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May 5, 2009
Is the New York Times running the Hamas PR shop? (updated)
Khaled Meshaal, the leader of the terror group Hamas, said on Monday that rocket fire into Israel will stop for now and reached out to the Obama administration and to leaders of the West, saying it was seeking a state only in the areas "won" by Israel in the 1967 War,
That's the gist of the lead paragraph in a New York Times article by Taghreed el-Khodary and Ethan Bronner. Undoubtedly, the world's peace processors will be transported into rapture by this claim.
They should not be so credulous.
As one reads the rest of the article, the true story emerges. He repeated that he would not recognize Israel and states that "there is only one enemy in the region and that is Israel". He went further, asking outsiders to ignore the Hamas charter that, among other things, calls for the obliteration of Israel and holds that the notoriously anti-Semitic "Protocol of the Elders of Zion" is genuine (it is a forgery). That, at least, the Times get correct. But the Times ignores the rest of the Hamas Charter which goes on to blame Jews for the world's misfortunes and calls for attacks upon Christian and Jews around the world.
Then Meshaal offers this peace feeler:
On the two-state solution sought by the Americans, he said, "We are with a state on the 1967 borders, based on a long-term truce. This includes East Jerusalem, the dismantling of settlements and the right of return of the Palestinian refugees." Asked what "long-term" meant, he said 10 years.
A truce for 10 years? How generous. During that time, the Palestinians would have be able to prepare for the next round of warfare against Israel - even assuming that they would wait that long.
A "right of return" would swamp Israel with millions of Palestinian "refugees." The UN has a unique definition of refugees when it comes to the Palestinians. They include not only people who left Israel in 1948 but all their descendants. Since these descendants have been roundly abused for decades by their Arab brethren, chances are that most of them would gladly jump at the chance to "return" - even though it would not be a return for most of them since they never lived there to begin with.
The Times seems dismissive of any concerns and looks to the bright side:
Apart from the time restriction and the refusal to accept Israel's existence, Mr. Meshal's terms approximate the Arab League peace initiative and what the Palestinian Authority of President Mahmoud Abbas says it is seeking.
So what was the point of the Times running such an absurd "peace offer"? Meshaal's gambit is clear. He is throwing out a hook to see what peace processors bite so that he can reel them in. His "offer" is more in the nature of a public relations stunt geared towards trying to moderate the terror group's image and make it more acceptable for credulous leaders in the West (including the Obama administration) to deal with them.
Meshaal is making the offer to Obama and to the West, seemingly ignoring the Israelis themselves. That is somewhat self-evident in the first paragraph of the Times article. We can expect no Sadat-like addresses to the Knesset; what we can expect is more false overtures such as the one launched in the ever terror-friendly New York Times.
Update -- Leo Rennert adds:
In its May 5 edition, the New York Times prominently features an interview with Hamas's supreme leader that bends over backwards to present him in as positive and peace-loving a light as possible. In the same edition, the Times also carries an article on the annual meeting in Washington, DC, of AIPAC that bends over backwards to present the pro-Israel group in a most negative light.
Let's start with the Times' "scoop" -- a report by Gaza-based correspondent, Taghreed El-Khodary, and Jerusalem bureau chief Ethan Bronner following a five-hour session in Damascus with Hamas's leader, Khaled Meshal, spread across five columns on the front page of the International section, under a headline that reads:
Well, not quite. The headline, you see, promises more than the interview is able to deliver. Meshal, as the article concedes, merely said that Hamas has stopped firing rockets "for now." This is, of course, typical of Hamas's propaganda tactics -- to dangle peace teasers that evaporate with the next edition. But that doesn't deter the article's authors to inject their own spin to authenticate Meshal's overture. "In April, only six rockets and mortar rounds were fired at Israel from Gaza," they report. Note the qualifier of "only" six rockets and mortar rounds. As if half a dozen cross-border attacks at Israeli civilian populations somehow are supposed to be applauded as the equivalent of a full-scale truce.
In similar Hamas-coddling fashion, the lead paragraph then dangles an even more catchy peace-in-our-time prospect -- Meshal announcing that Hamas is "seeking a state only in the areas Israel won in 1967." This is reinforced by the caption under a photograph of Meshal, informing Times readers that he said "his group seeks a state only in the areas Israel won in 1967."
But did Meshal actually say that? Is he ready to settle for a permanent two-state solution along these lines? Nope, he certainly is not. But it is only farther down in the article -- in the eighth paragraph -- that El-Khodary and Bronner provide the actual quote from Meshal that Hamas would accept a Palestinian state along the 1967 lines, "based on a long-term truce." And there's the real catch. How long would this truce last before Hamas would be free to grab the rest of Israel, supposing it abided by any of its pledges? A mere 10 years.
Actually, Meshal's formula for using salami tactics to destroy Israel is nothing new. In fact, the Times interview in Damascus is a step backward from previous Hamas trial balloons that promised longer truces before the final push to exterminate Israel. But if Meshal deigns spend five hours with the New York Times, its correspondents evidently feel a need to spin his words as honest-to-goodness news -- never mind that it's the same old Israel-must-be-destroyed agenda.
Showing signs of incipient Stockholm syndrome, the two reporters also depict Mesahl as exuding an "air of serene self-confidence" and go on to spin his peace offering as approximating the Arab peace initiative, with only a couple of deviations. Or, as they put it in the gentlest possible way, "apart from the time restriction" on how soon Hamas might want to deliver the final coup de grace against Israel "and the refusal to accept Israel's existence." But why let those little old Hamas reservations get in the way of making it seem that Hamas's position "approximates" the Arab peace plan?
Not content with all these positive spins on Meshal's pronouncements, the two reporters then proceed to sanitize and humanize Hamas's blood-stained chief, informing readers that he is the son of a religious leader, that he studied physics in college, that he is married with seven children, and doesn't fear assassination because "death has become like drinking water."
Not a word about Meshal's role in launching a terror war against Israel that killed hundreds of innocent civilians. That part of Meshal's resume is carefully excised from the article.
In sum, Meshal couldn't have asked for more cooperative, fawning reporters to pass along his seductive messages.
Now, let's switch to the noticeably different treatment accorded AIPAC a few pages later in the same Times edition, "At Annual Meeing, Pro-Israel Group Reasserts Clout."
Here, the spin is decidedly negative, with reporter Neil Lewis focusing on AIPAC recovering from prosecutorial charges -- now dropped -- against two of its former staffers for allegedly violating an espionage statute and AIPAC members feeling relieved that "dual loyalty" clouds had dissipated as a result of the dropping of the indictments, which truth be told were without precedent or substance form the start.
Readers also are told about how powerful the Israel lobby is as members of Congress and top administration officials, including White House Chief of Staff Rahm Emanual with his "long-standing ties to Israel" dutifully line up to attend its convention to hear Israeli President Shimon Peres, Prime Minister Netanyahu (via satellite) and former Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni.
But does Neil Lewis inform readers about anything these speakers actually might have said? Not one word. Not one quote. Does Lewis bother to interview a single member of Congress to find out why AIPAC and Israel command such support. Does he write about polls consistently showing that these lawmakers' constituents are highly supportive of Israel, which they regard as sharing American democratic values in a very dangerous neighborhood. Again, not one word.
It's all about the political muscle of American Jews and AIPAC's "formidable political strength" -- the NY Times' nuanced way of painting American Jews as adept at gaining influence and power. A sophisticated, updated, politically correct version of the "Protocols of the Elders of Zion."
A fawning, gushing a la Meshal piece, it certainly ain't.