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Palestinian Elections: A Sad Day for Democracy

Posted: January 26, 2006

The victory of Hamas in the Palestinian elections is rightly attributed to the corruption and chaos of the Palestinian Authority. But the truth is that extremist parties, like the Nazis in Germany in 1932, always make appeals to a public that is disgusted by the social and economic policies of those in power. They know that extremism alone usually cannot bring a majority. Vaulting to power on a broader platform, such parties inevitably use the power to implement their bloodthirsty programs.

It is critical that the international community keep its eye on the ball: Hamas is an Islamic extremist and terrorist body that seeks Israel's destruction and the establishment of a radical Islamist state for the Palestinians. The world must immediately and clearly take a stand. It must isolate this extremist regime. It must make clear to the Palestinian people that a regime with such goals is unacceptable and can bring no good to them. If the region is to avoid even greater dangers, there must be no equivocation about the evil Hamas represents.

In Israel, the trend that had been growing significantly across the political spectrum - that Israel has no partner for peace - is now confirmed. While candidates in the Israeli election campaign have been committing themselves to the road map, now the central issue on the agenda will inevitably be: How does the country best protect its interests when negotiations are out of the question?

For many, the argument for a further unilateral disengagement on the West Bank will prevail, for the same demographic and political reasons that led to Ariel Sharon's move in Gaza. For others, the argument might loom large that the uncertainty surrounding the consequences of the Hamas victory should cause Israel to be cautious about any further initiative.

Either way, this election is a tremendous setback for the region and for American interests. At the same time, it should further clarify for the world what Israel is up against. And it should cause the international community to work with Israel in the collective fight against terrorism and rabid extremism.

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