Further Thoughts on the Hamas Victory:

(1) This is a victory for terrorists, but not necessarily for terrorism. Or to put it another way, whichever side won, it would have been at least a partial victory for terrorism. First of all, Hamas has more or less observed to a cease-fire with Israel for the last six months. It's resounding victory can be seen in part to as an endorsement of that policy. Second, as I noted previously, the most popular Fatah figure, Marwan Barghouti, is himself a terrorist, as were other Fatah candidates. In fact, Debka published a campaign photo allegedly circulated by Fatah showing Barghouti in a jailhouse embrace with a terrorist convicted of murdering schoolchildren in Israel in 1970s. Not to mention that the lethal Al Asqa Brigades are still affiliated with Fatah. A Palestinian voter wishing to vote against terrorism really didn't have much to and choose from between Fatah and Hamas. But Palestinian polls showed that 54% of Hamas voters want to reach a peace agreement with Israel.

(2) If I were voting in the Palestinian elections, I would have been sorely tempted to vote for Hamas, even if I rejected their Islamicist views and their policies toward Israel. This is because the Palestinian Authority is one of the most corrupt and incompetent governments in the world. The PA has received billions of dollars in foreign aid but one would be hard-pressed to find a single school, hospital, park, or other public building built by the PA with that money. The money has disappeared either into the hands of corrupt officials, or into paying salaries to the tens of thousands of Palestinians who work for the government, who do basically nothing but are thus bought off by Fatah. Indeed, the election results almost certainly overestimate the PA's real support because assumedly government patronage employees and their dependents voted for Fatah. Because of the PA's low standing among the Palestinian public, it probably was not capable of reaching any kind of agreement with Israel, much less disarming Hamas and Jihad, and even if it were capable of reaching such agreement, it would not have had any legitimacy among the public.

(3) On the other hand, if Hamas decides to negotiate with Israel, any agreement it reaches will have legitimacy among the Palestinian public. Why might Hamas change its views toward recognizing Israel and cease engaging in terrorism? Now it is responsible for the welfare of the Palestinian public. The Israeli government has not used even a fraction of its retaliatory capability against the Palestinians. If Hamas encourages or even tolerates terrorism, Israel can start by refusing to transfer taxes paid to Palestinians by Israeli companies to the PA. Israel can also shut off the electric grid, the water supply, cell phone service, close the borders to Palestinian goods heading to Israel and Europe, etc. Hezbollah now rarely attacks Israel because it knows that Israel will retaliate by bombing power stations in Beirut, and the Lebanese public will blame it for their suffering. Similarly, if every time a Qassam missile lands in Israel, the electricity goes off in Gaza for a week, it might not be very long before no more Qassams land in Israel. Israel couldn't engage in such tactics with the PA because the government had too much international legitimacy, however undeserved, and because Israel still has some hope that not being in an official state of war with the PA, and having the relatively moderate Abbas as president, a deal could still be worked out. But if Hamas doesn't change its stripes, Israel won't hesitate to wreak havoc on the Palestinian areas. Hamas will not be able to play the double game that Arafat was able to play of negotiating talking peace while keeping terrorist groups on a long leash; nor will it be able to get Europe and the US to restrain Israeli military action, as Abbas has, on the premise that it just need a little more time to organize itself against terrorism.

(4) Related to the above posts, the Palestinian authority is broke, and without the transfer of Israeli tax money and European and US foreign aid, it's not all clear how Hamas is going to pay thousands of armed Fatah men on the PA payroll, much less pay its own civil servants and otherwise run the government. The only way to get this money will be to renounce terrorism and recognize Israel. Hamas, I believe, would have much preferred to have received the 45% of vote that was predicted. That would have given them the ability to block the PA from disarming them, would have ensured they would have received several ministerial portfolios, but still not left them responsible ultimately for the welfare of the Palestinian public.

