Recently the front page of the Los Angeles Times showed a color photo of a Hamas member standing on a desk in a Gaza government office, wearing a ski mask, carrying a Koran in one hand and an AK-47 in the other. This photo reveals in stark clarity the situation in the Gaza Strip:
ties to Iran.
Palestinians went to the polls and elected Hamas with a large majority. Hamas named the prime minister, while Abbas remained as president.
Fatah is also a terrorist organization, but supposedly it recognizes Israel’s right to exist, while Hamas does not even pretend to do so.
Unwilling to share power, Hamas violently attacked Fatah, killing some members and forcing others to flee to the West Bank.
Hamas seems unaware that desks in government offices are made to sit behind while governing, not to stand on while waving automatic weapons.
- Since Israeli troops withdrew from Gaza, there has been a violent power struggle between Fatah, the late Yasser Arafat’s group now headed by Mahmoud Abbas, and Hamas, an even more violent group with
Can the Palestinians find nothing better to do with their newfound independence than to kill one another, while lobbing an occasional rocket into Israel? This sad situation raises a fundamental question: What determines the fate of nations?
It is obvious that the fate of individuals often is not determined by their merits. We see innocent children stricken by cancer. We see good people killed or maimed by drunk drivers. We see obnoxious people living long, healthy lives. Unless we live in fantasy, we are forced to admit that what happens to individuals, at least in this world, often has little to do with their virtues – or lack of virtues.
But the situation may be quite different when it comes to nations. Let me illustrate with two examples.
In 1933, the world was in the grip of a severe depression. Unemployment was widespread, hunger was common, and social and political unrest were pervasive. On January 30, Germany chose Adolf Hitler as chancellor. On March 4, only a month later, the United States inaugurated Franklin Roosevelt as president. Those choices proved fateful for both nations.
Hitler revived the German economy with a huge buildup of armaments. But he began murdering political opponents, and then precipitated the bloodiest war in history. At the war’s end in 1945, only 12 years after Hitler came to power, Germany was defeated and disgraced. Its cities were flattened, its industry was in ruins, and many millions of its people were dead. It took decades for Germany to regain its place among the nations, though even now it remains considerably reduced in size, power and prestige.
Roosevelt, somewhat less successfully, revived the American economy with social programs. But he overcame political opponents at the ballot box. Then he led the nation to victory over Nazi Germany and imperial Japan. At the war’s end in 1945, America was victorious, honored, and richer and more powerful than ever.
These vast differences may not have been caused solely by the nations’ choices of leaders in 1933. Other factors were at work, including size, population, allies, and perhaps luck. Some would add Divine intervention. But the fact remains that by their choices of leaders, Germany and America determined their national fates.
True, there were anti-Nazi Germans, and there were pro-Nazi Americans. But there were not enough of them to matter. When Allied bombs caused firestorms in Dresden and Hamburg, the anti-Nazis were incinerated with the Nazis. A nation’s fate is determined by what the majority of the people allow the government to do. But the minority, who oppose these policies, share that fate. This may not be fair, but it is reality.
And it is also true that Hamas runs social-welfare programs. So did the Nazis. Hamas gives money to the poor. So did John Gotti. Nazis and crime bosses do some obvious good in order to gain popular approval, but this can never justify the vast amount of harm they do.
When Palestinians went to the polls, they chose Hamas by a wide margin. Some blamed the results on corruption in the Fatah-led Palestinian Authority. But whatever the reason, the voters showed the world that they endorsed a terrorist organization that does not even pretend to want peace. The voters showed that they endorsed terrorists who openly call for the destruction of Israel and who sponsor suicide bombers.
The Palestinians chose a Nazi-like organization that espouses a Nazi-like program. Then why should the Palestinians – or anyone else – be surprised when that organization acts like Nazis? Why should anyone be surprised when that organization murders political opponents, and intimidates others into acquiescing or fleeing? Why should anyone be surprised when that organization takes over the schools and enforces its hateful program to indoctrinate the next generation? Why should anyone be surprised when all Jews are expelled and Christians are severely restricted? That’s what Nazis do.
The Germans at least had the excuse that nothing as awful as the Nazis had existed in modern times. They could fool themselves into believing that Hitler was exaggerating to get votes. They could delude themselves that there would be less violence after the Nazis took power. They could deceive themselves until it was too late, and the Nazis had achieved absolute power.
But what excuse do the Palestinians have? They saw what happened when a nation chose genocidal maniacs to lead it. They saw the horrible suffering that resulted, for the Germans themselves as well as for their victims. They had the lesson of history, yet they ignored it. If you elect Nazis, you should expect them to act like Nazis – and you should expect your nation to suffer the same fate as Nazis.