Once again, the Associated Press has resorted to duplicity in its Middle East coverage. An Oct. 5 article by AP's Peter Enav reported on United Nations official Peter Hansen's admission that Hamas members are employed by the U.N. in Gaza. Hansen's words were so loosely paraphrased by Enav that they altogether lost their severity – and even their meaning.
The Canadian Broadcast Company Web site reported on Oct. 4 that Hansen, head of the United Nations Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA) which oversees Palestinian refugees, told CBC television:
Oh, I am sure that there are Hamas members on the UNRWA payroll and I don't see that as a crime.
The next day, Enav addressed Hansen's comment in an article entitled “Israel re-evaluating allegation that U.N. body in Gaza helped transport missile for militants,” which stated:
Hansen also acknowledged that Hamas sympathizer might be working for the agency. [emphasis added]
Enav downplays both Hansen's certainty – the phrase “I am sure” becomes “there might be” – and the involvement with Hamas – UNRWA does not employ Hamas “members,” only “sympathizers.” (The difference is consequential: One can “sympathize” with Israelis or Palestinians without being Israeli or Palestinian, and one can sympathize with Hamas without being a Hamas member. Hansen explicitly referred to Hamas “members” being on the U.N. payroll.) Since Enav did not provide the actual quote, readers must base their conclusions on his misrepresentation of Hansen's words.
Reports of Hansen's actual comments caused alarm in Canada. United Press International reported that “the Canadian government, which gives some $10 million yearly to UNRWA, said it would be ‘deeply concerned’ should Hansen's remarks have been taken in context and said it ‘will immediately seek clarification from Mr. Hansen directly and from U.N. authorities.’ ”
Surely Canada relied on information more complete than that provided by Enav.
(Other AP reporters did provide the full Hansen quote in their stories)