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June 21, 2007

On Gaza

• Much to my surprise, the New York Times has published an op-ed on Gaza that mentions reality:

From the day Hamas won the general elections in 2006 it offered Fatah the chance of joining forces and forming a unity government. It tried to engage the international community to explain its platform for peace...None of these points appear to have been recognized in the press coverage of the last few days.

Nor has it been evident to many people in the West that the civil unrest in Gaza and the West Bank has been precipitated by the American and Israeli policy of arming elements of the Fatah opposition who want to attack Hamas and force us from office.

• Even more shockingly, the Washington Post has published two op-eds based in this universe. Perhaps Fred Hiatt was out sick?

Ahmed Yousef (the same Hamas advisor who wrote the above NY Times piece): Engage with Hamas

Robert Malley and Aaron David Miller: 'West Bank First': It Won't Work

• Tony Karon: The Eight Fallacies of Bush's Abbastan Plan

• Daniel Levy posts here, here, here and here

• Ben White at Electronic Intifada: Decoding the media's Palestinian "civil war"

Posted at June 21, 2007 12:23 AM | TrackBack

Yeah, but the NYT op ed was by a Hamas advisor. That's fine as far as it goes. They should publish op eds from Hamas advisors. But it's also the MSM way of discrediting info or opinions that depart from the mainstream consensus--you let some enemy of the state be the one to tell the truth about US crimes and don't let anyone in this country publish an op ed laying out the facts which suggest that Hamas is right, let alone do it in the news reports. So the casual reader who only encounters this claim when it comes from the lips of an official bad guy will probably assume it is propaganda. I haven't seen the NYT mention the de Soto report yet.

The Lehrer (then MacNeil/Lehrer) Newshour used to do the same thing in the 80's. They'd have a Sandinista spokesman on to say the really critical things about US Nicaraguan policy. Timid Democrats would be on to oppose Reagan, but on TV they didn't want to come off as too critical of the US.

That said, maybe the Washington Post did better. Possibly the web is putting pressure on the MSM to be more honest.

Posted by: Donald Johnson at June 21, 2007 08:11 AM

I also have to admit the Newshour is much better than it used to be. They have Daniel Levy on regularly, it seems, though the other night Dennis Ross was allowed to have the last word and used it to claim that all the checkpoints are there to protect Israel proper, not the settlers.

Posted by: Donald Johnson at June 21, 2007 08:30 AM

Hamas should rule because their ski masks are so much prettier and more stylish than those worn by Fatah.
By the way, where DO they get those ski masks? Do they import them from Switzerland or Austria? Is there a ski mask factory in Nablus? I mean, not much skiing going in those parts, is there?
First things first, as my theology professor used to say.

Posted by: donescobar at June 21, 2007 08:34 AM

It's symptomatic of discourse in this country that the truth has to be obtained from fucking Hamas. Of course no one will listen, and out in wingnut-land, people will already be talking about how this is further proof the "MSM" is committing treason by actively aiding "the enemy." "Al"-this and "al"-that, their familiar witticisms go, and all cheer and clap once more as the world burns.

Posted by: StO at June 21, 2007 11:10 AM

THE TRUTH??? You can't handle THE TRUTH. (You are AMERICAN!!!) (besides no one is going to give it to you anyway)

Posted by: Mike Meyer at June 21, 2007 11:44 AM

It does seem strange that both the NYT and the WaPo let something slip by their gatekeepers on rare occasions. Why? I have no idea. Is it guilt? I doubt it. I found Levy’s remark about Condi’s realism surrealistic. I mean Condi was one of the driving forces for causing the violence in Palestine in the first place but what ever. Why should Bush care if there is peace in Palestine when all he cares about is making money for his friends. If we have been providing weapons to Fatah that means his friends have been making money on weapons sales. No wonder Bush is all smiles in the pictures with that effervescent boyish glee. More violence means more guns which translates into more money.

But then it has always been about money and I was reminded of this bit from the essay by Roger Morris over at Tomdispatch:

“In August 1953, in an Iran in which FDR had hoped to apply "an unselfish American policy," the CIA's TP-AJAX (Operation Ajax) bought South Tehran street toughs and assorted notables in order to overthrow the popular, elected government of Mohammed Mossadegh, staving off oil nationalization, securing Persia's petroleum for the five U.S. major oil companies as well as the old British oil overlords, and returning to the throne as Shah of Shahs (after an ignominious flight from Tehran) the dim, grandiose, but obligingly despotic Mohammed Reza Pahlevi.”

Posted by: rob payne at June 21, 2007 12:25 PM
By the way, where DO they get those ski masks? Do they import them from Switzerland or Austria? Is there a ski mask factory in Nablus? I mean, not much skiing going in those parts, is there?

Wow, but that's incredibly astute.

The gov't probably tracks ski mask importation throughout the world; we'll know more when the NYT reveals the TIA successor details. Policy-wise we should embargo ski masks to warm places, although I hear there's snow(?) in Dubai.

