Can a Tiger Change Its Stripes?

He was branded a terrorist and a murderer. For a while, he was Scotland Yard's most wanted man.

He's Gerry Adams, leader of Sinn Fein — once deemed by Britons to be Ireland's most murderous rogue group.

But then Gerry put down the gun and talked up peace. It took years, but it took. Peace, shaky as it is, is the new Northern Ireland.

Now Gerry's a statesman and the letters "I-R-A" are more recognizable as retirement accounts.

It's very hard to view Hamas, a murderous group, the same way. But time is a tricky thing. It can change zealots into peacemakers and bring rebels to reason.

In a far, far different vein, it's why it took a hawk like Ariel Sharon to make peace with the Palestinians and a guy who branded the Soviet Union an "evil empire" to make peace with that empire before quietly helping it go or a stiff anti-communist like Richard Nixon to visit China.

Stranger things have happened — stranger results too.

I'm not naive enough to trust a group that has only preached hatred and death. But I remember others that went on to preach something more lasting: peace.

Soon, even the most militant must realize there is greater value to breaking bread than breaking limbs.

It takes time. And maybe — just maybe — that time is now.

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