Wednesday, June 20, 2007

Democracy, I'm Your Biggest Fan

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The New York Times is being called all sorts of nasty names by those lovers of democracy on the right, for publishing an op-ed by Ahmed Yousef, chief political adviser to Ismail Haniya. Haniya, a Hamas member, won the post of prime minister after Hamas's landslide electoral victory last November.

Only one blogger -- Blake Hounshell at FP Passport -- seems to have noticed that the Washington Post also published an op-ed by Yousef -- a different op-ed, longer than the one in the Times, on the same subject, and making essentially the same points: in short form, that it's not Hamas who lost an election and refused to accept the results.

Yousef does not acknowledge any fault or wrongdoing on the part of Hamas, and obviously his portrayal of Hamas a peace-loving organization that only wants the best for the Palestinian people leaves out a lot. That said, he is right (and Carter was right, as well) to criticize the Bush administration for playing divide and conquer in the conflict between Hamas and Fatah.

Hounshell is critical of Hamas, but he acknowledges this point:

In all seriousness, Youssef has a point: What essentially happened in Gaza is that Fatah, led by security chief Mohammed Dahlan, refused to turn over the organs of the state after it lost the Palestinian elections fair and square. Palestinian law on this question is ... inchoate at best, so Fatah may have a case as well. What's so astonishing, however, is that Hamas ultimately chose to resolve this problem with violence rather than through negotiation and a media campaign highlighting Fatah's behavior. I guess it goes to show that when you blow up buses of schoolchildren and refuse to disavow your actions, people don't tend to give you the benefit of the doubt.

Of course, the benefit of the doubt and favoring one side over the other in someone else's civil war are two different things:
Youssef repeats a common charge about Fatah, that it "collaborate[s] with the occupiers." Does it help when U.S. President George W. Bush and Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert publicly embrace Abbas as the true representative of the Palestinian people? Probably not. Picture how Fred Thompson would feel after getting an endorsement from Michael Moore.

Meanwhile, advocates of "honest debate" like Charles Johnson continue to publish posts with titles like "New York Times Shills for Hamas (Again)" -- because god forbid that the news media should present points of view that are not approved by the White House, and lord knows it should not be that difficult to have an honest debate and still dismiss the legitimacy of any point of view other than your own.

Cross-posted at Shakesville.

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