In the wake of Hamas’s victory in the Palestinian election, President Bush has announced that the United States will not deal with a Hamas-led government until that organization “renounces its goal of destroying Israel.” So we are back where we started more than twenty years ago, when the United States made the same demand of Yasser Arafat. Thus ensued a coy, years-long, did-he-or-didn’t-he dance over whether the PLO had, at last, abandoned its long-stated goal of destroying Israel. It was when Arafat ostensibly complied with this requirement that he was hailed as a “partner for peace” and feted like a hero at the White House–even though there was an alarming contrast between what Arafat and his henchmen said in English, and what they told their Palestinian supporters in Arabic.
The fact is that a great many Palestinians, perhaps a majority, are living in a fantasy world in which the massacre of the Jews will somehow solve their problems. Holding elections won’t be enough to cure this sick culture. Only when the other Arab states are reformed and stop keeping the Palestinians in a perpetual state of dependent hysteria will the Palestinians be able to start down the long road to normality. This process will take years, if it happens at all. In the meantime, the only policy open to Israel is one of self-defense.
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