The Other Elections (FrontPageMagazine.com) By P. David Hornik - Spectator.org 02/01/05)
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It will take time before we know the real implications of the Iraqi
elections and how things will work out in that troubled country. At
least we know, though, that the elections weren´t won by a radical,
anti-Semitic, anti-American movement.
Unfortunately, one can´t say the same about the recent elections in
Gaza, which were swept by Hamas -- an organization whose charter
"Israel will exist and will continue to exist until Islam will
obliterate it, just as it obliterated others before it.… There is no
solution for the Palestinian question except through Jihad.
Initiatives, proposals and international conferences are all a waste
of time and vain endeavors.… Jihad is [our] path and death for the
sake of Allah is the loftiest of [our] wishes."
And last April at a memorial service in Syria for Gazan Hamas leader
Abdel Aziz Rantisi, assassinated by Israel the previous month, Hamas
political chief Khaled Mashal said: "[Hamas´s] battle is with two
sides. One of them is the strongest power in the world, the United
States, and the second is the strongest power in the region [Israel]."
Rantisi himself, in a 2003 article published on a Hamas website
called "Why Shouldn´t We Attack the United States?," wrote that for
Hamas, attacking America was not only "a moral and national duty-but
above all, a religious one."
Hamas already seems to be acting on that "duty." As Erick Stakelbeck
noted last September 24 in the New York Sun, "On August 20, Hamas
money man Ismail Elbarasse was arrested after authorities witnessed
his wife videotaping Maryland´s Chesapeake Bay Bridge from their SUV
as Mr. Elbarasse drove. The images captured by Mr. Elbarasse´s wife
included close-ups of cables and other features ´integral to the
structural integrity of the bridge,´ according to court papers.… in
an FBI affidavit filed in Mr. Elbarrasse´s case, agent Shawn Devroude
stated that Al Qaeda has been enlisting Hamas members to conduct
surveillance of American targets."
Last week in Gaza, Hamas won 77 out of 118 seats in municipal
elections for ten towns. Hamas, when not engaging in suicide bombings
and other terrorist activity, doubles as a social agency in Gaza and
the West Bank that runs schools, kindergartens, and clinics. Indeed,
last month Hamas scored a big win in West Bank municipal elections as
These results are seen by some as a blow to PA chairman Mahmoud
Abbas´s comparatively secular-nationalist Fatah movement. As
loudspeakers blared in Gaza while thousands of Hamas supporters
celebrated in the streets, "The Hamas victory proves that Islam is
the only solution."
Under Yasser Arafat´s corrupt oligarchy, Hamas gained popularity for
its "clean" image as a strictly Islamic movement dedicated to the
people´s welfare. But its terror activities endeared it to the public
as well. Indeed, in Beit Hanoun, a town in northern Gaza that Hamas
members had been using to fire Kassam rockets into Israel, Hamas won
11 of the 13 seats. As Hamas leader Mahmoud Zahar said of the
elections, "This means that the people believe in the armed
resistance as the only option."
These developments cast a shadow over both Prime Minister Sharon´s
disengagement plan and President Bush´s road map. According to the
disengagement plan, Israel is supposed to withdraw completely from
Gaza (and part of the northern West Bank) this summer, under the
assumption that removal of the Israeli presence will turn people´s
minds to everyday affairs of building their society and improving
their lives. But a neighbor seething in anti-Israeli hatred is more
likely to be a source of intensified missile attacks and terror
incursions that will make life in the nearby Israeli towns and
EVEN MORE OMINOUSLY, Hamas in Gaza could take a leaf from the book of
its sister terror organization, Hezbollah in Lebanon. Since Israel´s
withdrawal from that border in 2000, Hezbollah has kept things
relatively quiet while building an arsenal of 13,000 Iranian-supplied
missiles that now hold all of northern Israel and part of central
Israel in their sights. Similarly, superficial "progress toward
peace" on the road map could lead eager Israeli and American leaders
to ignore or downplay a comparable buildup in Gaza; the result would
be an Israel so hemmed in by enemy weaponry that it could best be
described as "ripe for the kill."
If such a scenario seems speculative, a January 30 AP story
called "Hamas, Hezbollah Agree to Uphold Resistance against Israel"
gives it teeth. After a meeting between the above-mentioned Hamas
leader, Khaled Mashal, and Hezbollah leader Hassan Nasrallah in the
latter´s office in Beirut, a Hezbollah announcement said the two
organizations had "agreed to uphold the resistance option against
Israel despite U.S. pressure." And as Mashal told reporters after the
meeting, "We are partners in this march of confronting a common
enemy. In the same way south Lebanon was liberated, we have hope that
all of Palestine will be liberated."
Mashal added, "The resistance program is making progress in various
fields … winning the support and confidence of our Palestinian people
inside [the Palestinian areas]."
The Palestinian Authority is, of course, nominally under the control
of Abbas, whom people try hard to view as a moderate despite his
Holocaust denial, record as Arafat´s right-hand man in planning and
funding terror attacks for four decades, and vows never to give up
the "right of return" that would destroy Israel demographically. But
Abbas´s ongoing efforts to work out a modus vivendi with Hamas and
the other terror organizations -- instead of confronting them and
confiscating their weapons as mandated by the road map -- suggest his
aim is, like Arafat before him, to find ways to work with them as
part of a grand strategy.
Whether or not pro-Western moderacy will prevail in Iraq, it has not
yet even dawned in the Palestinian Authority. If Israeli and American
leaders overlook the strength and key role there of Hamas and Islamic
radicalism, they do so to both their countries´ peril.
P. David Hornik is a freelance writer and translator living in
Jerusalem whose work has appeared in many Israeli, Jewish, and
political publications. Reach him at email@example.com. (©2005
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