Skipping the Hamas Party ignores the Eight Year Palestinian War
Many pro-Israel people (myself included) have complained over the past several months that mainstream media’s coverage of Hamas neglected to refer to the group as “terrorists”, as the group is so labeled by: the United States; Canada; European Union; Japan; Israel; and Egypt. I believe that we have missed a more basic flaw in describing Hamas, namely that it is the majority democratically-elected party of the Palestinians.
In January, 2006, the Palestinian Authority held its last democratic elections. The Palestinians in both the West Bank and Gaza voted overwhelming for Hamas. The group secured 76 of 132 seats in the government, or 58% of the Palestinian Authority. By way of comparison:
- In the United States (2012), the Democratic Party won 54% of the seats in the Senate;
- In the United Kingdom (2010), the winning Conservative Party won 36% of the seats in the parliament; and
- In Australia (2013), a coalition of four parties including the Liberal and Liberal National Party secured 53% of the seats
Hamas is the popular, mainstream political party that the Palestinians chose by an enormous margin (58% in a multi-party parliamentary system is a landslide; second place Fatah won 33% of the seats). When the Palestinians placed their votes, they all understood that Hamas was rabidly anti-Semitic, sought the murder of Jews and complete destruction of Israel, as it described clearly in its 1988 Charter and in repeated statements by its leadership. Further, Palestinians voted for this party knowing not just of Hamas’s positions, but of the world’s policy of isolating Hamas.
The media has not only ignored this, but has deliberately concealed this fact. Look at the adjectives used for Hamas: it is described as “Islamist” not “Palestinian”; it is described as a “faction”, not a “political party”; the group is described as having “seized” Gaza and does not convey that the people freely voted for the terrorist group.
- New York Times: “Hamas, the Islamist faction that dominates the Gaza Strip.”
- CNN: “Hamas, the militant Islamic group that runs Gaza,”
- The Guardian: “Islamist organisation,”
- Newsweek: “Hamas Islamist-dominated Gaza Strip”
- Reuters: “Hamas, Gaza’s dominant Islamist group,”
Through the media’s – and world bodies’ – obfuscation of the Palestinian people’s complicity in the current situation, it dangerously absolves the Palestinians of responsibility. Palestinians have been artistically separated from their democratically-elected leaders who are carrying out the exact campaign promises that the Palestinian voters enthusiastically endorsed.
A reader of the photoshop-ed news is therefore led to conclude that Hamas is similar to ISIS in Iraq or Boko Haram in Nigeria or other declared terrorist groups. However, those groups are indeed “factions” and “Islamist organizations” that are apart from their respective governments. They were not elected by the people. In the West Bank and Gaza Hamas is the government and represents the Palestinians’ desires, irrespective of world leaders and the media pretending that acting-President Mahmoud Abbas (whose term expired way back in 2009) is an elected leader.
To further underscore the point, a poll conducted by the Palestinian Center for Policy and Survey Research in August 2014 found that 61% of Palestinians would vote for Hamas. The breakdown was 53% for the terrorist party in Gaza and 66% in the West Bank.
The Palestinian people chose a path of war and continue to support an armed conflict today. They actively elected a group dedicated to jihad and the rejection of any and all negotiations with Israel in 2006, and back that same political terrorist party today.
By ignoring the role of the democratic process and the stated desires of the Palestinian people, the past eight years have been mischaracterized as a having three Israeli-Gaza wars, instead of an eight year Palestinian-Israeli war, in which Israel has responded with three defensive operations.
Or, more accurately based on the latest Palestinian poll, eight years and counting…
Hamas election 2006: http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2006/01/26/AR2006012600372.html
Hamas August 2014 poll: http://www.jpost.com/Breaking-News/Hamas-Haniyeh-would-trounce-Abbas-if-elections-held-today-Palestinian-poll-says-374296
US Senate 2012: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/United_States_Senate_elections,_2012
UK election 2010: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/United_Kingdom_general_election,_2010
Australia election 2013: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Australian_federal_election,_2013
Hamas Charter: http://www.thejerusalemfund.org/www.thejerusalemfund.org/carryover/documents/charter.html?chocaid=397
New York Times: http://www.nytimes.com/2014/08/02/world/middleeast/israel-gaza-conflict.html?_r=0
The Guardian: http://www.theguardian.com/world/2014/aug/14/hamas-real-chance-gaza-agreement-israel-truce
Wall Street Journal: “The third major military clash between Israel and Hamas in less than six years” http://online.wsj.com/articles/israel-hamas-talks-over-gaza-deadlocked-1407920730