Tuesday, March 28, 2006
From terrorism to trash collection
You would think that after more than 50 years of one of the most intimately chronicled conflicts in human history -- Israelis vs. Palestinians -- there would be nothing new to say, no surprises. You would be wrong.

Hamas, the radical Islamic movement that has launched suicide attacks in Israel, won the Palestinian elections in January, thereby creating two firsts:

1. The first time a regime has changed in the Arab world democratically through elections;

2. The first time an Islamist group has come to power through elections.

Hamas gained support among Palestinians through two decades of building an effective and affordable social welfare system in Gaza. It runs most of the kindergartens, funds health clinics, provides welfare checks to widows and orphans, and yes, even stages mass weddings to help unemployed young men get married.

During this year's election, Palestinians fed up with the rampant corruption and lawlessness of the late Yasser Arafat's government turned to the only alternative, Hamas.

So when people ask: "Why did the Palestinian people elect a terrorist group?" The answer is because they see them as a lifeline.

Each time I go to the Palestinian territory of Gaza, I am shocked by the reality on the ground. On a recent visit, I passed through a short tunnel from the First World in Israel and emerged into the Third World that is Gaza. The poverty there is among the worst in the world.

Hamas officials told me they did not expect to win the election as overwhelmingly as they did. They say their main priority now is to meet the demands of the people for a better life.

