Wednesday, January 25, 2006

Just how bad are they?

I am not an expert on nor fan of Hamas and am not too versed in the intricacies of Palestinian politics, but after listening to a little ditty on Hamas yesterday on NPR, I for sure felt like I had much more of a clue than that reporter did. It was nothing but full-on, un-nuanced "reporting"--or rather, scare tactic stuff about just how big, bad and armed that party full of terrorists is.

Ok, so people in the West are freaked about Hamas. But in my mind, a big part of the story is why so many people are thinking about voting for them. The NPR guys could've at least attempted a semblance of objectivity by exploring a bit why Hamas has so much support. It's not like people are supporting them because they are counting on them to go blow up Israeli civilians, after all.

The truth probably really is that most of American journalism has a shorthand story for anything it categories as "terrorism" or "terrorists," and pretty much everyone on the outskirts of these stories end up portrayed as scary and armed. So, the people attending a Hamas rally a few days ago are lumped together and described in an ominous light--as if the first thing on all their minds is to go kill people, not clean up the corruption in their government. Just like those freaky pictures of angry men marching in the streets wearing keffiyehs are dragged out every time someone's assassinated in the territories. And believe me, those images are very foreign and scary to most Americans I know--including myself half the time.

Journalists would not be reporting stuff from such a bystander perspective if they actually learned the languages spoken in the places from where they're reporting. The NPR piece yesterday was a classic example of orientalist and clued-out writing that I had just about thought close to extinction.

But hey, there HAVE been a few interesting pieces I've come across on the Palestinian vote. First and foremost is this Guardian commentary by Hussein Agha and Robert Malley. Another one to check out is Aaron David Miller's column in the Washington Post.


At 12:38 AM, Blogger Firas said...

How bad?

Well, now they might be portraying themselves as a naitonal party...they might have given Christian kids gifts in Christmas....

But we will never forget the pamphlets they were circulating in Bethlehem calling for the cleansing of the city from the remeaning Christians!

Hamas is the devil, they wanna turns it like Afghanistan.

Somneone please stop Hamas before they ruin the Palestinian cause!

At 3:03 AM, Anonymous Bassel nabulsi said...

The problem with HAMAS is that they see themselves as the guardians of the land of palestine, but in the way they want to implement a radical excluding islamic state.
A state with relegion is something that should be discussed in theological manners. but it also brings on the table issues like commitment and anti-corruption relegious leaders (opposing corrupted PLO leaders)
but to portray them as terrorists and turning a blind eye about israel makes one wonder, if they win the elections, what would be the long-term relationship between these two?

At 3:04 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Firas, I believe you missed completely the point that Amanda is trying to make. She is asking a valid question, why, if Hamas is evil, are people voting for them? And why the western media coverage is not addressing this question?
I am also wondering.

At 10:08 AM, Blogger deep said...

well i don't think all the american press is missing the point. this article at the christian science monitor spends a fair amount of time discussing just this issue:

At 3:28 PM, Blogger Ajnabeeyeh said...

Nope. Not ALL the press. Christian Science Monitor is one of the better ones.

At 3:43 PM, Blogger adjo73 said...

I've bought this book called "Arab Voices Speak to American Hearts" by Samar Dahmash Jarrah; a few weeks ago and I was facscinated by the facts that I read from ordinary Arab citizens. As an American it made me change the way I view Arabs (Muslims and Christians) in the Middle East and it also made me understand more about our foreign policy and Middle East politics.

At 7:56 PM, Blogger deep said...

it looks to me like the coverage is changing by the minute. read this piece by CNN:

its the most popular article on google news - compares the israeli reaction to hamas winning, to that of the palestinians when sharon won - some sort of embrace of an unpredictable peace move...

At 8:01 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I think Fatah was dealt a hard blow with the outcome of this election. Something they will have to try and recover from by doing two things:

1- Seriously and diligently work on the issue of party corruption that plagued them and the 'palestinian cause' for decades.

2- Find a real inclusive peaceful solution away from using the 'O' word, by which I mean the Oslo Agreement.

These are partially the undercurrents of the current embrace by a good majoriy of jaded/frustrated palestinian voters of Hamas, knowing Hamas's short comings.

This will also help Hamas to move out of it's hardline rhetoric in order to form a coalition government that will stand the test of time, knowing fully that they can't go it on their own.


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