Guardian asks ‘expert’ what Hamas can do to “kickstart the peace process”

A story by Paul Owen on the upcoming Israeli elections and the prospects for peace with the Palestinians, in a Jan. 11 edition of the Guardian’s ongoing ‘Live Blog on the Middle East, relied almost exclusively on the analysis of Amnon Aran of City University, London.

Aran explained that there were a number of dynamics currently “working against peace”.

Owen then asked the following, evidently without a hint of irony or sarcasm:

“Khaled Meshal of Hamas and Mahmoud Abbas of Fatah, the leaders of the Palestinians in Gaza and the West Bank respectively, met in Cairo for talks on Wednesday. Was there anything they could do to kickstart the peace process? [emphasis added]“

Here’s Aran’s even more surreal reply to Owen’s risible query:

“Serious reconciliation and unification” between the two factions would “certainly help”, Aran said, and there were positive signs there, such as the recent pro-Fatah rally in Gaza.”

Aran is of course referring to the recent rally in Gaza celebrating the anniversary of its first terror attack.

While Abbas has made it clear that he will “would never, in a thousand years, recognize a Jewish state”, Mahmoud al-Zahar, senior leader and co-founder of Hamas (a group whose founding charter cites the wisdom of the Protocols of the Elders of Zion), has waxed even more eloquently about the the Jews’ future in the Middle East.

Here he is speaking on Al-Aqsa TV in 2010:

I guess it never occurred to the British academic that a good way to “kick-start the peace process” would be for the Palestinian leadership in the W. Bank to avoid aligning themselves with a group whose leadership characterizes Jews as “blood suckers” and “wild beasts” who deserve to be annihilated. 

Guardian’s media blogger, Roy Greenslade, ignores Hamas restrictions on journalists

A guest post by AKUS

This was the Guardian’s list of top Media stories on December 28th:

pic

Oddly enough, the December 27th story by Harriett Sherwood about Hamas banning Palestinian journalists reporting in Gaza for Israeli media did not make it the Guardian’s list of top media stories. Instead, it was quietly pushed to News/World News/Hamas:

Sherwood

Nor did it come to the attention of Roy Greenslade, who seems to keep an eagle-eyed focus on news relating to the media and press freedom in Israel.

How strange that Greenslade should have overlooked this story while being so on top of other stories about media in the region, especially those which show Israel in a negative light – despite the fact that, by any standard, Israel lays claim to the only truly free press in the region.  

media

Perhaps a Hamas ban on Palestinian journalists who report for the Israeli media is not a significant media issue – unlike, for example, an Israeli reporter leaking security documents, which led to this lengthy re-write, by Greenslade, of an article from Ha’aretz on September 4th, 2012,  Israeli judge to reporter – state security matters more than press freedom:

pic 3

And in July 2011 there was this report by Greenslade, rehashing the NYT, darkly warning of the end of a free speech in Israel– still alive and kicking more than a year later, by the way:

pic 4How very odd to see the difference in emphasis about media restrictions when the antagonists in the tale are Palestinians.

Could it be that Greenslade and the Guardian expect such behavior from Hamas, and therefore don’t consider it newsworthy enough to report it at a blog about the media and press freedom?

Following our post, Guardian changes photo caption alleging IAF strike during Hamas rally

Yesterday (Dec. 9) we posted about a Dec. 8 Guardian photo from Gaza (Khaled Meshaal attends Hamas anniversary rally in Gaza – in pictures) which contained a patently false caption:

Members of Hamas security forces stand guard

Here’s the original caption which caught our eye:

captionAs we noted, the claim that there was an Israeli airstrike, on the very day of the widely covered Hamas rally, which destroyed a building yet, somehow, wasn’t reported by any media source, leaves you wondering if there are Guardian editors doing elementary fact checking for such photo stories.

We asked our readers to contact the Guardian readers’ editor to point out the mistake, and, sure enough, in less than 24 hours the caption was changed. It now reads as follows:

revisedThe Guardian correction section notes the following:

correction

It’s still unclear why Hamas security forces were guarding the top of a Gaza building on Dec. 8 , weeks after it was likely destroyed (during the war which ended on Nov. 21), but at least the Guardian is now clear about the day it certainly wasn’t destroyed.

Guardian photo caption invents an Israeli airstrike in Gaza

 

The Guardian published a post on Dec. 8 which contained 19 photos taken in Gaza on the day the Islamist terror group ‘celebrated’ their 25th anniversary: Khaled Meshaal attends Hamas anniversary rally in Gaza – in pictures. 

header

Here’s one of the photos they included, taken by Reuters photographer Mohammed Salam.

Members of Hamas security forces stand guard

Here’s the caption:

caption

According to the caption, the building in the photo was destroyed by an Israeli strike during the Dec. 8 rally.