(5) If Hamas turns out to be unwilling to turn itself into a non-terrorist movement that Israel can reasonably deal with, Israel will have no choice but to absolutely destroy the Palestinian government. If that's what happens, the international community may need to rethink the whole idea of a sovereign Palestinian state. Professor Inbar of Bar Ilan University has suggested that Gaza should be confederated with Egypt, and the West Bank with Jordan, with these governments, which have peace treaties with Israel, having security responsibility. In my opinion, such a plan would make Palestinian independence/autonomy much more viable from both a political and economic perspective. It would obviously take significant change international attitudes to move toward that solution, but an unrepentant Hamas terrorist government in the Palestinian areas might just move opinion in that direction.

UPDATE: Further evidence that the Hamas victory is not necessarily a disaster. Israeli stocks, as reflected in this quote on the closed-end First Israel fund, are calm.

Mr. Xanthippe:
One good result of the Hamas win is greater clarity; Moreoer, it'll make it easier for Israel to respond appropriately, i.e., harshly, to terror attacks.

However, even if "Palestinian polls showed that 54% of Hamas voters want to reach a peace agreement with Israel", the future for Israel is still bleak. Most Arabs favor the destruction of Israel, and view a "peace agreement" as only a temporary tactic towards destroying Israel. Finally, the long-term demographic situation is absolutely horrendous for Israel. Rabbi Meir Kahane was right.
1.26.2006 1:11pm
Press (www):
I also can't envision another free election taking place now that Hama has power.
1.26.2006 1:34pm
Or maybe Hamas could seek international "legitimacy" by claiming in English to be discouraging terrorism, while encouraging it in Arabic and orchestrating it in private. It's been done before.
1.26.2006 1:43pm
Professor Inbar of Bar Ilan University has suggested that Gaza should be confederated with Egypt, and the West Bank with Jordan, with these governments, which have peace treaties with Israel, having security responsibility.

With the exception of the "peace treaties" part, that's what it was like pre-1967 war.

Expect Hamas to turn the wall into an issue if it can. European irrationality just might turn ahhow Hamas to both continue hostility against Israel and claim they're the aggrieved party because of "hardships" the wall causes.

Also remember that most good medical care is in Israel. Remember the young woman with severe burn scars that was traveling to Israel for free treatment, caught with the bomb she intended to detonate in the hospital?
1.26.2006 1:43pm
LTEC (mail) (www):
I've never been smart enough to tell the difference between Hamas and Fatah and IJ and all the others. (Life Of Brian has more to say about these groups than most news reports.) As far as I can tell, they are always playing a game of bad-cop/worse-cop, and all that has happened now is that they will switch roles. Fatah will become the worse-cop, and Hamas will be the bad-cop that is powerless to stop them. And "negotiations" will continue.
1.26.2006 1:48pm
Tom Holsinger (mail):
Now we'll find out how corrupt Hamas can be given the opportunity.
1.26.2006 1:55pm
Humble Law Student:
I agree with some of the sentiments. For better or worse, this election result should bring some measure of clarity to the situation. Now the Palestinians and the true power broker in Palestinian society, Hamas, have a true chance to chart their own destiny. They suceed or fail on their own merit. Hopefully, it will be substantially harder for them to excuse their failings and by blaming them all on Israel or some other scapegoat.

I think its likely that either Hamas moderates its position further and truly seeks peace (win situation) or Hamas continues its historical position and the Palestinians suffer appropriately for it and demand change (win situation). Or, more accurately, I hope that is the analysis...
1.26.2006 2:04pm
Meryl Yourish (mail) (www):
I think you vastly overestimate the ability of the world to turn a blind eye towards terrorism against Jews. Years of the PA sponsoring, helping, and taking part in terrorist attacks, fifty tons of weapons from Iran, and documentation leading right back to the PA's financing of it, were supplied by Israel to the world. The world did nothing, except to ignore the evidence or call it "unverified."

I would love to believe that the world will insist that Hamas give up arms and its charter, which calls for the destruction of Israel. But past history has shown this not to be the case.

There will be "secret" negotiations to start, and then open ones, and then calls for Israel to negotiate with Hamas--just as happened with the PLO-turned-PA. They will accept the placid assurances that Hamas might change its charter, if only Israel gives up the "occupied territories." (Their "occupied territories" are all of what now constitutes Israel as well as Gaza and the West Bank.)

