Hamas's stunning victory in the PLC elections was a shock to us all. For many Palestinian Christians the results have triggered many serious worries and questions about the future. Here's my personal analysis and answers to my parishioners and friends outside Palestine:…
Hamas's stunning victory in the PLC elections was a shock to us all. For many Palestinian Christians the results have triggered many serious worries and questions about the future. Here's my personal analysis and answers to my parishioners and friends outside Palestine:
- First of all, we should not be afraid. We should always have faith and trust in God's providence and His will for our lives. The Christians in Palestine are the .living stones. of the Holy Land, living our mission by being the salt and light in this country and in the world.
- The election results revealed that the Palestinian population is tired of their continual life under occupation; they are depressed by the stalled peace process, and are looking for a serious change. Palestinians desire freedom, justice, and dignity as a nation. Palestinians hope for a government that will work to create jobs, stop the separation wall, halt settlement construction, stop land confiscation and house demolitions, and decrease our alarming poverty rate.
- Hamas does not represent the total Palestinian population. There are more than six million Palestinians scattered around the globe, but less than a million were allowed to cast ballots for this election. The current election results represent less than twenty percent of Palestinians, and only the population living under the boot of occupation; therefore it is impossible to generalize attitudes for all Palestinians based on this election as they are becoming fanatic Muslims. However, the low number of Palestinians eligible to vote does raise serious issues. In the recent Iraqi elections, Iraqis living abroad were not only allowed to vote, but an aggressive ad campaign pushed their involvement. Why was this same opportunity and effort not offered to the global Palestinian community?
- The Palestinians are one of the most educated people in the Middle East. I guess Hamas leaders differ from other Islamic leaders in Afghanistan, Iran, Saudi Arabia or Iraq. In contrast to these countries, I don't see the Palestinian Islamic movement becoming as conservative or fanatical. I think Hamas is smart enough to push the morality, justice, and human rights of our cause to gain more sympathy from the international community, rather than pushing extremism creating more fear and distrust around the globe. Hamas knows the challenges to building and fighting for a free and independent Palestine state. We need the support of the international community and surrounding Arab states, all whom have accepted the UN resolutions about the existence of Israel. I think Hamas is too smart to alienate this support. Elections are full of slogans and propaganda, and Hamas used them effectively to capture the hearts and minds of Palestinian voters. However, Hamas faces serious issues in governing Palestine and will have to change some of these ideas to effectively build a strong country. The critical question is how fast can Hamas change and build a strong government to work on our most urgent need: Peace based on international rights and resolutions. The result was shocking to us all, even Hamas, who did not desire to be the majority government so quickly. Tens of thousands of people (even Fatah members) voted against Fatah as punishment for the corruption and misadministration in the Palestinian authority. However, Hamas must be given time to change and adjust, and not be isolated and shunned from Palestinians or the international community.
- Any anger or fear the international community feels toward the results of this election should not be directed at Hamas, nor the voters who gave them power. Hamas's victory can be traced to the dismal U.S. negotiated peace process with Israel. For over a decade this peace process has brought no freedom or life to Palestine, in fact conditions in Palestine have seriously worsened over this time. For ten years the Palestinians waited on the peace process, while Israel dramatically increased their settlement building in Palestinian territory, built a separation wall deep into the West Bank, isolating towns, confiscating land, destroying homes and farms. Ten years after the peace process began we have almost nothing. However, we have a democracy and we were able to vote for change. If Hamas gains our freedom and we are able to build a state, we will support them in the next election, if not we will change again.
- Attacking Hamas for being a fanatical movement is unfair in the context of the Israeli/Palestinian struggle. The Keneset has produced very fanatical movements that did not draw nearly the international condemnation Hamas's victory created. However, a fanatical movement in power does not automatically produce chaos in the peace process. In fact, often these fanatical movements produce some of the most dramatic achievement towards peace. The Israeli Likud party at one point publically declared that Palestinians don't exist, but they started peace talks in Madrid with many Arab countries. In 1997 Begin, a militia chief famous for massacring hundreds of Palestinians, was elected Israeli prime minister and later signed the peace treaty with Egypt. We hope that Hamas's time in government will produce similar results in the peace process.
- In conclusion, the points above do not belittle the dramatic changes in our lives as Hamas takes power in Palestine. Our history is full of pain and our situation is not easy to govern. We ask our brothers and sisters in Christ to continuing praying for the .living stones. Christian communities among their Muslim and Jewish neighbors. We hope that the future brings peace, prosperity, and freedom, and that any fears we have about the future never become reality. Yesterday all the Christian Patriarches and bishops in Jerusalem have sent a greeting public letter to Hamas where they expressed their hopes for better future and that this election won't worsen the current crisis, and quoting .the Beatitudes.. .Blessed are the peacemakers for they will be called sons of God!.