Earlier this month, Hamas released a new policy document in Qatar aimed at moderating its image in the Western world and easing strained ties with Egypt. Though the new document did not in any way revoke or obviate the 1988 anti-Semitic charter which calls for the destruction of Israel and the killing of Jews, Haaretz‘s English edition extended a helping hand to Hamas’ aim to appeal to Western audiences, by repeatedly falsely calling the new policy document a “new charter,” even as the corresponding articles in Haaretz‘s Hebrew edition rightly referred to the new Hamas “document,” “platform,” or “principles.” Misidentifying the document as a “new charter” falsely denotes that the old charter is no longer relevant and that Hamas has changed its mission.
Thus, in the English print edition Sunday (May 7) (and online here), Haaretz‘s Amos Harel accurately reported:
Hamas has completed two important processes in recent months: a round of elections to its institutions and senior positions, and formulation of a new document which does not replace the old Hamas charter, but might endow the organization with a slightly more pragmatic image with Israel (especially among those who don’t look too deeply into the text.) (Emphasis added.)
Yet, on the very same page in a separate article, Haaretz contradicts itself, referring to the Hamas document as a “new charter”:
Haniyeh’s election marks the end of the reorganization process in Hamas, after the election of regional representatives and the publication of the movement’s new charter.
A slightly longer version of this article in the English digital edition contained additional erroneous references to the document as a “new charter.” For instance, the subheadline contained the inaccurate language:
In addition, the longer digital version added:
At the beginning of last week, Hamas presented its new charter at a press conference in Qatar. (Emphasis added.)
The Hebrew edition, on the other hand, accurately refers to the document with the Hebrew word “matza” (political platform) (CAMERA’s translation):
Haniyeh’s selection marks the end of a rejuvenation process within Hamas, after the elections of local leadership and the publication of the movement’s new platform. . . .
In the beginning of last week, Hamas presented the movement’s new platform at a press conference in Qatar.
This is not the only time that the English edition has erroneously characterized Hamas’ new political document as a charter, while the Hebrew edition correctly referred to a platform (matza). Moreover, the English edition’s numerous erroneous references to the new “document” as a “charter,” while the Hebrew edition was precise about the terminology, is consistent with the phenomenon called “Haaretz, Lost in Translation,” in which Haaretz in English, geared towards an international audience, frequently downplays or whitewashes Palestinian violence, extremism or other wrongdoing.
There is also the May 1 headline, “Hamas Presents New Charter Supporting Palestinian State Along 1967 Borders: . . . . Israel blasted new charter as smoke screen for group’s real intentions.”
That accompanying text also includes numerous erroneous references to the document as a charter:
After some initial delays, Hamas presented its new charter on Monday, as Israel was marking its Independence Day. As was expected, Hamas’ new charter accepts the possibility of a Palestinian state along the 1967 “Green Line” border, considered by some a moderation of the Gaza group’s position.
Israel responded to the charter even before Hamas’ press conference, saying it did not represent any real change by the Gaza group.
Hamas was expected to present the charter at the Intercontinental hotel in the Qatari capital of Doha, but the hotel canceled, prompting Hamas to scramble to find an alternative location, eventually holding the event at the Doha Sheraton. . . .
Ahead of the charter’s publication Hamas sources had in recent weeks reported its main provisions.
Hamas’ indication of a willingness to accept a Palestinian state within 1967 boundaries does not mean that the state would ultimately be limited to those lines. Indeed, the document specifies:
There can be no concession over any part of the land of Palestine, for whatever reason and under any circumstances and pressures, and no matter how long the occupation . . . Hamas rejects any alternative to the total liberation of Palestine, from the river to the sea.
(Any media coverage of the new Hamas document which notes that Hamas accepts the 1967 lines but ignores the fact that the organizations continues to call for the destruction of Israel, or the “total liberation of Palestine, from the river to the sea,” as well as the “inaliable” right for Palestinians “to return to their homes from which they were banished or were banned from returning to – whether in the lands occupied in 1948 or in 1967 (that is the whole of Palestine),” is doing its readers a huge disservice. To its credit, Haaretz‘s subheadline, despite the erroneous reference to the new “charter” in the headline, indicates that Hamas “vow[s] to continue to strive to liberate all of Palestinians lands,” and reiterates that point within the article itself.)
The parallel Hebrew version of the article, in contrast, correctly identifies the Hamas document as a platform, not a charter (CAMERA’s translation):
The head of Hamas’ political bureau, Khaled Meshaal, tonight (Monday) presented the organization’s new political platform at a press conference in Doha, Qatar’s capital. According to to the new platform, the organization will accept the establishment of a Palestinian state in 1967 boundaries without recognizing the state of Israel. According to sources in Hamas, it was decided to officially present the document at this time, close to the meeting between Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas and U.S. President Donald Trump in Washington.
And the accurate Hebrew headline states: “Meshal presents Hamas’ new political platform: They are prepared to weigh a state in 1967 boundaries.”
In addition, a May 3 headline for an Amira Hass article reads in English: “Why Hamas’ New Charter Is Aimed at Palestinians, Not Israelis.” In contrast, the Hebrew states (CAMERA’s translation): “Hamas’ new principles document is aimed at Palestinians, not Israelis.”
Likewise, there’s this May 7 English headline, “Hamas pulls old Israeli trick in new charter,” versus the accurate Hebrew, which refers to the “organizations’ new principles” in the subheadline.
Finally, the English edition story is (ironically), entitled: “Netanyahu Slams CNN, NYT Coverage of Hamas Charter, Calling It ‘Fake News.'” The subheadline and the accompanying text also wrongly refer to the document as a “charter.” (The Hebrew edition apparently did not run this story.)
Incidentally, The New York Times story about the new document, whatever its flaws and Netanyahu’s criticism aside, uses the correct terminology, “document” or “statement,” and does not call the document a charter. Moreover, it correctly reports:
And the group specifically weakened language from its 1988 charter proclaiming Jews as enemies and comparing their view to Nazism, though the new document does not replace the original charter.
CNN, for its part, at least on its Web site, also correctly refers to the new Hamas document as a “policy document” and not a charter, making CNN and New York Times coverage, at least on this particular point, superior to Haaretz‘s.