I could be wrong. I'd love to be wrong. But I doubt it. Even now, some Israelis are calling for talking with Hamas.

We never learn.
1.26.2006 2:12pm
Mike123 (mail):
I like the hopeful tone. I don't buy that Hamas will change because they now have access to legitimacy. The reality is Hamas doesn't care about what happens in this world, their actions are all in preparation for the next world, thus the willingness to die in order to kill infidels and those who help them.
1.26.2006 2:17pm
I must agree with Meryl, except that he meant David underestimates the ability of the world to turn a blind eye. And the idea that Egypt would confederate with Gaza or that Jordan would take the West Bank back is not realistic. No one wants Gaza; it is a terrible hell-hole. And Jordan has no interest in adding to its already substantial Palestinian population.
1.26.2006 2:30pm
Greedy Clerk (mail):
This is probably a good thing. Hamas will have to moderate itself or risk destroying the PA and itself. Just as the Likudniks eventually had to give up their dream of a greater Israel, including parts of modern-day Jordan, when they took power in the 1970's, Hamas will have to give up its dream of a greater Palestine including parts of pre-1967 Israel.

Don't expect Hamas to be as corrupt as the PA; it's not their style.

Meryl Yourish -- I suggest you read up on the history of Hamas, and why it came to such prominence during the 1980's. Who was funding it? Why, none other than the Likud government, and that's a documented fact. The Likud and the extreme right in Israel created this golem, along with the settler movement, and now they have to deal with both. Yourish, and her ilk, who would see Israelis die to protect a bunch of religious nutballs who want to live in the middle of Hebron are just like their chickenhawk brethren here --- ready to let other people's kids die for a utopian ideology that is a pipedream (sort of like Communists).

And to Mr. Xanthipe, whoever you are. Why is it a good thing that Israel will now be able to respond harshly to terrot attacks? Shouldn't you wish that there be no terror attacks? Or perhaps you get off on the idea of killing people. I suggest you join the IDF if you are so into killing people. As to your statement that "Rabbi Meir Kahane was right", I am glad that you support the genocide of the Palestinian people -- you are an example of the worst of the Jewish people, and are a fluke in our evolution.
1.26.2006 2:31pm
Glenn Bridgman (mail):
"The reality is Hamas doesn't care about what happens in this world, their actions are all in preparation for the next world, thus the willingness to die in order to kill infidels and those who help them."

Statements evince a thorough misunderstanding of the issue. Hamas, while certainly a religious organization in many respects, is first and foremost a nationalist one. Their suicide bombing isn't some sort of nihilistic desire to inflict pure carnage, even if it sold as such to the poor young SOB's who actually carry out the attacks. They have concrete, this-worldy political goals. In fact, to the degree that Hamas has been "religiousizing", it has mostly happened recently because the events surrounding 9/11 and the WOT have opened up a spigot of money from more traditionally Islamist sources.
1.26.2006 2:32pm
Nostromo (mail):
The "Hamas turns itself into Sinn Fein" scenario that you posit, David, is the happy scenario. The unhappy scenario is that Hamas continues to provoke Israel in the hope that Syria, Iran and others will be unable to watch the Palestinian areas get bombed into rubble without going to war. I don't share your confidence that Hamas will either do what is best for the Palestinians or be voted out. I agree with Press that the new rule will be, as Bernard Lewis put it, "One man, one vote, one time."
1.26.2006 2:33pm
Seth Weinberger (mail) (www):
Hamas has always shown more of an interest in the nitty-gritty of governance than has the PLO/PA, be it under Arafat or Abbas. Hamas has done much more than has Fatah to root out corruption and to improve social services, which explains the surprising, sweeping parliamentary victory. But the act of governing will transform the situation. When Hamas was a shadowy organization conducting a terrorist insurgency, Israel's options were limited. Targets were hard to find, and there was little to threaten other than the lives of the leaders and the militants. But now Hamas will look much more like a state, meaning that there will be a better chance of creating deterrence. Hamas will have to build social institutions, sit in the parliament and mayoral/gubernatorial houses, and openly campaign to win future elections. If Israel needs to retaliate, there will have much more concrete targets than before. Hamas will not likely be willing to forfeit and sacrifice the political power that it has so difficultly wrested away from Fatah.

