Analysis of New York Times spin on Fatah-Hamas agreement

By John Whitbeck – I am frequently frustrated by the Western mainstream media practice of almost never mentioning Hamas without immediately adding “sworn to Israel’s destruction” (or a variant) and usually “Iranian-backed” (or a variant) as well. Often, care is also taken to point out that the United States and the European Union consider Hamas “a terrorist organization”.

These helpful background identifiers are clearly intended by journalists (or their editors) to alert readers or viewers that these are “bad guys”, untouchables, people who must richly deserve extra-judicial assassinations past (Sheikh Ahmed Yassin, a wheelchair-bound quadriplegic, Abdulaziz Al-Rantisi and many other) or future (a resumption of assassinations of Hamas leaders having been publicly urged, post-Bin Laden, by MK Shaul Mofaz, Chairman of the Foreign Affairs Committee of the Knesset, who has simultaneously claimed Israeli credit for inspiring America’s own assassination strategy).

I cannot recall ever seeing Hamas helpfully identified in the Western mainstream media as “the party which, in 2006, decisively won the most democratic elections ever held in the Arab world”.

This propagandistic practice is on view again in today’s New York Times news story [by Ethan Bronner, whose son serves in the Israeli army] on the Fatah-Hamas reconciliation agreement (of which an English text is transmitted below) which was signed in Cairo on Tuesday and celebrated with speeches by Mahmoud Abbas and Khaled Meshal yesterday. The first mention of the word “Hamas” is immediately followed by “– the Islamist group that rules the Gaza Strip, rejects Israel’s existence and accepts arms and training from Iran –“.

Nevertheless, a few paragraphs later, the Times quotes Khaled Meshal as proclaiming in his speech: “We will have one authority and one decision. We need to achieve the common goal: a Palestinian state with full sovereignty on the 1967 borders with Jerusalem as its capital.” Obviously, this would leave ample room for Israel on the other side of the 1967 borders.

Does no one at the Times sense a “disconnect” here?

This is not a new position for Hamas. This has been the organization’s position for some years already. It is a position fully consistent with the position of Fatah, with UN Security Council 242 and with the proclaimed positions of virtually every member state of the United Nations except Israel and the United States.

Are Western mainstream media journalists and/or editors really so ignorant and uninformed as not to be aware of this? Or do they simply live and work in fear, believing that their personal and career interests require them, on this and other issues relating to Israel/Palestine, to feed disinformation to their readers and viewers so as to keep them ignorant and uninformed — indeed, brainwashed? [Or is Israel “family” for many of these journalists?]



Text of the Agreement between Fatah and Hamas (May 3)

Translated by Al Mubadara, the Palestinian National Initiative, this document is currently in the process of being signed by all of Palestine’s factions and parties.

Under the auspices of Egypt, delegations from the Fatah and Hamas movements met in Cairo on April 27, 2011 to discuss the issues concerning ending the political division and the achievement of national unity. On top of the issues were some reservations related to the Palestinian National Unity Accord made in 2009.

Both political parties mutually agreed that the basis of understanding made during the meeting are committing to both parties in the implementation of the Palestinian National Reconciliation Agreement. The basis of understanding agreed upon by Fatah and Hamas are as follows:

1. Elections

A. Election Committee:

Both Fatah and Hamas agree to identify the names of the members of the Central Election Commission in agreement with the Palestinian factions. This list will then be submitted to the Palestinian President who will issue a decree of the reformation of the committee.

B. Electoral Court:

Both Fatah and Hamas agree on the nomination of no more than twelve judges to be members of the Electoral Court. This list will then be submitted to the Palestinian President in order to take the necessary legal actions to form the Electoral Court in agreement with the Palestinian factions.

C. Timing of Elections:

The Legislative, Presidential, and the Palestinian National Council elections will be conducted at the same time exactly one year after the signing of the Palestinian National Reconciliation Agreement.

2. Palestine Liberation Organization

The political parties of both Fatah and Hamas agree that the tasks and decisions of the provisional interim leadership cannot be hindered or obstructed, but in a manner that is not conflicting with the authorities of the Executive Committee of the Palestine Liberation Organization.

3. Security

It was emphasized that the formation of the Higher Security Committee which will be formed by a decree of the Palestinian President and will consist of professional officers in consensus.

4. Government

A. Formation of the Government:

Both Fatah and Hamas agree to form a Palestinian government and to appoint the Prime Minister and Ministers in consensus between them.

B. Functions of the Government:

1. Preparation of necessary condition for the conduction of Presidential, Legislative and the Palestinian National Council elections.

2. Supervising and addressing the prevalent issues regarding the internal Palestinian reconciliation resulting from the state of division.

3. Follow-up of the reconstruction operations in the Gaza Strip and the efforts to end the siege and blockade that is imposed on it.

4. Continuation of the implementation of the provisions of the Palestinian National Accord.

5. To resolve the civil and administrative problems that resulted from the division.

6. Unification of the Palestinian National Authority institutions in the West Bank, Gaza Strip and Jerusalem.

7. To fix the status of the associations, Non-Governmental Organizations and charities.

5. Legislative Council

Both Fatah and Hamas agree to reactivate the Palestinian Legislative Council in accordance to the Basic Law.


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Filed under 1. General, 3. Media analysis

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