The Los Angeles Times, which has repeatedly given Op-Ed space to Hamas leaders (see here, here, here and here), once again extended a platform to the terrorist organization. In his June 8 interview with Hamas deputy foreign minister Ghazi Hamad, Edmund Sanders attaches the label "moderate" to Hamad and describes his organization as a "militant group." Sanders never once notes that the United States, the European Union and Israel regard Hamas as a terrorist organization. Nor does he include the fact that Hamas is responsible for the deaths of hundreds of Israeli civilians.
Likewise, the interviewee speaks of the unspecified "goals for the Palestinian people," but Sanders ignores Hamas' genocidal goals as spelled out in its charter. And, Hamad blames Israel for difficulties that Gazans face, including obtaining gas and getting passports, while Sanders fails to point out that it is Hamas and internal Palestinian issues which are responsible for these hardships.
The whitewashing of Hamas was immediately preceded by yet another call (see here, here, and here for past examples) in the Los Angeles Times for the replacement of Israel with a "binational" state. ("Six days in Israel, 45 years ago " Op-Ed by Miko Peled, June 6. Peled reiterates the call for the dissolution of the Jewish state June 9, in a response to a reader.)
What Are Palestinian Goals? What Are Hamas Goals?
The Hamad interview is egregiously vague about Palestinian and Hamas goals. In the introduction, Sanders states: "...Hamad said both sides [Hamas and Fatah] should acknowledge that the split has prevented each from realizing its goals for the Palestinian people." Neither Sanders nor Hamad clarifies what Fatah's and Hamas' goals are. Likewise, at the end of the interview, Hamad states, "We don't believe in violence if we can achieve our goals through peaceful means."
To some uninformed reader, Hamad's position may sound reasonable. But had Sanders bothered to point out that Hamas' goal, as outlined in its charter, is clearly the elimination of the Jewish state, as well as the killing of all Jews, any reader would understand that Hamad's claim is completely untenable. After all, you can't achieve genocide through peaceful means.
Had the journalist noted Hamas' motto (chapter eight of the charter) -- "Allah is its goal, the Prophet its model to be followed, the Koran its constitution, Jihad its way, and death for the sake of Allah its loftiest desire" -- readers would have understood that contrary to Hamad's claim, violence is not just a means for Hamas. It's the "way."
Hamad, the 'Moderate,' Should Heed his Own Advice
Jerusalem bureau chief Edmund Sanders writes that Ghazi Hamad is "considered a leading moderate voice in Hamas." That may be true, but readers aren't provided with the relative base line -- they are not told that the United States and others consider Hamas a terrorist organization and that the group's founding charter is replete with anti-Semitic genocidal statements like:
The Prophet, Allah's prayer and peace be upon him, says: "The hour of judgment shall not come until the Muslims fight the Jews and kill them, so that the Jews hide behind trees and stones, and each tree and stone will say: 'Oh Muslim, oh servant of Allah, there is a Jew behind me, come and kill him,' except for the Gharqad tree, for it is the tree of the Jews"
Readers are not informed that Hamas has already murdered hundreds of innocent civilians and maimed thousands. Given these egregious omissions, Sanders' partial description is woefully misleading. What does it mean, after all, to be a "moderate" in comparison to mass murderers?
Indeed, in the past, Hamad has voiced a position which, at least in comparison to the usual Hamas line, does seem relatively moderate. On Aug. 27, 2006, Hamad published an Op-Ed in the Palestinian Authority controlled newspaper Al-Ayyam, stating that Palestinians must start taking responsibilities for their hardships:
I want to make a reckoning and own up to our mistakes. We are always afraid to speak honestly about our mistakes, as we have become accustomed to placing the blame on other factors. The anarchy, chaos, pointless murders, the plundering of lands, family feuds... what do all of these have to do with the occupation? We have always been accustomed to pinning our failures on others, and conspiratorial thinking is still widespread among us.
In Al-Ayyam in Arabic, Hamad pointed a finger at Palestinian internal strife as the cause of Palestinian hardships. Yet, in English last week in the Times, he does exactly what he exhorts others not to do -- "pinning [Palestinian] failures on others."
Hamad tells Sanders:
People are suffering and facing difficulties with electricity and gas, getting passports, imports/exports. Now all this is on the shoulders of Hamas. Hamas has tried to do what it can, but it's not easy because of the siege, the blockade and political isolation.
