The Middle East

Hamas’s Propaganda by Deed in Gaza

hamas2Hamas, also known as the Islamic Resistance Movement, excels at only two things—terrorism and propaganda. On August 26, 2014, an open-ended ceasefire began with Hamas spokesman Sami Abu Zuhri declaring to the world: “We have won.” What they had won did not seem entirely clear. This was the same deal Hamas had rejected—and Israel accepted—on July 15. But terrorism is propaganda and propaganda is terrorism, and so Zuhri felt free to boast that Hamas had accomplished “what no Arab army has done. We have defeated them.” With victories like this Hamas need never experience defeat.

Hamas is the first cousin of the Islamic State (IS). Hamas fighters might not bury civilians alive with their own shovels, but they fire off rockets in an attempt to entomb Jewish, Christian and Muslim civilians in Israel. Moreover, Hamas fires off rockets from hospitals, schools, mosques and built-up residential areas in Gaza with the express purpose of initiating retaliatory Israeli fire on those very same hospitals, schools, mosques and built-up residential areas. Hamas-style butchery could be categorised as more grotesque than IS atrocities because Hamas connives to bring about the burying alive of its own people for the purpose of advancing a propaganda agenda. Hamas dismisses the charge of adopting a human-shield strategy as a Zionist lie, although genuine investigative reporters in Gaza—including NDTV’s Sreenivasan Jain—have now provided incontrovertible proof to the contrary. Should we believe the Islamic Resistance Movement or our lying eyes?

There are some who claim that Operation Protective Edge had its genesis in the June 12, 2014, abduction of the Israeli teenagers Gil-Ad Shaer, Naftali Fraenkal and Eyal Yifrah, and that the assault on Gaza was an expression of Israel’s blind fury that the boys were kidnapped and later found murdered. One major drawback to this argument is that Hamas began its unprovoked rocket attacks on the citizens of Israel on June 11, the day before the kidnapping. By the time the bodies of the three teenagers were discovered in the West Bank, on June 30, Hamas’s attack on Israel had been proceeding for nineteen days. On that day alone sixteen rockets were fired off, a number of them landing in the Negev. Hamas had been keen for war irrespective of—or, more likely, in conjunction with—the slaughter of the three Israeli boys. This is corroborated by the fact that Hamas, and not the Netanyahu administration, broke at least eleven ceasefire arrangements before August 26.

The question is how the Hamas leadership could have expected its al-Qassam Brigades to defeat the Israeli Defense Forces (IDF). The probable answer is that, in strict military terms, this was never the plan. Hamas embarked on a war with Israel because it desperately needed to break the security blockade that has been placed on Gaza, an arrangement that since the demise of the Morsi government in Cairo could be described as Israeli-Egyptian. The restrictions originally came into place because Hamas received rockets from Iran and North Korea and fired them in the direction of Israel. Any significant easing of the security blockade would allow Hamas to take delivery of even bigger rockets from Iran and North Korea and fire them at Israel. Any victory for the Hamas leadership had to include a substantial reduction of the Israeli-Egyptian security blockade in the form of a seaport or an airport. The key element, as Hamas leaders calculated from the beginning, required the terrorising of Israeli civilians, scenes of carnage involving Gazan civilians, and the credulity of the international media. There is something monstrous about such an enterprise, but then there is something monstrous about Hamas.

We shall never know exactly how many Gazans have been murdered by their tyrannous subjugator over the years, let alone the number of Gazan homosexuals incarcerated and tortured, women brutalised and forced into the hijab against their will, or the final count of children who perished building Hamas’s steel and concrete reinforced tunnels. A number of attack tunnels were dug under the Israeli border in order that homicidal martyrs might emerge from the bowels of hell and massacre Israeli farmers on the Jewish New Year, Rosh Hashanah. It was only Hamas’s desire to prolong Operation Protective Edge that resulted in the IDF thwarting the intended atrocity. On the subject of tunnels, we need to ask why the Islamic Resistance Movement spent so much of the United Nations’ money on constructing them without building a single bomb shelter for their captive population. We might recall Nicolas Pelham’s 2012 report for the Institute for Palestine Studies, an organisation based in Beirut and which could hardly be described as pro-Israeli:

During a police patrol that the author was permitted to accompany in December 2011, nothing was done to impede the use of children in the tunnels, where, much as in Victorian coal mines, they are prized for their nimble bodies. At least 160 children have been killed in the tunnels, according to Hamas officials.

Hamas operatives, during the earlier stages of Operation Protective Edge, are reported to have executed dozens of Gazan tunnel workers for fear they might pass on useful information to the IDF.

