Rabbi Michael Lerner, editor of Jewish group Tikkun, writes this:
"Just as the election of previously Israeli terrorists Menachem Begin, Yitzhak Shamir and Ariel Sharon set the backdrop for the possibility of peace negotiations with Israel's enemies in the past thirty years, the election of the murderous terrorists of Hamas may ultimately make it more likely that a peace agreement entered into by a Hamas dominated government would actually amount to something lasting and substantial.
"We at Tikkun have no sympathy for Hamas' terrorism, and we are distressed that the new government of the Palestinians will be a government collaborating with those whose hands are drenched in blood. But this does not distinguish them, for example, from Ariel Sharon's government or George Bush's government, which have both been responsible for the deaths of more innocent civilians than Hamas (though always excusing themselves because these deaths were 'only collateral damage'). So Israel and the U.S. ought to get off of their moral outrage at Hamas and recognize that this election provides them, in the long run, with opportunities to make peace with their enemies. But that will only happen if Israel and the U.S. stop using the lame excuse that they won't negotiate with terrorists, a position that would have led the U.S. to remain in Vietnam to this day, refusing to talk to Vietnamese terrorists."
World reaction has been swift and utterly predictable.
Grave concerns exist about the true intent of Hamas and only the most idealistic would ignore these warnings. For example, an Iranian-style repressive environment for the women of Palestine would be a major concern, as would a virulent Holocaust-denying environment. There is evidence that Hamas is already taking some responsibility for a less militant future, though only time will tell how effective that will be.
The democratic world, supposedly warmly embraced by neo-conservatives everywhere, must accept the Palestinian result. Hamas is now a legitimate political force.
Tikkun expresses my personal feelings pretty accurately:
"We at Tikkun are not so optimistic about Hamas - their legacy of violence is deeply troublesome. But then again, we tend to be very critical of anyone who relies on violence, including the Israeli government and the United States government, and also the gangsters now running Iran, China, the Soviet Union, Syria, Egypt, Saudi Arabia, Pakistan, Sudan and the list goes on and on and on. It is without compromising our critique of these governments that we simultaneously support steps for peaceful accommodation rather than military escalations."
Israel's current path is leading to inevitable disaster, a walled-in, ghetto-style Zionism defined by occupation and oppression. The rise of Hamas may force Israel to negotiate with its former enemies and reach a long-lasting peace agreement. Of course, this may all be wishful thinking, but today's election result does nothing to challenge Israel's military, political and economic supremacy in the Middle East.