‘Americans for Peace Now’ Bucks ‘Times,’ and Mainstream Jewish Opinion, Re Hamas

Israel/PalestineUS Politics
on 22 Comments

Today the Times has a front-page article saying that antisemitic vitriol in Gaza, licensed by Hamas, is an impediment to the peace process. The one comment I’d make is that if Jews were starving and blockading your territory, and denying the sick hospital supplies, you might call them apes too. Yesterday I asked, Is the Times part of the Israel Lobby? The answer is that the Times, as the tone-setter for the Establishment, is under tremendous pressure from and is remarkably responsive to the conservative mainstream of the Jewish leadership that has for 60 years placed the issue of Security for Israel over the value of Self-Determination for the Palestinian people. And for 60 years: No Palestinian state.

I wish the Times were more responsive to other American Jewish voices that give primacy to Palestinian self-determination and do not support the demonization of Hamas. Americans for Peace Now has often demonstrated great courage on this issue. Lately I talked to Lara Friedman of the organization about APN's stance re Hamas. Here's her comment:

APN has long challenged the  US and Israeli policies regarding Hamas. For example, on Oct. 2006 we issued a statement that suggesting to the President that he should be "Reconsidering your Administration's policy of refusing all contacts with Hamas. There are potentially exploitable cleavages within Hamas which need to be explored and tested, and there are more moderate voices within Hamas who could contribute to stabilizing the situation in Gaza."

More recently, on January 25th (in the context of the Gaza border breach), APN called for engaging Hamas (in a press release, and a message sent in my name to the entire wonk community and all Hill offices). That statement noted, among other things, that "By now it should be clear that the policy of placing Gaza under siege is succeeding neither in stopping Qassam fire, nor in ousting Hamas. Tactics of this nature have been tried and have failed, repeatedly. Rather than continue down this disastrous path, Israel, with the support and urging of the U.S., should forge a more responsible, constructive, and far-sighted way forward in terms of both its tactics and strategy for Gaza. This new way forward should include ending the blockade of Gaza. It should also include urgent diplomatic efforts to address the security challenges associated with Gaza. In particular, Israel should explore the possibility of achieving understandings with Hamas to end the violence, including a ceasefire or a "hudna," either through direct contacts or via third parties, including President Abbas." (The entire statement addresses both Israeli and Palestinian suffering and concerns.)

In the context of the most recent military escalation, on March 3rd APN released a statement (again, in the form of a press release, a message sent in my name to the entire policy community, and an email sent to every Hill office) arguing that "Any realistic, sustainable resolution to this crisis will require Israel and Hamas to engage, directly or indirectly, to achieve a ceasefire or hudna. The only questions then are: how many Israelis and Palestinians will die or be wounded in the interim; how much less international sympathy Israel will have when the ceasefire is being negotiated; how much bigger will the disaster on the ground be, both in Israel and Gaza, once a ceasefire is achieved; and how much damage will have been done to the credibility and viability of the peace process and the Israeli and Palestinian peace camps."

We followed this statement with a statement following the passage of
H. Res. 951 (regarding the
Gaza escalation), expressing our
disappointment in the resolution and including a compendium of articles
and polling data showing that (a) Israelis support a ceasefire with
and (b) many Israeli security experts, including
hawks, support such
engagement and support a ceasefire. This compendium was posted on
our website and has gotten a huge number of hits.
Each of these statement generated a huge -- and largely positive --
response, including from the Hill.

22 Responses

  1. American
    April 1, 2008, 10:44 am

    There must be a get Hamas campaign going on with the Times and MSNBC for the US public.

    This morning I have seen three "news blips" on MSNBC decrying Hamas cartoons for children showing Bush as killing Palestines and the children stabbing Bush..

    You will never see "news blips" on cable showing the Israeli children who were writting "from Israel with love" on the bombs Israel used on Lebanon.

    Someday..we are gonna have a turnover in this country…can't come soon enough for me.

  2. Madrid
    April 1, 2008, 11:02 am

    That article is the last straw for me at the Times. I have decided finally to cancel my subscription.

    First they hire William Krystol, then they do these repeated hackjobs on the Palestinians. This is not the first one this year. During the assault on Gaza, they made it seem as if the Gazans were actually invading Israel.

