2006-02-03 / Columnists

From the Editor’s Desk

By Howard Schwach

Secretary Of State Condoleezza Rice says that despite the large vote for representatives of the terrorist organization Hamas, she is convinced that the “Palestinian people still want peace.”

“The Palestinian people have apparently voted for change, but we believe that their aspirations for peace and a peaceful life remain unchanged,” she said after the startling vote that gave control of the new Palestinian government to the terrorist organization.

Personally, I think that her statement is wishful thinking, a dangerous pastime for a Secretary of State.

Witness some of the candidates who won the Palestinian vote.

Miraim Farhat, a 56-year-old mother of three terrorists who were killed in attacks on Israel. She appeared on a video holding an AK-47 assault rifle, The video was made by her 17-year-old son before he killed five seminary students in an attack on a Jewish settlement. Another son was killed when a bomb he was building blew up prematurely.

Muhammad Shenaden, 43, who has been a fugitive from the Israeli army for 12 years, A bomb-maker for Islamic Jihad, he refused to appear at election rallies because he was afraid that the Israelis would assassinate him on sight.

Intizar Al-Wazir, 64, the widow of PLA leader Abu Jahid, one of the masterminds of the 1972 attack on the Munich Olympic games that left a dozen Israeli athletes dead.

Certainly seems like a peaceful group to me.

It makes you wonder why Israel is skeptical that these Hamas candidates and others just like them can get involved in the budding peace process.

Perhaps it is because most Israelis know what is included in the organization’s charter, which is titled “The Martyr’s Oath.”

“[The Islamic Resistance Movement] strives to raise the banner of Allah over every inch of Palestine.

“Resisting and quelling the enemy becomes the individual duty of every Muslim, male or female.

“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. The Palestinian people know better than to consent to having their future, rights and fate toyed with.

“The Zionist invasion is a vicious invasion. It relies greatly on its infiltration and espionage operations on the secret organizations it gave rise to, such as the Freemasons, the Rotary and Lions Clubs and other sabotage groups. All of these organizations, whether secret or open, work in the interest of Zionism and according to its instructions.”

And, while apologists for the group say that the organization’s participation in the Palestinian election signals its change in policy and its readiness to work for peace, officials of the organization itself say that it’s goal remains the destruction of Israel and the death of all of its citizens.

While gunmen from Hamas and Fatah shot at each other, leaders of the former group held a press conference to say that the group had no intention of recognizing Israel’s right to exist and reaffirmed the terrorist’s determination to destroy that nation.

If Rice really believes that the support for Hamas was not an indication that the majority of them believe in that goal, I have a couple of bridges she might want to buy.

My belief is that the majority of Palestinians support that Hamas goal and that is why they voted for candidates such as Al-Wizar and Farhat.

Unfortunately, those who agree with the stated goals of Hamas also see the Israeli withdrawal from some of the occupied territories last year as a sign of weakness.

They see Hamas as the legitimate fighting force defending the Palestinians from a brutal Israeli military occupation.

They insist that the withdrawal of Israeli settlers was a victory for the policy that dictates suicide bombers and attacks on both Israeli civilians and Arab “traitors,” anybody who worked with the Israelis for peace.

President George Bush announced right after the election results became known that he will not work with the new Palestinian Government if it does not agree to Israel’s right to exist.

Congressman Anthony Weiner has already called for a cutoff of United States funds for the Palestinian Authority unless it repudiates the Hamas Charter provision calling for the destruction of Israel.

That is not likely to happen, since the Palestinian Authority’s new power base is Hamas and its supporters. Anybody in the new government who moves towards peace prior to Israel’s destruction would likely be considered a traitor and assassinated.

What comes next?

With the Israeli political picture in disarray because of the recent illness of its Prime Minister, and his replacements pledge not to deal with terrorist groups such as Hamas, it is not clear whether the Israeli’s can keep the peace process moving forward.

In fact, the emboldened leaders of Hamas said late last week that the organization planned to turn its militant wing into a real army that “will defend Palestinian rights” against the aggressor [Israel].

From the Israeli point of view, each concession to the Palestinians moves the peace process along the road to real peace. From the Hamas point of view, each concession by Israel is a sign of weakness that calls for increased terrorist activity.

Now, with Hamas in a real leadership role in the legitimate, freely-elected government – the Palestinian Authority, it will be harder than ever, if not impossible, for peace to be achieved without every Israeli running into the sea like lemmings. That is sad, but politically realistic. We pushed for elections and those elections chose a government that might well be an anathema to our own democratic ideals.

The New York Times, in a long piece on Sunday, perhaps said it best.

“The overwhelming sense among politicians and intellectuals in the Middle East last week was that America’s little chemistry experiment had blown up in its face.

And, the same could easily happen in Iraq.

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