Wednesday, December 15, 2010

What they Tell About Hamas

Haaretz, today, leads with what most interests Israelis:
Hamas will never recognize Israel, Gaza leader Ismail Haniyeh said Tuesday at a rally to mark the 23rd anniversary of the militant group's founding.

"We say it with confidence as we said it five years ago when we formed our government, and we say it today: We will never recognize Israel," Haniyeh told a crowd in Gaza City numbering tens of thousands.

Given that no non-expert in the world knows anything about which party won which election in Azerbaijan, Bolivia or Croatia, and the only reason they do know anything about Hamas is because of its relationship to Israel, this is arguably the part of the story that ought to interest non-Israeli media outlets, too.

But no.

The Washington Post simply downloaded the story filed by AP, about the size of the Hamas rally and how popular the party may be. At the very end of the item we learn that Hamas gave out a press release:
In a message distributed to media Tuesday morning, Hamas said it remains committed to destroying Israel, bringing back Palestinian refugees and seizing control of Jerusalem's holy sites.
"Anyone who gives up these rights is a traitor," it said - an apparent dig at Hamas' rival, Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, who favors a peace agreement with Israel.
According to Haaretz this was the message of the main speech at the rally, given by the Hamas Prime Minsiter Ismail Haniyeh, not some press release. So which was it? It's a significant difference, one might think.

According to the BBC, Haniyeh said it at the rally. However, the BBC also tucks this in at the end of the item, after carefully insinuating that Hamas merely doesn't like the Israeli occupation of the West Bank
"Today, on the anniversary of its establishment, Hamas stresses that it is committed to the principle of reconciliation," Mr Haniya told throngs of supporters who filled the streets of Gaza City, waving green banners.
"Reconciliation is a must so that the Palestinian people recover their unity in confronting the occupation," he said.

Israel occupied the West Bank and the Gaza Strip during the 1967 Middle East war. It withdrew its troops and settlers from Gaza in 2005, but heightened its blockade on the territory after Hamas came to power in 2007.
No mention of the well known fact that in Arabic, the occupation can easily mean any Jewish sovereignty anywhere in what the Palestinians regard as their land in its entirety. If this isn't such a case, how does the BBC know? And if they know, don't we deserve to know how they know? 

The Guardian simply doesn't report on the event. Nothing. Tens of thousands of Gazans demonstrating in the middle of town, speeches, a major spectacle - not newsworthy.

Sadly, the New York Times comes off worst in this little experiment. Not only is there no mention of the event, when I wrote "Hamas" into their search engine the most recent item I was offered was about a fairy tale. About two weeks ago Ismail Haniyeh apparently told some foreign reporters that if there's ever a referendum about a peace deal with Israel among all the Palestinians world-wide, and the result isn't to the liking of Hamas, Hamas will accept the verdict. Of course, there's no reason to expect millions of Palestinians with limited civil rights scattered over various Arab states to vote for an agreement that will leave them there with no Right of Return, so one might expect a reasonable reporter to spell out that Haniyeh isn't risking much with his statement; but in the meantime he's just said what he really thinks, in Arabic, before a large rally, and the NYT doesn't find it newsworthy.


Elder of Ziyon said...

My take on this farce:

Silke said...

I am beginning to learn the "complex" meaning of context. Here is an example of an exchange where all is about "context" and unless you, Yaacov, will not learn to read "context" in its proper context you will not understand the higher wisdom of our "western" MSM

Enjoy! (Mr. Maher)

Anonymous said...

I have a small quibble with the post, though I do not dispute Yaacov's argument. Yaacov writes: "No mention of the well known fact that in Arabic, the occupation can easily mean any Jewish sovereignty anywhere in what the Palestinians regard as their land in its entirety." I'd be curious to know what exactly Yaacov is referring to. When someone in Arabic refers to "al-ihtilal" (the occupation), the term carries no specific implication, as far as I can tell. Now, of course, Hamas believes Israel itself constitutes an occupation of Palestinian territory, so by "occupation" they do mean "Israel." For others, "the occupation" refers to the occupation of the West Bank, Gaza, and East or all of Jerusalem. It doesn't have anything to do with the meaning of words in Arabic; it has to do with the beliefs of the speaker. The other possibility is that Hamas is referring to all of historical Palestine as a "waqf," but that wouldn't be translated as "occupation."