Apologists for Hamas remind us that the organisation outvoted Fatah in the 2006 legislative elections, although rarely do they mention that this popularity has not been tested again, the Islamist Resistance Movement’s idea of democracy falling under the category of “one election for all time”. The tragedy for Gaza is that no homegrown version of General Abdul-Fatah al-Sisi yet exists to liberate the 1.7 million people from the Islamist Resistance Movement’s death cult. The option of a strongman emerging to do the job lessened somewhat after Hamas carried out their own version of the Night of the Long Knives against Fatah and other forces in 2007. Hamas fighters threw members of Fatah’s militia off high-rise buildings. Others they shot in the kneecaps and sentenced to permanent house arrest, some of whom, apparently, were liquidated in the course of Operation Protective Edge.

While Hamas remains in power, any genuine attempt to ascertain how Gazans feel about their sociopathic masters would be as meaningful as quizzing Muscovites, circa 1938, on the merits of Stalin’s Third Five-Year Plan. Hamas and its supporters fume against the Israeli security blockade and yet the embargo did not exist back in 2005 when Israel gave Gaza its independence. Many people, not least Israelis, had hoped Gaza would be able to make something of its autonomy, given the territory’s proximity to the Mediterranean Sea and to its neighbour’s flourishing economy, but Hamas has more important things to do than provide good governance for the 1.7 million hostages—sorry, people—of Gaza. Hamas will under no circumstances recognise the State of Israel in any shape or form and has no interest in a Palestinian state. Hamas’s ultimate ambition is to seize Jerusalem (Al-Quds) and initiate a new Islamic caliphate, a scenario which has nothing to do with the founding of a Palestinian state and everything to do with the violent, apocalyptic, millennialist madness of the IS and all the other Al Qaeda types.

Sane minds in the West must demand the return of the word evil to the lexicon of public discourse. The next task is to recognise that evil is something we should not encourage or legitimise. On August 4, 2014, the Sydney Morning Herald finally retracted and apologised for the malevolent cartoon drawn by Glen Le Lievre and published in the July 26 edition of the paper. Darren Goodsir, the Editor-in-Chief, “after ten days of serious thinking and reflection”, decided that the cartoon was “too simplistic and ignored the use of religious symbols”. The Herald “deeply regretted the upset the image had caused”. A Jewish organisation in New South Wales described Le Lievre’s idea of social commentary as “a grotesque stereotype of a Jew using a remote-control device to blow up houses and people in Gaza”. Despite this, Goodsir was adamant that “no racial vilification had occurred” and that Le Lievre “lacked any intent” to do so. The problem—or “serious error of judgment”—occurred when the cartoonist “invoked an inappropriate element of religion, rather than nationhood”.

In other words, Darren Goodsir was prepared to “apologise unreservedly” for the cartoon, but it would have been a different story if the old man in the recliner, blithely obliterating buildings (and civilians) in Gaza, looked a little less like the caricature of Jewish people propagated in Julius Streicher’s Der Stürmer. Apparently, denouncing the State of Israel with the assistance of one of the Third Reich’s most notorious anti-Semites, a fellow who proudly declared himself “Jew-baiter Number One”, does not constitute anti-Semitism as long as the target of one’s ire is not Jews but Israeli Jews. Would Goodsir have apologised if Le Lievre had put the Israeli flag rather than the Star of David on back of the old guy’s chair?

Mike Carlton’s article “Israel’s Rank and Rotten Fruit is Being Called Fascism”, which accompanied the July 26 cartoon in Fairfax newspapers, was deemed by management not to have crossed the line of impropriety, unlike Le Lievre’s drawing, because the writer’s indignation was directed at Israeli Jews and not Jews per se. Mike Carlton—according to Mike Carlton—is simply a tell-it-like-it-is pundit who lets the chips fall where they may:

The onslaught is indiscriminate and unrelenting, with but one possible conclusion: Israel is not fighting the terrorists of Hamas. In defiance of the laws of war and the norms of civilised behaviour, it is waging its own war of terror on the entire Gaza population of about 1.7 million people. Call it genocide, call it ethnic cleansing: the aim is to kill Arabs.

