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Humanizing Hamas By: Anav Silverman
FrontPageMagazine.com | Thursday, May 14, 2009

The New York Times recently published an interview on May 4 with Hamas’s political chief, Khaled Mashal, entitled Addressing US, Hamas Says It Grounded Rockets.  In the interview, the Times takes a very sympathetic approach to Hamas leader, who was just elected to his fourth term as Hamas’s political bureau chief, the post he has held since 2004.   The Times attempts to portray a new more “moderate” Mashal, in the hopes that that Hamas is actually turning a new leaf.

In the article, The Times quotes Mashal as asking Americans to disregard the Hamas charter, (steeped in anti-Semitic declarations), while also stating that Iran does “not control or affect Hamas policies." The Times also quotes Mashal saying that Hamas has no interest in bringing strict Muslim law into Gaza.

Indeed the fact that Iran provides Hamas with of hundreds of million of dollars annually was not raised by the interviewers, nor the fact that Mashal has called jihad against Israel numerous times. And what about Hamas’s reinstatement of stricter Shariya laws into the Gaza Strip judicial system back in December 2008?

The New York Times seemed particularly awed by Mashal apparently stating that Hamas had halted rocket attacks against southern Israel— the declaration became the headline for the Times article. 

Two days after the NY Times published Mashal’s interview, Hamas, also known as the Islamic Resistance Movement, fired rockets into Israel.

On early Wednesday morning, May 6, four mortar rockets slammed into the Sha’ar HaNegev region, causing no reported damages or injury.  Later in the day, two more rockets were fired, including a Qassam that landed in a coastal area just south of Ashkelon.

Hamas’s military wing, Iz Al-Din-al Qassam Brigades, claimed full responsibility for four of the rocket attacks on their website. Although the rockets were aimed at civilian populated areas in the western Negev, the Hamas military website claimed that the mortar rockets were fired at Israeli soldiers stationed in central Gaza east of the Al Bureij camp.

Indeed, this sort of misleading reporting goes along the lines of The New York Times coverage of the current Mideast conflict.  Instead of pointing out Khaled Mashal’s significant role inspiring jihadist terror that has killed and wounded thousands of Israelis, The Times prefers to portray Mashal as a glorified resistance fighter who has softened over time and currently seeks a peaceful solution to return to the 1967 borders.

Ironically, Mashal himself was not such a fan of The Time’s finished report.  
The Al Qassam website stated that Mashal himself claimed that The New York Times had inaccurately quoted him in reporting that Hamas had completely halted the rocket fire. Geo TV, a Pakastani-based news outlet reported that Mashal issued a statement to the station, stating that the “
US newspaper manipulated facts in the interview.” According to the Geo TV website, Mashal said that the Hamas struggle would continue and that in regard to the halt in rocket fire-- “what was reported is not true.”

Hamas’s inconsistent rhetoric is nothing new to the Israeli public. Mashal is obviously aware that fully supporting the Hamas charter in an interview with a US newspaper—one which the US President himself reads—is not the best policy for fostering US support for his government.

On the other hand, Khaled Mashal has a worldwide audience that includes not only US President Barack Obama, but Muslim nations and radical Islamist leaders. Mashal also has his own religious and ideological convictions which he fervently follows. One cannot forget that Hamas is an offshoot of the Egyptian Muslim Brotherhood, a terrorist organization that has advocated Islamic government in the Arab world for 80 years now.

The rocket fire against Israel is not merely defensive or resistant, as media sympathetic to the Hamas cause will call it. As Mashal revealed in The Times interview, Hamas calculates everything—including rocket fire against Israeli civilians where the strategy itself is considered “not a goal, but a method.”

Although The New York Times article noted that only six rockets were fired at Israel during April, the authors conveniently neglected to mention that a total of 200 rockets were fired under Hamas-controlled Gaza since the mid-January ceasefire—one which ripped through an Ashkelon school and another that damaged two Sderot homes in late February.

In addition, Hamas militants have 160 tunnels dug beneath the Sinai border that are currently used to smuggle in longer range rockets, anti-tank missiles and small all-terrain vehicles according to an Haaretz report on April 22.

The New York Times can choose to present any narrative it wants of the Mideast conflict. But by ignoring the rocket reality plaguing Israelis and the jihad agenda that defines the Hamas party, The Times is construing a meaningless political facelift on a Hamas government that resolutely seeks Israel’s defeat.  

Afterall, it was Mashal himself who stated after Hamas’s political victory in February 2006 on Aljazeera TV that Israel is “fighting against the army of Allah, against people who care for dying for Allah, dying for honor and prestige more than they care for life itself.”

Anav Silverman is the international correspondent for the Sderot Media Center . A native of Maine, she made aliyah to Israel in 2004.

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