As Steve Erlanger, The New York Times' Jerusalem bureau chief, prepares to depart the Holy Land, he finally leaves us with a pungent piece that underlines the case for deep pessimism about the future of Palestine. As the headline puts it, "Hamas Ratchets Up Anti-Jewish Rhetoric." You may recall, during the Oslo Accords, Fatah agreed to purge genocidal rhetoric from school textbooks and pop culture. How very generous.
But, following Hamas's takeover of Gaza, the vile rhetoric has returned in a big way. "Hamas sermons and media reports preaching violence and hatred have become more pervasive, extreme and sophisticated, on the model of Hezbollah and its television station Al Manar, in Lebanon," Erlanger writes. A quote from a Hamas sage: "Their fate [that is, the fate of the Jews] is their vanishing." He added that the Jews are "the brothers of apes and pigs." And it's not just hate that spews forth from Hamas's various outlets; it's violence. Even its children's programming celebrates the virtues of martyrdom and murder. One Puppet--Cookie Monster's evil doppelganger--announces that he will "get rid of the Jews, God willing, and I will eat them up, God willing."
It is nice of Erlanger to note all this, but the headline on his piece gets one important thing wrong: Hamas isn't ratcheting up its rhetoric. It has always talked like this and all too often translated this rhetoric into violent action.
Now enter Condoleezza Rice, reverting to the penultimate habits of previous administrations. Like Madeleine Albright and Sandy Berger (before he filched documents from the National Archives in his socks), she has come to the conclusion that only Israel can rescue the reputation of her administration. So let's buckle up and prepare for a mad rush to produce a legacy in the waning months of this year.
Agreements, cobbled together with the clock ticking, are hardly the stuff that inspires confidence. And this dash to a Rose Garden ceremony inspires less confidence than most. That's because the administration has leaked as loudly as common decency will allow that it is prepared to begin negotiating with Hamas, Hezbollah's comrade and (despite its Islamic sectarian differences with its patrons) the beneficiary of arms and training from the Iranian Revolutionary Guards.
Yes, that's the situation we are in: On one Hamas show for kids, a young boy murders George W. Bush; now Bush will turn to the benefactors of this show and attempt to transform them into good faith partners for peace. That's some legacy.