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Monday, February 27, 2006

Why Nazis Can't Become Democrats

This article from FrontPage Magazine.com is spot-on:

With the January 25 landslide victory of Hamas in the Palestinian Authority legislative elections, the PA has been set back by decades with regard to enlightenment, liberties and democracy. This, in spite of Bush’s enthusiastic endorsement of the free electoral process and words designed to encourage moderation.

In many quarters there has been bewilderment, that this policy had backfired so totally.But in point of fact, it was all fairly predictable. Certain western predilections have played a part: On the one hand, there has been a tendency toward self-delusion, a failure to grapple with painful and unpalatable realities. A certain amount of optimism is good, this is most decidedly not.

When Mahmoud Abbas (aka Abu Mazen) was elected President of the PA, just over a year ago, Bush declared that while he would not have worked with Arafat, he was pleased to work now with Abbas, who represented the hope of a new era of moderation.

Why should Bush (and with him a good part of the western world) have assumed this? What – other than facile words in English – did Abbas offer that promised moderation? Abbas did not represent a new era; he was a protégé of Arafat, there from the beginning – helping to found Fatah and promoting terrorism. But in the flush of new hope, who bothered to recall that at the time the terror war known as the Al Aksa Intifada started, when some Arafat advisors had pressed for a settlement with Israel, it was Abbas who had advised a continuation of the armed uprising? Who thought seriously about his Holocaust denial or his refusal to acknowledge the historical presence of Jewish Temples in Jerusalem?

Abbas wore a nice suit and tie. He had a surface polish that Arafat totally lacked. He spoke softly and said the right things. And so hope was vested in him.

From the beginning of his administration, Abbas made it clear that he had no intention of taking on the terrorists. This would start a civil war, he declared; his way of approaching the situation was to co-opt them – making them part of the Palestinian Authority. This shouldn’t have been a huge surprise. Ten years before, the PA had forged a formal agreement with Hamas, in which the PA was called upon to cease all “preventative security” against Hamas. This just carried the process one step further; putting a PA security apparatus uniform on a terrorist, however, renders him no less a terrorist.

This was the time for the western world to have uttered vociferous protest. To have called a halt before it was too late. But instead the word went out that Abbas really wanted to do more, but just did not have the power. And here we see another relevant western predilection: where the relationship with the leaders of the PA is concerned, there is the impulse to cut them slack rather than holding their feet to the fire. If we bolster Abbas, support him with funds and public statements, went the logic, eventually he’ll come through. (The unspoken subtext: Besides, we have no one else.)

Natan Sharansky wasn’t fooled. He watched as Abbas signed the death warrants for Palestinians convicted of “collaboration.” These “collaborators,” guilty only of assisting Israel to locate or foil terrorists (something the PA, by agreement, was supposed to be doing anyway), were being denied proper due process. Sharansky knew that he was witnessing a deprivation of human rights too serious to be ignored – a deprivation of human rights that put the lie to any notion of moderation or emerging democracy in the Palestinian Authority.He called upon the Israeli Prime Minster urgently requesting that Israel demand a halt to the executions. In a letter to Sharon, he wrote, “ .... It is impossible to build a peace process based on blood." Israel did not make the demand, nor, it should be noted, did the US take a public stand on this matter.

Sharansky’s insistence that the PA be called to task with regard to this action reflected his most deeply held beliefs with regard to bringing down tyrannies. He explained this in his MEQ interview:

“We saw the Soviet Union as a rotten, weak society, liable to fall apart quickly, if only the West stopped supporting it. The first step in the Soviet Union's demise would be the West's enunciation of the true nature of the [Soviet] state. When Ronald Reagan, the leader of the free world, called a spade a spade and defined the roots of the struggle, the Soviet Union was doomed. And that's what happened. The same thing applies today. We are speaking about a struggle between the world in which human life is the highest priority and those societies that treat human life with disdain and hold their citizens hostage in an attempt to blackmail civilization.”

“Calling a spade a spade,” is precisely what the western world has never been able to do with regard to the Palestinian Authority.

Read it all.

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