The New York Times’ Gift to Hamas
by Tamar Sternthal
As Muslims worldwide rejoiced at the end of Ramadan, New York Times reporter Raja Abdulrahim celebrated with a holiday gift to Hamas, a designated terror group that has governed the Gaza Strip since 2007.
In 2019 and again in 2022, Gaza residents launched the “We Want to Live” campaign, protesting Hamas corruption, taxes, and policies that condemn citizens to a life of poverty. (The tweet below by Gaza journalist Eyhab Fasfous shows Gaza merchants dumping their produce in protest of a heavy Hamas tax crushing Gazans struggling to make ends meet.)
تجار قطاع غزة يلقون بضاعتهم على الأرض بسبب نظام ضرائب حـمـاس غير القانونية والتي تهدف الى خنق المواطن وتهجيره من ارضه .#بدنا_نعيش pic.twitter.com/kObFZdcfWU
— الصحفي ايهاب فسفوس (@ehaboma1) March 22, 2023
Related coverageMay 25, 2023 11:14 am
But Hamas, it seems, can count on The New York Times’ Abdulrahim to be more compliant than ungrateful Gaza residents. Indeed, Abdulrahim’s 1200-plus word article highlighting the dire financial situation of the Gaza Strip does not mention Hamas once, a glaring omission sure to have brought great holiday cheer to the territory’s repressive regime (“As Gaza Celebrates Eid, a Gift for Women — and a Duty For Men,” in print April 21).
Since her university days, Abdulrahim was groomed to provide coverage favorable to Hamas. As a student sponsored by CAIR (the Council on American-Islamic Relations, whose executives were unindicted co-conspirators in the United States’ largest terror finance case in history), Abdulrahim defended anti-Israel terror groups, denying that Hamas and Hezbollah are terror organizations that have murdered innocent Israeli civilians. Now, as a Times reporter, she churns out propaganda on behalf of Palestinian terrorists, justifying CAIR’s long-ago investment in the young writer.
Her latest lengthy feature in service of Hamas covers in great detail the coastal territory’s enduring custom of giving cash gifts to female relatives despite severe economic hardship. “Despite economic pain, Palestinian Muslims follow a costly annual custom,” was the subheadline in the international print edition.
About the bankrupting tradition, Abdulrahim explains:
To give the eidiya, some men will go into debt. Others will wait until their wives get their eidiya from relatives from relatives before turning around and using that money to give the gifts to their other female relatives.
“However bad one’s financial situation is, we have to go and give,” said Mr. Helles’ father, Hamid al-Abid Helles.
While Abdulrahim tactfully refrains from mentioning the word “Hamas,” she reserves blame for the coastal territory’s bleak financial situation solely on the Israeli-Egyptian blockade, writing:
These days, coming up with the money for the eidiya is especially onerous. The 16-year-blockade of Gaza by Israel and Egypt has undermined the living conditions of more than two million Palestinians and led an unemployment rate of nearly 50 percent, among the highest in the world.
Notably, even on the narrow issue of the blockade, Abdulrahim violates the journalistic imperative to report basic information, neglecting to include even one word about the reasons for the Israel-Egyptian restrictions. In contrast, this recent AP report, which cites the Israeli-Egyptian blockade only in passing, commendably informs: “A crippling Israeli-Egyptian blockade imposed after Hamas violently wrested control of Gaza in 2007 has made it difficult for Hamas to smuggle Iranian-made rockets into the coastal enclave in recent years.”
More broadly, Abdulrahim’s pronounced pro-Hamas agenda does not leave any space to note Hamas’ responsibility for stifling the local economy by investing in terror infrastructure as opposed to economic development and social welfare.
Last May, the US Treasury Department revealed that Hamas’ Investment Office, which oversees a network of three Hamas financial facilitators and six companies, raised more than $500 million for the terror organization. “Hamas has generated vast sums of revenue through its secret investment portfolio while destabilizing Gaza, which is facing harsh living and economic conditions. Hamas maintains a violent agenda that harms both Israelis and Palestinians,” charged Assistant Secretary of the Treasury for Terrorist Financing and Financial Crimes, Elizabeth Rosenberg.