  3. Jim Haygood
    April 1, 2008, 11:15 am


    Had Hamas's January 2006 election victory been recognized, Hamas would have been forced to tone down its rhetoric, or face ostracism as an outlaw state. The ex post facto nullification of an election of course leads to radicalization, as it did in Algeria after the nullification of an Islamist party's democratic victory in 1991. Rewriting the Palestinian electoral results cast Israel and the U.S. in the role of the antidemocratic outlaws — the Mugabes of the Middle East, as it were.

    The West thinks Burma's refusal to recognize Aung San Suu Kyi's 1990 electoral victory is bad, very bad. But it's okay for us to do the same to Hamas. Ends trump means, and results trump due process.

    Meanwhile, Bloomberg reports today that "the Bush administration … has positioned American warships off Lebanon's coast and is delivering U.S. Humvees and ammunition to the Lebanese army. U.S. assistance to the Lebanese military soared to more than $320 million last year from less than $1 million in 2005. The Bush administration pledged an additional $770 million at a Paris donors' conference to rebuild Lebanon following the 2006 war."

    link to bloomberg.com

    I don't recall much democratic debate on this rather inflammatory interventionist policy. But to the $3 billion a year for Israel, and the $2 billion for Egypt to make nice to Israel, let's add the $1 billion a year for the Lebanese government to keep a lid on Hamas's evil twin, Hezbollah, on Israel's behalf. Total, $6 billion a year. Plus $12 billion a MONTH for Iraq. A munificent sum indeed. But in return, we receive … errrr … well, never mind.

  4. Richard Witty
    April 1, 2008, 11:32 am

    Hamas did serve for a period in a recognized joint governance polity, and during that time refused to demilitarize its militia and took over Gaza in a civil war.

    That isn't deescalation. That's escalation.

    They conducted a hudna with Israel, but trained and supplied Islamic Jihad with missiles.

    Its still a good idea to communicate with them, but its also a good idea to see what they are constructing on their own steam and funds.

    I read that station that aired the offensive "drama" is censored by officials.

  5. Rowan Berkeley
    April 1, 2008, 11:37 am

    Richard, you seem to be unaware that when they took over Gaza, as you put it, they were reacting to an attempted coup by Dahlan and his merry men.

    Also, if there is any evidence whatsoever that Hamas specifically trained and armed Jihad, I suggest you link to it.

  6. Jim Haygood
    April 1, 2008, 11:51 am



    The Palestinian election was held in late January 2006. Barely two weeks later, the Times's fierce Hamas critic Steven Erlanger reported, Israel and the U.S. had decided to retaliate against the winner:


    JERUSALEM, Feb. 13 [2006] — The United States and Israel are discussing ways to destabilize the Palestinian government so that newly elected Hamas officials will fail and elections will be called again, according to Israeli officials and Western diplomats.

    The Palestinian Authority has a monthly cash deficit of some $60 million to $70 million after it receives between $50 million and $55 million a month from Israel in taxes and customs duties collected by Israeli officials at the borders but owed to the Palestinians.

    Israel says it will cut off those payments once Hamas takes power, and put the money in escrow. On top of that, some of the aid that the Palestinians currently receive will be stopped or reduced by the United States and European Union governments, which will be constrained by law or politics from providing money to an authority run by Hamas.

    On Sunday, Acting Prime Minister Ehud Olmert announced after a cabinet meeting that Israel would consider Hamas to be in power on the day the new parliament is sworn in: this Saturday.

    So beginning next month, the Palestinian Authority will face a cash deficit of at least $110 million a month. If a Hamas government is unable to pay workers, import goods, transfer money and receive significant amounts of outside aid, Mr. Abbas, the president, would have the authority to dissolve parliament and call new elections, the officials say, even though that power is not explicit in the Palestinian basic law.

    link to tinyurl.com


    As the article makes clear, Israel, the U.S. and the Quartet plotted from the moment the election results were announced to lay siege to Palestine, destabilize its elected government, and force a new election at economic gunpoint.

    This was pure bad faith. Directed against any other democratic nation or territory, these actions would be considered acts of war. The "escalation" was entirely on the part of Israel and the Quartet.

  7. American
    April 1, 2008, 12:19 pm

    I have a suggestion for Witty.

    All Jews should be moved to Israel. Yes, every Jew in the world who believes in zionism should be forced to move to their true homeland.
    Why should any country accept Jews as citizens? They have their own country, financied for them by the rest of the world's taxpayers,let them go there.