However, there have been no Israeli air strikes in Gaza since the ceasefire between Israel and Hamas went into effect on Nov. 21.

There have been a few violent border incidents and Gaza fishermen were arrested by the Israeli Navy on Nov. 28, but there have been no reports of airstrikes on Dec. 8, or on any day after the ceasefire – even on the website of Hamas.

Even the most minimal fact checking would have disproven the “witness” claim.

Please consider emailing Guardian readers’ editor Chris Elliott to seek a correction.

reader@guardian.co.uk

 

Related articles

 

Guardian omits tiny detail regarding Khaled Meshaal’s dream to “liberate Palestine”

Harriet Sherwood’s Dec. 7 report, ‘Gaza Welcomes exiled Hamas leader‘, about Khaled Meshaal’s first trip to Gaza, began with these three paragraphs:

Hamas leader Khaled Meshaal kissed the ground and wept as he arrived in Gaza on Friday on a historic first visit to celebrate the 25th anniversary of the Islamist organisation and what it claims was a victory in the recent war with Israel.

“I have been dreaming of this historic moment my entire life, to come to Gaza,” said the exiled leader, who last stood on Palestinian soil as a teenager. He paid tribute to the “blood of [Gaza's] heroes”.

He told reporters it was another rebirth following a failed attempt by Israel to assassinate him in 1997. He prayed that his next rebirth would come “the day we liberate Palestine“.

Sherwood somehow neglected to explain to her readers what cities in “Palestine” Meshaal wished to liberate – information widely reported throughout the media:

He told reporters:

“Today Gaza, tomorrow Ramallah and then Jerusalem, Haifa and Jaffa

The Palestine he wants to liberate includes every square inch of land between the river and the sea.

The opening words of Hamas’s founding covenant make its goal clear:

“Israel will exist and will continue to exist until Islam will obliterate it, just as it obliterated others before it.”

The covenant is also clear about their methods:

“There is no solution for the Palestinian question except through Jihad. Initiatives, proposals and international conferences are all a waste of time and vain endeavors.

So, there should be nothing surprising about the fact that the Hamas leader expressed his desire to annihilate Israel, unless of course you’re one of those who rely on the Guardian as a serious news source about the Israeli-Palestinian Conflict. 

Did the Palestinians shoot themselves in the foot?

A guest post by AKUS

It surely strikes any unbiased observer that what appears to have been a poorly staged attempt by paid locals  and quite possibly foreign meddlers to infiltrate into Israel on “Al Naksa Day” was largely treated as a yawn by most of the Western media and an attempt by Syria to divert attention from the brutal crackdown on its own citizens. Not, of course, by our friends at the Guardian, who went into overdrive at the thought – the hope – that this orchestrated “spontaneous uprising” would once again embarrass Israel and hundreds of thousands of Arabs would reclaim what was never theirs in the first place – the Golan Heights, followed, no doubt, in the Guardian editors’ fevered imagination, by the whole of Israel.

Of course, the entire premise of Al Naksa was absurd. On behalf of the invented nation of Palestine, which did not exist before 1967, the Syrians staged an event that with bitter irony commemorates the worst defeat the Arabs have ever had, delivered at the hands of Israel in 1967. The results of the useless theatrics were equally absurd. The deaths were caused by rioters throwing Molotov cocktails into anti-tank minefields (on the Syrian side of the border) and blowing themselves up.

The Red Cross has been unable to corroborate any of the Syrian reports that Israel killed 23 demonstrators.  As soon as the usual lies became apparent, any sympathy that might have existed for the Palestinians in the media was blown away, so to speak.

Moreover, the number of deaths, if any at all, pale by comparison with the wholesale slaughter  being meted out by the Assad regime to its own citizens. The scale is so “disproportionate”, to use a well-worn term, that even members of the United Nations were compelled to agree with Israel’s description of Syria’s complaints about the similar events on Al Nakba day as “surreal”. The Palestinians and their supporters looked simply foolish as a consequence.

Israel TV, which employs numerous Arab staff and reporters in its northern studio, reported that none of them had ever heard of “Al Naksa”, and thought it was silly of the Palestinians in Syria to have a day that commemorates Syria’s greatest defeat.

Worse was to follow.

In rage at the faked reports of deaths and anger at the cowardice of leaders who once again apparently sent others to risk their lives, crowds estimated in the hundreds turned on the leadership of the Palestinians in Damascus. They attacked the offices of the PFLP-GC (a splinter group formed by Ahmad Jibril from Habash’s PFLP and responsible for the 1974 Passover Kiryat Shmona massacre of 18 Israelis). The result was a self-inflicted massacre of at least 14  and dozens wounded by the bodyguards of such luminaries as Khalid Meshaal of Hamas. Ahmad Jibril narrowly escaped with his life (unfortunately).