Trouble was, Israel’s offensive proved to be anything but indiscriminate. The IDF went out of its way to notify Gazans of any incoming attack. This included phoning Gazan civilians directly, as Hamas officials could not be relied upon to relay warnings to locals. In contrast, Hamas’s unrelenting barrage of rockets aimed at Israel constituted the absolute embodiment of the term indiscriminate. The aim of Israel was not to kill Arabs; the aim of Hamas was for Israel to kill Arabs. And it was Hamas leader Khaled Meshal, ensconced in Qatar, headquarters of the pro-Muslim Brotherhood Al Jazeera network and bankroller of Muslim Brotherhood organisations everywhere, who kept insisting the war stretch out as long as possible. Hostilities might have continued longer—and will almost certainly recur—if Khaled Meshal reasserts control over his Gaza-based counterparts.

Mike Carlton writes evocatively about the horror that has been visited upon Gazan civilians: “A teenage girl lies on a torn stretcher, her limbs awry, her face and torso blackened like a burnt steak.” All the columnist leaves out of his tale is the fact that every single death resulting from Operation Protective Edge happened to be the entire responsibility of Hamas and its Islamic jihad partner in crime. The Islamic State group, by all accounts, is also setting up shop in Gaza. So if a non-Iranian IS rocket were to be fired in the direction of Israel and murder a child, that would be denounced as indefensible barbarity, and yet if the same child were killed by an Iranian-supplied Hamas rocket that would fall under a different category. Perhaps if IS does shift its focus from slaughtering Iraqi and Syrian civilians to Israeli civilians the international media might reconfigure it as a bona fide resistance movement.

The double standard applied to Israel is that outrageous. The central difference between the Jews of the Negev and the Yazidis of Sinjar or the Christians in Mosul is that the IDF safeguards the Jews of the Negev from an Islamic pogrom. This singular reality explains why IS fighters are head-hackers, intent on terrorising targeted populations into submission or exile, while Hamas plays the victim card by contriving to have as many Gazans killed by the IDF as possible. The tactics are different but the goal is the same. It is a continuance of the twentieth-century Islamist or Muslim Brotherhood-associated project to isolate or destroy all non-Muslim and non-Arabic communities in the Greater Middle East.

Carlton, it must be said, acknowledges some culpability on the part of Hamas for the “gallery of death and horror” that attended Operation Protective Edge: “Yes, Hamas is also trying to kill Israeli civilians, with a barrage of rockets and guerrilla border attacks. It, too, is guilty of terror and grave war crimes.” With that out of the way, Carlton moves on to contrast the plight of Gazan civilians exposed to the full firepower of the IDF with Israeli citizens “effectively shielded by the nation’s Iron Dome defence system”. The unfairness of the conflagration, in the opinion of Carlton, is underlined by the fact that far more Gazans perished than Israelis, proving that Operation Protective Edge was “a monstrous distortion of the much-vaunted right of self-defence”. The untenability of Carlton’s proposition becomes obvious when we recollect that a prime purpose of Israel’s mobile all-weather air defence system involves thwarting the long-held goal of Hamas (and Lebanon’s Hezbollah) to kill Israeli civilians with rockets and artillery shells. What kind of “fairness” involves a democratic state leaving its populace more vulnerable to a death cult?

Nowhere in Carlton’s article does he mention that previous accusations of the IDF deliberately targeting non-combatants have always turned out to be fraudulent. Consider, for instance, the 2000 Mohammad al-Durrah Hoax (at the commencement of the Second Intifada) and the 2002 Jenin Massacre Hoax (during Operation Defensive Shield). Look them up, Mike Carlton. Nobody is asking you to be a genuine investigative journalist like Sreenivasan Jain, but surely someone submitting an op-ed for a high-profile newspaper such as the Sydney Morning Herald ought to have the maxim, “Fool me once, shame on you, fool me twice, shame on me”, as part of their writer’s mantra. It was no great surprise to learn that the percentage of young male Gazans (able and willing to launch rockets) killed by the IDF vastly outnumbered the children and women who died during Operation Protective Edge. Were all those youthful men simply innocent civilians, as previously claimed? Maybe Hamas’s Ministry of Truth is not the best place to look for the answer.

If the purpose of Operation Protective Shield was “ethnic cleansing” and a desire “to kill Arabs”, as Mike Carlton supposes, how do we explain the Arab Republic of Egypt’s non-antagonistic stance towards the State of Israel during the campaign? The evidence shows that President Abdel-Fattah el-Sisi counselled Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to ignore President Obama—and his Islamist allies in Qatar and Turkey—and not reward Hamas for the war it initiated. Egypt has a record for supporting the Palestinian cause, and yet the vast majority of Egyptians despise Hamas no less than Ansar Beit Al-Maqdis in the Sinai Peninsula, which allegedly fired rockets into southern Israel during Operation Protective Shield as an act of solidarity with Hamas.