But that may be impossible, because Israel and the United States refuse to deal with Hamas and have already cut funding to the new Palestinian government.
Posted By Christiane Amanpour, CNN Correspondent: 11:03 AM ET
Hamas winning the Palestinian election only shows further that the world is not - as we, across two oceans, view it - black and white, but a near infinite number of gray shades. Terrorism isn't war tactics, it's political outrage.
Posted By Anonymous Matthew Connor, San Antonio, Texas : 12:11 PM ET
Ms. Amanpour:
I have the utmost respect for you and what you do and want to say thank you. As for this story, like you said the Palestinians elected the Hamas. We must trust that this is what they wanted and hope that Hamas does in fact give them a better life.
Posted By Anonymous Rachel-Albuquerque, NM : 12:15 PM ET
With Hamas as the newly elected government, someone should be talking to them. If you promote democracy, you can't always guarantee a friendly government...only the government that the people want. Frankly, I don't see much difference between talking to Hamas and talking to Arafat. Both were/are terroists, but you still have to talk. Without an open dialog, how can you progress.
Posted By Anonymous Allan, Burlington KS : 12:18 PM ET
It may be beneficial for the US and Israel to give Hamas a chance. Lets see what they can do. If they are able to give their people a better life, then that can only mean good things, perhaps they will then have no reason to harbor ill will. Not sure how well it could work, especially when people are taught to hate, but maybe they can change that too. Lets move with cautious optomism. The whole area would be a mecca for tourist like myself, if only we all felt it was safer, and more civil.
Posted By Anonymous Joe, Spring City, PA : 12:38 PM ET
It is still hard for me to believe that the United States and Isreal think by ignoring Hamas it will make them go away. Not on your life -- The Palestinian people elected them -- What ever happened to keeping your enemy close to the vest? By the way, there are those who think Isreal and the United States are terrorist.
Posted By Anonymous Cheryl Raleigh, NC : 12:47 PM ET
A terrorist political group should never be allowed to hold power. The countries that advocate the destruction of another such as Iran and alike should never be allowed to do what they set out to destroy other countries and the whole world, the evil religions that is run by demons and the prophets of these extremist should be exorcized and banned from this world forever. The murderous religions should be eliminated from this earth and should never be allowed to have nuclear weapons, because they will make our whole world become the suicide bomber so that the devil can take over our souls. They the devil will never win. Our true God will triumph since our God is the God of love to all people. Men, women and all are treated as equals, regardless of their race, color, culture, religion, etc. It is time for our whole world to unite against terrorists.
Posted By Anonymous Aladin, New York, New York. : 12:56 PM ET
Hamas doesn't recognize the right of Israel to exist. It's behind suicide bombings that have killed hundreds of Israelis.
This is black and white, people - Israel must go out and destroy these murderous thugs.
Posted By Anonymous Jerry, New York, NY : 1:09 PM ET
It's really quite simple. If you truly wish to help your people, renounce terrorism, recognize the state of Israel and recognize that other religions and ways of life are not a threat to Islam
Posted By Anonymous James Sheldon, Toronto Canada : 1:09 PM ET
Contrary to the common beliefs, this might be the best time to strike a permanent peaceful solution in the Middle East. Hamas has the real support of the Palestinians obviously and if you can get them to sit down and talk real peace (and they are open to such idea), the outcome might be a lasting calm and not just an absence of a major war like we have now.
Posted By Anonymous Mohammed Hleihel, Des Moines Iowa : 1:10 PM ET
Hamas continues its threats of the total destruction of Israel. Arafat may have been a terrorist, but he departed from his ways. One must remember that the Arabs have sought to destroy Israel from the first day it existed, but Israel had never sought to destroy anybody but only defend itself!
Posted By Anonymous Joe, Destin, FL : 1:11 PM ET
Hamas is not a terrorist orgnization. Terrorists dont run hospitals, schools and welfare schemes. It was wrong to label Hamas as such. Hope the US govt. corrects itself soon and help the palestinians in their quest for independence.
Posted By Anonymous David Dalpe, Burlington Onatario : 1:13 PM ET
This is not so much a comment in response to the article, which is good, but to the other comments listed here. Its the United States policy not to negotiate wtih terrorists, and certainly the Israel government will always see a hostile, unrelenting Hamas led government as a terrorist organization. The US, Israel and even Europe is giving Hamas the opportunity to retract their terrorist positions on Israel and to disarm their soldiers. Hamas has chosen to maintain a hardline, to stick to the tenets of terrorism. The palestinian people certainly want a better life and view Hamas as the lifeline for that, but Hamas is cutting of its nose despite its face if it chooses to maintain positions of hatred. The US and Israel negotiate with people that want peace, and as long as Hamas does not want peace, they can't possibly expect aide and prosperity. The US is not ignoring the problem, Hamas is choosing not to solve it.
Posted By Anonymous Mitch , Philadelphia PA : 1:13 PM ET
Our government loves to promote Democracy but now that someone we don't like is in power we are trying to squeeze them out of power by taking away funding and refusing to recognize them. This isn't a new tactic for America. We did this in South America many times in the 50's to stop Communism. Will the American people stand up for what is right and try and help this newly elected government? Or will we let our government try and oust them like they have so many times before?
We must wait and see
Posted By Anonymous Brendan, Boone NC : 1:14 PM ET
Why would Israel support Hamas, if Hamas sends suicide bombers to kill innocent Israeli citizens, including children. Hamas' policy towards Israel should change, and then the funding will be restored.
Posted By Anonymous Robert J, New York : 1:16 PM ET
Democracy means the people have spoken. Like it or not the Palestinian people have made their choice and we (a democracy no doubt) should respect that. There is no point in going back to the rights and wrongs of Isreal/Palestine because all sides seem to have infinite arguments. So as far as democracy goes, the people have spoken and we must allow the democratic process a chance to work-whether we like it or not. But until we Americans learn to view humanity from a level playing field we will continue to behave like imperialists. A third party is needed to resolve this conflict and since America is the only friend Isreal seem to have this may not be possible either. My heart goes out to the people of Isreal and Palestine who are caught up in the politics. I believe that they are the ones who have the true ability to end the conflict for once and for all. If they don't, God will. At least, for now, some of us can see that Hamas does more than blow things up. That's why their people choose them to govern. Let it happen.
Posted By Anonymous Stan M - Baton Rouge, LA : 1:16 PM ET
Do you Blame Israel for not wanting to deal with Hamas after decades of Hamas suicide attacks? Or continual qassam rocket launches into Israel (that the media rarely reports)? Or the Hamas Charter which calls for the destruction of Israel?
The list goes on and on.
Yassir Arafat, Hamas, Fatah, etc... The want this, they want that, they want EVERYTHING.
Israel...all they want is to live in peace.
Posted By Anonymous Steve, New York, NY : 1:17 PM ET
Please let's not forget the election of Nazi party to power in the early 1930s. In the turmoil of the depression, desperate citizens latched onto a false hope...only to have it twisted to satisfy political ambition and a self-destructive agenda of a world menace. If we believe Hamas isn't using their humanitarian efforts to coerce the world into believing they are anything more than a terrorist group, we are mistaken.
Posted By Anonymous Jon, Madison WI : 1:18 PM ET
Get over yourselves. Hamas is a terrorist organization. Period. Why should Israel or the U.S. deal with murderers? Yes, murderers. They kill innocent men, women and children. Not accidentally, but on purpose. A leopard does not change its spots.
Posted By Anonymous Trevor, Houston, Tx. : 1:18 PM ET
Reactions like this, from the US and Isreal will only further bad blood between the western world and the the Arab world. We (US Gov.) say we only want to establish Democracy in the Arab world....seems we only want to prop up the figure head of 'our' choice. Seems it has nothing to do with what the people want. It's disgraceful. Might as well throw out the ballots and tell them who will be thier next Government...doesn't sound like Democracy to me.
Posted By Anonymous Sharon Brooks, West Virginia : 1:18 PM ET
It is not logical to expect Israel to finance its own destruction by supporting Hamas. Should America provide aid to Al Qeada?
Posted By Anonymous peter new york, ny : 1:18 PM ET
Should we all of a sudden legitamize a terrorist organization because it runs kindergartens and offers marriage counseling? What are they teaching the kindergarteners? Probably the same they have been teaching their children for years: hate towards Israel and the heavenliness of killing themselves in the battle against its neighbor.