Now, I will not be surprised if I'm wrong, but I do expect that Hamas will behave itself and restrain its violent campaign against Israel. There will be, of course, more suicide attacks against Israeli citizens. They will be carried out by Islamic Jihad, Hamas (either by the organization itself or by rogue members upset with Hamas' new course), and maybe even Fatah, which quite possibly may conclude it needs to return to violence to re-gain its political stature. Moving the peace process forward will require great patience on both sides. Israel must be willing to give Hamas the opportunity to transform itself into a real political party. And Hamas must realize, as I believe it has, that this opportunity is the road to best outcome that Hamas could actually achieve: governing an independent Palestinian state.
1.26.2006 2:35pm
The idea of absorbing a Palestine into Egypt and Jordon won't work because of longstanding hostility (and outright bigotry) in those countries against Palestinians. Although Israeli treatment of Palestinians has had many problems, Israel treats its Palestinian minority far, far less harshly than any of its neighbors.

The Arab world is not pro-Palestinian, it's anti-Israeli. Palestinians are systematically discriminated against in the countries Professor Bernstein wants to put in control of the Palestinian territories. That's a recipe for more civil war.

Now, it may be in the interests of Israel for Palestinians to fight Jordanians and Egyptians instead of Israelis, but I don't see how you convince the Palestinians, Jordanians and Egyptians that that's a good idea.

Israel needs to isolate Hamas behind the wall and then wait until Hamas agrees to regonize Israel and renounce terror. Now we'll see if Hamas hates Israel more than Hamas cares about Palestinians.
1.26.2006 2:51pm
Greedy Clerk (mail):
Flydiveski, you are right about one thing: there is zero chance Egypt would take Gaza. Not only would that create huge problems for Egypt with NO benefits, it would also cost them their propaganda against Israel, which would focus in on how morally bankrupt the Egyptian government is. Egypt wants Israel to be the bogeyman so their own people don't look too hard at the problems in their own government.

Anyone who would suggest that Egypt would be willing to take Gaza is absurdly ignorant of very basic facts and history regarding the situation in the Middle East. As noted, Egypt would have NOTHING -- zero, nada, zilch -- to gain from such a move. But it would have a lot to lose.
1.26.2006 2:52pm
DavidBernstein (mail):
GC, I think you're wrong. Egypt might be willing to take Gaza if the alternative is a terrorist enclave used not just to threaten Israel, but also the Egyptian Sinai.
1.26.2006 3:00pm
Justin (mail):
Good post.
1.26.2006 3:00pm
Greedy Clerk (mail):
David, I am sorry there is no chance Egypt would ever take Gaza. You are just wrong, and anyone who is familiar with Israel and Egypt would know that.
1.26.2006 3:02pm
Glenn Bridgman (mail):
"GC, wrong again. Egypt might be willing to take Gaza if the alternative is a terrorist enclave used not just to threaten Israel, but also the Egyptian Sinai."

I feel like that is exactly the reason they *wouldn't* take Gaza. If Egypt takes Gaza, then it most emphatically becomes their problem, and as Israel's experience has shown, even some rather direct action with military assets aren't great at flushing out terrorists. Even if Eygpt used a free hand with the brutality, it is hard to envision how them assuming responsibility for Gaza would change the sitution vis a vis terriorist incursions into Egypt. So what is the real upshot for them taking control of Gaza, given that they couldn't do much about it being a center of terrorism either way.
1.26.2006 3:08pm
Greedy Clerk (mail):
The "Hamas turns itself into Sinn Fein" scenario that you posit, David, is the happy scenario. The unhappy scenario is that Hamas continues to provoke Israel in the hope that Syria, Iran and others will be unable to watch the Palestinian areas get bombed into rubble without going to war.

