Palestinian Elections

As of this writing, the terrorist group Hamas appears to be gaining in the Palestinian elections. Part of me is, of course, freaking out about this. Part of me, though, is somewhat relieved. One of the biggest questions over the past five years of hell in Israel has been what “the Palestinian on the street” thinks. Are the terrorists fringe lunatics with little popular support, or do they represent mainstream Palestinian thinking? As long as there was no answer to this question, there was no clear path for Israel to take, one way or the other. If Hamas, which calls for the complete destruction of Israel, wins as big as it seems, though, it should be pretty clear what exactly the Palestinian on the street is really thinking, and what unfortunate steps Israel may be forced to take.



4 Comments on “Palestinian Elections”

  1. Anonymous says:

    I’m not sure that you can infer how the typical Palestinian on the street feels based on an election result favoring Hamas. As I’ve understood from news reports, most of these elections are regional or municipal in nature–the equivalent of civic elections in the U.S. Would we be able to judge Americans’ views on foreign policy based on how we vote for local leaders when it is most likely that we vote for local leaders bsaed on how they stand on local issues and not on how they feel about on foreign issues?

  2. YodaYid says:

    No one reads Playboy for the articles. Even if they did, they couldn’t read the articles and claim to be against pornography. It’s a package deal.

    The elections may be municipal, but Hamas the party is still Hamas the terrorist group that has murdered hundreds of civilians on buses, in cafes, at religious gatherings etc etc and which officially calls for the destruction of Israel in its charter. It really doesn’t matter how efficient their day schools are or good their hospitals are – you can’t in good conscience vote for a terrorist group even if they have a good domestic program.

    Anyway, I really do feel for the Palestinians here – they have to choose between moderate and corrupt (Fatah) and evil and efficient (Hamas). It’s really an awful choice to make if you are against terrorism. But again, the moral choice would be to not vote for Hamas or support Hamas in any way, period.


  3. Anonymous says:

    That’s the rub with democracy, though. No one is compelled to make a moral choice when it comes to casting their vote. Maybe it screws somebody else (i.e. Israel or the person who’s civil rights are ignored and wrongfully imprisoned), but as long as I get what’s good for me (i.e. efficient schools or a homeland safe from al-Qaeda and my tax cuts). Maybe the consequences of my vote will lead to war, but at least I’m confident the party in power can fight one. In any case, the Palestine’s choice mirrored the one U.S. foreign policy has struggled with for a long time in the Middle East: to support stable, oppressive regimes or take a chance with democratic, unstable ones. The biggest point, though, it that this argument underscores the utter senselessness and uselessness of terrorism: It obscures, sullies, makes irrelevant and covers any possible good action you may take.

  4. YodaYid says:

    You’re right – democracy, like the market, carries no inherent moral compass. I would say the closest thing in Computer Science is the greed algorithm”:

    We can make whatever choice seems best at the moment and then solve the subproblems arising after the choice is made. The choice made by a greedy algorithm may depend on choices so far. But, it cannot depend on any future choices or all the solutions to the subproblem, it progresses in a fashion making one greedy choice after another iteratively reducing each given problem into a smaller one.

    So maaaaybe this is just another example of the greedy algorithm at work: Palestinians are ignoring long term issues in favor of building up institutions (like hospitals) that are desperately needed.

    But of course, the major drawback to the greedy algorithm:

    Greedy algorithms do not consistently find the… optimal solution… They can make commitments to certain choices too early which prevent them from finding the best overall solution later.

    That’s definitely what happened with U.S. foreign policy during the Cold War, as you pointed out. The “greedy”/short-term goal was to hurt the Soviet Union, and very often that meant doing things that are haunting us today. The results, of course, have been suboptimal.

    Anyway, who knows what will happen next… There are now new players on both sides. It’s a brave new world.


    p.s. Do NOT do a search for “desperate” on The Free Dictionary (in this case, for spellchecking) – the ads are not pretty…

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