Relax. It’s Hamas, and I feel fine.

Friday, February 3rd, 2006 12:26 pm by Neal

In his essay, With Hamas win we should express relief rather than anxiety, Victor Davis Hanson makes a compelling case that the Hamas electoral victory demonstrates that “Democracy, even in the violent Middle East, brings a certain clarity, and with it, at last, honesty.” He’s right. Democracy, as an institution, forces a certain transparency in government that holds accountable the will of the governed, and we now know exactly where the Palestinians stand. The days of straddling the fence between peace and war are over.

Israelis, too, are divided. Liberals there assume that Hamas must turn moderate, once it is forced to clean sewers and fix electrical cables rather than shoot guns off in the street when it doesn’t get its way.

Conservatives there are oddly just as serene, but make a different argument: Now there will be no phony talk about a “militant” wing of Hamas or a duplicitous Palestinian Authority complaining that it can’t control renegade suicide bombers. No, as legitimate representatives of the Palestinian people, Hamas can at last lead their brave jihdadists in an open war against the vilified Jews. As in 1967 or 1973, let the battlefield adjudicate their warriors’ future.

Yet there is one constant to all the bickering over the Hamas victory: Democracy, even in the violent Middle East, brings a certain clarity, and with it, at last, honesty.

Hamas can either renounce its charter principles — or follow them by quite openly taxing its people to raise money for more suicide bombing brigades. As an Islamic state, it can craft sharia law and an open alliance with a similarly theocratic Iran, enjoying both the short-term benefits — and global downside — of such an Islamic axis. Nor do such anti-Western radicals need to accept hundreds of millions of dollars in infidel American and European largess.

Here in the United States, we should express relief rather than anxiety. None can accuse America of propping up right-wing puppets that do our bidding. We not only supported the elections, but also subsidized them. So now, with perfect consistency, we can accept Hamas’ victory, but keep our money and distance from such creepy characters.

So true. Will other middle-eastern “democracies” follow in the footsteps of the Palestinians? Possibly so. After all, Democratic institutions do not ensure that people will adopt freedom for themselves. That can only happen when Democratic values are also adopted. Either way, at least the will of the people will be clear, and that is progress in itself. The numerous, failed attempts to establish an Israeli-Palestinian peace over the last decades demonstrate the futility of dealing with people who are fundamentally misunderstood.

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