Hamas Power Stuns Bush

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On numerous occasions, Bush confidently predicted that the Jihadist organization had “no chance� of winning, because of its resort to terrorist tactics in its efforts to topple Israel. What I’m wondering is why someone like me, with only a superficial familiarity with the events unfolding in the Middle East, was bright enough to anticipate the Hamas landslide, given the wholesale radicalization of the Arab world in the wake of the invasion of Iraq.

If you want to get a good idea of just how out of touch President Bush is in terms of foreign affairs, take a look at what he had to say about the prospects of Hamas winning the election in Palestine: “I don't think they're going to get elected, because I think Palestinian moms want their children to grow up in peace just like American moms want their children to grow up in peace.�

On numerous occasions, he confidently predicted that the Jihadist organization had “no chance� of winning, because of its resort to terrorist tactics in its efforts to topple Israel. What I’m wondering is why someone like me, with only a superficial familiarity with the events unfolding in the Middle East, was bright enough to anticipate the Hamas landslide, given the wholesale radicalization of the Arab world in the wake of the invasion of Iraq. In much the same way that this Administration continues to misread the strength of the Iraqi insurgency, it appears to have been in deep denial about the true leanings of the overwhelming majority of the Palestinians.

This represents either another absence of common sense or a gross failure on the part of the same intelligence community which had assured us that the roads of Baghdad would be lined with rose petals instead of improvised explosive devices after the commander-in-chief’s “Mission Accomplished� photo-op. Reportedly, somewhere between 70 to 80% of the votes cast in the Palestinian election were for Hamas, which is a mandate by any democracy’s standards, since sovereignty resides in the people. So, perhaps it’s time to examine exactly what is Hamas, rather than routinely dismiss it as a radical organization. After all, it is substantially funded by a number of influential Muslim nations which share the same philosophy, some of which are valued American allies, most notably, Saudi Arabia.

At a hastily-called press conference the morning after the election, the President was pinned down by a reporter about whether the United States would now recognize Hamas as a legitimate political body. To his credit, Bush did not dismiss that option out of hand, though he did condition continued diplomatic relations on the new government’s disavowing its antagonistic stance towards Israel.

More importantly, he belatedly acknowledged that the duly-elected Hamas now represents the will of the people when he conceded that “democracy can open up the world’s eyes to reality by listening to people.� This suggests that the prevailing Palestinian point-of-view, as radical as it might sound to some, cannot be allowed to stand in the way of a lasting peace. Let’s not forget that white and Black South Africans were able to settle their differences peaceably after a protracted civil war, but only after both sides decided that enough blood had been shed, owned up to atrocities, and took the profoundly spiritual step of forgiving each other in the process of forging a lasting peace.

Ironic, isn’t it that a spirit of brotherhood would prove to be so elusive in a seemingly godforsaken oasis of hate so many refer to as the Holy Land?

Black Star columnist Kam Williams is an attorney and a member of the bar in NJ, NY, CT, PA, MA & US Supreme Court bars.

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