Mark Steyn writes about the two clarifying moments in politics last week:
Joel Stein (no relation) of the Los Angeles Times took a lot of heat last week for coming right out with it and saying that he didn’t support the troops and that it was a humbug phrase that he and his anti-war comrades shouldn’t have to use as cover for their position. Good for him. He’s right. It’s empty and pusillanimous, the Iraq war’s version of “But some of my best friends are Jewish . . .” If you’re opposed to the mission, if you don’t want to see it through, if you’re supporting a position whose success would only demoralize those serving in Iraq and negate their sacrifice, in what sense do you “support the troops”? Stein ought to be congratulated for acknowledging that he doesn’t. We armchair warmongers are routinely derided as “chickenhawks,” but Stein is a hawkish chicken, disdaining the weasel formulation too many anti-war folks take refuge in.
The Palestinian elections were similarly clarifying. The old guard — Yasser Arafat’s Fatah cronies — had their own take on the “But some of my best friends are Jewish” routine. For years they insisted, at least in the presence of Americans and Europeans, that they were in favor of a “two-state solution” — Israel and Palestine living side by side — at the same time as they supported and glorified and financially subsidized suicide bombers and other terrorists. Insofar as their enthusiasm for a two-state solution was genuine, it was as an intermediate stage en route to a one-state solution.
Hamas, by contrast, takes a Joel Stein view: Why the hell should we have to go tippy-toeing around some sissy phrase we don’t really mean? Hamas doesn’t support a two-state solution, it supports the liquidation of one state and its replacement by other, and they don’t see why they should have to pretend otherwise. And in last week’s elections for the Palestinian Authority they romped home. It was a landslide.
As is the way, many in the West rushed to rationalize the victory. The media have long been reluctant to damn the excitable lads as terrorists. In 2002 the New York Times published a photograph of Palestinian suicide bombers all dressed up and ready to blow, and captioned it “Hamas activists.” Take my advice and try not to be standing too near the Hamas activist when he activates himself.
So what happens now? Either Hamas forms a government and decides that operating highway departments and sewer systems is what it really wants to do with itself. Or, like Arafat, it figures that it has no interest in government except as a useful front for terrorist operations. If it’s the former, all well and good: Many first-rate terror organizations have managed to convert themselves to third-rate national-liberation governments. But, if it’s the latter, that too is useful: Hamas is the honest expression of the will of the Palestinian electorate, and the cold hard truth of that is something Europeans and Americans will find hard to avoid.