The similarity between Hamas and other violent jihadist outfits is incontrovertible. Islamic State warriors have slaughtered Christians all over Syria and Iraq and expelled them in their entirety from the city of Mosul. Hamas might not stage public crucifixions but its systematic persecution of Christians in the territory has seen their numbers halve over the past seven years. IS enforces sharia law in their so-called caliphate; Hamas has enforced sharia law in their mini-domain. IS sociopaths murder any civilian who so much as questions their authority; Hamas agents, meanwhile, are reported to have summarily executed between thirty and fifty civilians in one Gazan district alone when locals protested against the Islamic Resistance Movement’s human-shield strategy. On Friday August 22, a further seventeen Gazan civilians were similarly dispatched without a trial after being accused of “collaboration”. Nevertheless, there has been reluctance on the part of many in the West to face up to the links that exists between Hamas and Syria’s Al-Nusra Front or Mesopotamia’s Islamic State or the Sinai Peninsula’s Ansar Beit Al-Maqdis or Somalia’s Al-Shabaab or Nigeria’s Boko Haram.

One reason for this is that leftists tend to see the world through the two-dimensional lens of an anti-West zero-sum fallacy. If violent jihadists behave in a brutal fashion then that must be the fault of Israel or the USA or Britain or some other Western entity. That is the unalterable context for 9/11 and every other act of terrorism, with no other explanation permissible or even conceivable. Take the case of the US photographer James Foley. This was the final message his parents received from IS before they beheaded Foley in mid-August: “We will not stop until we quench our thirst for blood.” We had to wait only a few days for the ever-predictable Robert Fisk to provide us with an op-ed in the ever-predictable Independent newspaper blaming the actions of IS on the “epic violence” that was “unleashed” by the “2003 Anglo-American invasion” of Iraq. Never mind that James Foley met his end in Syria. Too many leftists clutch at their post-colonialist ideology—to borrow a line from the film Witness for the Prosecution—like a drowning man clutching at a razor blade.

The most toxic weapon in the Left’s post-colonial armoury is the concept of Holocaust Inversion, which Mike Carlton wields in his op-ed: that is, modern-day Israelis are the equivalent of the German Nazis while the plight of the Palestinians is comparable to that of the Jews of the Shoah. Carlton declares it an act of “breathtaking irony” that Israelis, “who hold the Warsaw Ghetto and the six million dead of the Holocaust as the centre of their race memory”, should have perpetrated “genocide” during Operation Protective Edge. Mike Carlton has since resigned from the Sydney Morning Herald after a dispute with the management, but it must never be forgotten that Carlton’s employer did not censure him for his dark critique of Operation Protective Edge.

The difficulty with the Holocaust Inversion fable—apart from its inaccuracy—is that Judeo­phobia underpins it. For instance, the “catastrophe” or “disaster” of Nakba commemorated by anti-Zionists conflates two alleged injustices: the flight of hundreds of thousands of Arabs from the Jewish-controlled sectors of Mandatory Palestine and the foundation of the State of Israel on May 14, 1948. From an Islamist (but also Arab rejectionist) perspective the two “catastrophes” are automatically one and the same thing, but only because the creation of a Jewish state, once the territory of the Ottoman caliphate and earlier versions of Dar el-Islam, is a priori catastrophic. Such a judgment, however, has more to do with religious and cultural chauvinism than a scholarly account of the matter.

The history of the Zionist project is not without its blemishes and deserves a rigorous analysis and proper historiography, but no serious appraisal of Israel can have as its core a notion of illegitimacy predicated on Islamic supremacism. Any commentator with those kinds of prejudices is going to view the exodus of Arabs from Israel as a catastrophe and never take into account the association between the Muslim Brotherhood and Nazi Germany, including Haj Amin al-Husseini’s visits to Adolf Hitler.

A blinkered pundit will also ignore the circumstances of five Arab nations—Syria, Egypt, Lebanon, Iraq and Jordan—invading Israel at the same time as the so-called Nakba. Many Arabs relocating to safer environs—and taking their house keys with them—did so on the assumption that they would return once the State of Israel had been eradicated and the land cleansed of Jews from the river to the sea. The Islamist (and Arab rejectionist) view relegates the move of 800,000 Sephardi Jews from the Greater Middle East to the sanctuary of Israel as immaterial because there should have been no Jewish state in the first place.

We could follow this unending demonisation of Israel all the way through to Yasser Arafat’s negative response to a two-state solution in 2000 and beyond. The Holocaust Inversion allegory is, in effect, the encapsulation of a religiously infused abhorrence of “the Zionist entity”. The catastrophe, therefore, is not what Israel does but that it exists. Significantly, this jaundiced view is spurned by most Israeli Arabs, although for Islamists that does not ameliorate the shortcomings of modern Israel but exacerbates them.