Meanwhile. the New Arab reported in July 2022 (“‘We Want to Live’: Gazans revive popular online campaign against Hamas“):
Residents in Gaza revived a three-year-old digital campaign against the Islamic Hamas movement, blaming it for the deteriorating living conditions in the territory over the years.
Under the hashtag “We Want To Live”, thousands of Gazans, including expatriates, joined the campaign which holds Hamas mainly responsible for the economic, political and social problems in the impoverished and besieged coastal enclave.
Recently, the Gaza-run Hamas imposed a slew of new taxes even though office supplies despite the fact that the 2.3 million people in the small strip of land are suffering not only from a 15-year Israeli-Egyptian blockade but also from an increase in prices caused by the global supply-chain disruptions and the Russian invasion of Ukraine.
The organiser said Hamas insists on “draining our people by imposing more taxes [and] ignoring the poverty and high rates of unemployment”.
He further said that “dozens of Hamas officials have grown their wealth through financial corruption”.
The recent “Whispers in Gaza” videos, produced by the Center for Peace Communications, have lifted a veil on Hamas’ mistreatment of its own people in Gaza, including repressive policies quashing economic activity.
The brave citizens living under Hamas’ thumb have the courage to say what Abdulrahim won’t. Their identities are concealed to protect them the harsh retaliation meted out to those who dare tell the truth: imprisonment, torture, and even death.
Here’s Isma’il on the disappearance of $4.5 billion in Qatari aid:
Basma, a pharmacist, describes how Hamas won’t hire those who aren’t Hamas loyalists, and harasses business owners who belong to rival political parties, forcing them to shut down:
Othman details how Hamas steals from the people and treats wars as an industry, turning a profit with the incoming aid and leaving the people to suffer.
Compared to Abdulrahim, her New York Times colleagues Iyad Abuheweila and Isabel Kershner were relatively candid, reporting on Hamas’ brutal repression of citizens’ “We want to live” protests in 2019 (“Hamas Crackdown on Gaza Protests Instill Fear“):
The protest movement appears to have sprung out of frustration with new taxes imposed by Hamas on food and cigarettes, compounding the usual misery of electricity cuts, poverty and unemployment. …
As conditions in Gaza have become desperate for many, Hamas has been seemingly more focused on its military buildup and fight against Israel than on the bread-and-butter needs of its people.
Nobody goes hungry in Hamas, said Mr. Abu Oun’s father, an unemployed ambulance driver who asked not to be identified. He described Hamas officials driving jeeps, barbecuing chicken and sending their children to private schools while he could not even give his children pocket money or pay his son’s university fees.
While Hamas is busy decimating the Gazan economy with corruption, exorbitant taxing, harassment of businesspeople not to their liking, and investment in warfare instead of welfare, Israel has taken significant steps within the last year to strengthen the Gaza economy. Under the previous government, the number of Gazans granted permits to work in Israel increased to 17,000, up from just 7,000 merchants in mid-2021. That upward trend continues under the current government as well. According to United Nations data, 20,787 Gazans received permits to work in Israel February of this year, and the number grew to 21,306 in March.
According to The Times of Israel:
In Gaza, Palestinian workers can expect an average daily wage of about NIS 60 ($17.35). The few allowed to cross into Israel to work might get as much as NIS 400 ($115.66) per day, according to a report in The Times of Israel’s sister site Zman Yisrael.
In addition, according to the UN’s Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs:
In March, the Israeli authorities allowed 51,153 exits of people from Gaza (in most cases, travelers exited multiple times). This is 13 per cent higher than in February, and 44 per cent higher than the monthly average in 2022.
Nevertheless, from fishing to Eid al-Fitr, Raja Abdulrahim’s story is always the same: Israel at at fault for every problem, real or imagined. As for Hamas? Abdulrahim has displayed nothing but consistency on that score as well. Her younger self denied that Hamas is a terror group that murders innocent Israeli civilians. Two decades later, Abdulrahim’s inability to assign any culpability to the terror organization is as intact as ever. The only thing that has changed is her advancement to The New York Times, where fealty to Hamas has certainly not held her back.
Tamar Sternthal is the director of the Israel Office at CAMERA, where a version of this article first appeared. CAMERA Arabic provided research assistance for this article.