Sunday, January 29, 2006

Will inclusion change Hamas or can fanatics become pragmatists?

Los Angeles Times: Can fanatics become pragmatists?: "Yet the situation may not be as awful and terminal as it looks at first sight. No one has any illusions that Hamas will suddenly metamorphose and give up its aspiration to destroy Israel. On the other hand, its leaders have always acted pragmatically when circumstances dictated it. In conversation, they note the prophet Muhammad declared an armistice with the reviled Kureish tribe when he realized that war would hurt his own interests.

There is a possibility � albeit a very small one � that Hamas will act within the narrow opening between what its fanatic religious faith allows it and the constraints of reality. In such circumstances, it may be possible to achieve an extended cease-fire that will end Palestinian terror and Israeli targeted killings. Such an arrangement would include Israeli withdrawal from most of the occupied territories, while allowing it to retain the major settlement blocs. Both peoples would then wait patiently for the next stage and for a decision of some sort between war and peace. Israel fostered Hamas in the 1980s as a counterweight to the Palestine Liberation Organization. For four decades, Israel oppressed the Palestinians and pushed them into their current state of horrible despair. As an Israeli, I do not think that I can today judge the Palestinians for being tempted by the deceits of Hamas and the violent, simplistic magic of fanaticism. "

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