Sunday, January 29, 2006

Big Loser in Palestinian Vote

WaPo reported Standing in a sunny Rose Garden on June 24, 2002, surrounded by his top foreign policy advisers, President Bush issued a clarion call for resolving the deadly Israeli-Palestinian conflict: "I call on the Palestinian people to elect new leaders, leaders not compromised by terror." This week, Palestinians gave their answer, handing a landslide victory in national legislative elections to Hamas, which has claimed responsibility for dozens of suicide bombings and desires the elimination of Israel. Bush's statement calling for new leaders was aimed at the late Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat, but in the same speech he also said it was necessary to thwart Hamas -- formally the Islamic Resistance Movement -- and other militant groups.
The Palestinian people only had two choices; corruption or violence. They did not like corruption, so they voted for violence. I suspect they will see that violence will not get them jobs, and they will see that what money they get (and hopefully it will not be much) will not go to improving their infrastructure, but will go to buying weapons rather than going to the pockets of corrupt Fatah leaders, and they will decide they need something different from either one. Hamas will not know how to run a government, and will just increase attacks on Israel, but that will be difficult because of the war, and Israel's counter attacks will kill many more Palestinians than they kill Israelis, and this may be the best way to show them that violence is not the answer.
The election outcome signals a dramatic failure in the administration's strategy for Middle East peace, according to analysts and some U.S. officials. Since the United States cannot deal with an organization labeled a terrorist organization by the State Department, Hamas's victory is likely to curtail U.S. aid, limit official U.S. contacts with the Palestinian government and stall efforts to create an independent Palestinian state.

More broadly, Hamas's victory is seen as a setback in the administration's campaign for greater democracy in the Middle East. Elections in Iran, Iraq, Egypt and now the Palestinian territories have resulted in the defeat of secular and moderate parties and the rise of Islamic parties hostile to U.S. interests.
The moderates in Iran never were in power, so the fact that they elected a fool for President does not mean a significant change. Iraq may well form a very democratic country. Egypt may have elected a few of the Islamic Brotherhood, but they were the only opposition to the dictators controlling the country, and the dictators are still in control.
NYT reported Arie Schmidt stopped on Saturday to place a pebble on the memorial to the 21 dead at the Dolphinarium disco, killed in a suicide bombing by Hamas in 2001. The dead were mostly teenagers. Mr. Schmidt sighed, then chained one careful word to the next on what it means that Hamas is now the official Palestinian power. "I tell you," he began, "we think it is actually the best thing that can happen to Israel. "Because now we see the real face of the Palestinians," said Mr. Schmidt, 56, a computer engineer from Haifa who considers himself neither on the left nor the right. "From their vote we can understand their theory to destroy the state of Israel is not a theory but a fact. "So," he said, in a conclusion that may not seem immediately logical to outsiders but was repeated again and again in interviews here, "I think it is the best chance for peace. I think Hamas can understand there is no way to destroy the state of Israel and will take a course to peace. "Hopefully."

Hopefully. And if it does not turn out that way, and if a war does start in Armageddon, we know that the end result will be the return of Christ.

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