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Countering Bias and Misinformation mainly about the Arab-Israel conflict

HAMAS & THE COUNCIL ON FOREIGN RELATIONS

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December 22, 2007

From Maurice Ostroff
To Janice L. Murray
Senior Vice President, Treasurer, and Chief Operating Officer,
The Council on Foreign Relations
 
Dear Ms. Murray,

Hamas

First of all, please allow me to congratulate your Council on Foreign Relations for its extremely important and valuable service in providing an independent, nonpartisan resource for information that helps us try to understand the complex world we live in.
 
In view of CFR's nonpartisan attitude, I trust you will accept the following comments in the constructive spirit intended about the article on Hamas that appears on your web site. http://www.cfr.org/publication/8968/#5
 
The description on your site, of Hamas' goals is insufficient for a reader to make an intelligent assessment as it omits essential information about the organization that is revealed in its own Charter. In fact it is impossible to even start comprehending the nature of Hamas without having read this fundamental document, which reveals an extremist, irrational nature, completely irreconcilable with the Western way of life. The complete text is available in English on the Yale University site. http://www.yale.edu/lawweb/avalon/mideast/hamas.htm.
 
 The Hamas Charter discloses that Hamas' ambitions are not directed at Israel alone. Article 11 states "This is the law governing the land of Palestine in the Islamic Sharia (law) and the same goes for any land the Moslems have conquered by force.."
 
The Charter helps to understand how the Islamic fundamentalist movement generates terror by spreading fanciful conspiracy theories bordering on megalomania and seducing gullible youngsters to sacrifice their lives in exchange for heavenly rewards.  It demonstrates Hamas' complete disregard for facts; for example, the charter accuses Freemasons, Rotary clubs, Lions and similar �Zionist� organizations not only of stirring the French Revolution, the Communist revolution and World War I but also of forming the League of Nations. They are alleged to have been behind World War II, and of instigating replacement of the League of Nations with the United Nations and the Security Council. Hamas promises that these organizations will be obliterated, the day Islam is in control. The absurdity is highlighted by the fact that Israel is the one member of the UN, which cannot become a member of the Security Council.
 
The charter makes it clear there is absolutely no room for peaceful negotiation. Article 13 unambiguously states, "Initiatives, and so-called peaceful solutions and international conferences, are in contradiction to the principles of the Islamic Resistance Movement. There is no solution for the Palestinian question except through Jihad. Initiatives, proposals and international conferences are all a waste of time and vain endeavors." These basics have been repeated time and again by Hamas leaders.
 
It is also highly relevant that Hamas is listed as a terrorist organization by Canada, the European Union, Japan, and the United States and is banned in Jordan.
 
With regard to the statement on your site that Hamas maintained a cease-fire from March 2005 until June 9, 2006, "cease-fire" is not quite the correct word. What Hamas arranged was a hudna which is defined in the authoritative Islamic Encyclopedia as a "temporary treaty which can be approved or abrogated by Islamic religious leaders, depending on whether or not it serves the interests of Islam". Hudnas have been repeatedly used by Hamas as opportunities to rearm and recover whenever it has been under stress.  In his infamous speech in a Johannesburg mosque, after signing the Oslo accords, Yasir Arafat referred to the Accords as a hudna; a temporary strategy on the road to final liquidation of Israel.
 
But no description of Hamas is complete without mention of incitement to violence, its most pernicious activity that contaminates future generations. For example, Hamas-owned al-Aqsa TV recently broadcast a children's program featuring a Mickey Mouse character called Farfur who was preaching Islamic supremacy and hatred of non-Moslems until the station was threatened with copyright infringement. Farfur was then replaced by a child holding an AK47 while a chorus urges children to become martyrs. The child becomes a Hamas fighter and dies as the choir sings "the pure blood will produce honor and glory".
 
According to Palestinian Media Watch, on March 21 this year, Hamas TV broadcast a clip of a four-year-old girl, Duha, whose mother blew herself up in January 2004, killing four Israelis. Duha sings: "Instead of me you carried a bomb in your hands. Only now, I know what was more precious than us. I am following Mummy in her steps", as she picks up a stick of dynamite. On March 8, Hamas TV interviewed Duha, now seven, and asked her where her mother was. She replied, "Paradise", and after prompting, recited a poem about her mother that said: "Reem, you are a fire bomb, your children and submachinegun are your motto." http://www.pmw.org.il/getresults/media/i210534.
 
While its immediate focus is on Israel, Hamas in common with its parent, the Moslem Brotherhood, is universal. It accepts other religions only as subordinates Article Thirty One states "Under the wing of Islam, it is possible for the followers of the three religions - Islam, Christianity and Judaism - to coexist in peace and quiet with each other. Peace and quiet would not be possible except under the wing of Islam".
 