Maybe all Yaacov meant was that what Hamas regards as the occupation versus what international opinion considers the occupation isn't specified, and I agree that that constitutes journalistic malpractice. I'm just a bit wary of his wording because you often see the media charged with giving a translation of a word that doesn't capture it's meaning in, for example, Islamic jurisprudence (as with the word "hudna," often translated merely as "truce"). That's not what's going on here.


Anonymous said...

On further reflection, I'm not sure how convincing this game of gotcha and nit-picking is particularly informative. Yaacov says the BBC "tucks" Haniyeh statement at the end of the article, but it comes literally two or three sentences after the block quote he posts. Are we really going to get our knickers in a twist over that? Further, exactly how newsworthy is this story? Hamas makes these claims all the time. Finally, why would Yaacov say that this is what Haniyeh "really thinks"? I don't doubt that many Hamas members, including perhaps Haniyeh himself, think it. But haven't we just had a great lesson in the extent to which what people say in public differs from what they say in private? Now, I do think public pronouncements are important, perhaps even more important that what is said or believed in private (something to be kept in mind regarding Arab leaders' remarks about Iran), but were Hamas prepared to recognize Israel in the framework of a peace deal, as unlikely as that might be, would they really preemptively modify their rhetoric at this kind of rally? I think not.

On a somewhat related note, I've noticed that in all the coverage of the suicide bombings in Iran today, Jund Allah is universally referred to as a "militant" group. In the stories I've seen, only the NYT notes (and that tucked away in the middle of the article, heaven forbid!) that it has recently been designated a terrorist group by the U.S. Haaretz quotes Obama saying that the attacks constitute terrorism, but doesn't say so itself.

At the end of the day, it seems to me that none of this really matters. Are there inconsistencies in the way the media covers things? Sure. Does the choice of what to cover often appear capricious? Yes. But nitpickng the BBC over putting something two sentences after something else, or criticizing the NYT for not covering a non-event (especially when there's a lot of more important stuff going on in the Middle East), seems a bit obsessive compulsive (the WP story, on the other hand, seems deserving of rebuke).

Silke said...

assuming that Anon No. 2 is again rukn

I agree that we get fed very confusing things about what "they" say, mean or imply.

That's why a long long time ago I have stopped to care and since then I am interested only in what they do (and if I can get hold of some good history)

and what they do in the here and now is not pretty and the reporting of "our" MSM is heavily skewed towards criticizing Israel while saying, implying, weighing it so turns out as "it's their culture" about "them". And for that I think there are studies available as Media bias apparently is quite easy to measure and prove.

1) when they stop doing hate rallyes spouting fever dreams of annihilating their neighbours.
2) when Abbas stops honouring the organizer of the Munich massacre
3) when the MSM duly and with perfectly matched to the fact outrage report the use of white phosphour

I stop here, but if I'd take the trouble I could go on with this list endlessly, then and only then will I read your stuff with the attention it probably deserves.

But until that comes about it is a nice bit of an amuse cerveau but that's it.

as it is meaningless IMHO when a marriage counselling session goes deep deep into what the abusing partner is trying to convey with the abuse.

Let him/her stop first and then talk. Everything else is blaming the victim, however polite and knowledgeable one may go about it.

Scott smythe said...

when will Haaretz recognize the state of Israel

Lee Ratner said...

Like anybody is surprised by this. Hamas says it will never recognize Israel. Still I wonder if Hamas is playing a strong by such militant rejectionism. They know that Israel can't really expel the Palestinians from the West Bank or Gaza if only because the other Arab states would simply put the Palestinians in refugee camps and exasperate rather than end the situation. They also know that sooner or latter, Arabs will outnumber Jews or at least come into very close parity in numbers. At this point the pressure would be on Israel to give every Arab living under its jurisdiction citizenship. This will lead to the end of Israel. Than they could focus on making Israel/Palestine Jew free by making like unpleasant for the Jews.

