Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Soccer Dad's Mideast Media Sampler

Today's sampler and analysis of Mideast media content from my pal Soccer Dad:

1) Out of the shadows

The New York Times reports, Israel Weighs Response After Attacks by Hamas:
The armed wing of Hamas, the Islamic militant group that governs here, fired barrages of rockets into southern Israel on Tuesday after a break of more than a year during which the group largely adhered to an informal cease-fire.
Hamas has kept out of the last few rounds of violence, leaving smaller, more radical groups like Islamic Jihad to fire rockets and then restraining them in an effort to restore calm, often with the help of Egyptian mediators.

First of all, either Hamas observed the ceasefire or not. If it "largely adhered to" the ceasefire, it wasn't a ceasefire.
The bigger problem is that Hamas is the governing authority in Gaza. If "smaller, more radical groups" were carrying out attacks on Israel it was with the implicit consent of Hamas. In which case the over 290 rocket attacks into Israel in less than a half year do not constitute "largely adhering" to a ceasefire.
The stated position of the New York Times is that the Muslim Brotherhood is "committed to democratic elections and the peaceful rotation of political power," which is a conclusion one could draw only if one ignored their history and often stated goals. Here too, reporters for the New York Times make a conscious effort to whitewash the role of Hamas in terror against Israel.

What's wrong with the following two paragraphs?
The rockets were apparently a reaction to three Israeli airstrikes here on Monday and Tuesday that killed six Palestinians, most of them militants. The Israeli military said it had attacked terrorist squads responsible for firing rockets and for sniper fire along the border with Israel.
A Palestinian toddler, 2, was killed and her older brother was injured Tuesday evening in a blast at their house, witnesses and medical officials said. Residents said an Israeli plane had fired a missile at the house, in the Zeitoun neighborhood in Gaza City, but the Israeli military said that it did not carry out strikes at that time and that an initial investigation had indicated that the blast was caused by a failed rocket launching from inside Gaza.
Assuming that the toddler was one of the fatalities mentioned in the earlier paragraph, then Israeli strikes killed only, not "most[ly]" militants. This is a fact that even Ma'an got right, but the New York Times obfuscates. In fact according IDF spokesperson, Avital Leibovich 10 - 15 percent of all Gaza rocket launches fail and land in Gaza. The practice of targeting Israeli civilians (especially from civilian areas) poses a substantial risk to civilians in Gaza, even if Israel does not strike back.
But there was a sense that Islamic Jihad was gaining ground, while the smaller groups and many residents here criticized Hamas for not avenging the Israeli strikes. Hamas, whose name is an acronym in Arabic for the Islamic Resistance Movement, was being accused of having abandoned the path of resistance against Israel.
Since Israel doesn't strike at Gaza except in response to attacks on its citizens, what does this say about Gaza's political culture that attacking Israel is a component of a group's popularity? Of course the reason that Hamas's popularity has been shrinking may be due to factors other than the its lack of overt participation in terror.

One interviewee in the article makes a good point:
Waleed al-Modallal, a political scientist at the Islamic University of Gaza, said Hamas had emerged from recent internal elections “stronger and more organized” at a time of regional change, and that it had been buoyed by the rise of Islamic political power in Egypt and other areas.
There was also some internal pressure from Hamas supporters calling on the movement “not to leave the battlefield and to carry out its role alongside the other factions,” Mr. Modallal said in a telephone interview.
Hamas and the Muslim Brotherhood have announced their common goal of destroying Israel and now they are apparently starting to coordinate their activities.
Finally there was this:

Hamas said it had aimed its rockets at a civilian community and an Israeli military base near the border. In anticipation of Israeli military action, Hamas security forces evacuated their bases and headquarters here.
This might be the most important bit of information in the entire article. Israel has very good intelligence in Gaza. As long as Hamas was not openly involved in terror against Israel, Israel didn't target Hamas. This is most likely why Hamas left the terror to other organizations. The reason Hamas had avoided participating in the terror and contracting it out (informally or not) to other terror groups wasn't out of any sense of moderation as the article suggests ("largely adhered") but out of fear of being targeted in response.

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