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Countering Bias and Misinformation mainly about the Arab-Israel conflict

An alternative view of the Hamas victory

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By Maurice Ostroff

What should have been an unsurprising Hamas election victory has reverberated as a shock throughout the world, with politicians and editors universally expressing pessimism.

Moscow's, RIA Novosti, commented "News of the Thursday victory of the Hamas Islamic Resistance Movement in the territory controlled by the Palestine National Authority stunned the world" . The Seattle Times news services headlined "Political jolt of Hamas win could hinder peace process" and the Financial Times says it casts a new shadow over the quest for peace in the Middle East.

Edward Abington, a former U.S. diplomat in the region who now advises the Palestinian Authority warned "This is not a good result for Israel, and it's a huge setback for the United States," he said.

Please allow me to suggest an alternative perspective. 

First of all it is important to realize that contrary to conventional wisdom, the majority of Palestinians did not vote for Hamas. Because Hamas presented a unified list in each district while Fatah and others had a multiplicity of candidates, Hamas won its  large majority of seats with  only 43.94% of the proportional vote. (The electoral system  combined proportional representation with "winner takes all" in district elections). 

Certainly, Hamas is a dangerous  extremist organization. Its Charter overtly reveals how this Islamic fundamentalist movement generates terror by spreading fanciful conspiracy theories bordering on megalomania and seducing gullible youngsters to sacrifice their lives in exchange for heavenly rewards. Its imaginative irrationality is illustrated by obsessive phobia not only about Israel, but also about Freemasons, Rotary clubs, Lions and similar organizations, promising that "the day Islam is in control of guiding the affairs of life, these organizations, hostile to humanity and Islam, will be obliterated." (An English translation of the charter is available at http://www.yale.edu/lawweb/avalon/mideast/hamas.htm) Nevertheless, I believe that the Hamas victory is actually preferable to the hoped-for narrow Fatah win, which would have left a powerful Hamas in opposition

I say this, because Hamas as a powerful opposition group was more dangerous than it can be in power, with responsibility for managing the mundane affairs of state and also because the distinction between the PA and Hamas has been very blurred. It is probable that if Fatah had won with a slim majority, it would have had neither the will nor the ability to control a powerful Hamas minority. True, PA chairman Abbas condemned the December terrorist attack in Netanya, explaining, "these attacks cause damage to our commitment to the peace process".

But according to Palestinian daily, al Hayat al Jadida, only a few hours before paying lip service to condemnation of terror and on the day an Islamic Jihad suicide bomber spewed death at the Netanya shopping mall, Abbas signed a new law confirming the status of terrorists as national heroes by granting support to families of suicide bombers. Each " shahid's" family will receive a monthly stipend of at least $250. The family of a married shahid will receive an additional $50. Parents will receive an additional $25, and each additional child and/or brother or sister will get another $15.

Nor is confidence inspired by the recent renaming of the Rafah crossing in honor of terrorist Shahid Al-Agha, nor Abbas  refusal to disarm terrorists, nor the failure to prevent the firing of Kassam missiles which have reached Ashkelon, endangering its power station and port.

At least with a Hamas government there will be no ambiguity about the intentions of Israel's neighbor. Hamas' enmity and its ambitions to destroy Israel have been openly declared. Regrettable as it may be, this is a much healthier situation than dealing with the lip service to peace in English by the PA while allowing open incitement in Arabic, in schools and mosques and pleas of inability to disarm so called militants and the ready excuse of blaming rogue militants for terror attacks on Israel.

Israeli and International demands to disarm Hamas will now become meaningless as Hamas officially controls the Palestinian army and police force. There will no longer be any question about responsibility for terror attacks.

That Hamas' real strength lay in its power as a strong movement outside the government was confirmed in a revealing article 'We wanted to be in the opposition' in the Jerusalem Post of Jan. 26, 2006.  Hamas leader, professor An-Najah University admitted that many of the leaders were disappointed with the results. "We didn't want this, we didn't hope for this. We wanted to be in the opposition," he said.

Perhaps there is even a slim hope for a change in attitude. The article reported that hours after the results were announced, voters in Nablus said that Hamas's victory means that it will for certain lay down its arms and give up its ideology.

"If they were in the opposition, they would have been able to continue attacks," said a university student named Essam.. "..But now that they are the government, they can't attack Israel."

Whatever moves Hamas makes, it will have to take into account the symbiotic nature of the PA's relationship with Israel. Palestinian imports and exports pass through Israel, a country it refuses to recognize, and water and electricity networks are interconnected. Certainly we are due to see interesting and possibly dangerous developments, but whatever happens, it is healthier to have Hamas in charge of the PA, rather than as a schizophrenic, partly charitable and partly terror organization, beyond the control of the PA.


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