New reports claim that the Palestinians are having second thoughts  about applying to the UN in November for statehood. Obama and Merkel met in Washington and among other matters warned in their closing statement  that trying to use the UN to grant statehood to the Palestinians was not going to work. Since these are two of the major donors  of the funds Palestinian leadership relies on to support their luxurious, globe-trotting lifestyle, they immediately went into reverse gear. Now they are demanding negotiations with Israel – but only if Israel first agrees to their terms!

Having said all that, there is yet another reason that the Palestinians once again destroyed their own game-plan.

Despite the fevered dreams of the Guardian staff, who apparently imagine a world-wide Stalinist proletariat arising to conquer Israel we live in a world of nation states where rampant cross-border illegal immigration – infiltration, really – is an increasingly difficult problem for the wealthy Western states. Western leaders and the responsible media understand that once again what starts with the Jews would not end with the Jews. If today the Golan, why not tomorrow Andaluz or Austria?

The US, in particular, faced with an unending flood of illegal immigrants from Mexico, Central and South America, made it clear that it  that Israel has the right and obligation to defend its borders from being overrun, by force if necessary. Yes – that includes the borders of the Golan Heights, annexed after 1967, and never seriously challenged by the USA and EU, unlike the West Bank situation.

The Palestinians gained little sympathy, and will have even less if they or the Syrians stage a repeat performance to distract attention from what they are doing in Syria. The idea that thousands of “unarmed civilians” will just wander across the borders of another state strikes at one of the great unspoken fears of the West and many other nation states. The stakes are far too high for the world’s major powers, including Russia, China, and India who all face similar problems, for them to countenance this kind of behavior.

Moreover, these events of Al Nakba day and Al Naksa day gave pointed meaning to Israel’s oft-repeated concerns about its need for defensible borders.  The Palestinians and Syrians provided Israel with the best example it could ask for to demonstrate its case. Israel may have shot a few demonstrators in the legs as a last resort (following verbal warnings which went unheeded, shots in the air, and the use of tear gas other non-lethal force), but the Palestinians – and their paid and paying supporters – clearly shot themselves in the feet.

The worst former President: Jimmy Carter Sticks his Nose in Again

A guest post by AKUS

If there is one American who could justifiably be considered to be as obsessed with Israel as the Guardian’s editorial group, it is former US President Jimmy Carter. Like a mosquito bite he can never quite reach to scratch, and like the Guardian, the issue keeps him coming back, and back, and back, each time it seems from a position more removed from any comprehension of the reality in which Israel has to operate.

His latest effort, which I would not be surprised to see appear on CiF where it is virtually guaranteed a flood of anti-Israel cheerleading, appeared in the Washington Post for Wednesday, May 4th headlined on the web: Support the Palestinian unity government while in the print edition the rosy headline reads: “A Partnership that could bring Mideast peace”. I venture to suggest that if he were not so firmly in the Hamas camp, Arabs would deride the article as yet another marvelous example of “orientalism”, where Carter unconsciously makes it clear that the Palestinians, hapless victims of circumstances beyond their control, cannot accomplish anything without the help of what he refers to as “the United States and the international community” (which rather puts the US outside the “international community”, I suppose).

In Carter’s view, the Palestinians, even with the help of the Egyptians, cannot succeed nor stop them from attacking Israel without the world’s benign help:

If the United States and the international community support this effort, they can help Palestinian democracy and establish the basis for a unified Palestinian state in the West Bank and Gaza that can make a secure peace with Israel. If they remain aloof or undermine the agreement, the situation in the occupied Palestinian territory may deteriorate with a new round of violence against Israel. Support for the interim government is critical, and the United States needs to take the lead.

Is there any other group aspiring to national identity which he would claim can only achieve its goals if America provides a helping hand? Of course, the helping hand has been aided by a boot in the backside to Israel, cheerfully provided by Mr. Cameron of the UK, who incredibly has demanded that Israel engage in discussions with the Palestinians rather than demanding that the Palestinians actually appear at the negotiating table. Carter arrogantly forgets that it is the Palestinians who will have to establish their democracy and the results of the previous effort are far from promising. Furthermore, if they cannot come together, it is interesting that he sees the alternative as “a new round of violence against Israel”? Are those the choices the Palestinians have?

Next, Carter makes the absolutely fallacious leap that “This accord should be viewed as a Palestinian contribution to the “Arab awakening,” as well as a deep wish to heal internal divisions.” Neither is true.

Far from being a “contribution to the Arab awakening”, the best one could say is that the accord is a consequence of the changes in Egypt that have brought the Muslim Brotherhood to within grasping distance of the reins of government there and the diametrically opposite turn of events in Syria. The accord has been driven by Hamas’ realization that it may well be losing its base in Damascus because they foolishly backed the Muslim Brotherhood against Assad (the classic Palestinian mistake of seeing the world as they wish it were, rather than as it is, that has been going on for over a hundred years).  With a key connection to its Iranian sponsors potentially gone, Hamas feels the need to shore up its position with its neighbor Egypt, where the Brotherhood has been demanding the abrogation of the peace treaty between Egypt and Israel. As for “healing internal divisions”, there has been adequate coverage of the various responses by both sides to cast doubt on the ability of the accord between Hamas and Fatah to survive for long.