Agreed that the odds don't favor Hamas turning into a Sinn Fein or even significantly reforming itself, but some of us remain cautiously optimistic neverhteless. As to the idea of the Syrians or even the Iranians going to actual war over the Palestinians, I find the idea entirely laughable. Neither country, and Syria in particular, have anything but contempt for the Palestinians and value them only for their propaganda value. As another commenter said, the Arab countries are not "pro-Palestinian" but "anti-Israel." Syria and Iran are not going to take on the regional superppower in all out hot war over anyting Israel does to the Palestinians (short of bombing the Mosques in Jerusalem) -- the odds that both would be soundly defeated are too high.

1.26.2006 3:10pm
DavidBernstein (mail):
Well, Egypt certainly doesn't want to govern Gaza, but if Al Qaeda launched a couple of attacks from Gaza against Egypt, that would give Egypt an excuse to go in, clean house, and take security control. Another possible incentive massive US and European financial assistance.
1.26.2006 3:11pm
It's ironic. Israel fought so hard for so long to keep Gaza and the West Bank. Now, Israel might not be able to give them away.
1.26.2006 3:12pm
Greedy Clerk (mail):
Glenn -- you are right. Moreover, David's point fails because Egypt knows that Israel will bomb the hell out of Gaza whenever it threatens Israel. I guess if the Israelis were no longer able to pound Gaza, Egypt would be willing to take Gaza. In other words, as a wise man once said, if the queen had balls she'd be the king.
1.26.2006 3:13pm
Glenn Bridgman (mail):
Wll, the problem with that scenerio is the "cleaning house." Remember, Egypt has extensive experience with what that entails, and look how some of the downstream consequences have come back to bite them in the ass.(e.g. al-Zawahiri) I'm not sure how enthusiastic the egyptians would be about antagonizing more people who have already shown their willingness to conduct terrorist operations against their political enemies.
1.26.2006 3:16pm
DavidBernstein (mail):
PD, actually, Israel tried to give Gaza back to Egypt as part of Camp David, but Egypt didn't want it.
1.26.2006 3:17pm
DavidBernstein (mail):
One final thing on Egypt: Hamas is an offshoot of the Muslim Brotherhood, which for years has been the biggest threat to the Egyptian gov't.
1.26.2006 3:18pm
This post is quite disappointing. One doesn't know where to begin.

(1) "This is a victory for terrorists, but not necessarily for terrorism." Hamas' covenant does notexactly bear this out See Article 28 of their covenant: The Zionist invasion is a vicious invasion. It does not refrain from resorting to all methods, using all evil and contemptible ways to achieve its end. It relies greatly in its infiltration and espionage operations on the secret organizations it gave rise to, such as the Freemasons, The Rotary and Lions clubs, and other sabotage groups. All these organizations, whether secret or open, work in the interest of Zionism and according to its instructions. They aim at undermining societies, destroying values, corrupting consciences, deteriorating character and annihilating Islam. It is behind the drug trade and alcoholism in all its kinds so as to facilitate its control and expansion.
Do you mean to say that voting for this kind of group is not a vote for terrorism? That is unpersuasive. The rest of this point is similarly backward: pointing out Fatah's failings in no way remedies Hamas, or makes it a lesser evil. And I'm always impressed by the 100% authenticity of the ever-cited "Palestinian poll" showing 54% of voters don't back what Hamas stands for. Who cares?!?! I'm sure many German voters who voted for National Socialism really, really liked the Jews. Let's remember that this is the group that sends members dressed as ultra-orthodoz Jews onto buses and has them blow themselves to inflict maximum damages onto unsupecting women, children and babies. Can that 54% of voters really be ignorant of that fact?

(2) "I would have been sorely tempted to vote for Hamas" -certainly. Why would the viciously anti-semitic main ideology of this group and its desire to exterminate any Jew in the Middle East (and beyond) dissuade someone from the goal of rooting out monetary corruption? Mussolini, we are told, made the trains run on time in corruption-riddled Italy. Yes, let's focus on corruption and not on what Hamas says and does: that's uncomfortable.

(3) Now Hamas will be "responsible," so it "might... change its views toward recognizing Israel and cease engaging in terrorism." What evidence supports this? Hamas' decades of terrorism? Its every printed word? Its call that anyone who leaves the struggle against Zionism is guilty of "high treason"? Its claim that the Protocols of the Elders of Zion motivate Israel's (and the "Zionists'") every action? This view reduces to the notion that, upon victory, extremist groups will become 'responsible' ones. Let's examine this-- can someone please name a similar genocidal group that dropped its view upon reaching power? Didn't think so.

