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July 17, 2007

Good for Orphanages, Bad for Mideast Policy

On the nature or nurture debate, Father Edward Flanagan came down on the nurture side. The founder of a Nebraska orphanage in 1917, his theory was: "There is nothing the matter with our growing boys that love, proper training and guidance will not remedy."

Barry Rubin writes in the Jerusalem Post that, unfortunately, "the Flanagan Method has . . . become the backbone of contemporary Western Middle East policy toward radical nationalists and Islamists." He continues:

Take Hamas, for example. Much of the media coverage, for example an article in the Los Angeles Times, July 13, tries desperately to find some way to avoid concluding that Hamas is fanatical, genocidal, terrorist, and ruthlessly repressive.

If only it is given a chance and treated properly, the argument goes, it will become moderate. The Los Angeles Times article portrays Hamas as walking "an ideological tightrope" between its "pragmatists" and "hardliners." Wow, I sure hope the pragmatists win.

If there is a villain, we are told it is the smaller Islamic Jihad, Army of Islam, al-Qaida or others "seeking to capitalize on the unrest between Palestinian political parties and turn Gaza into a radical Islamic state."

Hamas's own goal is now attributed instead to marginal third parties who are supposedly using the Fatah-Hamas conflict for this purpose. It is bad enough to cope with the concept that Fatah are the good guys and Hamas the bad ones. Now this is being taken one step further, with Hamas as the moderates trying to hold off the real radical Islamists.

The July 13 Los Angeles Times article is just but one example of the new good guy-bad guy dichotomy, in which Hamas, incredibly, has become the good guy.

Posted by TS at July 17, 2007 02:46 AM


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