This outrageous. Hamas can not be considered a legitimate government because they do not recognize the international community, namely the legitimacy of its neighboring country Israel.
Posted By Anonymous Joey Lichter Atlanta, GA : 1:18 PM ET
I wonder how you would feel about the United States negotiating with Bin Laden? Aren't we asking Israel to do something similar by negotiating with Hamas--the proud sponsor of countless suicide bombings against innocent Israelis? When Hamas recognizes Irael's "right to exist," which excuse me, but doesn't seem to be asking for too much, then, and only then, should Israel consider negotiating with them.
Posted By Anonymous Brad, Washington, D.C. : 1:19 PM ET
I noted in your report that Hamas' "main priority now is to meet the demands of the people for a better life." Then you state that may be impossible "because Israel and the United States refuse to deal with Hamas and have already cut funding."

True enough, but isn't there another side to this, that "a better life" for the Palestinians requires Hamas to accept the reality of Israel's right to exist in peace and to renounce terrorism?

It seemed to me that without focusing on both sides, you miss the point.
Posted By Anonymous Joel, Los Angeles, CA : 1:20 PM ET
Why do people consider it so unreasonable to expect Hamas to renounce terrorism? That the Palestinians have never tried the route of Gandhi or Martin Luther King betrays their true intentions -- War, violence and hate have always been their first choice.
Posted By Anonymous Bruce, Pullman WA : 1:20 PM ET
Hamas' practice of intentionally killing civilians and children, and their state goal of wiping Israel off the map, are far more significant than their desire to reduce poverty for Palestinians. This is so obvious, I'm surprised the point needs to be made.
Posted By Anonymous David, Stony Brook, NY : 1:21 PM ET
First it pleases me to see open discussion of the Palestinian-Israeli situation in the American media. This is a change where we can debate anything openly except matters of Israel.

Second, for the people of God that have a god of peace but wish all of Hamas to die, reconsider your own thoughts and position, Jesus would want to if he is truly the God of peace.

It amazes how we are bringing democracy to all part of the world except that we want to reject if it does not meet our political objectives. You can not have you cake and eat it too.
Posted By Anonymous Nick Fawzi, Atlnata, GA : 1:22 PM ET
Hamas wants to destroy Israel, despite all attempts to reach out to them and convince them to follow the 'roadmap to peace.' Noting that and having seen what we've seen over the past five years, I cannot, for the life of me, truly believe that Islam is a benevolent religion. We cannot possibly hope for any form of long-term peace in the Middle East. It just isn't there creed!
Posted By Anonymous Bob, New Bern, NC : 1:22 PM ET
I honestly believe that Hamas would have a turn around and I also believe that at sometime in the near future the United States and Hamas will have a relationship. Despite the notion that it might be a terrorist group.
Do you know that at one point The United States thought that Nelson Mandela and his ANC group was a terrorist group. So go figure.
Posted By Anonymous Ijeoma Ezeonwuka, Washington DC : 1:23 PM ET
We need to respect the democratic choice of the Palentinians, and they have chosen war.
Posted By Anonymous Charles Lewis, San Francisc, CA : 1:23 PM ET
what about the hundreds of innocent people killed by hamas? maybe that's why the US and Israel want to cut funding. Maybe if they would finally recognize Israel like some of the other Arab countries have done, the Israelis would help them and they would live just as well as the million or so Israeli Arabs living in Israel.
Posted By Anonymous Yossi Hecht, Lomita, California : 1:23 PM ET
Yes we know Hamas. Murder, terrorist acts, blowing up innocents. The western funding for them should have been stopped years ago and let them beg from their Arab brothers. To give them credit for welfare checks, schooling etc. is wrong. What do they teach in school? How to explode yourself and try to kill as many humans as possible. They kill themselves to receive the checks.
Yes we know Hamas.
Posted By Anonymous Tim, Boca Raton, FL : 1:24 PM ET
I tend to liken Hamas to The Nation of Islam and Louis Farrakhan - they espouse and act on the care and welfare of their own people while demonizing and in the case of Hamas, maiming and murdering innocent Jewish civilians. Until Hamas can recognize the right of the Jewish people to exist in Israel, how can Ms Amanpour expect them to dialogue? That would be like the U.S. sitting down with Al Queda or Bin Laden and discussing ways to iron out differences - I don't foresee that ever happening.
Posted By Anonymous Linda, Arlington Heights, Illinois : 1:26 PM ET
The Hamas government was elected to provide good services for the Palestinian people. I believe they must do this by saying to the world that Terrorism is not how people of the 21st century conduct business. When they are willing to say that Israel has the right to live in peace there lives will only get better. That being said, cutting off funding will only make the lives for the Palestinian people worse and will only bring more instability. Perhaps the money that had been going to the government should go directly to the people instead. This will assist in building trust. The world does not need or want another generation to grow up in such poor conditions. When people are worried about how to feed there family or provide medicine for the sick. They grow up only hating anyone and everyone they believe are at fault. Under these conditions peace will never be found. Only with peace will there lives get better and when you are hungry you are not peaceful. Time to give directly to the people, Solution to Problem.
Posted By Anonymous Wayne Alan Law, Bible Hill, Nova Scotia : 1:26 PM ET
Hamas must renounce terrorism and recognize the right of Israel to exist. Few courtesies should be extended to them prior to doing so. The prosperity of the Palestinian people depends upon their willingness to coexist peacefully with not just other countries in the middle east, but with the world as a whole.
Posted By Anonymous Thomas, Phoenix, AZ : 1:26 PM ET
As long as Hamas refuses to recognize Israel's right to exist, there is nothing to talk about.
Posted By Anonymous Jerry, Kingston, NY : 1:26 PM ET
I'm struck by Aladin's comment.

