I want to suggest a somewhat contrarian view (compared to what most of the media is saying) of the apparent Hamas victory. It’s distressing, to be sure, but also clarifying.
Why it’s distressing is obvious: Palestinians have voted for a Militant Islamist terrorist organization with close ties to the mullahs of Iran. True, they may have done so out of frustration with Fatah, a hopelessly corrupt political machine–and one that also, by the way, sponsors terrorism. Nevertheless, the vote suggests that most Palestinians are not seriously interested in achieving peace with Israel.
But here’s why it’s also clarifying: In the past, when there were terrorist attacks against Israel, Yassir Arafat could denounce them in English in the morning and celebrate them in Arabic in the afternoon. Hamas will not have that luxury.
Henceforth, Israeli leaders should respond to every terrorist attack not as though it were a crime committed by a few isolated fanatics that the Palestinian Authority somehow did not manage to stop in time. Henceforth, Israeli leaders should respond to terrorist attacks as acts of war. In other words, their response should be forceful. It should make it clear that those who inflict death and destruction will pay a very steep price.
In such a circumstance, will Palestinians demand that Hamas at least seek a truce to avoid further suffering? Or will they change the government at the next opportunity? Or will Palestinians urge their Hamas leaders to continue to fight until one side or the other is soundly defeated?
You see what I mean? This will be clarifying.
That Emanuele Ottolenghi piece on NRO today makes similar points.