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February 1, 2006

Cohen In WaPo: 'Don't Be Fooled By Hamas'

Topics: Middle East News and Perspectives

Captain Ed points to Hamas apologists that insist in the media and the blogosphere that "the US has it all wrong, that the Palestinians didn't elect Hamas because of their stance on terror; they elected them to clean up government and start delivering services promised by Fatah." In today's WaPo Richard Cohen offers that the prospect of increased violence didn't deter the average Palestinian from voting for Hamas, and that we have seen this sort of thing before, which isn't very comforting. He suggests that the rule we should apply, the only rule - should be to take zealots at their word.

(...) History speaks on this matter. If you asked a random German in, say, 1932 whether by voting for the Nazis he was voting for the murder of Jews and a destructive European war of unimaginable scope and horror, he would have said, " Nein !" What he really wanted was an end to the brawling in the streets, a robust foreign policy and a big thumbs-up to traditional German culture -- no more of this smutty modern art and filthy plays: " Willkommen , Bienvenue , Welcome." Not any more. The cabaret is closed!

(...) I saved for this paragraph any reference to Hitler himself so as to postpone the reflexive outburst of "Nothing can be compared to the Nazis!" Normally I agree, and I usually shy from such comparisons. But I am not likening Hamas or Islamist militancy to Nazism; I am only likening the mind of one sort of zealot to another. All too often they mean what they say.

(...) Unfortunately, the men who were supposed to implement one sort of Nazi program were determined to implement it all. They had made no bones about it; it was all in their bible, "Mein Kampf," and in their rallies and speeches. It took some effort to overlook it, but a considerable number of people managed to do so and later professed shock at what happened. They looked into the abyss, saw nothing that concerned them personally -- and emitted a yawn of contentment.

(...) In due course we will be told that what Hamas has been insisting on for years -- the utter destruction of Israel -- is not really a serious goal. Hamas should not be taken literally, and anyway it will be forced to moderate both its platform and its policies by the reality of governing. When, for instance, it repeats the words of its charter -- "The solution of the problem [Israel] will only take place by holy war" -- we will be assured that it is just throwing red meat to what in America is called "the base." As for its truculent anti-Semitism -- not to be confused in this case with anti-Zionism -- it, too, will be dismissed as without consequence. Hamas will have to deal with reality -- and Israel, in the region, is the mightiest reality of them all. Yasser Arafat came to understand that.

(...) The mistake of the Bush administration is to think, based on not much thinking to begin with, that people are people -- pretty much the same the world over. This is why the president extols democracy. It must be what everyone wants because it is what everyone here wants. To denigrate this kind of talk suggests racism -- You mean we are not all the same? -- or a musty neocolonialism. But the hard truth is that culture and religion matter, and we should not expect moderation just because that's how we would react. Toto knows the truth. The Middle East is not Kansas.


Indeed, the Middle East is not Kansas, and indicative of the culture and the religion in the region being as much the issue as any other parameter is that Arafat's legacy, "A Palestinian "'Culture of Suicide,"" ever came to exist in the first place, pointing to what is really more a symptom than an effect. That such a mindset of terror and murder could become so engrained within a society speaks of just how much culture and religion do matter! Cohen has it right.

If this isn't clear, just take a look at how the chief of Hamas' political bureau outlines its mission - and its message for the U.S., Europe, the Arab states and Israel: "We shall never recognize... a Zionist state on our soi"

Related reading: Essay - ""Israel and the "Palestinian" Subculture""

Posted by Richard at February 1, 2006 4:32 PM

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