It sounds very similar to the same comments the terrorists make about the "non-terrorists."

We have nuclear weapons. We're the only country to use nuclear weapons in wartime. We used them against largely peaceful people. We invaded a country that had no WMDs and have all but stopped searching for a man who directly initiated attacks against us on our own soil. We've toppled a president, we've destroyed an economy, and we've destroyed fundamental infrastructure to millions of civilians.

So, I can imagine that in their eyes, WE are the terrorists.. and our religion has the demons.. and the devils.. and the extremists. It all boils down to "which religion is the right religion?" I think the problem here is religion in general, not in specific.

If we continue to see this world as White and Black, Angels and Demons, and Right and Wrong, we will become so judgemental that we cannot adapt to the many gray areas of the human existance.

And if we can't adapt, we deserve exactly what we get.
Posted By Anonymous Jarrod Henry, Nashville, TN : 1:27 PM ET
Much of Hamas' success can be attributed to members of the Fatah party running against each other and splitting the vote. Hamas isn't in power otherwise. To view their election as some sort of mandate instead of a major screw up by Fatah is fallacy.

As for Israel recognizing a government that doesn't recognize Israel, well, that doesn't make a ton of sense does it?
Posted By Anonymous Bob, Palm Harbor, FL : 1:27 PM ET
To the Palestinians Hamas is an important political AND social organization. It is not a surprise that they would elect into power, in their historic election, people who were instrumental for resistance to those that they see as taking away their freedom. The same thing would happen anywhere where an oppressed people were given the right to vote.

Their use of terrorism is unfortunate. However, we have to understand that this is the nature of resistance for subjugated people now days. If a people do not have a means to other recourse, because the world body is unable or unwilling to assist them, terrorism is the result. This is because the technological divide between the modern state and those who do not have power is greater than ever. There is really no means that the Palestinians had to directly damage the Israeli army, so human nature takes in and they resort to attacking those they see as having evicted them from their homes in the hopes that Israeli citizens will demand a change.

Now the question is whether Hamas will adapt to changing conditions and whether the new Israeli government wants to continue on the path to peace. But it is almost never "black and white."
Posted By Anonymous Greg, Rochester NY : 1:29 PM ET
Don't you wonder why the Palestinians have lived in poverty for so long despite the fact that their strongest supporters are oil rich arab countries? These rich arab countries purposely do not send aid to the Palestinians in order to keep them in an inpoverished state for polical ends -the destruction of the state of Israel.
You are correct that Hamas has aided the Palestinians running social welfare programs and running kindergartens but you failed to mention that in those same kindergartens they are taught hatred for Israel, the United States, Jewish people and all other infidels. This type of hatred has not been seen since the Hitler youth program. It is not until this hatred taught at such an early age is stemmed that the war on terorism will be won.
Posted By Anonymous Joseph Samson, Brookline, MA : 1:29 PM ET
The US government has supported terrorist governments in the past why should it be any different now? If we support government of countries where corruption and graft are the norm we support terrorist governments.

Remember Marcos in the Philippines? A lot of people lived in abject poverty in that country for many years while Marcos was enriching himself and accumulating wealth in the US at their expense. Think about the number of children that died as a result of inadequate health care in that country because of Marcos.. If that is not terrorism, then tell me what is.

