Congratulations Hamas: Getting an opinion piece into NYT and WP on the same day is unprecedented

June 24, 2007


1. New York Times and Washington Post rush to promote Hamas’s views
2. Hardline Iranian government paper backs Jimmy Carter’s support for Hamas
3. “Terrorism” only happens to journalists
4. Israeli army continues to help Gazan population
5. The supposed “moderates” of Fatah continue to kill
6. They lined them up against the wall and shot them
7. Hamas attempts to gain support in Turkey
8. Hamas leader admits: U.S. aid money used to buy guns
9. Syria orders advanced MiG-31 from Russia
10. UK Labour peer compares Rushdie to 9/11 “Martyrs”
11. Journalists quietly dole out cash to politicians: most leans left
12. Seymour Hersh and Robert Fisk, wrong again
13. UN Sec-General criticizes UN Human Rights Council for targeting Israel
14. Largest British trade union confirms Israel boycott
15. Israeli wins prize for epilepsy breakthrough
16. At least 80 civilians killed by NATO in Afghanistan
17. Leading Australian cleric claims Hizbullah has 30,000 supporters in Australia

This dispatch contains a series of notes and observations. Various articles concerning the situation in Gaza and the West Bank will be sent/posted tomorrow or Tuesday.

[Note by Tom Gross]


While Hamas was still executing people in Gaza last week, including civilians, the New York Times, Washington Post, and the NY Times-owned International Herald Tribune all rushed to promote the propaganda of one of the world’s most murderous terrorist groups.

Getting the same opinion piece into the Times and the Post on the same day is unprecedented.

Reuters reports:

Hamas scores publicity coup in U.S.

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Shunned by the U.S. government as a terrorist organization, the Islamist group Hamas scored a publicity coup this week by defending its policies in Gaza with opinion pieces in two of the country’s most influential newspapers on the same day.

The New York Times and The Washington Post gave space to Ahmed Yousef, a senior Hamas figure, on Wednesday to argue that the United States should not interfere in Gaza, where Hamas took control after six days of bloody fighting against Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas’ Fatah fighters.

Yousef is senior political adviser to Ismail Haniyeh, who became Palestinian prime minister after elections last year. He is now contesting his dismissal by Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, who formed a new government in the West Bank after Hamas took over Gaza.

Hamas leaders rarely have access to major U.S. media to express their views unfiltered, and getting an opinion piece into the Times and the Post on the same day appeared unprecedented.


Kayhan, one of the most hardline Iranian government dailies, which supports Iran’s Holocaust-denying president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, has repeated and endorsed Jimmy Carter’s pro-Hamas comments (bottom right text box, specially located for this email list/website, here; full Persian text, here.)

Speaking from the comfort of faraway Ireland, where he was accepting yet another “human rights” award, Carter had said on Tuesday that it was “criminal” for the U.S., Israel, the European Union, and Arab League to shun the Iranian-armed terrorist group Hamas.

Carter went on to express strong words of support for Hamas whom even the PLO leader denounced last week as a “murderous terrorist group” leading to uneasy murmuring even among the Irish “human rights” crowd gathered at the wine-and-cheese event.

Meanwhile, at the very time Carter was speaking, a mob was attacking and beating a Kuwaiti diplomat in Teheran.


This Los Angeles Times editorial about kidnapped BBC Gaza correspondent Alan Johnston uses the words “terror,” “terrorists” and “terrorize”. Meanwhile when Israeli children are blown up on the way to school, that’s “militancy” (as Backspin points out).


Contrary to the untruths being told by some western news correspondents, and despite the volatile nature of the security situation in the Gaza Strip, the Israeli army (IDF) is continuing its efforts to provide help to the people of the Gaza strip. On Friday, for example, Israel sent hundreds of tons of food produce and medical supplies into Gaza via the Kerem Shalom crossing and transferred Palestinians injured in the recent Hamas-Fatah fighting into Israel for state-of-the-art medical treatment at Israeli hospitals.

As thanks, Hamas last night fired ten missiles at IDF forces on the Israeli side of the Gaza border. There were no injuries.


The al-Aqsa Brigades, the armed branch of Fatah, is continuing to murder people on the West Bank even as Condoleezza Rice foolishly gives them more money and arms when what they really need is reform and good governance. For example, the al-Aqsa Brigades killed a man (Amjad Jouri, 26) in stages in Nablus last week. First, they only succeeded in shooting him in the legs. He was taken to Rafidia hospital. Two days later they marched into the hospital and opened fire on the injured man, killing him while he lay on the X-ray table. An undetermined number of others have been murdered in the West Bank in the last two weeks by Fatah. This is the kind of thing not mentioned in most of the news reports claming Fatah are “moderates.”


Meanwhile, Ha’aretz reports this weekend on the situation in Gaza:

“Hamas was not using a random hit list. Every Hamas patrol carried with it a laptop containing a list of Fatah operatives in Gaza, and an identity number and a star appeared next to each name. A red star meant the operative was to be executed and a blue one meant he was to be shot in the legs a special, cruel tactic developed by Hamas, in which the shot is fired from the back of the knee so that the kneecap is shattered when the bullet exits the other side. A black star signaled arrest, and no star meant that the Fatah member was to be beaten and released. Hamas patrols took the list with them to hospitals, where they searched for wounded Fatah officials, some of whom they beat up and some of whom they abducted.

