Gaza showdown

Behind the Hamas takeover
On the morning of January 25, 2006, I was with a group of American churchpeople at a Palestinian Authority polling place in Bethlehem. Having observed many elections over the years, I have learned to detect the difference between enthusiastic reformers hungry for change and members of an old guard, complacent after too many years in power. From what we saw in Bethlehem and heard in the West Bank, we predicted that Hamas would be victorious.

Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice did not share our prediction; the day after the election she called an unusual Saturday morning staff meeting and expressed her frustration over the Hamas victory: “Why was it that nobody saw it coming?” The secretary revealed her lack of understanding of Palestinian politics when she added, “I don’t know anyone who was not caught off guard by Hamas’s strong showing.”


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