But problems of electricity, gas, passports and imports have nothing to do with Israel's policies, "the siege," "blockade," or otherwise. For instance, the passport crisis is a result of the Hamas-Fatah rift. A May 22, 2011 article in the Palestinian Ma'an news agency reported:
Demonstrators gathered in Gaza City on Saturday to protest the Palestinian Authority's refusal to grant passports to 30,000 Gaza residents.
Tens of thousands of Palestinians in Gaza have been unable to get passports issued by the Fatah-led PA, residents say, because of factional tensions, despite the recent reconciliation agreement signed between Fatah and Hamas, which governs the Gaza Strip.
Salim Sharab, organizer of a campaign to demand passports for all residents, blamed the Palestinian Authority Minister of Interior in Ramallah for rejecting applications from Gaza.
As for the fuel and electricity crisis, it is completely due to Hamas' policies, and has nothing to do with Israel. As reported March 22, 2012 by Ibrahim Barzak and Karin Laub of the Associated Press:
The fuel crisis has its origins in the decision by Hamas, more than a year ago, to use smuggled fuel to run the territory's only power plant instead of paying for more expensive fuel coming through an Israeli cargo crossing. The plant normally provides 60 percent of Gaza's electricity.
Several weeks ago, the flow of smuggled Egyptian fuel began to slow: Egypt was itself suffering shortages, and it grew annoyed that Hamas was profiting by imposing tariffs on subsidized fuel meant for Egyptians.
Given the acute crisis, Hamas has again started accepting fuel from Israel. According to the May 27-June 2, 2012 "Crossing Status Weekly Report" issued by Israel's Coordinator of Government Activities in the Territories (COGAT), "860 thousand liters of Heavy-duty diesel for the power plant was delivered this week."
As for the so-called "siege," the latest COGAT report, cited above, notes that beyond the 860,000 tons of diesel, an additional 1,031 truckloads (or 27,797 tons) of goods were imported from Israel into the Gaza Strip the week before the interview. Between the imports from Israel and the smuggling from Gaza, there is no difficulty with imports, contrary to Hamad's claim. (Hamad is right only on the question of exports, which Israel has heavily curtailed.)
Later on, Sanders does note that goods seem plentiful, stating: "You mentioned the problems here, yet driving around Gaza one can't help but notice the widespread construction. Stores look filled with goods and buys." At which point even Hamad acknowledges:
The situation is better. There are building materials, new cars. Some factories are starting to work. More goods are coming from [the Israeli border crossing at] Kerem Shalom than in the past. More goods are coming through the tunnels.
Yet, despite the fact that Israel allows virtually everything aside from weapons to flow into Gaza (as he himself witnessed), Sanders still poses the question, "are there any signs that Israel or the international community will lift the blockade...?"
Hamad exhibits similar anachronistic terminology when it comes to the issue of the current "occupation" of Gaza. In response to Sanders' query about the possibility of increased openness in Hamas elections, Hamad states, "there is no need to be secret. But others are not sure because of the occupation. Israel may still target [Hamas] people. We're still in a conflict."
Conflict, yes. Occupation, no. As even Hamas leader Mahmoud Zahar acknowledged in January, the Gaza Strip is no longer occupied.
Hamad: Abbas, 'Man of Peace'
Hamad closes with this apparent insult about his rival Mahmoud Abbas of Fatah: "Look at what happened to Abbas [who accepts the quartet conditions]. For 21 years he's said he's a man of peace and against violence. He did everything Israel asked." If Abbas is a "man of peace," it is hard to explain his repeated rejections of Israel's requests to sit down for direction peace negotiations.
This "man of peace" leads the Palestinian Authority, which just days earlier honored suicide bombers in a public ceremony where PA secretary general, Tayeb Abd Al-Rahim, lauded the terrorists and urged others to emulate them: "Oh brothers [martyrs], your souls now hover above us and say to us: 'Follow in our path.'"
Indeed, with a "man of peace" like that, it's no surprise that Hamad, speaking to a Western audience, fails to spell out Palestinian goals -- Hamas' or Fatah's.
As for the Los Angeles Times, the whitewashing of extremist Palestinian goals and deadly terror attacks brings its news coverage into line with its Op-Ed pages. Given the repeated sugar-coated calls for the dismantling of the Jewish state (most recently, in Miko Peled's words, "the necessity to transform Israel into a binational democracy from the current binational apartheid reality"), what would you expect?