by Leo Rennert
For years, the Washington Post has refused to call Hamas as a terrorist group -- the designation given it by the United States and the European Union, and of course, by Israel, which still mourns hundreds of its citizens murdered by Hamas. To avoid use of the T-for-terrorism label, the Post substituted "militant," its most favorite euphemism.
But hold the presses: Hamas has gone beyond "militant" and turned into a downright "moderate" and "pragmatic" organization that no longer may resort to violence against Israel, according to Joel Greenberg, the Post's Jerusalem correspondent.
In a Dec. 22 article, Greenberg happily reports that, with the advent of the Arab Spring, Hamas is evolving from a terrorist -- sorry, militant -- past into an adherent of far more peaceful tactics ("Hamas signals willingness to deal with moderates -- Arab Spring prompts thaw; talks with Fatah planned in Cairo" page A13)
Here's how Greenberg makes this great leap in presenting the "new" Hamas. In his lead paragraph, he starts by assuring Post readers that Hamas "is showing signs of pragmatism as its sense of isolation fades." He then further explains that Hamas wants to "strengthen ties with Arab countries where moderate Islamists have made political gains," like the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt.
In its long quest to sanitize Hamas, the Post now is shifting from "militant" to a presumably even more kosher "moderate Islamist" label. Remember it well: "Moderate Islamist" -- what a neat oxymoron. "Islamist" for a long time has been a media favorite to distinguish peaceful Muslims from radical, violence-bent ones, like Islamists. But now we're to understand that there is a sub-brand of "Islamist" with a "moderate" bent. Well, tell that to the 8 million Cops in Egypt who are not exactly thrilled with the prospect of being ruled by the likes of the Muslim Brotherhood, and by the somewhat less "moderate Islamist" Salafis, who together are winning 70 percent of the vote in parliamentary elections.
But Greenberg, ever a delusional optimist in his Palestinian coverage, ignores or dismisses any concerns about what the Arab Spring really has wrought. And where others have observed continued tensions between Hamas, which rules Gaza, and Fatah, which reigns in the West Bank, Greenberg sees a happy coming together of the two rival factions.
"On the political front," he writes, there have been signs of flexibility on a key issue that has divided Hamas and Fatah: the use of arms in the confrontation with Israel." While he grants that Hamas Prime Minister Ismail Haniyeh only recently asserted that "armed resistance is the only way to liberate our land from the sea to the river (i.e. eliminate Israel altogether), Greenberg puts more weight on a newly stated position of Khaled Mashal, Hamas's top leader, who raised the option of "popular resistance."
Another bright ray of hope! Gone is a bellicose term like "armed resistance," replaced now by "popular resistance" -- a term, according to Greenberg, "for the unarmed protests that Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas has encouraged in the West Bank." In case you're not up to this vital semantic difference in Greenberg's vocabulary, be advised that "armed resistance" is bad; but "popular resistance" is OK.
Never mind that under his Gandhiesque "popular resistance," Abbas has yet to disband his own terrorist wing, the Al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigades" and keeps glorifying terrorist killers and naming public places after them. Greenberg, in full delusional mode, is sticking by his Panglossian confidence that all's now for the best in the best of Palestinian society -- Hamasland.
Leo Rennert is a former White House correspondent and Washington bureau chief of McClatchy Newspapers.
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