The "Pragmatic" Hamas Myth

(Jerusalem Post) Gerald M. Steinberg - Reflecting their eagerness to see "progress" in relations between Palestinians and Israelis, some American officials have adopted the myth of Hamas moderation, based on the theory that as the leaders of terrorist organizations gain political power, they are also forced to deal with the realities of the governing process which, in turn, fosters ideological moderation. But this theory has a poor track record, particularly in the case of radical Islamist groups. In Afghanistan, when the Taliban took power, they converted their power into a reign of terror to impose the most extreme form of Islam on the entire population. Academics refer to "mirror imaging," in which Western diplomats project their own pragmatism and compromise onto leaders of terror groups from other cultures. Wishful thinking presented an image of Arafat having made the transition from terrorist leader to pragmatic statesman. The mountain of evidence demonstrating that Arafat remained stuck in 1947 rejectionism was overlooked - it was not part of the optimistic conceptual framework. Yet instead of moving toward conflict management, this mythology leads to escalation.

2005-06-23 00:00:00

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