As an unambiguously Islamic movement, intent on imposing its religion on others, Hamas cannot even fully accept the PLO until the PLO adopts Hamas' interpretation of Islam. Article Twenty-Seven states "That is why, with all our appreciation for The Palestinian Liberation Organization - and what it can develop into - and without belittling its role in the Arab-Israeli conflict, we are unable to exchange the present or future Islamic Palestine with the secular idea...The day The Palestinian Liberation Organization adopts Islam as its way of life, we will become its soldiers, and fuel for its fire that will burn the enemies".
 
Ms. Murray, may I hope that you will ensure that the CFR web site will amplify its description of Hamas on its web site in view of the above factual information?
 
I will be distributing this letter to my email list and publishing a copy on my web site, which deals with countering misinformation and bias in the media. http://maurice-ostroff.tripod.com. My readers and I will be very interested to read your response.
 
 
Sincerely
 
Maurice Ostroff

Response from the Assistant Director for Business Management
CFR.org

To: maurice@trendline.co.il
Subject: Re: Hamas and your web site
From: ekaplan@cfr.org
Date: Tue, 15 Jan 2008 09:46:52 -0500
 
 
Dear Mr. Ostroff,
 
Thank you for taking the time to put together such a thoughtful and researched critique of the Hamas profile on our website. You raise many good points about Hamas' extremist position, both through your reading of it's charter and accounts of its propaganda.
 
Your first comment, that the Hamas charter offers our readers valuable insights, is spot on. In fact, we've had the Hamas Covenant in our index of primary source documents for two years (http://www.cfr.org/publication/9680/). Per your advice, we will be sure to include a link to it in our next revision. However, Hamas' incarnation as a political party suggests that it does not wholly adhere to the absolutist ideology expressed in the charter. Perhaps this is evidence of a softening of Hamas' stance. Another interpretation might be a divergence in ideology among Hamas' leaders.
 
As you're clearly aware, this is a complicated subject about which entire books have been written.  We are trying to capture it all in just a few pages. We appreciate your efforts to improve this article. As we revise it, we will be sure to bear your comments in mind.
 
Best,
Eben Kaplan
  ___________________
Eben Kaplan
Assistant Director for Business Management
CFR.org
212 434 9649
www.cfr.org 
 

Reply to the Assistant Director for Business Management CFR.org

January 16, 2008
To Ms. Eben Kaplan
Council on Foreign Relations
Assistant Director for Business Management
CFR.org
 
Dear Ms. Kaplan
 
Thank you very much for your considered reply to my email of December 22, 2007 (addressed to Janice L. Murray).  I would like to share your belief that Hamas' incarnation as a political party suggests a softening stance, but unfortunately prominent Hamas leaders indicate the direct opposite in their public declarations.
 
According to a Reuters report of Mar 12, 2007 Hamas replied officially to criticism by al Qaeda's second-in-command Ayman al-Zawahri in the following words; "We will not betray promises we made to God to continue the path of Jihad and resistance until the liberation of Palestine, all of Palestine... So be assured doctor Ayman, and all those who love Palestine like yourself, that Hamas is still the group you knew when it was founded and it will never abandon its path".
 
The Gulf Daily News, Bahrain, reported that at an election rally in Gaza, Hamas leader, Ismail Haniyah promised; "The constants and the strategy of Hamas do not change according to circumstances. Hamas will stay faithful to jihad, to resistance, to guns, to Palestine and to Jerusalem."
 
And Palestinian Media Watch quoted  Dr. Ahmad Bahar (acting Speaker, Palestinian Legislative Council): as saying unambiguously on PA TV on April 20, 2007 "Make us victorious over the infidel people, . Allah, take hold of the Jews and their allies, Allah, take hold of the Americans and their allies,  Allah, count them and kill them to the last one and don't leave even one"
 
Moreover, as a direct result of the violent takeover of Gaza by Hamas, Palestinians have been killing each other in brutal internecine fighting. On June 14, 2007 Timesonline reported that since the start of the year, over 150 Palestinians had been killed by Palestinians and the number has risen in the ensuing twelve months.

Hamas has also acknowledged its direct responsibility for many of the thousands of missiles that have been targeted on civilian population centers in Israel since Israel evacuated the Gaza settlements and its indirect responsibly for missiles launched by splinter groups.
 
Obviously, the highly relevant information contained above and in my original letter cannot be ignored if you are to meet your stated goal of making "CFR.org the best single website for users searching for information and insights about international politics" . May I therefore hope that you will make the amendments forthwith rather than delay doing so until you next revise the page.
 
Again, thank you for your courteous and considered response.
 
Sincerely
Maurice Ostroff

 

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