Bush on Hamas: Partly Right, Partly Wrong

President Bush yesterday was right to claim the Palestinian vote to create what amounts to "Hamastan" is a vote against corruption, but he missed the boat on terrorism. The Palestinian people have bought into Hamas’s hatred of Israel, even if it isn’t politically correct to say so.

Given a chance to vote, the Palestinians finally took the opportunity to tell the PLO and Fatah to get lost. Yasser Arafat may have portrayed himself as one of history’s great "freedom fighters," but in reality he figured out one of the world’s greatest con games, setting himself up to scam $1 billion or more that was intended to help the Palestinian people. In 2003, stories circulated in the world press charging that Yasser Arafat diverted nearly $1 billion in public funds for his own purposes. The charges emanated from the investigations begun once Salam Fayyad, a chain-smoking U.S.-educated economist, was appointed to be the Palestinian Authority’s Minister of Finance. Fayyad charged that Arafat had diverted some $900 million from the Palestinian budget into a secret Arafat-controlled investment fund controlled by Arafat’s loyal financial adviser, Mohammed Rachid.

According to investigations at the time, the secret portfolio emerged as the Palestine Investment Fund with investment made for Arafat’s personal benefit in real estate, Middle Eastern phone companies, and a Coca-Cola bottling plant in Ramallah, where Arafat’s Palestinian Authority compound based after Rabin allowed Arafat to return to the Holy Land. In 2003, Forbes magazine placed Arafat prominently on the list of the world’s most wealthy "Kings, Queens, and Despots," placing him sixth on the list, just behind Queen Elizabeth II. Arafat’s wife, Suha, has reportedly been kept in a plush Paris apartment with as much as a $100,000 a month allowance, all on the Palestinian Authority’s tab.

Arguments have been made that the PLO under Arafat calculated to keep the Palestinian people in Gaza and the West Bank living in squalor. Why? Because Arafat realized that the Palestinians kept poor were a better card to draw huge sums from the guilty consciences of the guilty liberals around the world whose hearts were ready to bleed (and wallets open), as long as they could continue to see the Palestinians as wrongfully dispossessed, the downtrodden from whom Israel who had "stolen their rightful land." Rather than put millions into improving conditions in Gaza and the West Bank, the Palestinian Authority under Arafat hired the best legal and public relations talent available to be bought worldwide. Just walk into the United Nations building in New York and you’ll be bombarded by Palestinian propaganda making sure Arafat’s hard-luck Palestinian "victim" story is told loud and clear.

The Muslims who voted in the Palestinian parliamentary election know that they are victims, but victims first and foremost of the Palestinian Authority itself. The roots of Hamas go back to the Egyptian Muslim Brotherhood; Hamas today continues to run social, medical, and educational programs in the Palestinian areas, often in conjunction with the mosques. The Palestinians who voted for Hamas see Hamas as helping them, in contrast to the PLO and Fatah who are perceived as having stolen from the Palestinian people.

The problem is that the Middle East now has two states controlled by leaders dedicated to wipe Israel — Hamas in the Palestinian Authority and Iran under President Ahmadinejad.

Looking to Hamas as a protector and working with Hamas charities when there was no one else to turn to, the Palestinian people have bought Hamas’s political rhetoric. The polemical output of Hamas remains rabidly anti-Jewish, as firmly dedicated to eliminate Israel as is Ahmadinejad and the radical Shiite terrorists who now firmly control Iran.