Employing the Holocaust Inversion metaphor simply invites a rejoinder. In his article, Carlton anticipates that “Australian Likudniks”, a term he charitably attributes to Bob Carr, Labor’s Foreign Minister from 2010 to 2013, would be “lunging for their keyboards” in response to his characterisation of Israel as a fascist entity. About this, if nothing else, Carlton was proved right. Then again, if you write a newspaper op-ed that is—to put it as politely as possible—contentious, it stands to reason there will be critics. Carlton responded to his complainants with blistering invective, resulting in his censure and then short-term suspension by his employer. He resigned in protest although, according to Fairfax, there was never any complaint by management about the article itself. Nevertheless, Carlton later told Crikey that it was “the Israeli lobby in Australia” combined with a “campaign by News Corp” that brought him undone. If Fairfax is to be believed, then Carlton’s reference to the “Israeli Lobby” or “Australian Likudniks” has worrying connotations.

Judeophobia is the most wretched of conditions. Mike Carlton denigrated one critic as a “Jewish bigot” and insisted that the implication of his demise was “the racism, hatred and bigotry of the Likudniks”. History might judge the matter differently. Just as it might question Paul Barry’s effort on the August 11 edition of Media Watch to present Mike Carlton as a martyr to the cause of free speech and a victim of bullying:

The Herald managed it badly. And the upshot is that it has lost one of its most powerful columnists and may well lose readers as a result. More importantly, the Australian media has, for the moment, lost a brave and powerful voice. And whether you like Carlton’s column or not—and most of the time I did—that is not something to be celebrated as his enemies have done.

Only in passing did Paul Barry allude to the fact that the powers-that-be at Fairfax claim to have never reproached Carlton for his column, not the least reason being they have no problem with the notion of Holocaust Inversion. As Sean Aylmer of Fairfax, publisher of the Herald, explained to 2UE: “What got him into a lot of trouble is the way he responded to the readers. It’s not the article itself; it’s the way he treated his readers.” Peddling a conspiracy theory about the power and influence of “the Israeli lobby” and “Australian Likudniks”, without any evidence to corroborate the charge, is troubling. The Twilight Zone music reverberates ever louder in our ears.

Even the critics of Israel who are reluctant to reach for the crude Holocaust Inversion allegory, such as Robert Fisk, invariably assert that the ultimate responsibility for Islamic terrorism rests with Israel. If the Israelis had cut a deal with Palestinian secularists such as Yasser Arafat, for instance, then Hamas would have been marginalised long ago. This thesis runs counter to the account of the Fatah–Hamas partnership contained in Mosab Hassan Yousef’s Son of Hamas (2010). Having rejected a two-state solution in 2000 and 2001, Arafat breathed life back into Hamas because, in his later years, he discarded the KGB-constructed guise of a national liberation leader as effortlessly as he had adopted it back in 1964. The illusion had served its purpose and, in any case, he did not want to go down in history as the inaugural president of an Arab Palestinian mini-state with its capital in East Jerusalem.

Yasser Arafat’s last contribution to The Cause was to found the Al-Aqsa Brigades. The resultant suicide bombings and orgy of violence during the Second Intifada was comparable to the latter-day barbarism of the Al-Qassam Brigades and the Islamic State. Hamas, argues Mosab Hassan Yousef, is a spirit as much as it is an identifiable organisation, and the 1988 Covenant of the Islamic Resistance Movement might be as good a place as any to comprehend what the free world—and not just Israel—is up against. It was not Lenin’s Imperialism: The Highest Stage of Capitalism but the cosmology of the Islamic Resistance Movement that animated the “secularist” Arafat in his final years.

A crowd of Islamists and anti-Israel leftists marching through the streets of Europe shouting, “Hamas, Hamas, Jews to the gas”, is a clear indication of moral impairment. Those in the West who claim to be anti-Zionist on the basis of the purported crimes of Israel need to draw back and reflect on the provenance of their Holocaust Inversion ideology. The citizens of Israel—along with the people of Egypt, the Yazidis of Iraq, the Christians of Syria, the Christians of Nigeria, and on and on—are all at the pointy end of a Holy Jihad. They are the victims and not the perpetrators of the chaos and mayhem that has enveloped the Middle East and beyond.

Daryl McCann has a blog at He wrote “The Radical Realism of Barack Obama” in the September issue.


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