(4) Hamas wanted to lose so it could carp from the back with 45% of the vote- yes, of course. Everyone who runs for office wants to lose so they can carp from the back. They couldn't actually mean what they say, could they?!? Or commit violent acts supporting those statements, could they?? Certainly not. And now, with an "authority" behind them, they certainly won't escalate matters.

(5) "Israel will have no choice but to absolutely destroy the Palestinian government." -- We will see what the international community has to see about this. As I recall, when the PLO was similarly opposed to Israel's existence and said no Israel could exist in its charter, significant pressure from the international community was employed nevertheless to maintain a dialogue. I am quite skeptical such a position will ever take place.
1.26.2006 3:40pm
byomtov (mail):
This is an interesting and thoughtful post. I certainly share Bernstein's hope that Hamas' responsibility for governing will push it away from terrorism.
1.26.2006 3:41pm
volokh watcher (mail):
From the perspective of so-called "world opinion" (meaning, not including the U.S.), how is Israel perceived? And how would Israel be viewed if it blew Hamas to hell (which is where its leadership should have been sent during the past 5 years)?

I suspect there's nothing that Hamas can do that will move so-called world opinion behind and in support of Israel. Nothing. Nor would Iran's declaration that it has the bomb and will use it against Israel if "provoked" or to protect the homeless Palestinians.

Moreover, I think this administration's Mid-east "democracy" program has lost all credibility precisely because it emphatically rejected any relationship with Hamas -- the duly elected representatives of its voting constituency. I say that again from the so-called "world's opinion" perspective -- which needs little to turn against the US anyway.

Combining what I expect will be the so-called "world's opinion" that the administration has engaged in hypocrisy with the general dislike for Israel for no particular reason except it's Israel, I see the Hamas victory as leading to not only more violence.

But violence that will solicit more support world-wide, further isolate Israel, beget more violence, and invite the region's superpower -- Iran? -- to intervene.

And who will counterbalance Iran in the Mid-east now? Until we know, I think Hamas gets a free ride to do what it pleases.
1.26.2006 3:52pm
Mikeyes (mail):
I share a less optimistic view of Hamas' ability to govern in a effective manner. True, they will be faced with a daunting task of "cleaning the streets" but the most likely thing that will happen is that when faced with the (possibly) billions of dollars that they will be given after they tone down a little, they will become as corrupt as Fatah. Then history will repeat itself. This is one of the more sinister legacies of an un-evolved democracy.

If you don't think this is a possibility, just ask Newt.
1.26.2006 4:16pm
EstablishmentClaus (mail) (www):
Davide - I think you miss most of David's point, which is pretty much this:

Sure, Hamas are crazy killers, and evil. But so are Fatah - look at Barghouti, look at Abbas' PHD thesis on the Nazi-Zionist conspiracy to invent the Shoah, look at Arafat. Let's see if being in government moderates Hamas, and let's see if Hamas being in government moderates the anti-Israeli extremists in the EU.

As for Bernstein's hypothetical vote, given a choice between two groups of crazy killers, only one of whom would also steal your money, I guess I'd also vote for the ones who wouldn't steal. It's not much of a choice, but, as he makes clear, it's the one Palestinian voters had.

All that said, it's infuriating that they won, whatever the explanations.
1.26.2006 4:24pm
Tom Holsinger (mail):

"Nearly all men can stand adversity, but if you want to test a man's character, give him power." - Abraham Lincoln.

Hamas' new power in Gaza gives it the opportunity to steal billions just like its predecessor.
1.26.2006 4:28pm
EstablishmentClaus, I think Bernstein's point was, essentially, "Hamas' victory isn't so bad-- let's look at the good side of things." So he claims it's not necessarily a victory for terrorism, that he himself would have been "sorely tempted to vote for Hamas," that Hamas might "change its views toward recognizing Israel and cease engaging in terrorism," that Hamas itself would have preferred to lose and get only 45% of the vote so it wouldn't have to be taken seriously...

