Australia/Israel & Jewish Affairs Council

Media Microscope: Documented Error

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Allon Lee


Hamas' stance in its new political document that it will accept a Palestinian state on the 1967 borders if offered, but opposes ever recognising Israel, confused much media reporting.

On ABC Radio "AM" (May 2), Beirut-based ABC Middle East correspondent Matt Brown got it right; "Hamas still calls for the liberation of all historic Palestine. In other words, the land on which Israel now stands. In fact, it's a lot like the position Hamas took to the democratic elections it won back in 2006. And just as it did back then, Hamas still refuses the demands of the international community to renounce violence, or recognise Israel."

SBS TV "World News" newsreader Michael Tomalaris (May 2) incorrectly said, "Hamas is dropping its long-standing call for Israel's destruction." Yet the report itself noted that "the document rejects Israel's right to exist" and included Israeli spokesman David Keyes saying Hamas calls on a daily basis for Israel's destruction and "genocide for all Jews."

On ABC Radio National "Drive" (May 2), senior Palestinian spinmeister Mustafa Barghouti lauded Hamas' new document as evidence it now accepts "a two-state solution" and only Israel "refuses this solution." 

He also took credit on behalf of the Palestinian Authority for convincing Hamas to shift from "military struggle" to "accepting non-violent resistance" (even though the document says the opposite).

Questioned on this, Barghouti replied that "armed resistance" only refers to Hamas "defending themselves if they are attacked."

Barghouti even suggested Hamas has never initiated any attacks!

"It starts with a provocation from Israel which is not reported internationally. A response from Hamas which is reported... and Israel claiming that it is Hamas that created this attack. I think we had a similar situation in 1967."

He endorsed Hamas' refusal to recognise Israel because the PLO had "recognised Israel and Israel did not recognise the Palestinian state."

On ABC Radio National "Late Night Live" (May 3), Brookings Doha Centre analyst Beverley Milton-Edwards said there are "some signals" for Israel in the document, but it was "understandable that Israel continues to see Hamas as a major security and terror threat."

In an online article (May 2), Fairfax Foreign Editor Maher Mughrabi claimed Hamas was "moderating its position". He contextualised Hamas' extreme 1988 charter as having been drafted when "there was no peace process" and while Israeli soldiers "brutally beat, imprisoned and tortured thousands of" Palestinians.

He insisted Hamas is less "militant" than other regional Islamist groups. Perhaps other "more theologically extreme" groups might have launched more than the three wars Hamas initiated between 2008 and 2014!

Reflecting on the document's distancing of Hamas from the Egyptian Muslim Brotherhood, he implied that Arab foreign policy should be determined by Palestinian interests, sneering that Cairo considers its "ties to the United States and Israel to be more important than the rights of Palestinians."

He simplistically accused Benjamin Netanyahu of having made "opposition to a second state part of his election pitch." Hardly. In a single controversial statement in 2015, Netanyahu said creating a Palestinian state "today" would be providing land "for attacks by Islamist extremists." 

Saturday Paper columnist Hamish McDonald (May 6) also repeated Hamas' spin, falsely calling the document its "new charter moderating its immediate territorial goals."

In the Daily Telegraph (May 5), AIJAC's Gareth Narunksy quoted the actual Hamas document: "Hamas rejects any alternative to the full and complete liberation of Palestine from the (Jordan) river to the (Mediterranean) sea."

Meanwhile, in the Australian (May 17), Arnold Roth wrote urging extradition to the US of Ahlam Tamimi, "Hamas' first female terrorist," who organised the infamous Sbarro pizzeria suicide bombing in Jerusalem in 2001 which killed 15 Israelis, including Roth's 15-year-old daughter Malki.

Tamimi was given a life sentence "but in October 2011, Israel announced an agonising deal with Hamas for the release of Gilad Shalit... Along with 1026 other convicted terrorists, Tamimi walked free."

Returning to Jordan, she lives a "life of celebrity," having received a "raucous welcome befitting a national hero."

She has made a career out of promoting terror against Israelis, he wrote, including on her own TV show and in "frequent public appearances" where she "urges followers, particularly young women, to emulate her and undertake terror actions directed at civilians."

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