THE BLOG
04/26/2008 05:19 pm ET Updated May 25, 2011

McCain's Nonsense About Hamas: Consider the Bush Record

According to a recent interview, John McCain believes that Hamas wants Barack Obama to be president. In McCain's words:

All I can tell you Jennifer is that I think it's very clear who Hamas wants to be the next president of the United States. So apparently has Danny Ortega and several others. I think that people should understand that I will be Hamas's worst nightmare...

The full story can be found here.

Judging by past performance, I think Hamas would profit from another conservative Republican.

Everything involving the Middle East is unbelievably complicated, but the following summary is all too right. When George Bush took office, Hamas held little political power. It was a pariah--not only in the eyes of the U.S. government, but in the eyes of western Europeans, Arab governments, and many others who are sympathetic to the Palestinian cause but rejected Hamas's terrorism and religious extremism. No less a Palestinian nationalist than Edward Said noted that suicide bombings "have so disfigured and debased the Palestinian struggle. All liberation movements in history have affirmed that their struggle is about life, not about death. Why should ours be an exception?"

In many ways, George W. Bush has empowered these very suicide bombers. Let me be clear. I am a secular Jewish supporter of Israel. I am as disgusted by Hamas as they probably are by me. I am disgusted by the deliberate attacks on ordinary Israelis pursued by many Palestinian militant groups.

In my opinion, the bellicose policies pursued by President Bush, and echoed by John McCain in the mistaken belief that this is the key to Jewish support, are fundamentally counterproductive for both Israel and the United States. These strengthen the very people we are trying to marginalize in our efforts there.

Despite his fourth-quarter efforts, President Bush has mismanaged the peace process. In many ways large and small, he has stoked Palestinian and Arab anger, even aside from the Iraq war. He failed to address or even acknowledge the poor humanitarian conditions and government failures under the Palestinian Authority. Essentially since his first days in office, he showed disdain for reasonable Palestinian grievances and aspirations acknowledged by many Israelis.

Against the advice of both Israel and the Palestinian Authority, President Bush pushed hard for elections while utterly failing to lay the political groundwork for an attractive Palestinian alternative to Hamas extremism. He then disowned the results of these elections when--to his surprise--Hamas won a large victory. Overall, this is a pathetic performance. Israelis, Palestinians, and our own nation are very much the worse for it.

President Bush will leave office with Hamas a well-entrenched presence in Gaza. It enjoys considerable popularity across the Middle East. The coalition of players across the world who had pledged not to work with Hamas is showing real signs that it is fraying. President Bush leaves office having similarly strengthened Hezbollah and Iran.

Based on this record, I believe Hamas will profit from the election of another strident Republican. America, Israel, and pretty much everyone else would benefit from a different approach.