HuffPost Live host/producer Ahmed Shihab-Eldin is not the only Huffington Post employee pushing anti-Israel propaganda for the leftist website founded seven years ago by Arianna Huffington. On the other side of the Atlantic, Mehdi Hasan, the political director of the Huffington Post UK, is apparently up to the task as well. A day after Israel finally decided to respond to a barrage of Palestinian rocket attacks, Hasan published a screed titled "Ten Things You Need to Know About Gaza." It is easily debunked with facts, courtesy of the Committee for Accuracy in Middle East Reporting in America (CAMERA).
He begins by referring to Gaza as a prison camp. If Gaza is a prison camp, it is one of the Palestinians' own making. Israel unilaterally ceded Gaza to the Palestinians in 2005, ousting thousands of Jewish settlers in the process. Both Hamas and Fatah initially took control of the territory. Hamas won a plurality of the vote in the 2006 legislative council elections, and proceeded to oust Fatah in a bloody civil war, assuming total control of Gaza in 2007.
Hasan then claims conflicts between Israel and Hamas are "unfair" because in both the current defensive operation, Pillar of Defense, and Operation Cast Lead, preformed in 2008, there were greater numbers of casualties on the Palestinian side. One is left to wonder whether he prefers more dead Israelis to "even things out," or merely chooses to ignore the inconvenient reality that Hamas has both a penchant for placing its military components near civilians, as this map reveals, and using the resultant "collateral damage" to gin up international outrage.
Hasan then appeals to the idea that Gazans have suffered "collective punishment" for electing Hamas, for instance, through the Gaza blockade that Israel enforces. Hamas is a designated terrorist organization whose charter of existence calls for the annihilation of the Jewish State. Ergo, elections have consequences. Furthermore, the United Nations' Palmer Report affirmed the legality of the blockade. "Israel faces a real threat to its security from militant groups in Gaza. The naval blockade was imposed as a legitimate security measure in order to prevent weapons from entering Gaza by sea and its implementation complied with the requirements of international law," the report reads.
Hasan also claims Israel is essentially starving Palestinians, putting them on a subsistence diet. Reality is far different. Israel trucks tons of food into Gaza on a weekly basis, and has continued to do so, even in the midst of the current escalation, the previous escalation, and the ongoing missile bombardment that now totals more than 12,000 rockets and mortars since 2005. As for Hasan's additional claims that Gazan children are malnourished and have stunted growth, CAMERA reveals they are healthier than their counterparts in Egypt.
He then laments the unemployment rate in Gaza, which is 28 percent in general, and 58 percent among people aged between 20 and 24. Putting aside the fact that those numbers are on a par with Spain and Greece, the unemployment rate in Arab nations as a whole is the highest in the world.
Hasan bemoans the Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PSTD) that afflicts one in five Gazan children. The rate of PSTD is twice as high among Israeli children, who have endured ongoing bombardment every day of the year. Furthermore, there is no question that if Hamas stopped trying to annihilate Israel, all bombing would cease.
Aside from this exaggeration, Hasan also descends into outright deceit in his reporting. He makes the ridiculous assertion that the escalation of violence this week was prompted by Israeli's assassination-by-drone of Hamas military commander Ahmed al-Jabari, who was "a subcontractor, in charge of maintaining Israel's security in Gaza," and "Israel's partner in the negotiations for the release of Gilad Shalit." In fact, Al-Jabari helped plan the operation during which Shalit was kidnapped and two other Israeli soldier were killed. He also participated in terrorist attacks during the second Intifada that killed hundreds of Israelis. And once again, Hasan ignores the real reason for the current crisis: the unrelenting bombardment by Hamas over the last eight years.
He then bewails the poverty rate of Palestinians, noting that 80 percent receive public assistance and 39 percent live below the poverty line. CAMERA notes that Gaza is far from impoverished, with more than 600 millionaires in a population of 1.5 million and the existence of shopping centers and private resorts built in recent years.
Finally Hasan revisits the Palestinian "refugee" status, referring to the establishment of Israel as "ethnic cleansing," further claiming (exactly like Hamas) that even a two-state solution will not deliver justice to people who have been refugees as far back as 1948. As CAMERA notes, Palestinian refugee status is unique. It is maintained even when a “refugee” settles in another country. Moreover, it can be passed down from generation to generation. They further note that when Israel was established, 850,000 Jews were driven out of their homes in Arab countries.
As for charges of ethnic cleansing, prior to the 1947 partition, Abdul Rahman Azzam, the Arab League's first secretary-general, promised that the establishment of a Jewish state would lead to "a war of extermination and momentous massacre which will be spoken of like the Mongolian massacre and the Crusades." Arabs have attempted to make good on that promise on several occasions, from the 1948 Arab-Israeli War, Six-Day War in 1967, and the Yom Kippur War in 1973, to the First and Second Intifadas, the 2006 Lebanon War, and the last two operations, the Gaza War in 2008 and the current one, prosecuted to stop the ongoing, and indiscriminate, firing of missiles into Israel.
For Mehdi Hasan, however, this history simply does not exist.
Hasan's outrageous work at the Huffington Post makes more sense when considering his background. Hasan is a former imam who believes that non-Muslims "live their lives like animals, bending any rule to fill any desire." He is also convinced that Iran isn't developing nuclear weapons, and likens the opposing viewpoint to "sweeping, fact-free, propagandistic claims from the Israeli foreign minister or someone like Newt Gingrich or even Melanie Phillips." Some of those “propagandistic” claims were also made four days ago by the International Atomic Energy Agency, which reported that "Iran has now installed all of the nearly 2,800 centrifuges it will use to enrich uranium at the Fordow plant," and "has increased its stockpile of both 5% and 20% enriched uranium, which can more readily be converted to a weapons grade level."
The Huffington Post can employ anyone it chooses. That it chooses to elevate a former imam who is an apologist for terrorist perpetrators such as Hamas and Iran, and who believes all non-Muslims are animals is quite telling. In 2005, Ayman al-Zawahiri, Al Qaeda'd second-in-command, said, “We are in a battle, and more than half of this battle is taking place in the battlefield of the media.” The Huffington Post is happily assisting Al Qaeda's Islamist brethren in winning the better part of their struggle. If hostilities continue in the coming weeks, one can only expect more of the same from one of the most influential online news sources in the world.
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