Friday, January 27, 2006

Hamas landslide

Does the Hamas election victory owe anything to the helpful advice given to them by the PR company they employed recently to advise them on electoral strategy? Amongst the helpful tips they received from Nashat Aqtash in helping them with their 'image problem' were:
"Say you are not against Israelis as Jews

Don't talk about destroying Israel

Do talk about Palestinian suffering

Don't celebrate killing people

Change beard colour (if red)"
It's at times like these I know I'm in the wrong job; there's clearly a lot of money to be made out there for stating the bleeding obvious - and it requires minimal effort, as far as I can see. A hundred grand for saying, in effect, the penchant for blowing yourselves up isn't playing well with swing-voters? I'd have been willing to part with this breath-taking insight for a lot less than that.

Because most people - including, obviously, people in Palestine - take a fairly dim view of this blowing yourself up business, on account of it being a bit - can we say unpleasant without being accused of Islamophobia or being a Zionist crazy or something? Because most people haven't been trained in the moral relativism laced with western liberal guilt that seems to be so popular with the Guardian. Today, for example, Jonathan Steele invited critics of Hamas not to get 'hung-up', man, with the self-exploding business:
"Murdering a Palestinian politician by a long-range attack that is bound also to kill innocent civilians is morally and legally no better than a suicide bomb on a bus. Hamas' refusal to give formal recognition of Israel's right to exist should also not be seen by Europe as an urgent problem. History and international politics do not march in tidy simultaneous steps."
I'm not saying blowing-up people in wheel-chairs is a terribly good idea, and it's certainly bad PR, but Steele's first sentence encapsulates the entire problem with journalists of his ilk, Livingstone, Galloway and his ex-friends in Respect, and all the rest. Their logic is (painfully) simple - if people get killed, they get killed - and if someone is responsible, there is no moral difference between them and a suicide-bomber because there is no room for qualitative difference in their politics.

I had thought of turning out a couple of gruesome hypothetical examples to illustrate this, undergraduate philosophy style - but what's the point? We've been here since 9/11 and although I suppose I shouldn't be, I'm still shocked to read the liberal apologetics for those that declare there to be no difference between civilian casualties incurred and those who target only civilians; between those who might be shown to be careless, even criminally negligent with regards to civilian casualties and those for whom killing civilians is as legitimate pursuit of their ends as killing Israeli or American soldiers - because for them the concept of a civilian is meaningless, if the civilian in question happens to be a Jew.

Still, it's a promising sign that normal people who aren't bloggers, clapped-out pseudo-Marxists, and liberal journalists obviously don't feel like this. Why else would Hamas play it down, which they did - as Steele reluctantly, and only half-concedes?
"It is true that Hamas candidates did not make relations with Israel the centrepiece of their campaign. They focused on reform in the Palestinian Authority. But few voters were unaware of Hamas' uncompromising hostility to occupation and its record in fighting it."
You can sense it's hurting him here but it seems clear that it was the former focus that swung it Hamas' way. Steele describes the result as the 'best news from the Middle East for some time', which strikes me as being slightly insane, yet if it can possibly be interpreted as representing a step towards the routinisation of politics in the PA, that would be welcome.

In the meantime - expect lots of hand-wringing about the hypocrisy of our democracy from the usual suspects, with liberal eyes rolling at the mention of anything to do with terrorism from any western politician. Just quibbling because they don't like the result of the election, they'll say.

Here's a 'quibble' - just as a wee reminder...

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