Another example, Nigeria... should I say more?
Posted By Anonymous Augie, Boston MA : 1:30 PM ET
Hamas may indeed be funding many good things in the Palestinian Territories, but where do they get their funding? From Iran, in support of their terrorist activities against Israel.

They also support the families of Suicide bombers, of course. But Ms. Amanpour fails to mention that.
Posted By Anonymous Rachel, San Francisco, CA : 1:30 PM ET
Yes. Lets support terrorist regimes. Lets encourage them to keep on doing what they're doing. That's a great long-term strategy there. Worked well when the U.S. backed Bin Laden, right? Doesn't matter at all that they abhor us. Or that they want to wipe Israel off the face of the map. I'm sure beneath it all they're really just a peace loving bunch.
Posted By Anonymous Mari, Miami, FL : 1:30 PM ET
The disputed territories between Israel and Jordan can hardly be ccnsidered a democracy yet. The elections are a only a part of the democratic process. Now they must recognize and believe that other countries, such as Israel, have a right to be there in peace. Only then should dialogue be available to Hamas.
Posted By Anonymous Ben, Chicago : 1:30 PM ET
I like how the tone of this blog was very sympathetic towards Hamas...

yet it failed to mention Hamas' failure to meet Israel/U.S. partway in anyway to help the Palestinian people.

Does Hamas truly believe that it will gain international recognition by still proclaiming that its purpose is the annihilation of the Israeli state?

The only silver lining is that through Hamas becoming a legitimate representative of Palestine, that the pragmatics in the party will have a chance to determine the course of the party.
Posted By Anonymous Romel Lira, Washington, DC : 1:31 PM ET
I am shocked by some of these comments "terrorism isn't a war tacktick but political outrage." Isn't war political outrage? It is undisputed that Hamas is a terrorist organization and continues to work like a terrorist organization (destruction of Israel and the formation of an islamic state). Hamas is not open to a two state solution, but a one state solution - all of land from the Jordan to the mediteranean. T
Posted By Anonymous Josh, Chicago, IL : 1:33 PM ET
I completely agree with James, the onus lies with Hamas not Israel. Let them recognize the right of Isael to exists, stop their suicide bombings. Then only then should we be discussing having a dialogue with them.
Posted By Anonymous Jonathan, Montreal Canada : 1:33 PM ET
For all of the money the Arab/Muslim world has, Israel (or the U.S. for that matter) should not have to give a cent to Hamas. Let the Arab/Muslim leaders of the world give money to the PA for infrastructure and not weapons. This will allow the Palestinians to gain self-respect, since they won't have to accept money from the Infidels. When Jews were forced to leave their homelands after WWII, did the Muslim lands in which the fled ever give them a cent to resettle?
Posted By Anonymous Derek, Tarzana, CA : 1:33 PM ET
I found the aritcle very relevant and fact finding. When we seat relaxly at our couch and watching one sided report of violence of Palestine people we really do not think critically what drives these violent. When you do not see any future at very early part of your life, instead you see your house burned down your destiny may be towards the path of violence. Unless we address real problem this violence in the name of religion and provoke more extremism and hatred not only among Palestine youth but also all muslim world. Peace will never be reached by thunder of precise bombing but through improvement socio-economic part of Arab. The sooner the better.
Posted By Anonymous Noman Hossain, South Bend, IN : 1:34 PM ET
As Irael has killed thousands more Palestinians than they have killed Israeli's ; Im left wondering who the terrorist states really are. Cutting the little support the US gave in the past is only an antagonistic tactic to disrupt any plan for a regular life as either an Israeli or Palestinian. Once again, Im left wondering who the terrorst state is. The people of Palestine voted them in democratically and they should be given a fair shake at what platform they ran on.
Posted By Anonymous Fletch Pedersen, Toronto Ontario : 1:34 PM ET
based on the other posts here it appears the same sentiment pops up. Yes it is wonderful that Hamas has helped to build a great infrastructure of support for the people, but that does not help to decrease the negativity and destructive nature of their mandate against Israel. Cutting funding to a terrorist organization is always the right thing to do.
Posted By Anonymous Michael, Grand Rapids MI : 1:34 PM ET
Spare us all your journalistic sentimentality. Hitler was also democratically elected, and under the same conditions. Remember how that worked out? Politics are a only another way of putting the wolf in sheep's clothing and if you think for a second that Hamas will stop being a terrorist state, then maybe in all your years of traveling, your jet-lag has finally caught up with you. Remind your readers exactly how much Arafat's widow has in the bank and where she lives while her people are starving! Charity starts at home, yes?
Posted By Anonymous Eddie, New York, NY : 1:35 PM ET
The United States and Israel refuse to deal with Hamas because Hamas has communicated their primary goal is to eliminate the Israel from the earth. The United States being a Christian country has a biblical responsibility to the State of Israel. Why should either country support a terrorist organization that is planning their destruction?
Posted By Anonymous B. Thompson, Southfield, MI : 1:42 PM ET
The United States does not recognize/deal with regimes which they deem to be against 'freedom' and 'democracy.' They instead have forcefully (with countless lives lost on both sides) removed such leaders they disagreed with. Maybe the US should practice freedom before it so quickly denounces a democratically elected party, in an election overseen by US officials. Hamas is no angel, but rest assured, neither is the United States of America. Cruise missles into civilian areas sure seems like terrorism to me.
Posted By Anonymous Mo, New York, NY : 1:42 PM ET
It is amazing the ignorance the public has on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. The Palestinians were left at the altar when the land they were promised was turned over to the Jews by the British shortly after WWII. They can't trust the west nor the Israeli's. I wouldn't either if that had happened to me. Only a positive attitude from the U.S. and Israel towards a democratically elected Palestinian goverment will solve the crisis. They should prove they are not the "demons" that the Palestinians think they are. If the U.S. dealt with Saddam Hussein, they can deal with Hamas.
Posted By Anonymous L. Ocola, Chicago, IL : 1:43 PM ET
If you want to change the world, start with the economy. Clinton knew this and was elected with a slogan of "It's the economy stupid". Arafat had his chance. He spent money on himself and his chronies. Hamas is a hero in Palastine for two reasons, the economy and standing up to Isreal. Both activities give people hope and that is the key to stoping violence.

