Commentary Magazine


Rebuilding Hamas

There is something both poignant and absurd about this story:

Hamas bears full responsibility for the war in Gaza, a top EU official said Monday in the Strip, calling the group “a terrorist movement.”

“At this time we have to also recall the overwhelming responsibility of Hamas,” Louis Michel, European Commissioner for Development and Humanitarian Aid, told reporters.

“I intentionally say this here — Hamas is a terrorist movement and it has to be denounced as such,” Michel said as he visited the town of Jabalya in northern Gaza.

“Public opinion is fed up to see that we are paying over and over again — be it the [European] commission, the member states or the major donors — for infrastructure that will be systematically destroyed,” he said.

On the one hand, this is a flying-pigs moment: an EU leader has shown up in Gaza and denounced Hamas as a terrorist group that bears full responsibility for starting a war. That kind of moral clarity has all but vanished from European discourse, especially when it can be construed as legitimizing the actions of the IDF.

But there is also an obtuseness to Michel’s statement. He clearly doesn’t understand the relationship between foreign aid and Palestinian violence, and the strong positive correlation between the two. Questions: If the UN and the EU (and American taxpayers) continuously foot the bill for Palestinian aid and infrastructure, including post-conflict reconstruction, are Palestinians going to be more or less likely to support groups that start wars with Israel? In other words, are there consequences to making Palestinian terrorism as consequence-free as possible?

Michel and the EU are perhaps groping toward a recognition of these realities, but they haven’t found them yet.

Michel announced €58 million ($74 million) in emergency aid Monday for Palestinians.

It is the season for bailouts, I suppose.

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