Posted by: Ted at June 21, 2007 01:01 PM

I don't understand what goes wrong with my links sometimes. The above link works, but it wasn't supposed to include the entire post and (unless I forgot to type it), half of the first sentence is missing.

Anyway, it was a good article and I hope most Palestinians feel as that man does.

Posted by: Donald Johnson at June 21, 2007 04:17 PM

As someone who works on this issue full time, I'll throw in my two cents. There is a certain irony in the fact that the new foreign 'realism' play of the day is about disengaging from the Abbas-centric, West Bank only plan the West is undergoing, while the typical Palestinian & Arab voice are distinctly against both groups. And I'm not speaking in uncertain terms of our view of political disconnect (apathy and laying around stoned, shooting the breeze about political hegemony continued by certain social groups), but serious anger at both Fatah and Hamas. At Fatah for being a bunch of worthless old fucks who turning a Palestine-first movement into a kleptocracy, and Hamas for hijacking Palestinian nationalism and turning into a serious derka-derka jihad idiocracy. That latter view was shared by the cosmopolitan Jerusalemites in the 90's and has spread to most middle-class Palestinians and Arabs since. Common man resentment has also really surfaced against Hamas for making things worse (if possible) in the Palestinian territories by turning some vendetta killings into a geographical political coup. If you don't believe me, there are oodles of articles and videos for your viewing pleasure of recent mass protests in Gaza City and Ramallah against the unity government. My favorite video coincidentally to come out of all of this was a Gaza resident chasing an automatic-rifle touting Hamas militant down a street with his shoe.

Posted by: alec at June 22, 2007 12:09 AM

Ugh, did my comment just get garbled? Anyway, if it did, long story short (and in slightly cruder fashion): Palestinians are seriously pissed at both Fatah and Hamas. Irony in that the new foreign policy realism asks for the West to engage Hamas when they are losing serious political will after this Gaza episode.

Posted by: alec at June 22, 2007 12:12 AM


Posted by: Mike Meyer at June 22, 2007 02:05 AM

Overview: Fifty-nine percent of Palestinians surveyed in a 21 June 2007 poll blame Fateh and Hamas for last weeks intra-Palestinian fighting and 71 percent said they consider both groups to be the “loser.” The survey, conducted by the Ramallah-based Palestinian Center for Policy and Survey Research (PSR), found that while 75 percent want early presidential and parliamentary elections, 40 percent said they would not participate if the race was between Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas and Ismail Haniyeh. Abbas would slightly edge out Hanyieh with 49 percent of the vote compared to Hanyieh’s 42 percent. The numbers change dramatically if imprisoned Fateh leader Marwan Barghouthi replaced Abbas in the race. The percentage of voter nonparticipation decreases to 31 percent and 59 percent of West Bank respondents said they would vote for Barghouthi compared to 35 percent for Haniyeh. In Gaza, 55 percent of respondents said Barghouthi was their choice compared to 41 percent who said they prefer Haniyeh. The 1270 randomly selected respondents from the West Bank and Gaza Strip were interviewed between 14 and 20 June 2007. The margin of error is 3 percent.

Posted by: alec at June 22, 2007 09:58 AM

One of the Israel boosters (I think an Israeli, actually) cited that poll over at Helena Cobban's blog. As I just said there, this is good news. It shows the majority of Palestinians are politically mature--they blame both sides as they should. They surely know that the US and Israel helped start this civil war, but they are still disgusted with their own political leaders. Good.

Marwan Barghouti, from what little I know, is sort of a Palestinian superstar, politically speaking. Currently he's in an Israeli prison for terrorism. He might even be guilty, though if so he's no worse than Olmert or Bush. He's supposed to be a moderate but evidently he is not perceived to be the sort of moderate who would sell out his people or he wouldn't be so popular. If there is an early election and the Palestinians want him as President, things could get real interesting.

Posted by: Donald Johnson at June 22, 2007 11:18 AM

Within the framework of NYT and WaPo editorial policy (in which any reasonable offer by Hamas is treated as a cynical ploy) publishing something by "the terrorists" just sets up anybody referring to the facts mentioned there-in to be spouting "terrorist talking points", or whatever you want to call verboten lingo. They're just inoculating their readers against the evil lies of the enemy. :P

Posted by: buermann at June 22, 2007 12:26 PM

Right on schedule, the NYT's public editor (Clark Hoyt) reveals that the paper got a lot of criticism for publishing a piece by a terrorist. The NYT and their in-house "critic" piously reply (paraphrasing) that the NYT op ed page is there to expose readers to a wide variety of viewpoints and readers of the NYT are sophisticated enough to see through the propaganda of Hamas spokesliars, given all the valuable information the NYT gives its readers in its objective news reports.

So there it is, as buermann and I suggest--when facts are presented which contradict the mainstream consensus view, they come from the mouth of a Hamas spokesman. Which means we can ignore everything he says and just argue over whether this awful man should be allowed to sully the pages of the NYT.

Posted by: Donald Johnson at June 24, 2007 12:32 PM