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Monday, February 20, 2006

Don't Punish the Palestinians

Today's Washington Post features an article by Dhimmi Carter urging that the 'Palestinians' not be punished for electing Hamas. Hat Tip: Yaakov in Beit Shemesh.

With his unique brand of logic, Carter tries to tell us that even though Hamas won the elections, they cannot really govern:

Although Hamas won 74 of the 132 parliamentary seats, Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas retains the right to propose and veto legislation, with 88 votes required to override his veto. With nine of its elected members remaining in prison, Hamas has only 65 votes, plus whatever third-party support it can attract. Abbas also has the power to select and remove the prime minister, to issue decrees with the force of law when parliament is not in session, and to declare a state of emergency. As commander in chief, he also retains ultimate influence over the National Security Force and Palestinian intelligence.

What does Carter think will happen if Abu Mazen (Mahmoud Abbas' nom de guerre) 'selects' a Prime Minister who is not from Hamas or of whom Hamas does not approve? What does it matter if Abu Mazen is nominally the 'commander in chief' if Hamas controls nearly all of the 'Palestinian security forces' (there are ten others aside from the two Carter cited)?

After the first session of the new legislature, which was Saturday, the members will elect a speaker, two deputies and a secretary. These legislative officials are not permitted to hold any position in the executive branch, so top Hamas leaders may choose to concentrate their influence in the parliament and propose moderates or technocrats for prime minister and cabinet posts. Three weeks are allotted for the prime minister to form the cabinet, and a majority vote of the parliament is required for final approval.

Hamas has already said who its choice for Prime Minister is: Ismail Haniyeh.

If you do a Google search of Haniyeh you will find all sorts of hopeful statements about his 'moderation' and 'pragmatism.' That is, until you reach this column by blogger Philip Klein:

After reading many news reports like those I decided to do a Nexis search on "Ismail Haniyeh" to find evidence of his so-called moderation. Here's what I came up with.

On Sept. 11, 2001 Haniyeh was firmly in the "blame America" camp. As you may recall, Palestinians celebrated when the World Trade Center and the Pentagon were attaked. An AFP story from that day read:

"Washington must seriously revise its policies in the world," Hamas official Ismail Haniyeh also said here...

After a Hamas suicide bomber killed 19 people in an attack on a Passover Seder in Israel (known as "the Passover Massacre"), a March 28, 2002 LA Times story read :

"I think the Israeli people cannot take this indefinitely," senior Hamas official Ismail Haniyeh said Wednesday in Gaza. "Anyone reading the Israeli newspapers can see their suffering. They love life more than any other people, and they prefer not to die."

I suppose it takes a "pragmatist" like Haniyeh to view another culture's love of life as an oppourtunity to advance his own culture, which celebrates death instead.

On July 31, 2002, Hamas bombed a cafeteria at Hebrew University while students were eating lunch, killing 7 people, three of them Americans. Among the nearly 100 wounded were Arabs and other foreign nationals. The following day, the LA Times story included the following quote:

"If they are going to attack our children, then they will have to expect to drink from the same poison," Hamas official Ismail Haniyeh said Wednesday in Gaza City, where hundreds of Hamas supporters poured into the streets late in the day to celebrate the university bombing and vow more attacks.

Perhaps Haniyeh is viewed as a moderate because he has suggested the pre-1967 borders would be acceptable. Of course, he only means that it would be an acceptable intermediary step before the destruction of Israel.

Leading up to the recent elections, Haniyeh said in an interview with AFP that:

"Hamas supports the establishment of a Palestinian state with Jerusalem as its capital in the territories occupied [by Israel] in 1967 - as an interim solution. However, Hamas will continue to maintain its views regarding the boundaries of historical Palestine, and [in terms of] refusing to recognize the legitimacy of the occupation."
Clearly it's absurd to write that Haniyeh represents the "pragmatic wing" of Hamas, because the organization is a sick death cult that doesn't have a pragmatic wing. It's like saying Hermann Goering represented the "pragmatic wing" of the Nazi Party.
So much for Haniyeh the 'moderate.' Let's return to Carter:

The role of the prime minister was greatly strengthened while Abbas and Ahmed Qureia served in that position under Yasser Arafat, and Abbas has announced that he will not choose a prime minister who does not recognize Israel or adhere to the basic principles of the "road map." This could result in a stalemated process, but my conversations with representatives of both sides indicate that they wish to avoid such an imbroglio. The spokesman for Hamas claimed, "We want a peaceful unity government." If this is a truthful statement, it needs to be given a chance.

But of course, Abu Mazen isn't going to let himself be killed over this, is he? If Abu Mazen was 'weak' when Fatah led the PA, how can we describe him now? Even assuming that he has lots of powers, if he couldn't exercise them to end the terror before the 'Palestinian elections' he is certainly not going to exercise them now.

Hamas may want a 'peaceful unity government' because the alternative is a civil war that is not likely to win them friends and influence people. But their 'peaceful intentions' - if any - do not include Israel and they have made that quite clear. See the Haniyeh quotes from Philip Klein's blog above. As an Israeli, I'm not willing to stake my life on Dhimmi Carter's "if this is a truthful statement."

During this time of fluidity in the formation of the new government, it is important that Israel and the United States play positive roles. Any tacit or formal collusion between the two powers to disrupt the process by punishing the Palestinian people could be counterproductive and have devastating consequences.

