Friday, April 05, 2024

Pigeonholing Palestinians

In the badly edited video below, ignore the right-wing charlatan psychiatrist, Phil McGuire. Instead, consider the message of Mosab Hassan Yousef, a son of the co-founder of Hamas, who defected to Israel in 1997 and became an undercover agent for Shin Bet, and who has since moved to the USA.

Aside from condemning Hamas, Yousef at 2:22 contends "since October 7, I personally don't differentiate between Hamas and so-called Palestinians and a minute later, "Palestine depends on the destruction of Israel. This is not acceptable and we are not going to agree with it."

Asked by one of the two Muslim women present whether Palestinians "are the same, one and the same," Yousef replied "after October 7, yes. There's no difference. The vast majority of the Palestinian people support Hamas. That is a fact. This is proven by statistics and...."

Thursday on Morning Joe, host (co-host?) Joe Scarborough spent a few minutes bashing the very vulnerable Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu for actions taken (or not taken) to keep Israel safe. He noted, as The New York Times put it, "Israeli officials obtained Hamas' battle plans for the October 7 terrorist attack more than a year before it happened." 

Additionally, beginning at 1:38 of the video, Scarborough asks rhetorically "What about Benjamin Netanyahu? What about him- has he always looked upon Hamas as Nazis?" After the response, the former Florida congressman noted

So- so let me ask you this question. I can't get an answer. Maybe we're just not covering it in the press. Maybe you can help me out. Why did Benjamin Netanyahu send the head of Mossad to Doha three weeks before the worst attack on Jews since the Holocaust and told Qatar to continue funding Hamas?

Wanting to emphasize his point, at 2:41 he added "We were always angry that Qatar founded Hezbollah and Hamas. I want to know- why did Benjamin Netanyahu do that? Let me ask you this. Why did Benjamin Netanyahu and Donald Trump know in 2018 the sources of Hamas' illicit funding and they still did nothing? They wanted that money to get to Hamas. I'd like to know because we in America- has there been any investigations in Israel to this point? 

In the annals of poor judgement displayed by government leaders, the collaboration of the Israeli prime minister with Hamas ranks high. In December, we had learned

In a series of interviews with key Israeli players conducted in collaboration with Israeli investigative journalism organization Shomrim, CNN was told Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu continued the cash flow to Hamas, despite concerns raised from within his own government.

Qatar has vowed not to stop those payments. Qatari minister of state for foreign affairs Mohammed bin Abdulaziz Al-Khulaifi told CNN’s Becky Anderson on Monday that his government will continue to make payments to Gaza to support the enclave, as it has been doing for years.

“We’re not going to change our mandate. Our mandate is our continuous help and support for our brothers and sisters of Palestine. We will continue to do it systematically as we did it before,” Al-Khulaifi said.

Israeli sources responded by pointing out that successive governments had facilitated the transfer of money to Gaza for humanitarian reasons and that Netanyahu had acted decisively against Hamas after the October 7 attacks….

In 2018, Qatar began making monthly payments to the Gaza Strip. Some $15 million were sent into Gaza in cash-filled suitcases – delivered by the Qataris through Israeli territory after months of negotiation with Israel.

The payments started after the Palestinian Authority (PA), the Palestinian government in the Israeli occupied West Bank that is a rival of Hamas, decided to cut salaries of government employees in Gaza in 2017, an Israeli government source with knowledge of the matter told CNN at the time.

The PA opposed the Qatari funding at the time, which Hamas said was meant for the payment of public salaries as well as medical purposes.

Israel approved the deal in a security cabinet meeting in August 2018, when Netanyahu was serving his previous tenure as premier.

Even then, Netanyahu was criticized by his coalition partners for the deal and for being too soft on Hamas.

Palestinians are not all the same, not even now, though most do appear to support Hamas. They couldn't be expected to do otherwise; Hamas is fighting the war against Israel, whose bombs have killed something north of 20,000 Gazans. (Exact figures would be difficult to come by, even if they were not supplied by the Gazan Health Ministry.)  No doubt opposition to Hamas would be interpreted by many neighbors of Gazan residents as support for Israel.

It didn't have to be this way. And those Palestinians who have rallied to the side of Hamas in response to Israeli attacks prompted by the 10.7/23 terrorist attack upon Israelis are actually a little late to the game. Someone beat them to it.

The PA opposed the Qatari funding at the time. If Netanyahu at the time recognized that Israel was facing two major enemies in the West Bank and Gaza, he did not appreciate that Israel had no choice but to come to an accommodation of sorts with the lesser evil and less deadly adversary- the Palestinian Authority.  Instead, he actively facilitated the transfer of resources to the Hamas regime in Gaza.

Yousef now believes that there is no difference among Palestinians. Netanyahu seems all along to have believed the same. Alternatively, he may have thought that the PA was more dedicated to a Palestinian state and thus posed a greater threat to Israel.

He did so, at least in part because he believed, as Yousef does now, that there is no difference- none- among Palestinians. Ironically, this is something Benjamin Netanyahu has in common with most of the anti-Israel world, whether actually pro-Hamas or not. Israel is said to be bombing Palestinians, killing Palestinians, trying to exterminate Palestinians when it is exclusively Gazans, most of them Palestinians, who are the victims in the Israeli assault.

The emphasis on "Palestinians"- a distinction never defined and rarely understood- has prolonged the war by emboldening Hamas. Soon after October 7, Israel in the eyes of the world was no longer fighting Hamas or Gazans. It was not defending itself against a brutal, terroristic entity but against, in popular perception, a whole race of people. As the global community thus became ever more critical of Israel, Hamas has had no need to return the hostages it has held.

Benjamin Netanyahu has reinforced that perception.  He enabled Qatar to finance Gaza, thus Hamas, and disregarded the growing military threat posed by the terrorist group while encouraging Jewish settlements on the West Bank. While he- finally- views Hamas as the mortal enemy of Israel it always has been, he refuses to recognize other representatives of Palestinians as legitimate.  The irony of the Israeli right and of Palestinian sympathizers perceiving Palestinians as one undifferentiated mass is lost on both sides and does not bode well for regional peace.

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