This isn't the first time a terrorist has changed into a statesman. Arafat never really made the transition, but Menachem Begin went from blowing up British soldiers to getting the Nobel peace prize in 1978.

Perhaps this is the time for Hamas to rise to the occation. If they will start spending on schools and clinics they may make it.
Posted By Anonymous Ray Cope, Salt Lake City, Utah : 1:43 PM ET
Ms. Amanpour mentions that meeting the demands of Palestinians for a better life "may be impossible, because Israel and the United States refuse to deal with Hamas..." She fails to mention that Hamas will not deal with Israel either or even acknowledge its right to exist.
Posted By Anonymous LH, New York, NY : 1:45 PM ET
I agree with Joe. The Palestinians are largely the aggressors in this war, and now we're supposed to "Talk" to a group who refuses to settle for anything less than the destruction of Israel?
Posted By Anonymous Michael, Ossining, NY : 1:46 PM ET
Oh, I see. The good people of Hamas have funded some health clinics and given money to widows. So let's ignore the fact that they have murdered hundreds of innocent men, women, and children without remorse to further their political and religious objectives. Let's support them in their stated goal of wiping a sovereign state and its people off the map and help them promote the benign agenda of radical Islam throughout the Middle East.

Wake up, people. Hamas, Hezbollah, Islamic Jihad, and al Queda all belong to the same ideological fraternity of ruthless terrorists. Support them and you contribute to your own demise.
Posted By Anonymous Sam, Yorktown, Va. : 1:46 PM ET
The situation is too complex to think that because Hamas was elected, they will be a positive force; or that because they have been terrorists, they cannot be part of the solution. Hitler was elected when the Germans saw no other alternative, and his ideology of hate was catastrophic for everybody. But other former terrorists have chosen to become statesmen, of whom Menachem Begin is an obvious example.

It really is a question of what the Hamas leaders choose. We should continue to talk to Hamas, but whether we give them money should depend on what they do. If they decide that the destruction of Israel is the only way to serve the Palestinian people, then they should expect the rest of the world to try to stop them. If they decide that the lives of Palestinians are more important than their ideology, and choose to recognize their neighbors, then we should welcome them as part of the solution.

But we also shouldn't expect them to do what amounts to surrender and publicly concede to Israel's demands. What matters is what they actually do, and our dealings with them should be based on that.
Posted By Anonymous Edward, Washington, DC : 1:48 PM ET
The following is the most true statement I have ever read about the conflict. "Each time I go to the Palestinian territory of Gaza, I am shocked by the reality on the ground. On a recent visit, I passed through a short tunnel from the First World in Israel and emerged into the Third World that is Gaza. The poverty there is among the worst in the world."

While it is simply one fact in a sea of arguments, I believe that if the world, including America, helps solve the poverty there, then a big reason for arab resentment of america will go away.
Posted By Anonymous Michael K, Gulfport, FL : 1:48 PM ET
Terrorist group or not we should not fund them. Why did the United States give them $50 million in aid in the first place to be able to take it back? Can't we for once let them be, no aid but no hinderance either. We should watch them, even train our missles on them but for now let them be.
Posted By Anonymous Steve, Orlando FL : 1:48 PM ET
It is so crazy to me that we Americans push for democracy but get furious when we don't like who is elected! We should not talk from both sides of our mouths. In a functional democracy the people elect leaders THEY want, not leaders AMERICANS want.
Posted By Anonymous T. Lewis Houston, TX : 1:51 PM ET
Adolf Hitler was elected in a free and fair election under conditions no worse than those in the Palestinean territories. Free elections do not automatically mean good choices.
Posted By Anonymous Keith Sloan, Alexandria VA : 1:51 PM ET
Personally, I think what the US should be doing is trying to facilitate dialogue between Hamas and Israel.

