July 25, 2006 - It was Benjamin Disraeli, not Mark Twain, who first said "There are three kinds of lies: lies, damn lies, and statistics." Were he alive today, he might have said, "There are three kinds of lies: lies, damn lies, and Palestinian propaganda."
A recent case in point is an opinion piece by Ismail Haniyeh, Prime Minister of the Palestinian National Authority, published in the Washington Post. Its distortions, omissions, and outright lies, combined with a clever attempt to manipulate the reader, show contempt for its American audience.
Haniyeh seems to know so well what buttons to push, he must have taken a course in public relations. He tries to befriend his American audience, to convince his American readers that he really shares their values. He appeals often to "democracy" and "justice":
As Americans commemorated their annual celebration of independence from colonial occupation, rejoicing in their democratic institutions, we Palestinians were yet again besieged by our occupiers....
We want what Americans enjoy - democratic rights, economic sovereignty and justice.
We thought our pride in conducting the fairest elections in the Arab world might resonate with the United States and its citizens.
So the good people of Hamas are just like Americans - who knew? They cherish American values, like democracy, free elections, and justice for all. Haniyeh wants to establish a rapport with Americans, to suggest that perhaps we really are kindred spirits and ought to be pals.
Haniyeh wants to say that the Palestinian experience is the American experience. Americans fought for "independence from colonial occupation," and that is just what Palestinians are doing. Supporting Israel is like supporting the British during the Revolutionary War. The only difference between Americans and Palestinians is that Americans are strong, but Palestinians are weak. Americans have shaken off their occupiers, but Palestinians are "yet again besieged" by theirs.
This gives Haniyeh an opening to sound the favorite Palestinian theme: victimhood. He calls the unrest in Gaza "the explosive follow-up to a five-month campaign of economic and diplomatic warfare directed by the United States and Israel," completely neglecting to mention that all during that time the Palestinians have been escalating their rocket war against Israel. Never once does Haniyeh mention the Qassams. To call this a war of the U.S. and Israel against Hamas is a lie. But it is the Palestinian pattern: commit all sorts of aggression and mayhem against innocent people, then act like nothing happened and call yourself a victim.
Haniyeh is clearly hoping the American people are ignorant and do not follow the news. He mentions the "'kidnapped' Israeli Cpl. Gilad Shalit" (with "kidnapped" in sarcastic quotation marks), but not the incessant barrage of Palestinian rockets hitting Israeli cities, as if to imply that Israel would start a regional war over just one man. He whines about "collective punishment," but does not apply that term to rockets falling on Sderot, Ashkelon, and other southern Israeli towns. He laments the Palestinian prisoners who "remain in Israeli jails for resisting the illegal, ongoing occupation," using "resist" as the standard code word for terrorism. In this piece Haniyeh tries to cloak terrorist violence in the mantle of traditional American values.
Let us consider his charge of "occupation," since that is the buzzword Palestinians use to justify anything, including ripping apart children's bodies with shrapnel bombs. Haniyeh overlooks the fact that Gaza is no longer occupied and has not been for a full year. He does talk about the "temporary withdrawal of forces from Gaza," which is cynically disingenuous, because the reason Israeli forces returned to Gaza was to stop the rocket attacks against Israeli cities. In any event, the last thing Israel wants is to reoccupy Gaza, especially after going through all the trouble and trauma of withdrawing. But instead of greeting Israel's withdrawal from Gaza as a step towards a peace process that might eventually include the West Bank, the Palestinians have punished Israel for it by attacking Israel's southern cities. Then the Palestinians scream "occupation" when Israel tries to do something about it.
The fact is that Israel disengaged, but the Palestinians re-engaged and escalated. Yet the Palestinians still want to call themselves the "underdog." They know Americans love to root for the underdog. So while Israel deals with rocket attacks from Hamas in the south and from Hezbollah in the north and while its cities are hit repeatedly with ammunition supplied by Iran and Syria, Hamas parades itself as the "underdog."
To support this delusion Haniyeh does not hesitate to tell still more lies. He asks, "Was Israel defending itself when it killed eight family members on a Gaza beach last month?" This is a classic "When did you stop beating your wife?" question. A preponderance of the evidence indicates that an Israeli shell did not kill those people; most likely it was some explosive the Palestinians were using that misfired. This would not be the first time Palestinians have blamed Israel for casualties they caused themselves. Yet Haniyeh assumes the contrary as fact and tries to slip it past his audience. Haniyeh himself should answer the question: "Were the Palestinians defending themselves when, just a week earlier, they fired rockets at a kindergarten in Israel?"
And to add insult to injury, Haniyeh says this with a straight face:
Israel's ongoing policies of expansion, military control and assassination mock any notion of sovereignty or bilateralism. Its "separation barrier," running across our land, is hardly a good-faith gesture toward future coexistence.
The absurdity of talking about Israeli "expansionism" after Israel withdrew from the whole of Gaza and is contemplating further withdrawals should be obvious. The irony of calling the "separation barrier" a lack of "good faith" would be delicious if it were not so bitter. Once again Haniyeh omits the suicide bombs and rocket attacks that make such barriers necessary. Are those the Palestinians' "good faith gestures" that deserve one from Israel in return? What bad manners those Jews must have, refusing to stand in the open as naked targets for Palestinian aggression.
But not to worry. Haniyeh has a "remedy": "statehood for the West Bank and Gaza, a capital in Arab East Jerusalem, and resolving the 1948 Palestinian refugee issue fairly." Again Haniyeh neglects to mention that the Palestinians were offered all of this and they refused! But of course for Haniyeh, a "fair" solution of the 1948 refugee issue would mean turning all of Israel over to the Palestinian refugees, effectively putting an end to Israel as a sovereign nation. Hamas makes no secret of the fact that this is what it really means. It is only too willing to say it openly, when not trying to woo an American audience.
Here is what Hamas says in its own charter:
Israel will rise and will remain erect until Islam eliminates it as it had eliminated its predecessors.
For our struggle against the Jews is extremely wide-ranging and grave, so much so that it will need all the loyal efforts we can wield, to be followed by further steps and reinforced by successive battalions from the multifarious Arab and Islamic world, until the enemies are defeated and Allah’s victory prevails. Thus we shall perceive them approaching in the horizon, and this will be known before long: "Allah has decreed: Lo! I very shall conquer, I and my messenger, lo! Allah is strong, almighty."
The prophet, prayer and peace be upon him, said: The time will not come until Muslims will fight the Jews (and kill them); until the Jews hide behind rocks and trees, which will cry: O Muslim! there is a Jew hiding behind me, come on and kill him!
When our enemies usurp some Islamic lands, Jihad becomes a duty binding on all Muslims. In order to face the usurpation of Palestine by the Jews, we have no escape from raising the banner of Jihad.
Israel, by virtue of its being Jewish and of having a Jewish population, defies Islam and the Muslims.
How can Haniyeh square these sentiments with the statement in his article that "Based on a hudna (comprehensive cessation of hostilities for an agreed time), the Holy Land still has an opportunity to be a peaceful and stable economic powerhouse for all the Semitic people of the region"? He can't. He is playing his American audience for fools. And Americans are not fools.
There is just one sentence in Haniyeh's article with which I would concur, his final one:
"If Americans only knew the truth, possibility might become reality."
"Hamas Charter." 1988.
Haniyeh, Ismail. "Aggression Under False Pretenses." Washington Post, July 11, 2006.
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