If I had to pick one paragraph that shows what’s profoundly wrong with Middle
East coverage in the Western mass media, it would be from the following New York
Times article: “A rocket fired from Gaza fell close to a kindergarten in an
Israeli village on Tuesday morning. Earlier, the Israel Air Force struck several
targets in Gaza in retaliation for a recent increase in rocket and mortar shell
Small groups appear to be behind the fire, but Israel says it holds
Hamas, the Islamist organization that governs Gaza, responsible.”
does this bother me so much? Because it symbolizes how too much of the West
seems to fall for every trick, no matter how simple, of terrorists and
totalitarians and does their propaganda work for them.
Hamas rules the
Gaza Strip as a dictatorship.
What it wants to happen happens; what it
doesn’t want to happen doesn’t happen, or if it does, someone is going to pay
severely for it. There are smaller groups allied with Hamas, notably Islamic
Nothing could be more obvious than the fact that Hamas uses these
groups as fronts so it can attack Israel and then deny responsibility for doing
But let’s assume that Islamic Jihad – which Hamas allows to operate
freely in Gaza as its junior partner or some smaller groups or some Hamas people
hiding behind some other name – fires rockets or mortars at Israel. Presumably,
if Hamas didn’t like what they’re doing, it would arrest and perhaps torture
those responsible. But when it does nothing month after month despite repeated
attacks, this is a signal that Hamas approves of the attacks.
paragraph could be used to argue that if Israel hits Hamas facilities in
self-defense, it is lashing out at an innocent bystander. And every time some
devious Hamas leader remarks about the group’s willingness to make peace in the
ear of some politician or reporter, they provide free publicity about Hamas’s
alleged moderation. This, in turn, sets off others to chatter about the “great”
idea of negotiating with Hamas or rewarding it to encourage
You can substitute for Hamas such words as Iran, Hizbullah,
the Muslim Brotherhood, Syria, the Taliban or others.
I COULD cite
hundreds of examples showing Western governments, journalists, academics, courts
and, at times, public opinion being fooled by letting radicals and terrorists
make fools of them.
Yet the truth is hardly well hidden. Hamas, for
instance, has revealed its new strategy. Mahmoud Zahar, the group’s key leader
in the Gaza Strip, explains its medium-term goal is consolidating its hold on
the area, thanks largely to help from the US and Europe.
“We are not in a
hurry to buy or to sell our national interest because this is not the proper
The group rejects both negotiations (selling) and all-out war
(buying). The medium-term effort is to win broad support from Gazans by
improving their lives (with Western aid money), then using this base to go to
war with Israel (thus making their lives much worse).
This is Hamas’s
response to the US argument that raising living standards in the Gaza Strip will
inevitably make people more moderate and lead to its downfall.
putting my money on Hamas, not the Obama administration, proving
Zahar said Hamas is not planning to launch new attacks. Why
should it? It is enough to let Islamic Jihad and others fire mortars or rockets
and send squads across the border in terrorist attacks. If Israel retaliates too
much, Hamas will run crying to the Western media and governments to protect
Thanks to Western aid and lowered sanctions – although it is
officially listed as a terrorist group in the US and Europe – Hamas can stay in
power and build a strong support base by delivering the goods.
boasts: “They told me... ‘You cannot stay isolated and you are not going to
survive more than two months. Now we finished five years and we survived, and we
stayed, and we faced two wars,” Zahar said. “So we can stay, and we can
withstand, and we can win.”
Of course, Hamas would not have survived if
Israel had the support to overthrow it during Operation Cast Lead or perhaps if
sanctions had remained tight. Hamas succeeded not because of its own ability –
its military performance in the war was abysmal – but because the West saved
And Zahar says things like “time is not important if you are not
wasting this time” because, he believes, Israel is losing international support
while the Palestinians gain legitimacy.
In other words, Western
demonization and delegitimization directly encourage terrorist groups to be less
moderate and to fight more often.
Western aid, pressure to reduce
sanctions and pressure to limit retaliation against Gaza is helping Hamas to
build a genocide-seeking, terrorist, repressive Islamist dictatorship, backed by
Iran and determined to spread instability and anti-Western
Finally, Zahar provides a good comparison of Palestinian
Authority and Hamas strategy. The PA, Zahar explains, “says we are going to make
the infrastructure for a state and then the international community will give us
a state as a gift.”
So neither side wants to make peace with Israel: The
PA wants unilateral independence without conditions or concessions; Hamas seeks
military victory. Western policy encourages both of them not to become more
moderate and not to make peace. Even worse, Western misunderstandings and
misreporting help make the world a worse and more dangerous place.The
writer is director of the Global Research in International Affairs Center and
editor of the Middle East Review of International Affairs Journal and Turkish