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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat

 

    The Palestinian election

    Tawfik+Mudah
    Tawfik Mudah

    The Palestinian election

    No excuses for Hamas violence

    Growing up watching the Israelis and Palestinians fight a seemingly endless war with one another, many reasonable people believed that both groups were equally responsible for the destruction and violence that have plagued the region for half a century.

    Even as our own nation treated Israel as a rare ally in the Middle East, many rejected claims that the violence would stop if only those crazy Arab militants would stop blowing up innocent Jews in Jerusalem.

    Some clung to the notion that the majority of Palestinian people don’t really despise the Israeli state or want to see it destroyed, believing instead that those were the propagandist claims of radical militants with an agenda of hatred.

    Two weeks ago, Palestinians exercised the power of democracy to prove such moderates wrong by electing the historically radical and violent Hamas party to a majority in their new representative body.

    Earlier this year, Israel, led by Prime Minister Ariel Sharon, took a bold step toward peace by initiating the removal of Jewish settlers from the Gaza Strip, an action so controversial that Sharon chose to leave his party and start a new one.

    As has often been the case in the march toward peace in the Middle East, one step forward has quickly been followed by two steps back.

    The election to power of a group whose charter, as translated by Yale University’s Avalon Project, includes the message, “”Israel will exist and will continue to exist until Islam will obliterate it,”” is a clear indication that the people of Palestine would rather embrace hatred than peace.

    Furthermore, the attitude of intolerance and violence proponed by Hamas cannot be justified by the historical mistreatment of the Palestinian people by Israel or Sharon.

    It is exactly this sort of childish “”he hit me first”” attitude that has fueled decades of terrorism and war on both sides, and which continues to be the biggest barrier to peace.

    The Palestinian people must use their freedom of democracy to reject leaders, like Iran’s Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, who foolishly call for the destruction of the Israeli state.

    Israel, the U.S. and the world will not accept a governing authority that refuses to acknowledge the right of Israel to exist.

    If Hamas wishes to accomplish anything for the people who elected it, it must denounce terror, reject violence and accept the legitimacy of the Israeli nation and its people.

    Michael Huston is a political science and philosophy junior. He can be reached at letters@wildcat.arizona.edu.

    Hamas can deliver what the PLO couldn’t

    After the militant Islamic organization Hamas was elected to a majority in the Palestinian government last month, it issued a statement affirming its commitment to “”peace based on justice”” with the Israeli people. While this peace talk may sound odd given Hamas’ confrontational history with Israel, history – especially Israeli history – is full of similar contradictions.

    Israeli prime ministers Menachem Begin, Yitzhak Shamir and Ariel Sharon were all linked to terrorist organizations at one point. However, their violent pasts didn’t keep the people of Israel from electing them to the highest office in the land, nor did they keep them from dealing peace with Egypt and Jordan.

    Hamas is similarly positioned to make real progress in the quest for peace in the Middle East.

    Hamas is widely viewed as the one entity firmly standing up to the occupation forces while at the same time providing the Palestinian people with what the PLO couldn’t promise: food, schools, clinics, security and – most important to the Israelis – an end to suicide bombings. That support from the Muslim world will ensure that any peace treaties signed by Hamas yield meaningful results.

    That support, coupled with the optimism our own president has expressed in his reaction to Hamas’ victory, has the potential to make Hamas the right partner for peace.

    Hamas leader Mahmoud al-Zahar spoke of such a partnership in an unusual interview with an Israeli radio station, saying “”If (negotiation) is able to liberate our land, to liberate our people from Israeli jails, to reconstruct what was destroyed by the long-standing Israeli occupation … we can discuss (peace).””

    In order to attain a lasting and substantial peace, there must be a tough Palestinian government to meet and match Israeli officials, in contrast to the empty promises of the made-for-media peace peddled by the PLO.

    Finally, if democracy is the solution to terrorism, as is often stated, what better time could there be to put it to work? Nearly 80 percent of registered Palestinians voted last month in one of the most free and democratic elections in the region. This may be our final chance to use a rare consensus to put an end to the bloody conflict.

    After all, complaints aside, we got what we asked for – a free and legitimate democratic election.

    Tawfik Maudah is a non-degree-seeking graduate student. He can be reached at letters@wildcat.arizona.edu.

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