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Thursday, May 12, 2011

What's good about the Hamas-Fatah pact

Lee Smith says that he's a big fan of the Hamas-Fatah reconciliation agreement that was signed last week in Cairo. But not for the reasons you might think. He's in favor of it for the same reason that I am: It rips the mask off the myth of the 'moderate Palestinian.'
I, too, think the deal reveals something important, which is why I am a big fan of Hamas-Fatah reconciliation—not because I think it will make peace likely, but because I think it is the only way to expose the hypocrisy and moral rot that has been at the core of Western thinking about the Arab-Israeli conflict for more than 30 years. Osama Bin Laden’s death offers a good opportunity to take stock of the larger incoherence of American Middle East policy, whose most outstanding feature seems to be an inability to tell our friends from our foes. One easy yardstick to use might be this: If you enthusiastically support a man whose grand strategy consisted of killing as many Americans as possible then you are our enemy. So, why are we seemingly insensible to the fact that Hamas mourned Osama’s passing and its leader in Gaza, Ismail Haniya, the elected prime minister of the Palestinian Authority, said that his killing was a “continuation of the United States’ policy of destruction”?

I’m actually more comfortable with Haniya’s public devotion to Bin Laden’s memory than with Palestinian Authority Prime Minister Salam Fayyad’s conviction that the al-Qaida chief’s death will “mark the beginning of the end of a violent era.” To be fair, though, I suspect Fayyad really means his encouraging words, but in terms of American strategy his statements are useful only as fodder for Western publications that have an interest in furthering the fantastical narrative of Palestinian moderates waiting patiently in Ramallah to make peace while enduring the daily humiliations of a pointless Israeli occupation. Fayyad also says he was “not aware” of Hamas’ condemnation of the killing, which is absurd because his life depends on his knowing what Hamas says about everything—just as his U.S.-sponsored salary and the institutions he seeks to build require him to oppose Hamas. In short, Fayyad is an American invention, the latest in a long series of moderate phantoms that we summon forth to hide the gap between the way we want the world to be and a reality that is often cruel but not often difficult to fathom.
Read the whole thing.

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