Russian President Vladimir Putin, while on a visit to Madrid this week, stated that he intended to have a meeting with the leaders of Hamas. He suggested that the voters of Palestine had made a democratic decision to elect Hamas, and that the rest of the world should respect that free choice.

Indeed, some of his words are shrouded in the truth. While the West constantly remains a staunch advocate of democracy, we sometimes fail to entertain the thought that there is a chance not everyone would make the same decisions that we would if they were given the same free choice. That, however, is as far as the truth goes.

Hamas has been recognized as a terrorist organization responsible for the deaths of countless Jewish non-combatants such as children and mothers. While Hamas claims that every war has its civilian casualties, (a statement with its own gag reflex), it is quite another to intentionally target them. Hamas’s intent is to win through terror or whatever other means it can muster. I am not quite sure what it says about the people of Palestine when they use their own votes to empower such a bunch.

For quite some time, the Palestinian Authority has been accused of mass corruption, some of which was no doubt made possible by the millions of foreign dollars that were directed at the Palestinian Authority which is simply a branch of the P.L.O., another terrorist outfit. The money, believed by some to be a necessary tool in the efforts to stop the violence, was simply a means by many to become corrupt and to further impoverish their own people. Perhaps the recent vote simply reflects the squalid conditions in Gaza or the frustration and betrayal that many Palestinians feel.

Hamas has stated that it stands by its formerly stated objectives, one of which is to wipe Israel out. By remaining so bitter and full of hate, the leaders of Hamas are sentencing its own people to another generation of squalor and have-not status. The Palestinian people have only one chance now, and that is to implore their new found leadership to soften its stance and to begin to accept diplomacy over violence. Without that change, things in Palestine will only worsen, much to the chagrin of the whole world.

The question of the day is whether or not a powerful nation like Russia is sending the right message or the wrong one. With an islamic extremist problem of their own in Chechnya, Russia should fully understand the nature of this beast and how futile it is to try and negotiate with them. For this bunch of terrorists, it is all or nothing and no life is sacred, not even their own.

On the flip side of that coin, completely isolating Hamas would only ensure that the people of Gaza would become more desperate and would be an easy prey for the militants to recruit, thus sowing the seeds of discontent for yet another generation.

Alexander Kalugin, Russia’s special envoy to the Middle East, has expressed concern that a failure to recognize Israel would make it difficult for Russia to have a dialogue with Hamas.

The ball is now in Hamas’s court. Let’s hope they don’t blow it up.

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