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August 24, 2014 2:00 am

How the Media Tries to Humanize Hamas

avatar by Patti Munter

Hamas leader Ismail Haniyeh. Photo:

On June 2, 2014, Hamas Leader Ismail Haniyeh and his cabinet in Gaza stepped down, “paving the way for the new ministers of the consensus government.” This followed the May 21 announcement by Mahmoud Abbas, Chairman of the Palestinian Authority, that the new “Unity Government” would  be comprised entirely of “independent” Palestinian Arab politicians, and based on four international principles:

  • 1) Recognizing Israel;
  • 2) Recognizing the terms of international agreements;
  • 3) The explicit rejection of violence;
  • 4) The explicit rejection of terrorism;

Which begs the question:  Where in the world is Ismail Haniyeh ten weeks later?

Still calling the shots. Of course.

What do we know about Ismail Haniyeh from Western media? Precious little. Except for a piece circa 2006 in Vanity Fair entitled The Most Dangerous Job in Gaza.

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From the article we learn that Hamas leaders have (or had) AOL email addresses, and that their cell phones ring to the tune of Bach minuets. We learn that Haniyeh is the father of 13, and as as a boy excelled at soccer and studying the Koran, and that he attended a UN school for refugees. The author describes him as soft-spoken, conciliatory, and empathetic, and that he is part of “The New Hamas.” Here is a sample:

Since leading the group to elective office in Gaza and the West Bank, Haniyeh has been the face of the new, user-friendly Hamas. It wears suits and ties rather than robes, sits politely in parliament instead of shooting machine guns into the air, talks of coexisting with Israel rather than driving it into the sea. Members of this incarnation of Hamas still carry their Korans but soft-pedal their own charter, which states that, as long as the sky and earth exist, all Palestine is a gift from Allah, not a single inch of which a Muslim may ever yield. All negotiations, it goes on, are “an empty waste of time”; “the only solution is jihad.”

What’s next: The Most Dangerous Job in ISIS?

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