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January 26, 2006

The Guardian Hamas

Vile:

Hamas's triumph in Wednesday's Palestinian elections is the best news from the Middle East for a long time. The poll was a more impressive display of democracy than any other in the region, outstripping last year's votes in Lebanon and Iraq both in turnout and the range of views that candidates represented.

Whereas in Iraq parties that opposed the occupation had to downplay or even obscure their views, Palestinian supporters of armed resistance to Israel's expansionist strategies were able to run openly. It is true that Hamas candidates did not make relations with Israel the centrepiece of their campaign. They focused on reform in the Palestinian Authority. But few voters were unaware of Hamas's uncompromising hostility to occupation and its record in fighting it.

Wednesday's election was remarkable also in owing nothing to Washington's (selective) efforts to promote democracy in the Arab world. Instead, it was further proof that civil society in Palestine is more vibrant than anywhere else in the region and that Palestinian politics has its own dynamics, dictated not by outside pressure but the social and economic demands of ordinary people in appalling conditions. Providing a forum to freely express hopes and fears, debate policy and seek agreed solutions is, after all, what democracy is about.

...

Above all, Europe should not get hung up on the wrong issues, like armed resistance and the "war on terror". Murdering a Palestinian politician by a long-range attack that is bound also to kill innocent civilians is morally and legally no better than a suicide bomb on a bus. Hamas's refusal to give formal recognition of Israel's right to exist should also not be seen by Europe as an urgent problem. History and international politics do not march in tidy simultaneous steps. For decades Israel refused even to recognise the existence of the Palestinian people, just as Turkey did not recognise the Kurds. Until 15 years ago Palestinians had to be smuggled to international summits as part of Jordan's delegation. It is less than that since the Israeli government accepted the goal of a Palestinian state.

Hamas may eventually disarm itself and recognise Israel. That will be the end of the process of establishing a just modus vivendi for Israelis and Palestinians in the Middle East. It cannot be the first step. Today's priority is to accept that Palestinians have spoken freely. They deserve respect and support.

I delayed posting this, wondering what I could possibly say about it, but I can't think of anything. Not a damn thing. His words pretty much speak for themselves, don't they?

Thanks to Allah.






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