If we are truly in favor of democracy we have to respect the choice that was made by the Palestinian people.
Posted By Anonymous Augie, Boston MA : 1:51 PM ET
If Hamas would remove from it's mandate the total distruction of Israel and stop teaching hatred in its schools and promoting suicide bombings, than Israel would probably start negotiating and helping them. But why should one government help another whose main goal is to destroy them?
Posted By Anonymous Jan, San Jose, CA : 1:52 PM ET
Why should the United States and Israel fund Hamas or any terrorist organization that is bent on the genocide of Israel? So what if the Palestinian people "democratically? elected these terrorists to lead them. It doesn't make their new government any less corrupt or fanatic than the one Arafat created. The shades of grey discussed are similar to the shades of grey by the propaganda machine of Nazi Germany. Don't support Hamas!
Posted By Anonymous Sean, Salt Lake City, UT : 1:52 PM ET
I agree with Mr. Shelton from Toronto. But I think the real questions, which nobody's asking, are:

What will it take for the Muslims to accept Israel?

What will it take for the Muslims to stop killing innocent people (which their religion is explicitly against)?

And, when will the Muslims accept other religions as we do in the first/free world society in which we live?

Finally, I'd like to ask one last question of each of you...

How can the Muslims continue to show the world that they have no tolerance for others and yet expect others to tolerate them?
Posted By Anonymous Chris Mulcahy, Buffalo, NY : 1:53 PM ET
No one should be surprised that living under military occuption for decades can turn any population extreme.
What amazes me more is how the occupier blames the occupied for the violence.
Posted By Anonymous Erik Harsson, Mountain View, CA : 1:53 PM ET
The United States is being frustratingly hypocritical. We can't encourage democracy but then refuse to acknowledge a government once it is democratically elected. What does the future of Iraq hold after they inevitably elect a theocratic government? Will we then turn our back on them as well because we don't agree with who they elected?
Posted By Anonymous Russell Austin,TX : 1:53 PM ET
Prior to World War II, Israel did not exist. All of that land was Palestine. Why can we not see that the Palestinian anger at Israel is justified? Hammas has previously resorted to terrorism because that was the only recourse available. Now they are a legitimate political organization. If we treat them with the respect any political organization is due, then it is unlikely Hammas will ever resort to terrorism again. If, however, we turn our backs on them and snub them... what recourse will they have. If we ignore this democratically elected government, what message does that send to the world about the supposed "champion of democracy", the United States of America? Our leadership needs to show some maturity.
Posted By Anonymous Wolfger, New Baltimore, MI : 1:54 PM ET
Hey, if I were in the Palestinean's shoes, I'd have probably voted Hamas in as well. What's the alternative? One's government should definitely work towards increasing the quality of life for those it govorns.
But for a government to condone and support terrorist actions is more than deplorable, it is unacceptable, and the US and Israel must stand true to this fact. We ought to be open in communication and diplomacy with them as a new gov't, but be inflexible and insistant on condemning terrorist practices. Give the people of Palestine a reason to NOT hate the US, other than our continued and unwavering support of our allies, Israel. If they can't accept us because of that, screw 'em.
Posted By Anonymous Gunther Tagweed, Diamond Bar, Ca : 1:54 PM ET
Is not Isreal the hostile occupying opressor of this impovered people.

Did not the father's of the United States battle the same to win thier freedom. What difference is there between the Palestinians wanting freedom and the US Colonies fighting for the same?
Posted By Anonymous Steve Matte, Northbridge, MA : 1:55 PM ET
It's nice that the Hamas says that they want to make the life of their people better, actually it's necessary, maybe then they will stop making suicides while killing innocent women and children... Anyway the Hamas is a terrorist organization not so different from Al-Kahida and while they doesn't seems to change their ways and to even recognize Israel there's no reason to help or even talk with them, since it is not wise to negotiate with terrorists. By the way today for the first time a Katyusha rocket was shot from Gaza to Israel, The Katyusha is a rocket which in use by the Hizbhala and probably produced by Iran therefore the connection between all the organizations that want to eliminate Israel and its allyes
Posted By Anonymous Shai, Israel : 1:55 PM ET
Vote for me! If elected, I promise to restore social order, promote peace, and ANNIHILATE OUR ENEMIES! You may not know me, but my credentials include:
-Building schools so that our children may learn the critical foundation of anti-Zionism at an early age
-Funding clinics that can treat our valiant warriors of the faith in their righteous xenocide
-Providing for the orphans and widows of the aforementioned warriors who have fallen in their duty to our country

I seek the support of the major countries on Earth, who proclaim religious tolerance, human rights, and education among all peoples. Who will stand with me?
Posted By Anonymous Ethan, San Antonio : 1:56 PM ET
The Hamas victory should be a wake up call for the US, and especially the Neo-cons who foresaw a few different geo-politcal map of the middle east 3 years ago.

