Hamas's official 1988 charter calls explicitly for the replacement of Israel by a Palestinian Islamic state. Through its indiscriminate rocketing of Israeli towns, Gaza's ruling party has made clear that it means what it says. For Hamas, the 1967 line is of little interest; the struggle has always been, and remains, over the 1947 lines, set by the UN in the partition plan calling for a Jewish state alongside a Palestinian Arab one. To ensure that all Palestinians remain steadfast in that armed struggle, Hamas rapidly stamped out the last vestiges of freedom of speech, press, and religion, and consolidated its control over independent civic institutions.
And yet, despite its horrific human-rights record, the Hamas regime in Gaza has received nothing like the disapprobation and pressure for democratic reform directed by Washington against the far more moderate governments of Egypt, Tunisia, and Bahrain. Nor has President Obama ever suggested to its leader, Ismael Haniya, that he either move toward reform or move out. To the contrary: even as the administration hectors Israel to loosen its economic and military sanctions, it props up radical Islamist rule in Gaza by contributing hundreds of millions of dollars toward the salaries of Hamas officials. When it comes to the region's most totalitarian and war-obsessed regime, the President's newfound grasp of the linkage between political freedom and a more peaceful Middle East is nowhere to be seen.