Both Sides Required for Peace

Response to Chicago Tribune’s “Palestine without smoke and mirrors”

Charles Krauthammer clearly shows his ignorance of the Palestinian side of the conflict in his Feb. 6 column, “Palestine without smoke and mirrors.”
Krauthammer writes that the Hamas victory should not be seen as a disaster. He continues, “If the world responds correctly, it will mark a turning point for the better.” His plan for the world is to completely cut of the Palestinians from all forms of aid, including humanitarian, because the voting in of Hamas proves that the Palestinians “continue to reject the right of a Jewish state to exist side-by-side with them.”

Krauthammer’s disregard is clearly shown through his statement that the Palestinians did not vote for “efficient garbage collection” but rather the stances of Hamas. By reducing the work of Hamas in the Israeli-occupied territories to garbage gathering, he is purposely misleading readers to agree that the Palestinians must be terrorists because they chose this party.

What Krauthammer fails to let people know is that Hamas runs schools, hospitals and orphanages. It funds mosques, soup kitchens and sports leagues. According to the Israeli scholar Reuven Paz, approximately 90 percent of the organization’s work is in social, welfare, cultural and educational activities. Without Hamas, the Palestinians would be in worse situation than they already are in.

Instead of admitting that there may be good reasons for Palestinians to vote for Hamas, Krauthammer continues his deceptions by writing that the Palestinian people cannot be treated as victims because they are now actors choosing their destinies. Maybe they realized that since the signing of Oslo in 1993, all Fatah has been able to accomplish is nothing.

There has been no peace, more checkpoints and curfews have been established, and a wall has been built that cuts into land that has been officially recognized as theirs. Since September 2000, more than 3670 Palestinians have been killed. And although the Gaza pullout may be seen as a chance for a Palestinian state, many of those settlers were just moved into more illegal settlements in the West Bank.

The peace process will not die with the victory of Hamas. The peace process died ten years ago with the assassination of Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin. If Krauthammer wants to hold the Palestinians responsible for the leaders they elect, that’s fine. But then he must also hold the Israelis responsible for electing the likes of Benjamin Netanyahu and Ariel Sharon as prime ministers, the first a man who refused to continue with the Oslo Accords, the second a man who is considered a war criminal by the Palestinians for allowing the killing, torture and rape of 3,500 Palestinian children, women and men in the Lebanese refugee camps of Sabra and Shatila in 1982 during his time as the Israeli Defense Minister.

Conflict occurs between different groups. Resolution of conflicts thus requires change in all groups involved. Peace will only be achieved if both sides are forced to reconsider their tactics and positions.