But it is towards the end of his article that Carter particularly displays the naiveté and bias that so permeates his views of the conflict as he lays out his vision for a rosy future.

He first makes the incredible assumption that “a unity government of technocrats — i.e., neither Fatah nor Hamas” will be appointed. If not members of Fatah and Hamas – who?  That question goes unanswered.  Then he assumes that Hamas will abide by an agreement that “Security will be overseen by a committee set up by Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas (Abu Mazen), and Egypt will assist.” Readers are now expected to believe that Hamas, which has spent the better part of a decade killing Fatah at every turn, will suddenly agree to cast their fate in with a security apparatus heeded by arch-enemy till yesterday Abu Mazen. How will Egypt assist this? Does he really think that Israel will allow Egyptian forces into Gaza in violation of the Sadat-Begin agreement and into the West Bank?

Carter then jumps to the conclusion that “Abu Mazen will be able to negotiate on behalf of all Palestinians.” This completely ignores the fact that Abu Mazen has refused to negotiate with Israel at all since Netanyahu’s government was formed. There is no reason at all to expect that he will in the future, especially since Britain’s Prime Minister has virtually assured Abu Mazen that if he does NOT negotiate with Israel, Britain will blame Israel and support the Palestinian attempt to get approval for a unilateral declaration of statehood at the UN in September.

Moreover, Carter seems to be assuming that if there are elections, Abu Mazen will emerge the leader. But what if it is Haniyah who has sworn never to negotiate with Israel? How will Israel have to react on the West Bank if Hamas’ rockets and mortars start raining down on Israel from there? What will Carter’s response be when Israel declares war on a new Palestinian state or state-to-be that attacks it daily with rockets and mortars?

Carter is not quite done praising the accord. Realizing that many might point out that Hamas has refused to negotiate with Israel, has refused to accept the idea of a two-state solution, and refuses to even accept the continued existence of the State of Israel, Carter plays his trump card:

In my talks with Hamas leader Khaled Meshal, he said Hamas would accept a two-state agreement that is approved in a Palestinian referendum. Such an agreement could provide mutual recognition — Israel would recognize an independent Palestinian state and Palestine would recognize Israel. In other words, an agreement will include Hamas’s recognition of Israel.

There are three problems with this declaration by Carter. Netanyahu has already agreed to recognize a peaceful Palestinian state that recognizes Israel as the Jewish Homeland, while all the Palestinian leaders have refused to make the reciprocal statement. Then there is not a sign of such a statement made in public by Khaled Meshal. Lastly, Carter overlooks the fact that he is only a former President who has no standing whatsoever in the conflict. Whatever Carter thinks Meshal told him has no bearing on the actual intentions of Hamas. We are too familiar with the old trick of saying one thing in English for Western consumption and another in Arabic for the home audience to take this statement at face value. The statement is so absolutely typical of the naïve Westerner that one does not know whether to laugh or cry. But I am pretty sure that Meshal had a good laugh when he read it.

Perhaps Carter does vaguely understand this, after all, when he notes that:

Suspicions of Hamas stem from its charter, which calls for Israel’s destruction. I find the charter repugnant.

Indeed. But like our friends at the Guardian might do, he hastens to point out the bright side:

Yet it is worth remembering that Israel negotiated the Oslo Accords with the Palestine Liberation Organization while its charter had similar provisions. It took five more years before the PLO Charter was altered.

The old “just because they say it does not imply that they really mean it” trick. And, yes, we really needed to be reminded of the wonderful outcomes associated with the disastrous Oslo agreements – the intifadas, suicide bombings, rockets, murders of whole families in their sleep, and so forth.

In the end, I come back to the beginning – my distaste for this meddler’s hubris. Carter cannot accept that it is the Palestinians who have to determine where their future lies and how it can be achieved, not the US, or the Quartet, or Israel, with Carter carefully guiding them along the path like an elderly shepherd as he oversees yet another disastrous election. It is irrelevant what the US or Israel thinks. If the Palestinians really want a united Gazan-West Bank identity, they will have to figure out how to achieve it themselves and create a meaningful identity. I actually doubt the Hamas and Fatah do want this unity even if the man in the street does, but in any event, if they do, nothing Carter, the US, the “international community” or Israel can do can prevent it. And if they do not really want unity, and the Bin Laden-praising murderous theocrats in Gaza cannot get along with the somewhat less ideological and murderous group on the West Bank, nothing that outsiders can do will change that.