Saturday, May 14, 2011

Reuters: PR agency for serial killers?

Imagine for a moment, a media company in the late 19th century hired to handle public relations for Jack the Ripper.  What could the agency say to smooth over the heinous, irredeemably violent nature of the serial killer?

"His surgical style suggests he is a capable doctor and well-educated".  "He recognizes that times are changing and he must change with them".  "He has not tried to murder anyone in nearly three weeks".  "He has offered to consult with other serial killers on decisions of who is next to be butchered".  "He has agreed to limit his activities to East London".  "He is moving his office to Dubai". 

So it goes with that peddler of malodorous balms, Reuters Jerusalem Bureau Chief Crispian Balmer (curly-haired perfume peddler), in a risible piece intended to makeover the public image of the terrorist group Hamas:
(Reuters) - The Palestinian Islamist group Hamas has felt the political winds shift across the Middle East and is bending with them, making peace with its secular rival Fatah and trying to cool its conflict with Israel.
Israel has ridiculed the idea that the Hamas leopard can ever change its spots, but analysts poring over a recent slew of interviews from the movement's senior leaders believe change is under way, wrought by upheaval across the Arab world.
Despite the fact it looks secure in its coastal stronghold, the Gaza Strip, Hamas last month reached out to Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, who governs in the West Bank, and agreed to a surprise unity deal to end years of fierce feuding.
By doing so, Hamas effectively renewed its commitment to a ceasefire with Israel. No mortars or missiles have been fired out of Gaza since the accord was announced on April 27 -- a rare period of calm on one of the region's most dangerous borders.
Hamas has also conspicuously failed to provide wholehearted support to Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, who faces the worst civil unrest of his 11-year rule, despite the fact that he has harbored the Islamist group leadership for a decade.
The chilly relations have raised speculation that Hamas might move its main regional office out of Damascus, which would take the group further out of Shi'ite Iran's orbit. It would strengthen ties with administrations that have good relations with the West, including Saudi Arabia, Qatar and Egypt.
Growing signs that the Islamist group is considering moving out first originated in the Saudi-owned pan-Arab al-Hayat daily, which cited unnamed Palestinian sources for its report.
"I think Hamas is serious this time. It is taking a chance and wants to be given a chance," said political analyst Hani Habib, who lives in Hamas-controlled Gaza [...]  "Concerning bin Laden, everyone knows Hamas has differences with al Qaeda ... especially (its) operations targeting civilians," Hamas leader in exile Khaled Meshaal told France 24 TV.
Meshaal has given more interviews in the past several weeks than he has done in the past several years, apparently eager to show the world exactly where Hamas stands on Middle East peace.
Although he stopped short of recognizing Israel, he repeatedly stated that he wanted to establish a Palestinian state along pre-war, 1967 borders, implicitly suggesting that Hamas was ready to accommodate the reality of Israel.
He also said that he would henceforth consult with more moderate Palestinian factions over how to confront Israel, suggesting that he would no longer attack without consensus.
Another Hamas official, Sami Abou Zuhri, told Le Monde daily that observers should not focus on Hamas's uncompromising 1988 charter, but rather judge the group on the words of its leaders. 
Let's cite again, one of Balmer's assertions above to illustrate the chicanery with which Reuters goes about its public relations duties:
Although he [Hamas leader Khaled Meshaal] stopped short of recognizing Israel, he repeatedly stated that he wanted to establish a Palestinian state along pre-war, 1967 borders, implicitly suggesting that Hamas was ready to accommodate the reality of Israel.
Meshaal has not said anything in his interviews with Reuters, the Wall Street Journal, nor any other media organization which even remotely suggests that "Hamas was ready to accommodate the reality of Israel".  This is a complete figment of Balmer's imagination, or fabrication, that the Reuters Bureau Chief wishes his readership to mindlessly swallow.

Here's what Meshaal actually said (as reported by Reuters on May 8th, 2011):
Meshaal said the international community must pressure Israel to recognize the Palestinians, not the other way around.
"Israel needs pressure. It is an occupier that would not get out by conviction or through dialogue," Meshaal said, adding that Egypt was only able to enter into peace talks with the Jewish state after the 1973 Middle East war.
"What is needed today ... is to have resistance in all forms, armed and public ones," he said adding that he intends to try to persuade Fatah to adopt his approach to force Israel to end its occupation. "Any occupier in the world never retreats voluntarily ... It only retreats under pressure and force."
And at the Hamas-Fatah reconciliation shindig on May 4th, 2011:
"Our aim is to establish a free and completely sovereign Palestinian state on the West Bank and Gaza Strip, whose capital is Jerusalem, without any settlers [Jews] and without giving up a single inch of land and without giving up on the right of return (of Palestinian refugees)," Meshaal told a ceremony in Egypt to endorse a reconciliation deal between Hamas and Fatah movement.
The "right of return" would of course, involve the settlement of nearly 5 million Palestinian Arabs in Israel and the demographic destruction of the state.  Note also Meshaal's reference to "Jerusalem" -- not East Jerusalem, nor Arab East Jerusalem, nor any other rhetorical fiction Reuters correspondents consistently employ to conceal the fact that the Palestinians demand Israel surrender the city of Jerusalem for a Palestinian capital and ethnically cleanse all Jews from the area.  And if Israel doesn't comply?  "Resistance in all forms, armed and public ones".

Crispian Balmer: always willing to take on the task of defending the indefensible.

UPDATE MAY 15TH, 2011: In a rare example of forthcoming reporting, Balmer's colleague Douglas Hamilton grudgingly acknowledges what has long been obvious to the rest of us:
But Islamist Hamas, which rules the Gaza Strip and which last month sealed a surprise reconciliation pact with its bitter rival Fatah, issued a warning that Palestinians would accept nothing less than return to all lands lost in 1948.
Spokesman Taher Al-Nono praised the "crowds we have seen in Palestine, Egypt, Syria, and Lebanon" as evidence of "imminent victory and return to the original homes as promised by God."
In an apparent contradiction of suggestions that Hamas might ditch its rejection of Israel's right to exist, he said there was no alternative to recovering all land lost in 1948.

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