Leadership Brings Responsibility

The fact that Hamas, or Harakat al-Muqawima al-Islamiyya, won political power through the ballot box is troublesome, but it also reveals the reality on the ground in the Middle East. There are not too many political options; one either chooses the corrupt autocrats or the religious fanatics. The third alternative, which is the best one, is not yet available. The liberals and the socio-democrats lack the necessary funds and liberty to openly challenge the existing regimes. By raising the profile of the moderates, the United States might have a chance of democratizing the region.

U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice recently told The Associated Press, "The United States is not prepared to fund an organization that advocates the destruction of Israel, that advocates violence and that refuses its obligations."

Fatah and the Palestinian Authority are very much seen as the product of an era when Israel and the United States dictated the rules of the game. Once the secular, nationalist movements failed to deliver, Hamas joined the game focusing on martyrdom, jihad, suicide bombing, and social programs. The rise of Hamas is a reaction to the long-term policies of Israel toward Fatah and the PA. Israel wanted to weaken Fatah, and it did so. The problem is that Fatah was replaced by a far worse alternative.

Hamas must understand that if it pursues a policy of violence and non-recognition toward Israel, funding will eventually dry up, which indeed has happened. This means that the reforms they hope to enact will become impossible to achieve, causing the current lawlessness status quo to prevail. In such conditions a state — democratic, theocratic or otherwise — cannot be established.

Agreeing to all land requests of the Palestinian Authority and Hamas may very well not result in a peace agreement for Israel. The problem is not the possible Israeli withdrawal to 1967 borders, but the right to return. By keeping it, the Palestinians prove that they want all of Israel, and not parts of it. This is what Hamas openly says it wants and Fatah has secretly wanted.

The West should coordinate a massive campaign of information to address the Palestinians, Persians, and the rest of the Arab world. Let them know why democracy is better than any other political regime, what its advantages are, what the respective civil societies can and should do, and how we can all work it together. It is not imperialistic, but the West's moral imperative to further promote respect for the rights, economic development, personal and societal liberty and freedom from terror, violence, suicide bombings, racism, and bigotry.

No one is offering the Palestinians a state of their own on a silver platter, but this might be one of the best opportunities that the world could offer them to become a free, independent nation. The choice, as the consequences of it, is entirely theirs.

There are few points that need to be emphasized:

  • Universal liberty and human advancement brings safety to all of us.
  • In order to have a government that can function — and later on a nation — the Palestinians need stability and security, thus a peaceful coexistence with Israel .
  • If Hamas wishes to continue to run the government, it has to promote the peace it tries so much to avoid, step aside or be pushed aside.
  • Invest not in weapons, but in reconstruction.
  • Carry on a constructive dialogue and partnership with Fatah, and with Mahmoud Abbas.
  • Show concern for the welfare of the people by rebuilding the infrastructure, by providing food, education, jobs, and change the government rhetoric from a militant style of leadership to accommodate the actual needs of the people they govern

View the Worldpress Desk’s profile for Manuela Paraipan.