In the papers, they are describing the Hamas victory as "a time for pessimism" and "the quandary to beat all quandaries". That great milestone of the Israel-Palestine peace - the Oslo accord- suddenly looks like an infant searching for its mother. The victory confronts each of us at several levels: it points to us the first political repercussions of the demise of Yasser Arafat and Ariel Sharon (almost dead, well).
The second minefield is one that Israel and US must traverse before they can graduate from the school of negotiable leaders and missed chances to matriculate in the university of militant realpolitik: it is a good beginning when you hear a Hamas leader eschew the official militant line and talk the talk of a respectable political outfit.
The victory is saddled with inherent contradictions. It's a cruel joke for Bush who is trying his best to sow democracy in the neighbourhood. You let the cat out of the bag and it will most certainly not do your bidding. It's the age-old debate. How democratic is democracy when it is burdened with cultural and social ramifications?
How Hamas plays this out will be a test not just for the leadership but for all terrorist outfits considering a switch to electoral politics. If they don't mess it up, the victory might just be the start of a very welcome churning within the Islamic world.