Defending Religion in Public Life

An author of children’s books and television programs, the host of a popular radio show, and the biographer of the 18th-century abolitionist William Wilberforce and the anti-Nazi pastor Dietrich Bonhoeffer, Eric Metaxas is above all devoted to defending the role of religion in the public sphere, as Kate Bachelder writes:

[Metaxas’s] free-exercise advocacy finds him emphasizing that the First Amendment is not merely a right to think what you want: “It means you must be able to exercise your faith in the market place, in the public square—not just on Sunday.” He takes it further, arguing that America’s founding fathers knew that “the whole nation hinges on that idea,” and that the success of the American experiment depended on, as he says, a “virtuous and moral populace.” . . .

Metaxas notes that there would have been no abolition of slavery without “passionate, devoted, serious Christians,” including Quakers. “Largely the people driving abolition did it because of what they believed from the Bible” and that’s the case “in England and in America. Period.” The civil-rights movement, he adds, “came totally out of churches” from “overtly Christian” figures, including Martin Luther King, Jr. and Rosa Parks.

Read more at Wall Street Journal

More about: American founders, Martin Luther King, Religion & Holidays, Religion and politics, Slavery

Hamas Has Its Own Day-After Plan

While Hamas’s leaders continue to reject the U.S.-backed ceasefire proposal, they have hardly been neglecting diplomacy. Ehud Yaari explains:

Over the past few weeks, Hamas leaders have been engaged in talks with other Palestinian factions and select Arab states to find a formula for postwar governance in the Gaza Strip. Held mainly in Qatar and Egypt, the negotiations have not matured into a clear plan so far, but some forms of cooperation are emerging on the ground in parts of the embattled enclave.

Hamas officials have informed their interlocutors that they are willing to support the formation of either a “technocratic government” or one composed of factions that agree to Palestinian “reconciliation.” They have also insisted that security issues not be part of this government’s authority. In other words, Hamas is happy to let others shoulder civil responsibilities while it focuses on rebuilding its armed networks behind the scenes.

Among the possibilities Hamas is investigating is integration into the Palestinian Authority (PA), the very body that many experts in Israel and in the U.S. believe should take over Gaza after the war ends. The PA president Mahmoud Abbas has so far resisted any such proposals, but some of his comrades in the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) are less certain:

On June 12, several ex-PLO and PA officials held an unprecedented meeting in Ramallah and signed an initiative calling for the inclusion of additional factions, meaning Hamas. The PA security services had blocked previous attempts to arrange such meetings in the West Bank. . . . Hamas has already convinced certain smaller PLO factions to get on board with its postwar model.

With generous help from Qatar, Hamas also started a campaign in March asking unaffiliated Palestinian activists from Arab countries and the diaspora to press for a collaborative Hamas role in postwar Gaza. Their main idea for promoting this plan is to convene a “Palestinian National Congress” with hundreds of delegates. Preparatory meetings have already been held in Britain, Lebanon, Kuwait, and Qatar, and more are planned for the United States, Spain, Belgium, Australia, and France.

If the U.S. and other Western countries are serious about wishing to see Hamas defeated, and all the more so if they have any hopes for peace, they will have to convey to all involved that any association with the terrorist group will trigger ostracization and sanctions. That Hamas doesn’t already appear toxic to these various interlocutors is itself a sign of a serious failure.

Read more at Washington Institute for Near East Policy

More about: Gaza War 2023, Hamas, Palestinian Authority