Time Magazine Whitewashes Hamas, Tars Sharon

In a striking case of inverting truth, the Jan. 6 issue of Time Magazine contained a photo essay entitled “People Who Mattered 2002.” The brief text by Lev Grossman was accompanied by a full page photo of each VIP, including Ariel Sharon and “The Hamas Militant.” A comparison of the two blurbs demonstrates a tendentious and pejorative characterization of Sharon versus a euphemistic presentation of Hamas terrorists.

Sharon’s caption reads:

A lifelong hawk who has fought for Israel since 1948, Sharon has reinvented himself as a centrist, at least by his Likud Party’s standard. But he hasn’t forgotten how to fight. As over 400 Israelis died in terrorist attacks in 2002, Sharon’s soldiers killed more than 1,000 Palestinians — some combatants but many civilians too. He came to power promising peace, but Sharon knows best how to wage war.

The Hamas caption reads:

The name is short for Harakat al-Muqawama al-Islamiya (Islamic Resistance Movement), but in Arabic hamas simply means ‘zeal.’ Throughout the year, the Muslim fundamentalist group showed that growing numbers of young men — and women — are willing to blow themselves up for their cause. But many Palestinians fear that with each attack international support for that cause withers.

The problems:

1) While Sharon is labeled “a lifelong hawk,” Hamas is described merely as a “Muslim fundamentalist group”and its supporters are “militants” — not terrorists.

2) The blurb on Hamas twice mentions the group’s “cause,” but fails to define what the cause actually is.  Excerpts from the Hamas’ charter reveal the genocidal nature of the organization’s goals, such as:

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

In addition, according to the charter:

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.

3) In addition to describing Sharon as “a lifelong hawk,” Grossman avers that the Israeli Prime Minister “knows best how to wage war.” This clichéd characterization ignores the restraint Sharon has exercised in the face of the mass murder of Israeli civilians.

To mention one example, following the June 1, 2001 bombing of the Dolphinarium disco in Tel Aviv, in which 21 Israeli youths were murdered, Sharon refused to retaliate until a month later, as the Israeli death toll kept increasing. Despite the U.S. brokered cease-fire, Palestinians kept up their terror attacks and drive-by murders throughout June, though Sharon did not respond. Not until after the July 16 suicide bombing in Binyamina (in which two were killed and 11 injured) and the premature detonation of a bomb in Jerusalem before the Maccabiah opening ceremony the same day did Sharon respond.

4) While Sharon is blamed for killing more than 1,000 Palestinians, the Hamas member is not held accountable for murdering countless Israelis and foreigners. In fact, in contrast to Sharon’s bio, the word “kill” (or murder) does not even appear in the Hamas profile. Instead, their innumerable atrocities are described as “willing to blow themselves up for their cause.”

In addition, Sharon’s alleged victims are described as “some combatants but many civilians too.” A more accurate description would have been “some civilians but mostly combatants.” According to the International Policy Institute for Counter-Terrorism (ICT) at the Interdisciplinary Center in Herzliya, Israel (in a study of those killed in Palestinian-Israeli violence between September 27, 2000 and Dec. 19, 2002), of the Palestinian fatalities, 39.6% were non-combatants killed by Israel, with only 3.7% being female non-combatants. In contrast, of the Israeli dead, 77.5% were non-combatants murdered by  Palestinians, with a full 31% of the dead being female non-combatants. Again, no mention at all is made of Hamas’ victims — or that they were deliberately targeted civilians.

5) Grossman also skews Israeli and Palestinian public opinion. Refusing to believe Sharon’s widespread appeal to Israeli voters, the reporter mocks: ” . . . Sharon has reinvented himself as a centrist, at least by his Likud Party’s standards.”

Also, in the Hamas profile, Grossman writes: “But many Palestinians fear that with each attack international support for that cause withers.” His suggestion here that Palestinians do not, in fact, support Hamas terrorism is unfounded. A recent survey by Search for Common Ground and the Program on International Policy Attitudes (PIPA) revealed that in November 2002, 70 percent of Palestinians felt positive about suicide bombings against Israeli civilians (“The Potential for a Nonviolent Intifada II,” Dec. 9, 2002).

Final note: The photographs were more fair than the accompanying blurbs.  The one of the Israeli leader featured a pensive looking Sharon. The anonymous “Hamas militant” was appropriately masked and aiming a gun.

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