“Aside from assassinating Fatah officials, Hamas also killed innocent Palestinians, with the intention of deterring the large clans from confronting the organization. Thus it was that 10 days ago, after an hours-long gun battle that ended with Hamas overpowering the Bakr clan from the Shati refugee camp known as a large, well-armed and dangerous family that supports Fatah the Hamas military wing removed all the family members from their compound and lined them up against a wall. Militants selected a 14-year-old girl, two women aged 19 and 75, and two elderly men, and shot them to death in cold blood to send a message to all the armed clans of Gaza.”

Most western human rights groups are being strangely silent about all this.


Hamas announced today that it intends to launch a Turkish version of its website in the near future, the site’s eighth language. Hamas is continuing its efforts to upgrade its Internet propaganda and spread its influence internationally. It already runs sites in Arabic, English, Hebrew, French, Russian, Farsi, Urdu and Malaysian.


The online site of the leading German news weekly Der Spiegel yesterday interviewed senior Hamas leader Mahmoud Zahar, who boasted that Hamas was able to buy weapons using American aid money:

Spiegel Online: “The militant wings of Fatah and Hamas have been fully armed over the last few months. Are these weapons still in circulation?”

Zahar: “There are naturally very many weapons around now. Two years ago, one bullet in Gaza cost around 3.50 now it would cost 35 cents. The American aid money has been translated into weapons. Thank you, America!”


Sources in Moscow say that Syria has ordered advanced MiG-31E combat fighter-jets from Russia. The first delivery is expected in the coming months. The sources say the MiG-31E would provide Syria with a huge leap in air combat capability.

“The Syrians will be getting the top line of Russian aircraft through financing by Iran and share some or most of the platforms with the Iranian Air Force,” a Russian source said. “This is the start of a new era.”

This is believed to be the first Syrian combat aircraft procurement since 1988 and is another sign of Damascus’s hostile intent towards its neighbors, particularly Israel. Hundreds of Iranian military advisors are now active in Syria.


British peer Lord Ahmed (a member of Tony Blair’s and Gordon Brown’s ruling Labour Party) has given an interview to French newspaper Le Figaro comparing the newly knighted British writer Sir Salman Rushdie to the “martyrs” of the 9/11 attacks.

Interviewed in Le Figaro, Lord Ahmed of Rotherham, a Muslim member of Britain’s House of Lords who some in the British media have wrongly described as a moderate, said “Salman Rushdie is controversial man who has insulted Muslim people, Christians and the British. He does not deserve the honor. What hypocrisy. What would one say if the Saudi or Afghan governments honored the martyrs of the September 11 attacks on the United States?”

Demonstrating against the knighthood to Rushdie at Regents Park Mosque in London, protestors held up placards saying “May God curse the Queen” and one speaker told followers Tony Blair should be sent back from the Middle East “in a bag”.

In a letter to more than 500 mosques, the Muslim Council of Britain accused Tony Blair personally of rewarding an author who had “vilified” Islam.

In Iran, a senior cleric told worshippers at Friday prayers that the Ayatollah Khomeini’s death sentence against Rushdie was still valid.

In Multan in Pakistan members of the local paramedics association torched effigies of Rushdie and Queen Elizabeth II, and a group of traders offered a reward of 10 million rupees for anyone who beheads Rushdie.


A survey by MSNBC to find out which American journalists gave money in private to political causes during the last three years has discovered that 125 journalists gave to Democrats and liberal causes such as, whereas only 17 gave to Republicans.

For example, CNN reporter Guy Raz gave $500 to John Kerry’s campaign the same month Raz was embedded with the U.S. Army in Iraq. Raz has also worked as a CNN Jerusalem correspondent covering Israel, and now covers the Pentagon for National Public Radio (NPR).

Journalists from ABC, CBS, CNN, Fox, NPR, The Wall Street Journal and The New Yorker, are among those feeding cash to politicians, parties or political action committees.

Even the ethics columnist at The New York Times made a political donation.

“Probably there should be a rule against it,” said New Yorker writer Mark Singer, who wrote the magazine’s profile of Howard Dean during the 2004 campaign, and then gave $250 to America Coming Together and its get-out-the-vote campaign to defeat President Bush. “But there’s a rule against murder. If someone had murdered Hitler a journalist interviewing him had murdered him the world would be a better place. I only feel good, as a citizen, about getting rid of George Bush, who has been the most destructive president in my lifetime. I certainly don’t regret it.”

(For more, including a full list of donors and their explanations, see:


Emmanuel Sivan, writing in the Israeli daily Ha’aretz, relates how “Sharp-eyed reporters in Beirut read Pulitzer Prize-winner Seymour Hersh’s article in astonishment,” so obviously were Hersh’s allegations about the Bush administration’s cooperation with al-Qaeda-linked groups in Lebanon untrue:

“But it was published in The New Yorker, a magazine known for its meticulous fact-checking. The Lebanese reporters began investigating the story on their own.

