Yesterday, I heard on NPR a piece by the BBC about how terrible things are for the average Palestinians without Western aid, cut back severely since Hamas was elected to run their government. One of the repeated themes, echoed there as well as in numerous other places since that election, is how hypocritical the United States is. We say we want democracy, but only as long as the folks we like get elected. Vote our way, or else.
This is an amazingly over-simplified load of crap — a remarkable feat, considering that the folks who usually spout this argument are the ones who most often value nuance and subtleties.
Yes, Hamas won the election. Yes, by most accounts, the elections were fair (as fair as they could be). But to assume that just because Hamas won, the United States would embrace them is sheer idiocy.
1) Hamas has a long-established history of terrorism, and are most famous for bringing the suicide bomber to fame and renown. They have not renounced that aspect, and have not taken a single action to indicate that they are ready to give up on terrorism. Nor do they say that they ever will. On the contrary, they still point with pride to their charter, which calls for the removal or extermination of all non-Muslims from Palestine (which they define as the Occupied Territories as well as all of Israel).
Hamas’ assumption of political power was not transformational, but tactical. They sought and took the reins of government solely as a means towards their end, the extermination of Israel and its replacement with an Islamist state.
2) The United States policy has been, for years, that we shall have no official contact with Hamas, let alone any support. The Palestinian people have chosen to merge their government with Hamas in what could be considered a friendly takeover.
To use a business example, suppose I don’t like Bank of America. I refuse to do business with them, instead choosing my local bank. If Bank of America buys my local bank, but doesn’t change the name, then I can either continue my personal boycott by switching banks, or give it up and stay with Bank of America’s new affiliate. To say that “no, I don’t do business with BoA, but with Bob’s Bank” after BoA buys Bob’s is hypocrisy.
3) There is no international right to American aid. It’s OUR money, and we dole it out as WE see fit. If we were to up and decide that from now on we give only to countries that we like, or those whose names have an even number of letters, or those a certain color on a specific map, that’s our right. If we were to simply say that nobody gets nothing this year, so be it.
4) The best definition of “freedom” I’ve ever read came from David Gerrold’s novel, “A Matter For Men.” He defines it thus:
Freedom is the right to be responsible for one’s actions.
To protect someone from the consequences of their actions is to treat them as a child. No, it’s worse than that — it’s to treat them as if you want them to always be a child, to never learn that what they do has consequences, and sooner or later they have to accept that, deal with that, and even anticipate that and welcome that.
The Palestinian people didn’t have much choice in the January elections, but they had some — and they chose Hamas, terrorism, and continued fighting and slaughter. That was their right, and we should respect it. We should accept it. But we sure as hell don’t have to endorse it.
Already we’re seeing increasing signs of a civil war among the Palestinians. There are repeated open conflicts between Hamas and Fatah. Sooner or later, things may just bubble over and explode into a full-scale war between the factions.
If we’re lucky, Israel’s increased border security will hold (a lesson we could learn) and the terrorists will be bottled up and unable to unite and attack Israel. If we’re very lucky, they’ll largely ignore the civilian Palestinians (and I recognize that there are some, unlike the Palestinians, who consider “Israeli civilian” an oxymoron) and just wipe each other out.
I’m tempted to take it even one step further, and say that if we are really, really lucky, they’ll see where things are heading, stop themselves, and finally find a way towards working towards peace. But as has been noted many, many times, the Palestinian people have never missed an opportunity to miss an opportunity.