January 31, 2006 ©
The Center for War, Peace and the News Media. All Rights
- Be Careful of What
- You Wish For
By Laszlo Dosa
Global Beat Syndicate
JUPITER, Fla. —If George W. Bush is to be believed, he has
been praying for democracy to bloom in the Middle East. His prayer has
now been answered in spades. Democracy is bustin’ out all over the
Muslim world. He just does not know what hit him.
To begin with the latest, the Palestinians held an election that, by
all accounts, was clean and orderly. Hamas won fair and square, whether
we like it or not. Obviously we do not like it because Hamas has been
branded a terrorist organization, and justly so. But, as the old saying
goes, today's terrorist may be tomorrow's freedom fighter, as this
historical footnote demonstrates:
Sixty years ago, in July 1946, another organization in the same region,
called Irgun, was fighting for a homeland for its people. Its most
spectacular operation was the bombing of the King David Hotel in
Jerusalem at the cost of 91 lives, including 28 Britons, 41 Arabs and
17 Jews. Irgun was widely condemned for its terrorist activities by
Jews and non-Jews alike, including David Ben Gurion, the first prime
minister of Israel. Irgun was led by Menahem Begin. In 1977, this
former terrorist was elected Israel's prime minister; two years later
he signed the peace treaty with Egypt and subsequently won the Nobel
As for the recent sweeping victory by Hamas, both President Bush and
the Israeli government declared at the end of January that they refuse
to deal with Hamas and would freeze all assistance to the Palestinian
people. Leaders in both countries seem to forget that if they want
peace they must negotiate with their adversary, as Israeli Prime
Minister Rabin did with Yasser Arafat. Unfortunately, if the U.S.
government and the European Union halt their assistance to the
desperately broke Palestinians, there is a country in the region that
will be more than happy to step into the breach.
That country is Iran, whose new president is eager to embrace the
enemies of Israel. And as Hossein Derakhshan in Tel Aviv reported for
The New York Times, President Bush actually contributed to President
Mahmoud Ahmadinejad’s victory in Iran last summer by declaring
beforehand, "These elections would be 'sadly consistent' with the
country's 'oppressive record.' For Iranians," Derkhshan wrote, "there
was no mistaking the American president's point: he was tacitly
sanctioning the call that some Iranian exiles and activists had issued
for an election boycott, based on exactly this logic. With what
appeared to be the endorsement of President Bush and dozens of
American-backed satellite television channels that broadcast in Farsi,
the disillusioned young people of Iran effectively took one of the
world's most closely watched nuclear programs out of the hands of a
reformer and placed it into the hands of a hard-line reactionary."
Derakshan adds that "while [former] President Khatami built his
international reputation on his call for a ‘dialogue among
civilizations,' President Ahmadinejad has reached out to racists and
anti-Semites instead.” Now it appears that President Bush is further
rewarding President Ahmadienjad by pushing the Hamas-led Palestinians
into his arms.
A BBC report last October provided an interesting contrast and a
striking parallel between the political careers of the American and
Iranian presidents: "Mr Ahmadinejad reportedly spent no money on his
presidential campaign—but he was backed by powerful conservatives who
used their network of mosques to mobilize support for him." Mr. Bush
and the Republican Party, in contrast, had seemingly unlimited funds to
flood our televisions with endless campaign propaganda. And it is worth
recalling that Candidate Bush "was backed by powerful conservatives who
used their network of mosques (read: fundamentalist churches) to
mobilize support for him."
Looking at the two campaigns, another remarkable point stands out:
Hamas won by a landside. We have seen countless explanations for its
victory but nobody suggested that it was "stolen." The first election
for George W. Bush, on the other hand?
ABOUT THE WRITER
Laszlo Dosa is a native of Hungary who came to the United States as a
refugee in 1951. After serving in the U.S. Army during the Korean War,
he spent the next 33 years with the Voice of America. Nineteen years
ago he retired as VOA Science Editor and "recycled" himself into a
freelance medical writer in Florida.
2006 The Center for War, Peace and the News Media. All Rights Reserved.
The Global Beat Syndicate, a service of The Center for War, Peace, and
the News Media, provides editors with commentary and perspective
articles on critical global issues from contributors around the world.
For more information, check out http://www.bu.edu/globalbeat/syndicate/.
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