“Hersh said he heard the story from Robert Fisk, the bureau chief of The Independent’s Beirut office. But Hersh did not check out the story himself. For his part, Fisk said he heard the unconfirmed report from Alistair Crooke, a former British intelligence agent and the founding director and Middle East representative of the Conflicts Forum, a non-profit organization that aims to build a new relationship between the West and the Muslim world. Crooke, who gained his reputation through his involvement in the conflict in Northern Ireland, does not know Arabic. When Lebanese journalists spoke to Crooke about the report, they said he told them only that he had heard it ‘from all kinds of people.’

“Thus are reports about the Middle East generated, I thought to myself. And this is a case involving two well-known journalists and an even more well-known magazine.”

It is worth reading Sivan’s piece in full. It tells us a lot about how myths become facts when left in the hands of certain western journalists covering the Middle East. Crooke, incidentally, is also well known for his extreme anti-Israeli and anti-American views.

(I also published this item here and it has been picked by many other leading commentators such as Andrew Sullivan at the Atlantic and Stephen Pollard at the Spectator.)


The UN Secretary-General, Ban Ki-moon, joined Western nations that criticized the UN’s own Human Rights Council for “picking on Israel”.

The 47-nation council agreed in Geneva on Monday (18 June) that Israel’s actions would become a permanent item on the Human Rights Council’s agenda. At the same time they said that countries such as Cuba, Belarus, Burma, North Korea, Burundi, Congo, Haiti, Liberia, Cambodia, Somalia, Sudan and Zimbabwe, would not, nor would a single Muslim state.

As the Wall Street Journal said in an editorial: “The real scandal here is the West’s abandonment of moral leadership. Under the ‘consensus’ mandate, even a handful of the 47 members could have blocked this anti-democratic document. Yet only Canada objected to the indictment of Israel, and Mr. de Alba refused to acknowledge the Canadian concerns.”

Ban Ki-moon’s office said: “The Secretary-General is disappointed at the council’s decision to single out only one specific regional item given the range and scope of allegations of human rights violations throughout the world.”

The UN Human Rights Council was set up by the General Assembly last year to replace the discredited United Nations Commission on Human Rights.

Ban Ki-moon is South Korean, a country with a relative absence of anti-Semitism. Might this just possibly have something to do with the fact that unlike all his recent predecessors as Secretary-General he has actually denounced the hounding of Israel?


This is a follow-up to UK Times: “Mamma Mia!” could be first victim of boycott retaliation.

UNISON, the largest British trade union (representing over 1.4 million members in the public sector, private contractors and the utility industries) has now voted to advocate a total economic and cultural boycott of Israel. In addition, delegates called on the British government to press for an arms embargo against Israel.

Labor unions in Israel reacted with disgust that British unions should be singling out Israel for boycott when Israel is still facing daily terrorist threats of a kind few other countries in the world face and when the UK is itself “occupying” territories in several places in Asia and Africa, South America and southern Spain.

UNISON’s secretary, Mary Maguire, claimed the vote was symbolic and carried little practical consequences.


While activists in Britain and elsewhere continue to call for the shunning of Israel, many Israeli academics continue to concentrate on contributing to the betterment of the human condition.

Prof. Alon Friedman of Ben-Gurion University has just won the prestigious 2007 Michael prize for his epilepsy research. Following 10 years of work, Prof. Friedman and his co-researchers believe they may have found a potential cure, after focusing on the delicate blood-brain barrier, a barricade in the brain that separates the bloodstream from the neural connections of the brain.


At least 80 civilians have been killed (by accident) in NATO airstrikes in Afghanistan in the last ten days, according to the pro-western Afghan government. At least 25, including women children and babies, were reportedly killed in a single strike two days ago by British forces. It is odd British trade unions are not calling for a boycott of themselves. Can you imagine the media and activist outcry if Israel had ever killed 25 civilians in a single strike in Gaza?

Meanwhile, fighting continues in and around the Palestinian Nahr al-Bared refugee camp in Tripoli, north Lebanon, where at least 182 people have been killed in the last five weeks without almost a word of protest from the all the various “Palestinian solidarity committees” in Europe and elsewhere. Ten people died last night and early this morning in Tripoli, according to the Lebanese army.


Australia’s most senior Shia Muslim cleric has publicly declared his allegiance to the Iranian-backed militia Hizbullah. Kamal Mousselmani head of the Supreme Islamic Shia Council of Australia said that 30,000 Australian Shia supported Hizbullah, and lashed out at John Howard’s government over its support for Israel.

Hizbullah’s military arm, the External Security Organization, is a proscribed terrorist organization in Australia, and supporting Hizbullah’s political and military wings is illegal under UN counter-terrorist financing declarations.

Australian security agencies are continuing to monitor radical mosques in Australia.

-- Tom Gross

All notes and summaries copyright © Tom Gross. All rights reserved.