Sunday, February 12, 2006

Welcome to Hamastan

Many freedmanslifers have asked me why I think it's wonderful that Hamas won the PLC elections. Commentators on the hawkish side of the aviary share my view that it either forces them to reform, moderate and negotiate, or shows them in their true colours and absolves Israel from having to deal with them.

But I go one step further. It shows that the Palestinian people themselves are not ready for peace. They voted overwhelmingly for a terror organisation, largely because of their stance on Israel, ie its total obliteration. Of course the liberal media here and in Israel has bought the Hamas spin that they won on a ticket of anti-corruption and welfare. But nobody on the ground is under any illusion, least of all the voters themselves.

The reason I am grateful for this is that it gives the lie once more to the idea that the Israelis are the warmongers who use their democratic rights to elect generals and persecute Arabs whilst the Palestinians use theirs to eke out a pathetic existence alongside its bullying neighbour.

It's time for the Western world to continue its uncharacteristic solidarity (Russia apart) in giving Hamas the cold shoulder. This not only shows its displeasure at the Hamas government but it underlines to the Palestinian people that they must be more responsible with thir democratic choices.

Without this continued show of force, the major downside is that it sends a discouraging message to the rest of the Arab world that democratisation is only welcome if the right people win.

But as long as the EU, UN and USA hold their nerve in facing down Hamas, they send a message that democracy can only go hand in hand with recognition and respect, if they want the rewards that come with it in the form of proper relations with the West. If the world backs down, we lose another battle in the clash of civilizations - terror wins by capturing democracy and making it another weapon in its armoury.

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