The road of excess leads to the palace of wisdom. - Wm. Blake

Friday, February 17, 2006

Why isn't this mainstream thought?

Michael Tomasky over at TAPPED laments that he and Pat Buchanan are on the same page with responding to the Hamas victory. Understandable - Pat is probably the most odious national political figure we have (the guys who spring to mind as worse - Rove, Grover, Pat & Jerry - are really just operatives or clerics, rather than secular politicians). But one thing respectable about Pat is that he's not a GOPbot: he's got opinions, beliefs, and ideologies that are, for the most part, horribly reactionary, but he pretty much really means them, and it's possible for him to come to a correct conclusion that's outside the mainstream.

Anyway, the actual point here is that this is pretty much exactly the right policy:
[O]bjectionable as this may sound, it’s really a bad idea for the United States to cut off its aid to Hamas. If a big chunk of the 58,000 security guards and about 80,000 other Palestinian Authority employees lose their work, whom are these people going to hate, exactly? It’s pretty obvious. [...] [Buchanan's] idea of putting Hamas on probation instead -- continuing the aid while establishing benchmarks for them not to engage in violence and to improve the lives of their people -- is actually rather sensible and pragmatic.
David Sucher has a fresh post up today (ah, and getting the link, I see he's already amended it with another para to clarify) talking about the latent anti-semitism that he sees evincing itself in lefty anti-Israel rhetoric (comments are wisely off). Now, I hear about this a lot from center-left types, and occasionally even leftists, but I've basically never seen it. Pittsburgh isn't exactly a hotbed of radical activism, but what there is I'm pretty aware of, and yet I never see anything approaching the line, much less crossing it. Not denying it exists, but I don't know what the deal is - is there so much sensitivity to anti-Semitism that every example of it is magnified? But this is one of the results of the reaction against supposed lefty anti-Semitism - arguably the only rational response to the Hamas situation is off the table because it seems insufficiently supportive of Israel, and too many people are afraid of seeming that way.

PS - Since so much of this post is peripheral to what is supposed to be its point, let me make that argument. Hamas is odious. Its raison d'etre is unconscionable. But it is the duly elected government of Palestine, through elections we encouraged. Ignoring it won't make it go away. So we need to respond in some way. The knee-jerk response is to declare Hamas unclean, and withdraw completely, with actual, awful, predictable on-the-ground bad results for Israelis and Palestinians, as Tomasky indicates above. Clearly, "partnership" with Hamas is unacceptable as well. But we were able to negotiate and even trade with the USSR for most of the Cold War, and we can figure out a way to engage Hamas without promoting them as well. The compromise outlined above is at least a starting point. Does anyone have the guts to get to that starting point?


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