Unfortunately, these steps are already underway and are well known throughout the Palestinian territories and the world. Israel moved yesterday to withhold funds (about $50 million per month) that the Palestinians earn from customs and tax revenue. Perhaps a greater aggravation by the Israelis is their decision to hinder movement of elected Hamas Palestinian Legislative Council members through any of more than a hundred Israeli checkpoints around and throughout the Palestinian territories. This will present significant obstacles to a government's functioning effectively. Abbas informed me after the election that the Palestinian Authority was $900 million in debt and that he would be unable to meet payrolls during February. Knowing that Hamas would inherit a bankrupt government, U.S. officials have announced that all funding for the new government will be withheld, including what is needed to pay salaries for schoolteachers, nurses, social workers, police and maintenance personnel. So far they have not agreed to bypass the Hamas-led government and let humanitarian funds be channeled to Palestinians through United Nations agencies responsible for refugees, health and other human services.

What are a few legalities between friends, right?

This common commitment to eviscerate the government of elected Hamas officials by punishing private citizens may accomplish this narrow purpose, but the likely results will be to alienate the already oppressed and innocent Palestinians, to incite violence, and to increase the domestic influence and international esteem of Hamas. It will certainly not be an inducement to Hamas or other militants to moderate their policies.

THEY stepped into the voting booth and THEY voted for Hamas. No one forced the 'Palestinians' to put the Hamas ticket in the ballot box. After all, Carter himself supervised the 'elections.' The 'Palestinians' voted with their eyes and ears open. They're not children. Just like the rest of us, they should suffer the consequences of their actions. The world has spent too much time coddling the 'Palestinians' over the last forty years. Would Carter have suggested not sanctioning the Germans for electing the Nazis seventy years ago?

As blogger Captain's Quarters points out:

The argument coming from Carter and others is that we need to support democracy, including when people make choices for terrorism. In those instances, we should forget our own national interest and act as if the Palestinians had no idea that Hamas bombs women and children in pizzerias and buses and loudly proclaims its desire to annihilate the state of Israel. It's a ludicrous position and one that holds people in contempt. Why not acknowledge the choice that the Palestinians have made, freely and openly as Carter has certified? They have chosen poorly -- and removing the consequences of that choice will only allow them to continue to choose poorly in the future.

And if that's how the United States should react to Hamas being chosen (and it's a fair assessment in my humble opinion), should Israelis - who have been most of Hamas' victims - react differently? Back to Carter:

The election of Hamas candidates cannot adversely affect genuine peace talks, since such talks have been nonexistent for over five years. A negotiated agreement is the only path to a permanent two-state solution, providing peace for Israel and justice for the Palestinians. In fact, if Israel is willing to include the Palestinians in the process, Abbas can still play this unique negotiating role as the unchallenged leader of the PLO (not the government that includes Hamas).
Israel is perfectly willing to enter into negotiations on the basis of the 'road map.' The first step under the 'road map' is to shut down the terror groups. Until the 'Palestinians' do that, there is nothing to discuss. Israel is not going to - and should not - negotiate under the threat of terror attacks against its civilians. That makes no sense and no other country in the world would negotiate (or be asked to negotiate) under those conditions.

Is the election of Hamas going to make it more likely or less likely that the terror groups will be shut down? You'd have to be an idiot - or a Dhimmi - to think that Hamas' election makes it more likely that the terror groups will be shut down.
It was under this umbrella and not the Palestinian Authority that Arafat negotiated with Israeli leaders to conclude the Oslo peace agreement. Abbas has sought peace talks with Israel since his election a year ago, and there is nothing to prevent direct talks with him, even if Hamas does not soon take the ultimately inevitable steps of renouncing violence and recognizing Israel's right to exist.
I don't understand how Carter can listen to what Hamas says over and over again and continues to say that it's 'inevitable' that they will renounce violence and recognize Israel's right to exist. I would bet on hell freezing over first. Why does Carter - and the American left generally - refuse to believe what Hamas repeats over and over again? Why does he continuously say they mean white when Hamas keeps saying black? And regardless of Abbas (Abu Mazen) being Prime Minister in name - Hamas won the elections. The Palestinians have made their democratic choice - certified and blessed by Carter himself.
It would not violate any political principles to at least give the Palestinians their own money; let humanitarian assistance continue through U.N. and private agencies; encourage Russia, Egypt and other nations to exert maximum influence on Hamas to moderate its negative policies; and support President Abbas in his efforts to ease tension, avoid violence and explore steps toward a lasting peace.
I'm going to quote my friend Yaakov, who got the hat tip at the beginning of this article, in a letter that he sent to the Washington Post this morning:
The “innocent Palestinians” of whom Jimmy Carter is and always has been so solicitous (“Don’t Punish the Palestinians,” Op-Ed, Feb. 20) just voted overwhelmingly to empower as their representative government a gang of barbaric, bloodthirsty fanatics responsible for some of the most horrific and unspeakable acts of terror known to man. What reaction does Mr. Carter think appropriate, sending flowers? No, worse: Mr. Carter proposes that we send them money!

It is not “punishment” for the Palestinians to be made to face the consequences of their choices; it is responsibility.
Either Carter just doesn't get it, or he really is a vicious anti-Semite. I hope it's the former - but fear it's the latter.


At 7:36 PM, Blogger Lois Koenig said...

"Either Carter just doesn't get it, or he really is a vicious anti-Semite. I hope it's the former - but fear it's the latter."

After watching and listening to him for many more years than I would have liked to, your fears are valid; he is a vicious anti-Semite. I voted for him, and left the Democratic Party early on in his first term, in disgust and disillusion.

I cannot stand the sight of him. He is an enemy of Klal Yisrael. Alas, the LLL Jews still look up to him.


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