Barry Meislin said...

It's called lying by omission.

At which the Al-Jazeera-ized MSM has become extraordinarily adept.

Those talented folks have been lying by omission for years and years. (Though to be fair, and one must, they've been lying by commission as well. For years and years.)

Some of them, like CNN, have even admitted it (when they've had to). Not the NYT, though. It's beneath them. As for the BBC and The Guardian and all the rest of the European fish-wrap (digitalized or not), they are---merely---a reflection the all-encompassing dishonesty that is destroying their societies and the fabric of their polities.

Haaretz is right up there, howling and bleating and barking with the "best" of them, trying to figure out how best to defame and destabilize The Land. (It would be most interesting to find out who is really keeping Israel's "flagship" newspaper afloat financially....)

Silke said...

as to your last question:

ever since the "crisis" broke I have been wondering that practically no one is into investigating/discussing/wondering where all that oil money is slushing around.

Matt Taibbi at Rolling Stone had a lengthy excerpt from his new book where he seems to be looking at that angle but I see no follow-up, none. By comparison I saw endless repetitions of Gillian Tett's story told during promo-tour for her book of how CD-somethings got invented at a sodden with drink outing of I forgot wihich outfit.

But no retelling and commenting on where and how the sovereign funds have their hands in the pie. Taibbi claims that one reason is that they acquire not-entitling to control percentages which would suggest to me that private fund collecting investors are their vehicle.

Alas I lack all knowledge which could help me in finding anything out. But let's say the sovereign (oil) funds have as much an interest in the appalling Chicago-parking-meter-like deals our German towns and cities are said to have signed with US-outfits than as likely as not lots are by now dependent on being kept afloat by that money and any pro-Israel action of our government could cause angry murmurs from way below under the public radar.

That's where a Wikileaks job might come in useful not with Ghadafi's Ukranian nurse.

Barry Meislin said...

I don't believe it's oil money.

But it's coming from somewhere, or someone, with deep pockets, who feels it's a good investment (!)

Speculation, of course....

Silke said...

there's Schocken of course or whatever that German publisher's name is - but then I ask who is contributing to his coffers?
(Schocken supplying the age-old know-how on how to do it)

Whether it is oil-money in this case or not, the silence on the oil money should make everybody scrathc their heads.

Barry Meislin said...

Well, Shocken's the owner of the paper., and he's reputed to be well-heeled.

What is rather interesting is the plethora of advertisements for ultra high-end luxury watches.... in the paper day in, day out.

Now, if I were a conspiracy theorist.... (or a literary critic?....)

Silke said...

I've once googled Schocken's ownership and it left me with questions as to how big his money-part is. But more generally my impression is that the single financier is not it anymore.

But the high-end luxury watches are interesting:

somewhere I read that high-end mistresses of Chinese tycoons were the main clientele fueling the handbag boom.

So its:
cherchez la femme?
but maybe the gamins or whatever they are called are equally demanding.

wouldn't it be nice to have the plotting skills necessary to write detective stories???

Barry Meislin said...

Oh, do you mean (or hint) as in Hong Kong-based anonymous type who are is for some reason lo-and-behold a financial pillar of an org commonly known as J Street?

Gosh, why would anyone who supports J Street want to keep Haaretz afloat?...

Silke said...

thanks, I had almost forgotten about that one.

what happened btw to the colonoscopy Goldberg demanded once upon a time to be rigorously applied to that faucet?
I have never heard of it again, nor read his insisting the investigation to be taken care of.

Do you think we have a chance of getting instead John of the Four Corners interested in answering our questions? or at least one of his research assistants?

Anonymous said...

Anon, if all non-events in Israel were not covered or barely covered then I think people would not be getting so excited. Furthermore, if any vague hint at not fighting Israel was not reported as "Hamas wants peace" then I think people would also be less concerned about their leader stating outright he has zero interest in peace.