The victory of Hamas in the Palestinian election has removed ambiguity from the politics of the Palestinian people.
It also clarifies greatly the predominant political sentiment in much of the Arab-Muslim world in relation to Israel and the West. There is a virtue in clarity. It is something to be sought in politics, as in life, and appreciated when found or delivered.
In giving Hamas overwhelming support in a fair election, Palestinians have done themselves and the world much good.
Palestinians have freely expressed—and democracy makes this possible—that they seek the realization, through whatever means possible, of the goal set by Hamas of liberating Palestine from the River Jordan to the Mediterranean Sea, which requires the elimination of Israel.
For the longest while, Palestinian leadership surrounding the deceased Yasser Arafat and his successors have worn a mask to the world, hiding their anti-Semitism behind a diplomatic engagement with the Israeli leadership that won approval from western democracies.
Even as Palestinian society descended into a hell of its making—embracing the cult of death and celebrating suicide bombings as an exercise in martyrdom – western democracies, including Canada, invested in the charade that the Palestinian Authority, established as a result of the 1993 Oslo Agreement, remained committed to a two-state resolution of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict that resulted from the 1947 United Nations decision to partition historic Palestine, until then under British mandate.
In giving Hamas a landslide victory in the Legislative Council election of the Palestinian Authority, Palestinians removed the mask from their politics and made it clear to western democracies they are committed to a Palestine free of Jews as occupiers.
Apologists for Palestinian politics in the West, and their friends, predictably will strive to shade the meaning of the Hamas win and deceive public opinion in western democracies in order to maintain the charade practised by the discredited leadership of the PLO and its various factions.
If they succeed, western governments will pathetically end up in subsidizing a political party and a movement with links to the wider Arab-Muslim world that finds its identity and purpose in opposing all the West holds dear as a civilization.
The politics of Hamas—as those of the clerical leadership in Iran or the Saudi monarchy with its phalanx of Wahhabi preachers—is a closed ideology of resentment and violence that has acquired demagogic legitimacy by subverting Islam’s message of peace and submission to a merciful God.
It is the democratic right of Palestinians to elect Hamas. It is equally the right of western democracies, while defending the Palestinians’ exercise of their rights, to sever relations with the Palestinian Authority and end the subsidizing of a society that cherishes the loathsome politics of Hamas.
Democracy must combine freedom with responsibility. Palestinians have acquired the semblance of freedom, and have received goodwill and support from western democracies. But Palestinians must also demonstrate responsibility and an understanding that political choices have consequences.
They will learn responsibility hopefully only if they are taught about consequences by western democracies refusing to engage with Hamas, and withholding financial support to the Palestine Authority.
If Hamas wants to be engaged with western democracies it knows what the requirement is—an unconditional recognition of Israel.
Until such recognition is forthcoming, western democracies should leave Palestinians alone to reflect on the nature of their politics.