Canadian Politics from Canada's Centre

Saturday, February 04, 2006

Moderate's Analysis of Hamas, and the Direction of International Relations with the Palestinians

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Here's some analysis of terrorist group Hamas, and what might happen now they've taken power.
I met Mr. Chodoff at a conference recently, where he was speaking. Impressed by his analysis of Hamas and associated subjects, I asked if he could write for us. Mr. Chodoff said we could reprint the material from Middle East on Target, the think tank he works with, so long as it was credited.

Hamas Wins – Now What?
by Elliot Chodoff


The Hamas election victory has left much of the leadership in the West in a quandary. Having touted democracy for years, it would seem that reality has caught up with the adage, “Be careful what you wish for – you might get it.” Faced with the surprise show of electoral power of Hamas (if they had been reading our columns, they would not have been so surprised) these leaders now must navigate through an apparent minefield, largely sown by themselves. They put the election cart before the democracy horse, and now they have a radical Islamic terrorist organization as the rider.
\n \n \nThe first issue that needs to be addressed is that of democracy. While the elections that put Hamas in power certainly reflected the will of the Palestinian population, the system of the Palestinian Authority is still a far cry from democracy. Elections are important, but a democratic system is reflected in an electoral process and not defined by the holding of elections. Fiscal transparency, civil rights, the rule of law, a process of power sharing and turnover as well as stable institutions are the components of democracy, not elections.\n \n \nWe would do well to remember that Hitler came to power in the last democratic elections of the Weimar Republic. In that historical case, the elections were not a manifestation of democracy but rather, for the next twelve years in Germany, of its demise. Democracy after all, is not about how leaders come to power; it is about how they are removed from power.\n \n \nWe should not be overly impressed that Hamas campaigned on an anti-corruption platform rather than one of terrorism. Political parties campaign on issues that make them distinct from their opponents; a campaign based on terrorism would have been lost in the universalism of that phenomenon among all the major candidates in the elections. Opposition to corruption certainly set Hamas apart.Hamas will now attempt to play the West off against itself, requesting funds for humanitarian purposes as it continues to preach and generate terrorism. Caught on the horns of its ideology Hamas, having run on a platform of honesty, will be hard pressed to retreat in its policy of all out war with Israel. The result will be a multi-pronged policy of clean government, Islamic law enforcement and terrorism."


The first issue that needs to be addressed is that of democracy. While the elections that put Hamas in power certainly reflected the will of the Palestinian population, the system of the Palestinian Authority is still a far cry from democracy. Elections are important, but a democratic system is reflected in an electoral process and not defined by the holding of elections. Fiscal transparency, civil rights, the rule of law, a process of power sharing and turnover as well as stable institutions are the components of democracy, not elections.


We would do well to remember that Hitler came to power in the last democratic elections of the Weimar Republic. In that historical case, the elections were not a manifestation of democracy but rather, for the next twelve years in Germany, of its demise. Democracy after all, is not about how leaders come to power; it is about how they are removed from power.


We should not be overly impressed that Hamas campaigned on an anti-corruption platform rather than one of terrorism. Political parties campaign on issues that make them distinct from their opponents; a campaign based on terrorism would have been lost in the universalism of that phenomenon among all the major candidates in the elections. Opposition to corruption certainly set Hamas apart.



Hamas will now attempt to play the West off against itself, requesting funds for humanitarian purposes as it continues to preach and generate terrorism. Caught on the horns of its ideology Hamas, having run on a platform of honesty, will be hard pressed to retreat in its policy of all out war with Israel. The result will be a multi-pronged policy of clean government, Islamic law enforcement and terrorism.
As we have seen with the request for continued funding from the West (the same West that it openly despises – proving the Yiddish saying Gelt shtinkt nisht [money doesn’t smell]) there will be an attempt at outward appearances of separation between terrorism and administration. The best of all scenarios for Hamas would be for the West to fund its social and humanitarian programs, increasing popular support for the Islamic regime, while funneling all other funds into\nterrorist operations.\n \n \nIsrael and the West should have none of it. A terrorist organization remains a terrorist organization, even when it runs nursery schools. While it would behoove us to wait and give Hamas a chance to show what it really has in mind, we should be prepared to respond in the harshest possible terms to any manifestation of violence coming out of the Palestinian Authority. Abu Mazen and his gang are no longer in the position of saying that they will not engage the terrorist organizations in armed conflict but will try to co-opt them into changing their ways. Now we have a Hamas led PA, and any terrorism it sends our way should be taken for what it is: an act of war. And from now on, we also have an official return address.nAdditional articles can be found at www.me-ontarget.com Mideast: On Target"

As we have seen with the request for continued funding from the West (the same West that it openly despises – proving the Yiddish saying Gelt shtinkt nisht [money doesn’t smell]) there will be an attempt at outward appearances of separation between terrorism and administration. The best of all scenarios for Hamas would be for the West to fund its social and humanitarian programs, increasing popular support for the Islamic regime, while funneling all other funds into terrorist operations.


Israel and the West should have none of it. A terrorist organization remains a terrorist organization, even when it runs nursery schools. While it would behoove us to wait and give Hamas a chance to show what it really has in mind, we should be prepared to respond in the harshest possible terms to any manifestation of violence coming out of the Palestinian Authority. Abu Mazen and his gang are no longer in the position of saying that they will not engage the terrorist organizations in armed conflict but will try to co-opt them into changing their ways. Now we have a Hamas led PA, and any terrorism it sends our way should be taken for what it is: an act of war. And from now on, we also have an official return address.

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