Palestinians have chosen to stand by principles and pragmatism: Hamas actually stands for something that could genuinely change the situation, and Hamas provides everyday needs to millions of people. Given the facts on the ground, I think most people would have chosen them.

The broader facts are still unchanged:
1. Israel occupies and controls a land with 3-4 million indiginous people.
2. The Palestinians have little chance of changing the occupation (contrary to the 'just recognize us, give us violence, and we'll make peace' rhetoric from Israel.
3. Daily life is almost unbearable for Palestinians, and consequently the sacrificing of lives for the political cause will continue
4. The US is complicit in the Israeli policies on almost every level (financial, diplomatic, militarily).

I wish the Hamas government success.
Posted By Anonymous Fred Stephens, Raleigh, NC : 1:57 PM ET
Causality, my dear woman.

Do you think there is a connection between third world desperation and Hamas' running of an insurgent operation from the Gaza strip? It not as though there hasn't been billions upon billions of dollars poured into the strip, often under the rather inept purview of the UN.

Most of that money has gone to weapons, militias, and, of course, the pockets of Arafat cohorts. If you attack your trading partners, your trade routes will close. If you launch rockets on civilian populations, your rocket factories will be bombed. If you suck all of the aid money out to Swiss bank accounts and to pay restaurant bills of Suha Arafat in Paris, welfare doesn't improve. If you monopolize basic production and demand kick-backs from small businesses, as Arafat's clan also did, you have no indigenous economic growth.

Aside from a different position on kickbacks, I'm not seeing much from Hamas that indicates a better path is in the offing. They will merely take it from a de facto war to a fully recognized one.
Posted By Anonymous Dave, Cambridge, MA : 1:58 PM ET
Perhaps I'm wrong about this, so a little education of the facts is welcome, but it seems to me that Israel was created by the west after WWII for the benefit of the displaced Jews. Why they couldn't simply go back home I wish someone would answer. Anyway, a quick internet search seems to indicate that Hamas was founded for the purpose of driving out the invaders (Jews) of their homeland (Israel) and has limited themselves to this effort. In other words, their "terror network" doesn't spread throughout the world like al-queda but has remained faithful to their stated goals.

Of course this is difficult for americans to understand, but try to imagine for a moment that some country more powerful than us unloaded their refugies in america and simply told us to shut up and like it. Not only that, but those same refugees would now govern us. Would we not also fight to protect our homeland by whatever means available?

I am not muslim, nor have I any affiliation with the arab world. I simply fail to understand why the western world condems Hamas for doing exactly what they would do themselves in a similar situation.
Posted By Anonymous Tom H., Houston, TX : 1:59 PM ET
I believe this is very simple. If Hamas stops terrorist activities, recognizes Israel and cooperates with the peace efforts, they should be allowed to participate and represent the people that elected them. If they don't then they should be treated like terrorists.
Posted By Anonymous John, St. Louis, MO : 1:59 PM ET
Uh..., there is this little matter of Hamas wanting to wipe Israel off the map. Funny you should forget to mention that.
Posted By Anonymous Philip Squire, Crownsville, MD : 2:00 PM ET
As you say in your article, the Palestinian people elected Hamas to improve their lives. If that's what Hamas thinks it was elected to do, then let them renounce their intention to destroy Israel. Then all things are possible.
Posted By Anonymous Mark Philadelphia Pa : 2:01 PM ET
I like how you completely ignore the fact that along with all the humanitarian stuff Hamas does for the Palestinians, they are also a horde of bloody handed terrorists. All the good stuff they do does not negate the fact that they have been terrorist for a long time and want nothing less than the total extirpation of the state of Isreal. I know you are a middle-eastern homer, but man, learn at least a little objectivity.
Posted By Anonymous Keith Vega, Norwood, MA : 4:49 PM ET
I support the spread of democracy, messy though it may be. However, part of democracy is dealing with the results of your actions and negotiating and getting along with the rest of the world. If you refuse to recognize me, then I'm under no obligation to deal with you. Let's see if Hamas can build, not destroy.
Posted By Anonymous Wayne Kamaura, Honolulu, Hawaii : 3:32 AM ET
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