Apologist for Hamas: See No Evil, Hear No Evil

Some people say that Mussolini’s fascist government made the trains run on time. But they cannot disguise or excuse the ugly nature of the regime and what it stood for.

Ever since the Gaza war, biased journalists have been looking for ways to whitewash the terrorist Hamas regime in Gaza. The latest example comes from Susan Taylor Martin, Senior Correspondent for the St. Petersburg Times who conveniently ignores everything that Hamas stands for during a visit to the territory.

Taylor Martin’s piece lacks vital context, creating a positive image of Hamas, a terrorist organization whose own charter promotes anti-Semitism and genocide against Israel and Jews.

While acknowledging that Israel launched Operation Cast Lead to deal with rockets falling on Israeli cities, the article states:

It has been nearly two years since Israel destroyed thousands of homes, schools and other buildings in the Hamas-controlled Gaza Strip during a three-week war

Did Israel really destroy civilians targets in Gaza out of a primitive desire to punish the Palestinians or simply for the sake of it? Or has Taylor Martin failed to mention that Hamas fought from within civilian structures and employed human shields while deliberately fighting a campaign of urban warfare with little regard for its own population?

According to Taylor Martin:

Although Israel has slightly relaxed its blockade of Gaza, cement is among the many items still not legally allowed into the area except under rare circumstances.

In fact, Israel has more than “slightly relaxed its blockade”. As of the end of June, under a new policy, a detailed “black list” of goods was drawn up that will not be permitted into the Gaza Strip. Only weapons or “dual-use” materials that could be used to manufacture weapons are on the list. Any item not on the list will be permitted into Gaza. Therefore, thousands of items are allowed into the Gaza Strip.

As the latest weekly report outlines, 1105 truckloads (25,108 tons) of goods were unloaded at the crossings, in addition to fuel. This also includes cement, which enters the Gaza Strip for specific building projects under the auspices of the UN and other non-governmental organizations in order to prevent Hamas from using construction materials for military purposes.

Taylor Martin claims:

Instead of weakening the Islamist group, the blockade has strengthened Hamas’ control of Gaza. And due in part to the tunnel economy, Hamas has shown it can govern effectively.

Yet again, inconvenient context is missed out. Irrespective of the role of the blockade, it might be relevant to point out that Hamas has also maintained control over Gaza through the barrel of a gun, having brutally seized the territory in a 2007 coup where Fatah rivals were thrown alive off the roofs of buildings. Indeed, only one sentence in the article mentions the Hamas seizure of power without going into any of the gory details. Hamas has also clamped down on any opposition to its rule since, including detaining Palestinian journalists.

Taylor Martin’s reference to the tunnel economy and the effectiveness of Hamas governance exposes a major inconsistency in media coverage of Gaza. For the past few years, many media have painted a picture of a humanitarian crisis amidst scenes of apocalyptic suffering in Gaza. As Martin Taylor mentions the refrigerators, stoves, washing machines, mattresses, motorcycles, tuk-tuks and a $50,000 Porsche Cayenne emerging through smuggling tunnels, she may wish to make up her mind which picture she wants to present.

The article states that:

This is the image many Westerners have of Hamas: masked men in black, waving AK-47s and shouting anti-Israel slogans.

This is another reality: well-educated technocrats, worrying about sewage treatment and agricultural output.

Perhaps the image many Westerners have of Hamas is precisely due to the naivety of journalists such as Taylor Martin. Hamas terrorists don’t just wave AK-47s – they fire them along with rockets at Israeli civilians. Likewise, “shouting anti-Israel slogans” downplays the incitement, hatred and extremism that Hamas represents. Hamas is far more than waving and sloganeering.

According to the article:

A United Nations commission found that both Hamas and Israel committed war crimes during the fighting, which killed 13 Israelis and as many as 1,444 Gazans in the winter of 2008-09.

Taylor Martin fails to distinguish how many of those Gazans killed were active combatants or Hamas members. Indeed, Hamas itself has recently admitted that the IDF’s casualty estimates were accurate. And if Taylor Martin is focused on Hamas, why then does she continue by highlighting the discredited Goldstone Report’s criticisms of Israel, naming individual charges while completely ignoring any made against Hamas?

If Taylor Martin writes that both sides were accused of committing war crimes, surely she should expand on both. But no. After all, why draw attention to something negative about Hamas, particularly if it will detract from the charge against Israel?

Taylor Martin’s myopia even extends to the very large country of Egypt, which tightly controls Gaza’s southern border in order to prevent Islamist contagion into Sinai and beyond. Instead, only one country is responsible for all borders even those that aren’t its own:

The isolation keeps Gazans in what they say is a large prison, with Israel controlling the skies, coast and land borders.

While Taylor Martin pays lip service at the conclusion of her article to the possibility that Hamas operates according to strictly conservative norms, she says:

Though few Gazans will say anything publicly against Hamas, they make it clear that they miss the days before the Hamas’ takeover when they could get cheaper, better quality goods from Israel. And without the risk of Israeli missile strikes on the tunnels and nearby homes.

So Gazans are apparently more concerned with the lack of Israeli goods than they are with the loss of freedoms and hardships that a Hamas government has imposed upon them. Is Susan Taylor Martin really that myopic? Judging from her visit to Gaza, the answer is an unequivocal yes.

If you think Susan Taylor Martin has whitewashed Hamas, send your considered comments to the St. Petersburg Times through its online Letters to the Editor form.

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