I argued in Spring Fever: The Illusion of Islamic Democracy that the illusion’s signature feature is a fantasy: By holding free elections, a people is choosing freedom: joining modernity, adopting pluralism and tolerance, rejecting revolutionary violence and totalitarianism.
Today, we are yet again being inundated with tales of Palestinian woe after Hamas’s familiar barbarism has provoked an Israeli military response. It thus bears remembering that the Palestinian people chose Hamas. What ever happened to all those Democracy Project paeans to self-determination? Hamas is Palestinian self-determination. Hamas was not forced on Palestinians. Hamas did not militarily conquer Gaza. No, Hamas swept parliamentary elections freely held in the Palestinian territories in 2006 – thrashing its rival, Fatah, which is only marginally less committed to the destruction of Israel.
Hamas did not suddenly become a terrorist organization after it was elected. Hamas was elected because it was a jihadist organization. It was elected because, by its own declaration, Hamas connects Palestinians to something they find attractive: the global Islamic-supremacist movement. Palestinians widely reject Israel’s right to exist. They regard not just Gaza, Judea and Samaria but all of Israel as “occupied Palestine.” Even those Palestinians who purport to accept the “two-state solution” see it as a way-station on the march to a one-state solution in which the Jewish state eventually ceases to be. Palestinians chose Hamas precisely because Hamas was seen as more dedicated than Fatah to the achievement of that goal—not to mention, more brutally competent.
At the time of its election, Hamas was well known to be the Muslim Brotherhood’s Palestinian terrorist wing. It has been formally designated as a terrorist organization by the United States since the mid-nineties. Indeed, shortly before Palestinians endorsed Hamas at the ballot box, the U.S. Department of Justice indicted several Hamas operatives in the Holy Land Foundation case, a multi-million dollar terrorism financing conspiracy orchestrated by the Muslim Brotherhood in which several of the Brotherhood’s American affiliates—CAIR, the Islamic Society of North America, the North American Islamic Trust, among others—were proved to be complicit in the promotion of Hamas and thus designated as unindicted co-conspirators.