Hamas is almost never allowed to speak for itself in the Western media. Palestinians in general are rarely given any kind of platform. Instead, Israeli officials are asked to speak for them—and they sure are an impartial source.
On 27 July 2014, CBS released a video interview with Khaled Meshaal, leader of Hamas. This was an incredibly rare moment.
In his interview, Meshaal directly contradicts virtually all of the slanderous myths, lies, and propaganda Israel spreads about Hamas. When we actually hear the organization in its own words, we see that Hamas is not the extremist bogeyman Israel (and the US) wants us to believe it is. In fact, its positions—anti-occupation and anti-oppression, pro-freedom and pro-coexistence—and demands are, for the most part, not just reasonable, but required under international law.
We are not fanatics; we are not fundamentalists. We do not actually fight the Jews because they are Jews per se. We do not fight any other races. We fight the occupiers.At 2:21, the interviewer asks
On the contrary, we actually respect the religious people. We ask for tolerance, for co-existence, with Buddhists, the Jews, the Christians, and the Muslims, as you know, God created us.
You believe in the coexistence of peoples, and therefore you believe in the coexistence of Palestinians, and Israelis in the Middle East?At 2:30, Meshaal replies
I can’t coexist with occupation. I’m ready to coexist with the Jews, with the Christians, and with the Arabs and non-Arabs, and with those who agree with my ideas and also disagree with them. However, I do not coexist with the occupiers, with the settlers, and those who put siege on us.
ReflectionThere you have it, in Hamas’ own words: They are perfectly willing to coexist with people of any race and religion. They are simply not willing to coexist with a country that is brutally military occupying, colonizing, and blockading them.
Think about it for a second, though. Who would be willing to exist with the illegal, racist, grotesquely violent, almost five-decades-long military occupation of their land? What people would allow this to continue without resisting?
Who wouldn’t be drawn to respond to such horrors—to the death of one of their children every three days for 13 years, to the incremental genocide of their people—with violence, especially after that military occupier has murdered and brutalized peaceful activists, burying countless “Palestinian Gandhis” in unmarked graves throughout historic Palestine?
Meshaal’s unwillingness to tolerate barbarous apartheid and occupation is simply a rational human response to oppression and to the imprisonment, torture, and destruction of his people. His tolerance and desire for coexistence, considering these contextual circumstances, should thus be that much more admirable.
CBS, meanwhile, ignores all of the crucial implications of Meshaal’s words, preferring instead to ask for a statement from war criminal and virulent racist former Secretary of State Madeleine “Mad” Albright—who did not hesitate for a moment to defend the US’ mass killing of 500,000 Iraqi children in its ghastly project of sanctions against Iraq in the 1990s, which UN Humanitarian Coordinator in Iraq Dennis Halliday called “genocidal” before resigning from the position in protest.
Per usual for the US corporate media, CBS’ article misses the forest for the trees, emphasizing Meshaal’s reluctance to “recognize Israel’s right to exist as a Jewish state” instead of focusing on how what he says, once again, directly contradicts virtually all of the libelous myths, lies, and propaganda Israel spreads about Hamas (e.g., that it is supposedly similar to ISIS and Boko Haram—even though Hamas and Daesh are sworn enemies—and other beyond-asinine balderdash).
For starters, Meshaal’s reluctance to recognize Israel’s “right to exist as a Jewish state” needs to be placed in context, given—as Israeli scholar Oren Yiftachel points out—it is absolutely, fundamentally impossible for a country to be both a democracy and an ethnocracy—in spite of Israel’s self-presentation to the contrary.
A Jewish state, by the very nature of it being a Jewish state, must necessarily discriminate against the non-Jewish, minority population, in order to ensure the continued supremacy of the majority. Meshaal, as a Palestinian, as a member of the group on the receiving end of this racist oppression, naturally would be opposed to recognizing its calcification in the form of a racial state—particularly one that was forcibly, violently, bloodily built upon the land of his ethnically cleansed ancestors.
But this is besides the point.
When Hamas is actually given a voice in the Western corporate media, we see that it is not the fanatic “terrorist” Israel and the US present it as. And its demands are not just reasonable, they are legally required. All 10 of its conditions are life-affirming, and most are mandatory under international law. The UN, Amnesty International, Human Rights Watch, and countless other leading international human rights organizations have said, for decades, that Israel’s occupation, colonization, and siege of the Palestinian territories is illegal.
The US corporate media however, in its unflinching support for the racist, colonialist ideology of Zionism, refuses to even acknowledge Hamas’ 10 legally mandatory demands, barely mentions Israel’s illegal 47-year-long occupation of Palestinian land, and rarely gives Palestinians an opportunity to speak for themselves. If it did more often, Americans might realize that their government is, yet again, on the wrong side of history, backing the oppressor and helping it continue to subjugate the oppressed.