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Forbes Labels Hamas Merely a ‘Political Group’ in Fact-Omitting Piece About Gaza Woman

avatar by Rachel O'Donoghue

Opinion

Palestinian police officers loyal to Hamas march during a graduation ceremony in Gaza City, April 29, 2019. Photo: Reuters / Ibraheem Abu Mustafa.

It started out as a series of articles in Forbes about Israeli and Palestinian women, and their efforts to “promote equality and coexistence between both groups of people.”

Nevertheless, as HonestReporting previously noted, the series’ author Allison Norlian seemingly used what should have been a platform to highlight individuals dedicated to real peacemaking, to instead disseminate biased impressions of Israel.

Norlian’s latest Forbes piece, which is not technically part of the series, strays almost entirely from the ostensible goal of her past writings on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, and therefore further calls into question the appropriateness of her having been chosen by the publication’s editors in the first place to pen the other stories.

“Growing Up In Gaza: A Palestinian Woman’s Experiences” is a profile of a woman who does not seem to be involved in any specific efforts to foster good relations between Israelis and Palestinians, but is, nevertheless, described as “a superhero for the Palestinian people in Gaza.”

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Norlian has crafted what is seemingly a sympathy-eliciting tribute about a young woman whose opportunities have been limited due to her having been born in the Palestinian coastal enclave.

It is also a piece replete with omissions and distortions.

Take the first paragraph, for example. The reader is told that on May 10, 2021, Maram Faraj, aged 23, was shopping at a market when her ears were “pierced” by a loud blast.

“Faraj immediately knew what was happening because she’d experienced it many times before — the Israeli government was bombing Gaza,” the article continues.

The incident is presented entirely without context, thereby allowing it to seem as though the airstrike in question was part of a pattern of politically-motivated nefarious bombing by Israel.

As we know, though, earlier this year — precisely on May 10, mind you — Iranian-backed Hamas, which is designated a terrorist group by most of the Western world, initiated an 11-day conflict with Israel when it fired a barrage of rockets at Jerusalem.

That attack, specifically, prompted Israel to respond militarily.

This is not the only detail that has been omitted.

In one paragraph, Norlian describes how Faraj’s “grandparents were forced from their homes in Be’er Sheva by the Israeli military during what she called the Nakba, an Arabic term for the events of 1948 when many Palestinians were displaced from their homes by the creation of the new state of Israel.”

But Norlian fails to explain what the “Nakba” even means – it is the Arabic word for “catastrophe.”

In other words, Faraj, like many Palestinians, views the rebirth of a Jewish state as a disaster that must implicitly be undone by allowing millions of “refugees” to flood Israel.

Furthermore, Norlian does not inform her readers of the reasons for the 1948 Arab-Israeli war, and therefore why Faraj’s grandparents had to flee: as an independent Israel was formed, regional Arab countries – Egypt, Jordan, Iraq, Syria, and Lebanon – immediately launched a war of annihilation against the nascent state.

The article goes on:

… the Faraj family has no place to go when Israeli bombs rain down. In Gaza, there are no shelters, safe houses, or stable structures to hide and weather the storm. So instead, Faraj held onto her mother in their home, praying.”

The use of the hyperbolic phrase “rain down” in reference to targeted military strikes is glaring. The fact is, bombs do not shower the residents of Gaza — they are precision hits designed to take out Hamas weapons stores and terror infrastructure. The unfortunate fact that the terror group deliberately hides its munitions beneath civilian buildings, including hospitals and schools, has not been referenced at all.

The lack of adequate shelters in Gaza is also the fault of Hamas, whose members Norlian notes are known as “freedom fighters” to many Palestinians. Apparently, the Islamist group’s habit of squirreling away funds that are earmarked for humanitarian projects in Gaza does not preclude its rulers from enjoying rockstar status among their subjects.

Astonishingly, Hamas is mentioned in just one paragraph in the entire 1,300-word article, which is in stark comparison to Israel’s 18 mentions.

And when Hamas is briefly discussed, it is described thus:

But in the ’90s, because of Palestinian suicide bombers, Israel created a blockade or border wall that in the early 2000s was closed for good after Hamas, an Islamist political group was elected to power. Egypt also closed their border to Gaza after Hamas’ victory. (Hamas is often referred to as ‘freedom fighters’ by Palestinians, but the United States and several European countries classify them as a terrorist organization.)

Alluding to Hamas as merely a “political group” is a staggering departure from the truth: it is an annihilationist organization that was founded with the primary goal of destroying the State of Israel.

By drawing the focus away from Hamas in an article that uses the personal tale of one young woman to illustrate the plight of many others, Norlian inadvertently dilutes what could have been an arresting profile.

For example, the piece points out that life in the Strip is made more difficult by factors such as “unstable infrastructure resulting in power outages and internet blackouts,” in addition to an economy that “suffers from a lack of employment and opportunity.”

But Norlian has made no attempt to shed light on why these issues persistently plague Gaza — namely, Hamas.

The Israeli-Egyptian blockade came as a result of Hamas; Israeli airstrikes target Hamas and other Palestinian terrorist groups; the dearth of jobs and poor infrastructure is because Hamas spends its cash on weapons instead of citizens.

Freedom fighters or brutal subjugators?

The distinction should be stark.

The author is a writer-researcher for HonestReporting, a Jerusalem-based media watchdog with a focus on antisemitism and anti-Israel bias, where a version of this article first appeared.

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