They’re the problem

I’ve been following the story of the electoral success of Hamas. And the familiar refrain which has greeted it: ‘We won’t have any dealings with them until they give up violence.’ On one level, that is reasonable – why negotiate with people who are going to shoot you if they don’t like the outcome? But the reality is that Northern Ireland’s peace process has now been [and largely remains] frozen because of just this issue – the need for the IRA weapons to be destroyed and war declared over not just in a way which satisfies official observers but which also engenders new trust in the other community. For ultimately in these situations, the issue is not just guns and bombs but the demonisation of ‘the other’. Paul Oestreicher writes of this in the context of the Holocaust in today’s Guardian http://www.guardian.co.uk/religion/Story/0,,1696847,00.html

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