“Statistically speaking this table is the most dangerous one…: On Arab journalists and Hamas

I recently attended a press conference at Erez Crossing point at the top of Gaza. While the earlier one in Hebrew had quite a few participants, the one in English and Arabic had me, another blogger, a European AFP reporter, and three Arab journalists, one for AP, Al Jazeera English, and Arabic. They were accompanied by a crew of Arab cameramen.

While their formal questions to the spokesman – whose Arabic was considerably more fluent than his English – were largely contentious, their conversation was strangely open and even mordant. At first I suspected ideologues. When I asked my companion about the population of Gaza, he said, “1.5 million,” immediately corrected by one of the Arab journalists to “1.7.”

But after the press conference, and before we could leave, there was an alert and we spent about 20 minutes in a room waiting for the all-clear. Israeli soldiers lounged around, obviously quite used to this. The Arabs gathered around one table, looking a bit out of place. I imagined they were feeling hostile to these “Occupation Army” soldiers with whom they were forced to spend time. I went over to join them.

“Statistically speaking, you might not want to sit here,” said a cameraman from East Jerusalem.

“What do you mean?” I asked.

“Well considerably more Arabs are killed by Hamas rockets than Israelis, so if a rocket does land on this base, the statistical odds are it will hit this table.”

I carry on a great deal about “hidden transcripts” in cultures. Here’s one lying just under the surface of Arab “solidarity.” These journalists don’t like Hamas very much, and they deal with them up close. (One of them said, the journalists refer to the radical Islamists of all stripes, “beards”.) They know perfectly well that Hamas’ behavior endangers Palestinians more than Israelis.

Will they take that further? Certainly, if you read the journalism of Diaa Hadid, who started out as a true believer in the Intifada, you’ll find plenty of just what I’ve claimed is almost impossible in the Gaza Strip: criticism of Hamas.

The larger question is, just how far will this trend go? At what point does following Hamas’ tactic – fire at Israel no matter what the cost to Palestinians, and then blame Israel – lead to the the larger strategy that keeps this conflict eternally stewing, that is, the Arab strategy of making the Palestinians suffer so they can blame Israel?

In principle, if journalists realized that and started covering the systematic victimization of Palestinians by their “leaders” and Arab “allies”, maybe the strategy would start to backfire, and therefore cease. Imagine an alternative reality:

Hamas and other militants pursued a strategy during OCL nicely encapsulated by Gazan Abu Issa:

The Hamas Militants looked for good places to provoke the Israelis. They were usually youths, 16 or 17 years old, armed with submachine guns. They couldn’t do anything against a tank or jet. They knew they were much weaker. But they wanted the [Israelis] to shoot at the [the civilians’] houses so they could accuse them of more war crimes.

Now imagine that, instead of cooperating with this strategy and blaming Israel, the MSNM, the NGOs, and the Goldstone Report had actually revealed this dimension

How long would Hamas continue to victimize their own people? How long would Gazans accept their mistreatment? How much more would Palestinian rights be protected?

Or is it to much to ask, to fundamental a breach of honor-shame-driven solidarity, to ask journalists to question the Hamas/Palestinian radical “talking point” – the Israeli attack has made Hamas more popular.

10 Responses to “Statistically speaking this table is the most dangerous one…: On Arab journalists and Hamas

  1. Eliyahu says:

    RL, Your approach in this article is what once upon a time was called “leftist.” It is also honest. The Left used to always call for distrusting one’s own rulers [not always the right thing to do]. But today’s Left is so fanatic and intellectually beyond hope, that any sort of rational and factual and/or historically principled and/or empirical approach is inconceivable to them.

  2. E.G. says:

    RL,

    The “hidden transcripts” link is not working.

    For the moment, it seems too much to ask anyone to stick to the Five Ws – and especially the 6th H – principle.
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Five_Ws

  3. obsy says:

    How long would Gazans accept their mistreatment?

    As long as Hamas is by far the strongest (including willingness to act) force in the region.

  4. [...] Augean Stables » “Statistically speaking this table is the most dangerous one…: On Arab journal… theaugeanstables.com/2010/05/28/statistically-spe…ost-dangerous-one-on-arab-journalists-and-hamas/ – view page – cached + “Post-Modern” Anti-Semitism: Cognitive Egocentrism, Moral Schadenfreude, and “Progressive” Anti-Zionism * Multiple-Part Essays + PJ (OSM) Media Launch + Mainstreaming Conspiracy Theories + Open Letter to Jostein Gaarder * HERZILYA CONFERENCE + Conceptual Principles + Program with Links + Bibliography * Saïd and Honor-Shame * Richard Landes CV Tweets about this link Topsy.Data.Twitter.User['ralphthebald'] = {“photo”:”http://a3.twimg.com/profile_images/280110389/rl-twitter_normal.jpg”,”url”:”http://twitter.com/ralphthebald”,”nick”:”ralphthebald”}; ralphthebald: “http://www.theaugeanstables.com/2010/05/28/statistically-speaking-this-table-is-the-most-dangerous-one-on-arab-journalists-and-hamas/ ” 19 minutes ago retweet Topsy.Data.Twitter.User['ngomonitor'] = {“photo”:”http://a3.twimg.com/profile_images/109498759/logo3_normal.jpg”,”url”:”http://twitter.com/ngomonitor”,”nick”:”ngomonitor”}; ngomonitor: “@fustat interesting reading: Arab journalists fed up with Hamas. Why aren't supposed hr activists or the msm? http://tinyurl.com/3yc25s5 ” 6 hours ago retweet Filter tweets [...]

  5. incognito says:

    I wish people understood that scapegoating Israel/the jews is about the only thing the world can do in the face of its own self-inflicted collapse. The need to blame somebody else for that is so acute and the tradition of doing it to the jews so entrenched relative to its decadence and failures, that NOTHING, NOTHING would stop it, certainly not factual reality, which is precisely what it needs to deny.

  6. E.G. says:

    incognito,

    OTOH, we Jews have a long experience of surviving others’ failures for which we were blamed. And we know – overpaid these lessons – that complying doesn’t work, and that sometimes fighting does.
    The Emperor is naked, the Empire is breaking up because everybody wants to believe otherwise. Who will be there to rebuild it? On what foundations?

  7. JD says:

    The attack did not make Hamas more popular. That is just how a “liberal” CNN person thinks the world should work.

    Look, the Al Jazeera, etc. people are not going to “come around” because they are Arabs and they will support Arabs. They will act like 99.99% of the people of the world do outside the Western Leftist Idiotdrome.

    I read recently and interview of Alan Dershowitz where he tried to reason with Abbas to get him to say the Goldstone report was garbage. He sounded forlorn Abbas would not say anything about it. Why should he? He may think it total bull, but how does denouncing it help him and his people? Why should Abbas point out the flaws of Western Useful Idiotism? So the lunatic assumptions do not apply only to anti-zionist lunatics and their Israeli useful idiots.

  8. incognito says:

    OTOH, we Jews have a long experience of surviving others’ failures for which we were blamed.

    Judging by today’s jews, I am not so sanguine about it.
    Some of them are not jews at all.

  9. incognito says:

    I read recently and interview of Alan Dershowitz where he tried to reason with Abbas to get him to say the Goldstone report was garbage. He sounded forlorn Abbas would not say anything about it. Why should he?

    The problem is Dershowitz’s, not Abbas’s. He is a liberal and he’ll never accept the arab reality, because that would mean liberalism fails. We know how Beinart solved this problem.

  10. [...] Augean Stables » “Statistically speaking this table is the most … [...]

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