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The Hamas PR Machine in America
By Dr. Rachel Ehrenfeld and Alyssa A. Lappen
On August 8, the U.S. Treasury Department designated the al-Salah Society as a Specially Designated Global Terrorist (SDGT), calling it “one of the largest and best funded Hamas charities.” Treasury revealed that Hamas had used al-Salah, “to finance its terrorist agenda.” The designation was one of many actions taken against Hamas front groups dating back to 1995, when Washington first designated Hamas a terrorist organization. Unfortunately, these actions do little to hinder Hamas activities in America.
The problem is not that Treasury’s actions are insufficient. Rather, U.S. companies continue to knowingly or unwittingly facilitate Hamas Internet and television services. Moreover, professors, media outlets, and even a former U.S. president, help Hamas broadcast its messages throughout America, even as Washington attempts to weaken the terror group following the violent takeover of Gaza.
Whitewashing Hamas in the Classroom
While Hamas represses its own Palestinian people in Gaza and continues to launch rockets into Israel indiscriminately, a legion of U.S. apologists, including Muslim lobby groups like the Council on American Islamic Relations (CAIR), propose that the U.S. recognize the terrorist government, so it may be influenced to modify its agenda. Leading the charge, alongside the Muslim lobby groups, are American academicians.
Boston University professor Augustus Richard Norton and Harvard University Middle Eastern Studies scholar Sara Roy recently co-authored an article for the Christian Science Monitor entitled, “Yes, You Can Work With Hamas,” encouraging Washington to recognize the legitimacy of the terrorist organization. Writer Cinnamon Stillwell notes that Roy, in particular, has “long been invested in forging the idea of a ‘New Hamas’ by attempting to downplay the group’s openly genocidal ambitions and picturing them instead as an enlightened group of do-gooders interested only in social services and education.”
Roy and Norton are not alone. Scores of other professors, including the University of Maryland’s Shibley Telhami; associate professor of political science and international relations at Hobart and William Smith Colleges, Virginia Tilley; and Columbia University Professor Rashid Khalidi, have increasingly sided with Hamas, blaming all Palestinian woes on Israel, despite the fact that an internationally recognized terrorist organization now governs Gaza.
Read All Over
The positions advanced by these academicians are also buttressed by the mainstream press, which has helped Hamas spread its propaganda. On November 1, 2006, for instance, The New York Times ran an opinion piece penned by Ahmed Yousef, an advisor to Hamas leader Ismail Haniyeh. Yousef claimed that Israel refused a Hamas-proposed ceasefire with Israel. What the Times failed to note was that Yousef’s call for a hudna was essentially a call to let the guns fall silent in the near term, but did nothing to assure that Hamas’ long-term goal of destroying Israel would be addressed.
On June 20, immediately following the violent takeover of Gaza, both The New York Times and The Washington Post, America’s newspapers of record, ran two different op-eds by Yousef. The Times piece, entitled “What Hamas Wants,” falsely claimed that after the Hamas coup, “the streets of Gaza are now calm,” promising reform and disarmament under Hamas rule. In truth, Hamas has imposed a Taliban-like regime in Gaza that includes the killing of innocents, arbitrary confiscation of property, muzzling the media, and increased links to Iran and al-Qaeda. The Times, however, insisted that running the Hamas opinion piece contributed to a greater understanding of Gaza’s new rulers.
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