simply too murderous and, yes, too depraved for the world to countenance, let alone subsidize.

The essential first lesson of any newborn democracy is that national choices have national consequences. A Hamas-led Palestine, cut off entirely, will be forced to entertain second thoughts

The opinions expressed here are those of the author.


February 4, 2006

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Visitor Comments: 41

(41) Niko, May 21, 2006 12:00 AM

An Israeli's opinion

While a lot of what you say about the Palestinians is true, you seem to ignore Israel's responsibility as a conquorer to these people. We may not always like them, and of course they despise us, but for the last 40 years, we have taken upon ourselves to administer them, hence we hold responsibility for their situation. To cut off all monies coming into the territories is not only imoral, it does not make much sense. What good can come out of a humanitarian colapse. We must find a way to continue the support for these people, while trying to evade supporting terrorist factions. Perhaps the European initiative is the right way to go.

(40) Anonymous, February 25, 2006 12:00 AM

america opinion

I live in a country founded on democracy. I have the right and free will to participate in electing my constituents that will represent me in my government (if I so choose to vote). The Palestinians have, in a majority vote, elected Hamas to represent their government. In choosing Hamas, they are now represented by a group with known idealogies and actions of blatant terrorism. The United States government knows well what this group stands for. Everyday in our media we hear we are fighting the war on terrorism. I can tell you the majority of the American people know that Hamas is terrorism. I now have to put my faith in the government that I elected to make the right stance and to reject Hamas. The Palestinian people must realize that when they choose this form of representation, they will never achieve the world acknowledgement of a statehood. Perhaps the people will hold Hamas accountable for their actions in the failure or success in their attempts at statehood. I commend Israel for the withdrawal from the Gaza settlements, (however I don't personally agree with this). It does show the world that you have a sincere effort in recognizing Palestines right for statehood. The next step is up to them. The world will be watching how Hamas responds.

(39) Margarita, February 22, 2006 12:00 AM

Russia is going to sell weapons to Hamaz

the saddest part of been russian speaking is to listen to the news on russian tv and know that Putin is going to sell weapons to Hamaz. i knew it only too well that russia in anti-Israel, and therefore we can do nothing, but watch in horror the way thing are going now. i hope that developed countries will do the right thing, but the history is teaching us it's not that simple

(38) James Fleener, February 19, 2006 12:00 AM

True Agenda:

The people been deported from neighboring nations have shown their true agenda. Any funds or services rendered to their philosophy will enpower them to further hatred. If they were to destroy the nation of Israel they would commence to kill one another as their history has shown.

(37) bob, February 15, 2006 12:00 AM

krauthammer are you nuts? it is total liberal delusion to suggest that the hamas victory is "cleansing"?
what it does is sanction arab nazi-ism. the u.n. and other places are saying, "well, let's talk with them". c'mon krauthammer. you need to practice hammering the krauts and not rationalizing what amounts to hitler sympathizers getting elected.
it's this kind of detached from reality thinking that gets us in trouble.
what needs to happen is: a strong israeli govt' kicks out the arabs who are occupying jewish land. period. try the truth. try telling the usa that israel doesn't need it, that G-d will take care of the jews as long as the jews take good care of each other and the torah.

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