1/30/2006

Hamas: How do We Deal With Them?

Someone posted an interesting comment in response to my post on the downside of democracy.
This election presents some very interesting issues and questions for the West. If Hamas is to be "ignored"; then on what basis? Are some voters better than others? Can the result of a fair election be ignored if we don't like them? If we can do that in this case, when do we do it again? Nope, this is not going to be dismissed with a wave of anybody's hand.

Can the results of a fair election be ignored? Well, it depends on what you mean by ignored. This is not a simple question. In fact, I am not so sure I would have asked it in this particular way. A better question is to ask "how should we deal with Hamas, now that they are the government?" The question is still not simple, but the assumption that anyone is ignoring them is now removed. We are left with a less biased question.

The rise of Hamas to power is not unlike that of the Nazis. During the Depression, the Germans were quite desperate. They laboured under the tough restrictions of the Treaty of Versailles. They were a socially humiliated and economically damaged people. The Nazis gained a majority government, and when they fell to a minority, Hitler was made Chancellor.
Now consider the conditions surrounding the election of Hamas. One could very easily argue that the Palestinians are a similarly humiliated and damaged group. Like the Germans, they are desperate. Unlike the Germans, they elected Hamas in a possible attempt to punish Fatah. However, both groups incorrectly felt that an extremist group was their best avenue to success as a nation (or potential nation). I could also point out that both extremist groups are profoundly anti-Semitic, but I am not so certain that this feature is particularly relevant to their inadequacy for government (Holocaust and hate for Israel notwithstanding).
In the case of the Nazis, we have the benefit of hindsight. Because we know what happened, it is easy to argue that they should never have been in power at all. Were we to live at the time, however, I am sure we would find ourselves faced with a very different reality. Europe, like most of the world today, was desperate for peace. They therefore collectively turned a blind eye to the obvious problems of the Nazi Party. By showing peace to someone who was clearly their enemy, war could be avoided.

Only a handful of people recognized the fact that someone who does not share your societal values, someone who does not want peace, someone who hates and resents your very existence, cannot be trusted. The overwhelming majority of people in Europe were fooled by the Nazis.

It is this critical misstep that I think should be considered when we deal with Hamas. Regardless of the fact they were elected, like the Nazi Party, Hamas does not desire peace. Their government is bent on the obliteration of their neighbour, Israel. They do not consider us their friend and will never do so, regardless of how many olive branches we extend. Israel is our friend and ally; if Hamas is set against her, then it is our duty as friend and ally to stand up for her. As our ally, she is our primary responsibility, not Hamas.
A democratic election, while it may create a new government, does not create a new friend. Allies are created by their actions and policies. If a government holds policies that are contrary to our own, then we are not obliged to ally ourselves with them. Countries, much like people, are not handed international respect on a silver platter. It must be earned. If Hamas desires the respect of Western nations, then they must turn from their terrorist ways and learn to negotiate in what I can only call a mature and professional manner.
Having said this, I would like to add that I think it is critical that we work with Hamas as long as we can. It is important that this government be encouraged as much as possible to put down their terrorist ways and embrace peace and diplomacy. It certainly can happen, eventhough I am sure it will take a lot of work on all sides. I cannot stress enough that I think the burden of proof rests with Hamas. Their policies are well known. For us to simply trust them to do the best thing would be incredibly naive.

6 comments:

doug said...

Hamas does not really want the respect of Western Nations. It wants the cash of Western Nations, and the respect it demands will come from its POWER.

It is exactly like the Nazis. it cannot be appeased and it cannot be 'moderated'. For it to become 'moderate' would be for it to cease to be.

God is not 'moderate'. God is.

No money for Hamas. Not now; not ever.

hancor said...

The problem with democracy is that the mob can choose the wrong thing; if the choice is not constrained by elementary human principles.

One of those principles is that it is not a legitimate object for any government to eradicate an entire peoples or nation.
This is how the United Nations got started. "Oil for food Scandal", Rwanda, Darfur, Cambodia, Bosnia, etc. etc. notwithstanding.

Of course the greatest sins against humanity always begin with INDIFFERENCE to the plight of the "other" as somehow less, unjustified, or not fully human.

When one loses sight of the above everything becomes possible; even democratically as Adolf and his co-conspirators at the Wannsee conference so ably demonstrated. All perfectly legally justified and executed; but without a shred of human value.

This is the same sort of crap that Romeo Dallaire identified in his book "Shake Hands with the Devil" at page 6:

"Engraved still in my brain is the judgement of a small group of bureaucrats who came to 'assess' the situation in the first weeks of the genocide: 'We will recommend to our government not to intervene as the risks are high and ALL THAT IS HERE ARE HUMANS [and there are too many of them]'."

It is judgements like these that show there are not a few on this planet who are too stupid to breathe. This of course, is how really bad shit happens. You can take it from me; as my mother grew up in the land of "Schindler's List" and my father was sent out to battle at the ripe age of 14.

Hamas need only come a little further down this path and I will show you the fires of Hell. The temperature should be rising shortly.

Ruth said...

"The problem with democracy is that the mob can choose the wrong thing"

Exactly.
Morality and democracy are not related ideas and, because of the high value we place on choice, we tend to forget this.

arctic_front said...

I'n not sure who said it but:
"The people elect the government they deserve".

I say, cut them off, embargo them, and then watch the people extract justice from the terrorist Hammas. After a time to reflect, maybe peace won't look so bad. As for the those that didn't vote for Hammas, they should be the ones to establish a peace-seeking party as an alternative. They had the chance, and they blew it.

The big wall Israel started to build seems like a pretty good idea now, and some real foresight on their part. They obviously know more about the sentiment the average palestinian feels than we do. Maybe we should start to let the Jews do what they think is right?

Sean J. said...

One of the terms Hamas is refusing to negotiate on is officially acknowledging that Isreal has a right to exist.

yikes

MR BINGO said...

Today's analysis from the world reknowned Gartman Letter was forwarded to me. It is a very interesting take on the new dynamics between Israel and Palestine. Definitely worth a read:

ON THE POLITICAL FRONT the more we consider the surprising victory by Hamas last week in the election in Palestine, the more we are convinced that this is the best of all possible outcomes for the world in the long run. In the short run, things may be rather problematic given Hamas' ascendancy to power, and we can bet that we shall see some of the most radical rhetoric coming to the fore by Hamas' leaders. However, Hamas now has to face the fact that it is the government in Palestine, and with that comes responsibilities.

Firstly, when Hamas was a renegade political organisation, it could send rockets into Israel from Syria and other locations with relative impunity. Fatah could say (perhaps even truthfully) that it could not control the radicals in a party outside its control, nor should be expected to. Israel could retaliate, but it had to be measured in its response. Now, however, Hamas is the Palestinian Authority. It is the government, and as such, any attacks upon Israel by Hamas' militia can be and will be seen as an act of war. It can be, and will be seen as an attack by a sovereign power upon another, and under all international law Israel will have the right to defend itself and to crush, if necessary, the military groups involved. Hamas has no chance to survive very real Israeli defense actions. This is a thought that must plague Hamas' more senior officials, for we suspect that they cannot control their peripheral militias any better than could Fatah under Abu Mazen.

Secondly, Hamas must now govern. It was one thing for Hamas to offer medicine, health care, water, et al in modest sums to the people in the West Bank and Gaza; it is entirely another to do the same for everyone and to be held responsible for non-completion of such actions. Where Hamas was once the "under-dog," it is now the "over-." This is entirely different, and we shall watch Hamas' ability to act as a viable government.

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