How Hamas dooms Palestine.
By Christopher Hitchens
Posted Monday, Jan. 30, 2006, at 2:59 PM ET
The preferred analysis, which certainly derives from a kernel of fact, is that the vote represents a repudiation of the baroque corruption of the Arafat gang (which was so brilliantly anatomized by David Samuels in the Atlantic of September 2005). But there are at least two difficulties with this comforting conclusion. For one thing, anyone voting for a clerical party in the hope of abolishing corruption is asking to be considered a fool and also treated as one: There is corruption all over the Middle East, but it is nowhere as flagrant and exploitative and damaging as in the region's two main theocracies, Iran and Saudi Arabia. Those who come to power as puritans lose no time in becoming positively gorgeous in the excess of their corruption, and Hamas will not be an exception to this rule.
There is also an element of condescension in the "corruption" explanation. Hamas says that it wants an Islamic state all the way from the Jordan to the Mediterranean. It publishes and promulgates the Protocols of the Elders of Zion. Why not assume that it is at least partly serious about all this?