The recurring theme here is one of a Panglossian worldview: the terrorists have won, but they're not really so bad. Hey, they're not even really terrorists. It is reflective of an lack of desire to take people and institutions at their word, or to take their acts seriously. It's a desire to see the world as something the viewer wishes it to be, not as it is.

It is disappointing when an intelligent individual claims he would have been "sorely tempted" to vote for such a group. Such a view cannot be held responsibly, under any reasonable point of view. We are told to leave Hamas' views about Israel to one side: that is, I submit, an absurd request. It is disappointing to hear how support for such a genocidal group can be so quickly rationalized. It is this sort of thinking, I fear, that will soon lead the international community to embrace Hamas as the elected Palestinian voice of the people.

Talking about how Fatah is no better, as I stated before, in no way absolves Hamas. Nor should it make choosing Hamas any more palatable to any reasonable person.
1.26.2006 4:32pm
Greedy Clerk (mail):
As I said in another post, I read the overall point of David's post as this: It can't get any worse than the PLO running the PA. So, worst thing that happens is that Israel still has no partner for peace and still has to take security into its own hands in the territories. Although I disagree with certain smaller points in David's post, I agree with that overarching point. The worst that happens is that we have the PA being run by people who support terrorism and are not interested in reaching a real deal with Israel. Well, that's what is going on now. At least with Hamas, I am somewhat confident that IF they made a deal, they could get the people to buy it. So, nothing to lose here, but perhaps something to gain. I welcome this change.
1.26.2006 4:50pm
Omar Bradley (mail):
Hamas is as terrorist if not moreso than AQ. AQ has killed 3000 Americans. Based on a proportion, Hamas has killed and maimed the equivalent of over 50,000 Americans.

But W and Condi are lining up the Euros to play nice with them. I won't be surprised if Haniyeh or Zahar is on the South Lawn in a short while.

Bush has sucked up to Abu Mazen, sucked up to Arafat, sheld hands with Abdullah, what's another arab/muslim killer?

OTOH, this does give the lie to the "Palestinians just want peace" statement. The Palestinians overwhelmingly want the destruction of Israel and the return of the Refugees. Hamas got 60% of the Parliamnet. Bush got 51%. Think about that. Hamas' victory is on the level of REagan in 84 and Nixon in 72, a real landslide. It's clear what the Palestinians want.
1.26.2006 4:58pm
I thought this was a cogent analysis:

1.26.2006 6:04pm
Damn, url's...

1.26.2006 6:05pm
Retarded me... third times a charm. comment/ ottolenghi200601261002.asp
1.26.2006 6:07pm
M. Simon (mail) (www):
Egyptian General "I'm sad to report we have totally lost Gaza"

Egyptian President "What a great victory. You deserve a promotion."
1.26.2006 6:11pm
M. Simon (mail) (www):
1.26.2006 6:17pm
Bottomfish (mail):
It's worth noting that the pollsters were overwhelmingly wrong in predicting the electoral results. The only inference is that when a majority of Palestinians say anything intended for public consumption about their political preferences, they lie, or perhaps are unable to acknowledge their own beliefs except in the privacy of the voting booth. Deception -- in fact self-deception-- seems to be the norm.
1.26.2006 9:02pm
Professor Bernstein,

Other than a quote from one Egyptian academic, what makes you think the Egyptians and Jordanians would have any more luck with Hamas than the Israelis? I didn't know that Hamas was an offshoot of the Muslim Brotherhood, but I think that hurts your point. Why should the Egyptians be any more successful with Hamas?

The pipe dream of the Israeli left was that Arafat only needed a few more concessions to turn into a man of peace. The pipe dream of the Israeli right has been that Jordan and Egypt will take responsibility for Israel's problem.

Part of the reason is that much of the Israeli right clings to the myth that Arabs are one big homogeneous mass ("there is no such thing as a Palestinian"). Jordan and Egypt treat Palestinians far worse than Israel does. The countries know the distinctions that make people Palestinian. That's how Jordanians and Egyptians know who to treat like dirt.

