Tuesday, January 24, 2006

Palestinians Are Voting Today

Usually I am an optimist. When it comes to the leadership of the Palestinian people I am, however, a certified pessimist.

Take the elections taking place in Palestine today as they elect representatives to the legislative body of the Palestinian Authority. For most voters, they have the choice of voting for a representative of Fatah (the political arm of Arafat's old PLO) or a representative of Hamas.

Fatah, which supposedly condemns terrorism, recognizes Israel as a nation (sort of), negotiates with Israel and professes to be secular (more or less), has militant affiliates who routinely kill Israeli civilians when it strikes their fancy. Fatah does nothing to disarm them or punish them in any way.

Hamas, on the other hand, does not recognize Israel as a legitimate nation and has, as its only core value, a determination to reclaim Israel for the Palestinian people (at least the Muslim ones who support their "our way or the highway" political philosophy). Hamas leaders have, in recent years, been effectively targeted for assassination by Israel. Even so, from time to time they still seem able to do a fairly good job blowing themselves up along with Israeli civilians as part of their pursuit of an all Muslim united Palestine.

Who is Israel rooting for today? I suspect that, at least privately, they are rooting for Hamas. This would provide Israel with a clear enemy that they can ignore as a political pariah and militarily attack with impunity as an organization that is openly "at war" with Israel.

The current Israeli strategy of unilaterally deciding which settlements to close and which to incorporate into its newly drawn and enlarged national borders is best served by a good showing by Hamas.

Publicly, however, Israeli's will be cheering for Fatah, a corrupt and powerless parody of what it claims to be. With Fatah Israel and the Palestinian Authority would no doubt be condemned to continue the never-ending dance of deception that, for world consumption, they can refer to as "peace talks" and "negotiations."

Pessimist that I am, I see the only hope of any peace settlement predicated on Hamas eventually gaining full control of the Palestinian Authority. If, with such power, Hamas continues its attitude of "war" with its neighbor, then Israel can, with some justification, systematically attack and destroy it. It will only be by being beaten into submission that the suffering Palestinians will ever be forced into conceding the existence of Israel as a legitimate state and be satisfied with creating and accepting a separate state for themselves.

While Israel's 1948 war of independence turned a goodly number of the Palestinian people into refugees, their greatest suffering has been inflicted upon them by those pretending to be their advocates.

What did Arafat ever do to relieve the suffering of "his people?" Nothing.

Neither will Hamas. Their very existence requires that the Palestinian people continue to suffer and to eat and breathe hatred for Israel and the Jews every day of their lives.

My heart aches for these poor, abused people. If Hamas and Fatah and all the other groups motivated more by hate for Israel than by any measure of love for the Palestinians were to disappear then I have no doubt that Israel, the United States and any other nation that really, truly has the best interests of the Palestinian people at heart, would willingly share their own wealth and resources to create a Palestinian State that would provide for the needs of its people and protect them from themselves.

Never, perhaps in the history of the world, has a group of people worked so hard for so long to hurt themselves as the Palestinians.

Perhaps today's elections will begin to turn the tide in a more positive direction.

As a pessimist, however, I say, "fat chance."