NEW YORK- The Zionist Organization of America (ZOA) strongly protests Secretary of State Powell statement that the Hamas terror group can be reformedwhich clearly contradicts President Bushs statement that Hamas must be dismantled.
President Bush said at a press conference with European Union leaders on June 25, 2003: In order for there to be peace in the Middle East, we must see organizations such as Hamas dismantled. (AP, 6/25/03)
But instead of reiterating the presidents position that Hamas must be dismantled, Secretary Powell said on July 1, 2003, that Hamas could be converted from its terrorist ways: We are going to have to convert this kind of organization [Hamas] into organizations that are no longer interested in using terror as a political weapon. (Fox TV interview, 7/1/03)
And at a press conference on July 24, 2003, Powell said: If an organization that has a terrorist component to it, a terrorist wing to it, totally abandons that, gives it up, and theres no question in anyones mind that that is part of its past, then that is a different organization. And he went on to say that Hamas has a social wing to it that does things for people in need and does good works.
The ZOA notes that when U.S. Senator Patty Murray (D-WA) said earlier this year that Al Qaeda had built good will among the Muslim masses by helping pay for schools, roads and even day care facilities, she was widely criticized.
ZOA National President Morton A. Klein commented:
If the Ku Klux Klan engaged in charitable social activities in addition to its racist violence against African-Americans, would Secretary Powell praise the social wing of the KKK?
If Secretary Powells new, soft line on Hamas is the administrations policy, it is an appalling reward for terrorists. If it is not the administrations policy, President Bush should say so. Hamas and Al Qaeda, like the Nazi Party under Hitler, have social wings that engage in non-terrorist activitybut that does not change the fact that they are evil entities that must be destroyed, and cannot be reformed or converted.