The middle of this morning’s lead New York Times story on the Israeli attack against the flotilla attempting to deliver aid to Gaza, in defiance of the Israeli blockade or economic siege, includes a brief paragraph stating that the blockade was imposed as a response to the “takeover [of Gaza] by force in 2007” by Hamas, “an organization sworn to Israel’s destruction.” An innocent sounding passage—unless you happen to remember the truth.
The Israeli economic strangulation was intensified following the June 2007 Hamas takeover, but it began in February 2006 as a response to the Hamas legislative victory in free elections. Moreover, shortly after it won the elections, Hamas leaders made a number of private and public overtures to the Bush administration and Israel, indicating it was seeking a political solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Not only were these overtures ignored or contemptuously dismissed as “tricks,” but it has now been revealed, through confidential documents corroborated by U.S. sources, that following those elections the Bush administration sought to foment an internal Palestinian coup against Hamas (David Rose, “The Gaza Bombshell,” Vanity Fair, April 2008)—a secret from the American people but undoubtedly not from Hamas, whose full takeover of Gaza just might have been a response to the coup plot.
Thus, the Times’ description of Hamas’s goals ignores the wealth of evidence, known to all close observers of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, that the organization has been steadily moving away from its founding Charter, which indeed calls for the destruction of Israel, towards a more pragmatic, de facto acceptance of a two-state solution based on a return to Israel of its pre-1967 war borders. In fact, Hamas is closely following the path of Yasir Arafat’s Palestinian Liberation Organization, which gradually moved away from its early radicalism and intransigence towards an acceptance of a two-state solution, but which officially renounced its founding Charter’s call for the destruction of Israel only after Israel began negotiating with it.
In short, the Times story is either seriously and deliberately misleading or is unforgivably ignorant of the real course of events. Not that this is anything new for the Times, which in its coverage and commentary on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict regularly commits crimes against truthful journalism.