This past February, Hamas hired a media strategist to soften the terror group’s image. The consultant, who told the Toronto Star that "Hamas is recognizing that the media war is more important than the actual war on the ground," issued recommendations such as:
- Don’t talk about destroying Israel
- Do talk about Palestinian suffering
- Don’t celebrate killing people.
Hamas prime minister Ismail Haniyeh is a quick study. Today’s Washington Post carried an op-ed by Haniyeh aimed at winning over American public opinion. Haniyeh’s carefully-worded P.R. exercise was intended to sound reasonable while continuing to reject Israel’s legitimacy and assert Hamas’s commitment to violence:
"We present this clear message: If Israel will not allow Palestinians to live in peace, dignity and national integrity, Israelis themselves will not be able to enjoy those same rights. Meanwhile, our right to defend ourselves from occupying soldiers and aggression is a matter of law, as settled in the Fourth Geneva Convention. If Israel is prepared to negotiate seriously and fairly, and resolve the core 1948 issues, rather than the secondary ones from 1967, a fair and permanent peace is possible. Based on a hudna (comprehensive cessation of hostilities for an agreed time), the Holy Land still has an opportunity to be a peaceful and stable economic powerhouse for all the Semitic people of the region."
Yet despite the verbal gymnastics, Haniyeh predictably failed to accept the commitments required of him as Palestinian prime minister:
- Recognize Israel’s right to exist
- Accept previous agreements and obligations
- Renounce terror
Nor did Haniyeh acknowledge Hamas’s true agenda, as laid out in the organization’s charter:
"Our struggle against the Jews is very great and very serious… The Islamic Resistance Movement believes that the land of Palestine is an Islamic Waqf consecrated for future Moslem generations until Judgement Day. It, or any part of it, should not be squandered: it, or any part of it, should not be given up. Neither a single Arab country nor all Arab countries, neither any king or president, nor all the kings and presidents, neither any organization nor all of them, be they Palestinian or Arab, possess the right to do that… 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… In face of the Jews’ usurpation of Palestine, it is compulsory that the banner of Jihad be raised…"
As we noted in February, the media play an important role in determining whether P.R. offensives like this gather steam. We trust the Canadian media will ask the tough questions about Haniyeh’s proclamation.