soon and very soon

Monday, January 30, 2006

My buddy Paul from high school emailed me asking a few questions regarding Hamas' recent victory in the Palestinian legislative elections:

Any chance it will have a reforming effect and wean Hamas off of terrorism and onto actual governance?

They're not the opposition party now, so maybe it won't be so easy to dodge the blame for rampant corruption & failure to provide for their people.

And my long-winded answer:
PT- Good questions, not easy answers.No doubt that is what everyone is praying for, but I'm really optimistic. In the short term Hamas will have to do a better job of governing than did Fatah, they don't really have much of a choice in the matter and I'm quite confident they will be at least less corrupt and nepotist than Arafat's Fatah. However, Hamas offers to real solution to the miseries of the Palestinian people, they ran on a "at least we're not Fatah" platform and that won't exactly pave the streets, make sure the garbage is collected, or pay some 135,000 members on the Palestinian Authority's payroll (some 40% of whom are members of the "security services"). That being said, Hamas has said they're going to be "pragmatic" and "realistic" (do they really have any other option?) in governing the PA, but the Americans, EU and Israel (they will probably renege on transferring some $40-50 million in taxes and customs duties) will most definitely refuse to send any money to the new Palestinian government, so there's a little leverage. At the end of the day though Saudi Arabia, Iran, possibly Syria, will help Hamas out.

You will probably here a lot from Mahmoud al-Zahar about Israel withdrawing to the ’67 borders (which they will probably do unilaterally anyway, not because of anything Hamas demands), and oddly enough the other day demanding Israel change their flag (I Zahar claimed that the 2 stripes on Israel’s flag represent Israel’s vision to set up a state in between the Nile & the Euphrates, when in reality the blue stripes represent the traditional prayer shawl worn by Jews when they pray). At any rate, no matter what Hamas says, their ultimate goal is and always will be the destruction of Israel. They may separate their terrorist-wing from their political-wing, as Hezbollah has done in Lebanon, but they will always be aiming at the total expulsion of every Jew from Palestine. This is because Hamas is a distinctly Islamic fundamentalist movement, not a secular organization like Fatah. They seek to impose Shari’a upon Palestine (too bad the majority of non-Gazan Palestinian Muslims are fairly secular, and even though a great many Palestinian Christians have left to Europe and the United States, I doubt they would be hot on this idea). For Hamas, Palestine is a waqf, a holy piece of land given by Allah to Muslims, and specifically to Palestinian Muslims. There is no negotiation with what God has allotted to the Palestinians. And this, at least I think, will be good for Israel and the United States. It will finally expose the face of Palestinian terrorists (Hamas is no IRA) once and for all, don’t forget Fatah has it’s own terrorist-department, the al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigade, who has carried out more attacks against Israel than Hamas.

Either way it’s not going to be pretty.

Feel free to continue to send questions regarding all things Middle East at

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