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
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.
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.
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.