Oh, THOSE Legitimate Claims

We noted here Barack Obama’s conciliatory attitude toward terrorist groups like Hamas and Hezbollah:

The U.S. needs a foreign policy that “looks at the root causes of problems and dangers.” Obama compared Hezbollah to Hamas. Both need to be compelled to understand that “they’re going down a blind alley with violence that weakens their legitimate claims.”

We noted the futility of the “root causes” approach when applied to Islamic terrorists, and wondered what “legitimate claims” Obama thinks Hamas and Hezbollah are pressing.

I was pretty sure I knew the answer to that question. This morning there was an exchange on Fox News Sunday that tends to reveal what “legitimate claims” Obama has in mind. The speakers are Bill Kristol and Juan Williams:

KRISTOL: … In his interview with David Brooks in the New York Times, Obama said he disapproves totally of Hezbollah and Hamas, and their terrorist activities undercut their legitimate claims. What are the legitimate claims of Hezbollah?

Obama’s view of the Middle East is very different from Bush and McCain’s view. That is the real difference, and it deserves to be debated.

WILLIAMS: Well, I think that this is an appeal, you know, and a base political appeal, to Jewish Democrats to look at Obama differently. I think it’s a weakness for Obama. But in terms…

KRISTOL: A lot of Christians don’t think Hezbollah has any — what is the legitimate claim Hezbollah has?

WILLIAMS: Wait, wait, wait. You think that there’s no trouble in the Middle East between…

KRISTOL: I’m saying there is no legitimate…

WILLIAMS: … Arabs and Palestinians and Israelis?

KRISTOL: What is the legitimate claim that Barack Obama think underlies Hezbollah’s existence or positions?

WILLIAMS: I think he’s trying to bring about some kind of settlement in the Middle East between Israel and its many neighbors, all of whom have complaints.

Of course, Williams is not a spokesman for Obama, but I suspect that if Obama were ever pinned down–not an easy task, given Obama’s slipperiness–his answer would be, in substance, the same as Williams’s. Hezbollah’s and Hamas’s “legitimate claims” are the grievances of the Palestinians, and, apparently, Israel’s other neighbors, like Syria. Obama’s willingness to talk to leaders of terrorist states and to take a more understanding view of terrorist organizations is directed toward “trying to bring about some kind of settlement in the Middle East between Israel and its many neighbors.”

Put aside the question whether and to what extent the Palestinians, Syrians, et al. have “legitimate claims” against Israel. Obama’s implicit willingness to recognize Hamas and Hezbollah as spokesmen for those claims, whatever they may be, is the recipe for a disastrous policy on the Middle East. It suggests that when Obama advocates a “realist” approach to the region, what he means, like so many others of the “realist” school, is that the “root cause” of Islamic violence is the existence of Israel (or, put another way, its efforts at self-defense), and that the U.S. should therefore appease radical Muslims by selling Israel down the river.

One last thought: Obama’s willingness to recognize Hamas and Hezbollah as the legitimate representatives of Middle Eastern Muslims is of a piece with his treatment of terrorist-supporting Hassan Qazwini as a legitimate leader of American Muslims.

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