It seems whenever I bring up the terrorist groups Hamas and Hezbollah, and their increasing political power in the Gaza Strip and Lebanon respectively, I am reminded that both organizations have political wings alongside their militant wings, and have won power through free and fair elections.
That is true, and I have no problem with that.
Hamas is the duly elected government of the Palestinians of the Gaza Strip (and can make an argument for the West Bank, as well), and Hezbollah holds several seats in the Lebanese legislature and is part of a powerful coalition in that government.
However, I do not think this grants them absolution for their “militant” wings.
To me, the political legitimacy of these groups is utterly trumped by their ongoing status as a terrorist organization. As far as I am concerned, they are terrorist organizations who have discovered an interesting and potentially useful supplemental tactic — to win political power at the ballot box as well as from the barrel of a gun.
I am willing to give some slight benefit of the doubt to terrorist groups that choose to transform themselves into political entities, as long as they leave the terrorism completely behind them. That’s pretty much happened with the Irish Republican Army and the African National Congress.
Hamas and Hezbollah, on the other hand, have shown absolutely no interest in stepping away from terrorism. Quite the contrary — Hezbollah is currently waging war against the Lebanese government, and Hamas is continuing its terrorist attacks and threats against Israel. They are hoping to “buy” legitimacy by winning elections and gaining more popular support for their agenda, and that agenda includes continual terrorism.
In an ideal world, just the opposite would occur. Any government that becomes subsumed to a terrorist organization — even through honest, free and fair elections — would become delegitimized in the eyes of the world. Instead, many would argue that taking over a government gives the terrorist group legitimacy and credibility, and must be treated as any other government.
I think not.
There’s an old saying that in democracies, people tend to get the government they deserve. These cases give proof to that theory. The people of the Palestinian territories chose to honor terrorissts with the reins of power. In Lebanon, enough Lebanese chose to support (or were intimidated into supporting) Hezbollah, who are evolving into a terrorist state within a state, converting southern Lebanon into Hezbollahstan, where they hold absolute power and don’t allow the Lebanese authorities to exert any control over that region.
Naturally, the United Nations has issued a Resolution condemning it, and now are desperately trying to pretend that no such thing ever happened.
But back to my point: both Hamas and Hezbollah are terrorist organizations that have managed to acquire a measure of political control through legitimate means. But that ought to mean absolutely nothing — apart from confirming those governments as terrorism-supporting entities. We can not and should not allow those successes to whitewash the rest of the organization and its deeds.