    Moving all the Jews to their own country would solve a lot of the world's problems.
    They could move all their World Jewish congress offices and their AIPAC offices and their Israel Project offices and their Jewish congressional cacaus offices and their Jewish Fund offices and their Camera offices and their Jewish mayors conference offices and their Jewish Presidential congress offices and the NYT and Faux and MSNBC…we will even deport both our political parties ( but not the US taxpayers checkbook) to them to take with them.

    Why should Jews be allowed to live in other countries when they don't allow non Jews to be full citizens in the Jewish state? That doesn't seem fair.

    Only in the Jews Victimhood Guide Book does this hypocritical exemption for Jews make sense.

    Head 'em up and move them out. If it works for Jews to expell Israeli Arabs it will work for the US to expell Jewish Americans. If Arab Israelis can't identify with Palestine then US Jews shouldn't be able to identify with Israel.

    Makes perfect sense to me. I don't see how they could object to what they themselves advocate for all other people.

    Israeli Jews favor 'Palestine' for Arabs

    Published: 04/01/2008

    Three in four Israeli Jews favor the idea of transferring their Arab compatriots to the jurisdiction of a future Palestinian state, a poll found.

    According to a survey commissioned this week by the Knesset Channel, 76 percent of Jews in Israel believe all or selected Israeli Arab communities should be included within the borders of "Palestine" when it arises. Some of those favoring the idea proposed that Arab citizens deemed loyal to Israel be given the option of staying.

    Twenty-four percent of respondents were opposed to the proposed "transfer."

    Arabs comprise 20 percent of the Jewish state's population, and long-simmering racial tensions have been pushed to the boiling point by the past eight years of Palestinian violence. Many in the Israeli Arab sector openly identify with the Palestinians, including their radical anti-Zionist elements like Hamas.

    Israeli demographers also note that the relatively higher birthrate in Arab communities poses a long-term threat to the Jewish majority.

  8. Jim Haygood
    April 1, 2008, 1:15 pm


    Here are links to the Jerusalem Post article quoted above:

    link to jpost.com
    link to tinyurl.com

    It exposes a truly mischievous notion: that in the remote event the Annapolis talks should succeed, Israel can keep its West Bank settlements by ceding Arab towns within Israel to the Palestinian statelet. The JPost's provocative 'push poll' helps to popularize the idea.

    Such a strategy is driven by the central obsession of zionism: Israel's right to exist AS A JEWISH STATE. Creating an ethnically cleansed Israel requires the elaborate practice of "geographic eugenics": the fine art of political border drawing to put Arabs — even Israeli Arabs — on the far side of the sinuous new border. It ought to be obvious that this is a middle eastern variant of apartheid, which sought to strip indigenous blacks of South African citizenship by drawing new statelets around them.

    American, I hope you're not serious about that Jewish expulsion bit. I've got a couple of distant Jewish ancestors. You might be sellin' ol' Jim down the river with that 'move 'em out' talk.

  9. Jill
    April 1, 2008, 1:42 pm

    "American, I hope you're not serious about that Jewish expulsion bit. I've got a couple of distant Jewish ancestors. You might be sellin' ol' Jim down the river with that 'move 'em out' talk."

    Sometimes I have the impression that R. Witty creates much of the ultra extreme statements in the comment section.

  10. Richard Witty
    April 1, 2008, 1:53 pm

    Hamas still undertook a coup in Gaza, in violation of the Palestinian constitution.

    They are still at functional civil war.

    Are they going to change that status? Are they going to reamin permanently committed to war with Israel?

    Hamas and Islamic Jihad. I don't have a citation, and I am not privy to their conversations.

    They certainly allowed Islamic Jihad to routinely shell, and still do. And, it was reported in Haaretz that the groups conducted shelling jointly, with the implication of Hamas as sponsor, and some transfer of personnel between organizations.

  11. Rowan Berkeley
    April 1, 2008, 2:28 pm

    Richard, something 'reported' in haaretz is not always what it seems.

    However, I am grateful to you because you afford me the chance to boast of the 500 extra hits I got when someone at democratic underground linked to this:

    “We know that some of the rockets launched against Israel are launched by Fatah militants. The objective is to push Israel to punish Hamas in Gaza” – Crisis Group interview, Hamas official in exile, November 2007, found at page 23 of ICG Report No. 73.
    link to niqnaq.wordpress.com

  12. Crimson Ghost
    April 1, 2008, 2:32 pm

    Extremist Yeshivas inciting the murder of Arab civilians.

    link to heshamtillawi.wordpress.com

    Baruch Goldstein who murdered 29 Palestinians while they were praying still is considered a hero by many on the Israeli far right.