The confederation idea sounds like a lose-lose-lose situation for Jordan, Egypt and the Palestinians. Jordan and Egypt have enough problems of their own without taking on Israel's.

P.S. Thanks for the clarification on Egypt's previous refusal to take Gaza. But I think it supports my point that Egypt doesn't want Gaza.
1.26.2006 9:13pm
M. Simon (mail) (www):
Abbas has to deny the Holocaust. That keeps the spotlight off of certain inconvenient facts.

Palestinian Role in the Holocaust
1.26.2006 10:41pm
It seems that this is a good thing. If Hamas wants to be a legitimate government, it will have to renounce terrorism. This seems likely, as it has been abiding by a cease-fire for a while now. The terribly corrupt PLO is out of power, which is in all cases a good thing. Furthermore, Hamas has been running several quite successful social programs; if they do negotiate, such negotiations will presumably have the support of the Palestinian people, which is necessary in order to have peace. Any deal the PLO would have made would be meaningless if certain groups simply ignored them and continued the violence.

As for the people who have a problem with this - what do you think would be better? I don't consider exterminating all the Palestinians an option, and if they continue to live under a corrupt government in refugee camps you can hardly expect them to be peaceful. Give them a decent quality of life, and terrorism will lose most of its allure. No one kills himself unless he feels he has nothing to lose; let's try giving them something for a change.
1.26.2006 11:49pm
David M. Nieporent (www):
But W and Condi are lining up the Euros to play nice with them.
Is there a different "W" than the one who is president of the U.S.?
Bush has sucked up to Abu Mazen, sucked up to Arafat, sheld hands with Abdullah, what's another arab/muslim killer?
Ah, I guess there is. There's the one in your world, who "sucked up" to Arafat, and there's the one in the real world, who declared Arafat a useless dead end and refused to deal with him anymore.
1.27.2006 12:24am
M. Simon (mail) (www):

At the start of the second Stupidfada one of Arafat's Lts. came out and said that with Israeli and Pali economies integrating that the number of fighters and suicide bombers was declining.

So the old bastard started a war to keep "his" people in misery.

Given Hamas' proclivities I doubt they will do better. You see the Palestinians are "their" people now.
1.27.2006 5:10am
Terrific post by David Bernstein, and extremely informative. I agree, between two undesirable groups, choosing the one which has not yet robbed you blind might be a reasonable choice. Many people who are not out to destroy Israel might have been simply voting for change. Why support such an outrageously corrupt regime?

I share David's optimism. First of all, the world seems to have been way too easy on the horrific, corrupt Fatah. It will hold Hamas to a higher standard, for obvious reasons, and that can't be bad.

Secondly, although power does corrupt, throwing a formerly terrorist group into an unexpected position under a bright spotlight might produce unanticipated results. Maybe Hamas is beyond redemption, but does that apply to each and every member? Couldn't there be that few who will rise to the occasion, and change the direction of things?

Finally, I am always optimistic about the positive effect that a taste of capitalism can have on a a person, or a country. Maybe they will concentrate more on building things, now that they are in a position to do so, and less on destroying things.

Of course, war profiteers, of all stripes and ideologies, cannot be happy at this development because it just might lead to something good.
1.27.2006 5:25am
Ken115 (mail):
Thank you. I feel nervous about even posting here, but this original post was the most intelligent thing I've seen written about the Palestinian election. The papers are awash in mindless repetitions of the same inaccuracies that were first reported yesterday. I personally am happy about the election of Hamas not because I support it, but because I believe this is the only possible way to destroy it. Anyone who thinks that Hamas' leaders are happy about this result is, I think, severly misinformed. It's telling that they immediately called for a partnership with Fatah. They're terrified of the implications of this: an event that just might prevent them from gumming up the process from the sidelines as and when they choose for all eternity.... Now they are accountable, not merely to the world, but to the Palestinian people. I see only two possible outcomes: either they moderate, or they fail. Neither outcome looks bad to me. And actually, I think that even if they do moderate, they will likely still fail, because the current Palestinian state is ungovernable. Finally, I think that the practical failure of an Islamist government there might be the only way to begin real progress.
1.27.2006 3:41pm