HRC Comment: How Canadian Newspapers Rolled out the Welcome Mat for a Hybrid Terrorist Palestinian Government (May 13, 2011)

By Mike Fegelman

May 13, 2011


HRC Comment: How Canadian Newspapers Rolled out the Welcome Mat for a Hybrid Terrorist Palestinian Government

By: Mike Fegelman, Executive Director                                                                              May 13, 2011

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Dear HonestReporting Canada Subscriber,

The Palestinian unity deal between Hamas and Fatah has been dubbed by Israel as "the wrong pact" and a "devastating blow to peace." U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said, "We will not deal with, nor in any way fund, a Palestinian government that includes Hamas." Yet prominent Canadian newspapers like the Toronto Star and Winnipeg Free Press have tacitly supported and even applauded the agreement, despite the fact that this hybrid government is made up by a recognized terror organization, Hamas, that still wants to destroy Israel, has always defied calls to renounce violence, recognize Israel’s right to exist, and honour past negotiated agreements.

Like lambs lying down with lions, the Winnipeg Free Press called the deal "A faint hope for Palestinians" in an April 29 staff editorial, arguing that "The world should welcome (the Palestinian unity accord)…, at least in theory."

The Toronto Star, Canada’s highest circulation daily newspaper, seemed to prefer that Israel be thrown to the wolves by engaging with this government. In a May 8 editorial, the Toronto Star tacitly applauded the "brokering of (the) Palestinian unity" deal by falsely arguing that Hamas claimed to have accepted the "two-state solution" principle and that it can be perceived as a "serious negotiating partner that can deliver…" In doing so, the Star wrongly implied that Hamas has gone from pariah to pragmatists and this editorial, which it should be noted reflects the official view of this newspaper, only emboldened Hamas terrorism and weakened Israel’s ability to secure its own borders and to responsibly engage in the Mideast peace process with the appropriate interlocutors.

As Israel’s Ambassador to the U.S., Michael Oren, explained in an op-ed published yesterday in the LA Times:

"This is the same Hamas that has launched hundreds of suicide bombers and thousands of rockets at Israeli civilians. Hamas terrorists have held Gilad Shalit, an Israeli soldier, in solitary confinement for nearly five years without a single Red Cross visit. And just last month, they fired an antitank rocket at an Israeli school bus, killing 16-year-old Daniel Viflic. Such atrocities have affected the lives of all Israelis. My own sister-in-law, Joan Davenny, a visiting teacher from New Haven riding on a bus to Hebrew University in Jerusalem, was murdered by a Hamas bomber."

This is also the same organization whose prime minister, upon reflecting on the killing of Osama bin Laden "condemn(ed) the assassination of an Arab holy warrior… (deploring) the continuing American policy… of shedding Muslim blood."

We wonder, would the Toronto Star and the Winnipeg Free Press accept Al Qaeda as a legitimate political party if it wanted to enter Canadian federal politics in four years’ time? Not likely. So why the double standard for Israel? (And yes, we all know the idiom that "you make peace by talking with your enemies," but until Hamas fundamentally changes its ways by disavowing its own charter which explicitly calls for Israel’s annihilation and by agreeing to the Quartet’s principles, it should rightly be shunned by world governments, including Israel and Canada.

With respect to the Star’s editorial, it’s also instructive to note that contrary to its claims, the "Mideast peace deadlock persists" in part because PA President Mahmoud Abbas "has failed to engage even with" Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu "and his moderates, or to stop" Palestinian incitement and to curb terror attacks emanating from the territories. On the flip-side, since the first day Netanyahu came into office, he has repeatedly called for direct face-to-face negotiations and has, contrary to this editorial, unilaterally imposed a 10-month moratorium on new construction in West Bank settlements. Abbas on the other hand has consistently scuttled negotiations by engaging in outright rejectionism.

It would have been prudent for the Star to have also urged Abbas to "revive the peace process," by discarding Hamas, sitting down with Israeli leaders for direct negotiations, or by preconditioning Hamas’ participation in a new Palestinian government so that it adheres to the Quartet’s principles.

As articulated by Ambassador Oren:

"Israel does not object to Palestinian unity. On the contrary, we want to negotiate with a Palestinian leadership that speaks for its people in both the West Bank and Gaza. "I’ll negotiate with anyone who wants peace," Netanyahu said, following the pact’s signing. But can Israel regard as negotiating partners those who speak of its destruction? How can Israelis interact with an organization whose covenant proclaims that "Israel will exist until Islam obliterates it" and "the Day of Judgment will not come until the Muslims fight and kill the Jews." 





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