  13. Jim Haygood
    April 1, 2008, 3:06 pm


    "Hamas still undertook a coup in Gaza, in violation of the Palestinian constitution." – Richard Witty

    "Zimbabwe’s opposition party has claimed a resounding election victory but President Robert Mugabe’s government warned that announcing success before the release of official results would be treated as a coup d’etat." – Times Online

    link to timesonline.co.uk

    Richard and Robert — brothers in arms. When the opposition wins (even fairly) against the "good guys," that's a coup.

    At this point, it might actually be cheaper to relocate Israel to Zimbabwe, which has lost a third of its population. Bob's on the Chinese payroll now, but probably would be open to a serious proposal from Tel Aviv to "make the jungle bloom." Bulawayo or bust!

  14. Rowan Berkeley
    April 1, 2008, 3:15 pm

    " it might actually be cheaper to relocate Israel to Zimbabwe"

    I have a feeling I shouldn't ask this, but – cheaper than what?

  15. Joachim Martillo
    April 1, 2008, 3:19 pm

    The NY Times article was quite outrageous.

    I commented on it at link to eaazi.blogspot.com .

  16. Richard Witty
    April 1, 2008, 3:32 pm

    The difference between run of the mill prejudice and state-sponsored bigotry, is that it is state-sponsored.

    Hamas censors its press.

    The IDF at most influences the Israeli press, and as there are so many dissidents in the IDF, it can report a wide range of opinion as the "official" one of the state.

  17. MM
    April 1, 2008, 4:47 pm

    Shalom Jim, just to be fair to American, it seems he/she called for "all Jews who believe in zionism" to be expelled… Not all Jews, period. Yeah, it's still pretty McCarthyist on its face.

    It's also a mirror image of resentment of the anti-zionist line which NO MAN MUST CROSS in the MS&MBCNN state media.

    To expel a population is a terrible thing. To expunge the political representation, ie the Arabist-cleansing, the blacklisting, is also a terrible thing, in a supposed democracy, especially one that fancies itself world hegemon, or team america, world police.

    And did you notice how American bad-faith (in the form of anti-Semitic beliefs about all Jews) is roundly condemned regardless of circumstance, but zionist bad faith toward Palestinian groups like Hamas is endlessly justifiable, on one Wittyan plane of logic or another. Why is this?

  18. MM
    April 1, 2008, 4:53 pm

    "Hamas censors its press"

    Yes Richard, ok, I guess, and did you see, in the W&M book, where they did a purely statistical analysis of the number of pro-Palestinian commentators at the NY Times?

    Does the NY Times censor its editorial pages of anti-zionist thought?

    Is anti-zionism permitted to be in the "respectable" American discourse at all/ever/in any fashion?

  19. the Sword of Gideon
    April 1, 2008, 9:53 pm

    I know that you enjoy the depiction of Jews has apes and pigs MM but that seems natural for a cockroach such has yourself.

  20. Richard Witty
    April 1, 2008, 10:04 pm

    link to haaretz.com

    Meshal: Hamas backs state in '67 lines, right of return
    By Avi Issacharoff, Haaretz Correspondent
    Tags: Israek, Khaled Meshal

    Hamas supports the united Palestinian position calling for the establishment of a fully sovereign Palestinian state within the 1967 borders, including Jerusalem, and the right of return for refugees, Hamas politburo chief Khaled Meshal told the Palestinian daily Al-Ayam.

  21. American
    April 1, 2008, 11:07 pm

    American, I hope you're not serious about that Jewish expulsion bit. I've got a couple of distant Jewish ancestors. You might be sellin' ol' Jim down the river with that 'move 'em out' talk.

    Posted by: Jim Haygood

    I am being snarky……can't resist pointing out the hypocrisy of the zionist.
    But my point is valid.

  22. neocognitism
    April 2, 2008, 3:18 am


    Well you very effectively have everyone arguing with you all day, again.

    As per what you said about Hamas staging a coup, you have it the other way around. Hamas PUT DOWN a coup, staged by the PA and backed by the CIA. Didn't you see the Vanity Fair article? I suggest you read it in full so that you don't repeat the same lie again.

    link to vanityfair.com

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