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Attacking Khaled Meshaal

January 20, 2015 at 1:34 pm

Politics is a social science that is meant to manage power and pursue societal interests; in the Arab world, though, it has turned into a process of aspirations and accusations. An example of the latter is the accusation that Hamas interferes in this country or that, or accusing it of standing with one party against another, and so on. In such accusations, which continue to place Hamas in either positions of power or opposition, it has most recently been alleged that the Islamic Resistance Movement has abandoned its commitment to the Palestinian cause and struggle.

In light of the most recent changes in the Arab world, continued strife and sharp political divides, many have developed a distaste for Hamas as a political group. They have gone on to project their hopes and dreams by demonising the movement after their accusations have failed to discredit it.

Critics are no longer functioning within the realm of political science or logic, nor even within a mature political conflict with respectable differences. It as if we find ourselves in the middle of a conversation with someone who is ignorant rather than educated; their approach to demonising Hamas represents a degree of shallowness, lack of logic and an inherent tendency to lie.

This is exactly what is happening today with the articles that are written about Hamas leader Khaled Meshaal, who, it is alleged, has been forced out of Qatar and has decided to settle in Turkey after Damascus, Cairo, Tehran and Khartoum all failed as potential refuges; or so they say. The reality of the situation is one thing and what Meshaal’s enemies wish upon him is something else entirely.

It is every person’s right to disagree with Hamas or to oppose its political rhetoric. However, to go so far as to publish news about the group that is ultimately based on a lie demonstrates that our news outlets no longer operate according to the high standards of honesty and integrity that good journalism requires. Moreover, to oppose Hamas is one thing; to disagree with its political ideology is one thing; but to pander to the wishes of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is quite another thing.

An internet search for Netanyahu in the stories that have been published about Khaled Meshaal’s departure from Qatar for another home base revealed the following statement issued by the Israeli foreign ministry about a week ago: “The ministry has taken several decisive steps to ensure that Qatar stops helping Hamas both directly and indirectly.” The statement went on to congratulate Qatar on reaching this decision.

The truth of the matter is that the Israelis were the first to suggest his expulsion from Qatar following Meshaal’s trip to Turkey to attend a conference of the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP). This issue is undoubtedly at the centre of Israel’s current interests. Britain’s Independent newspaper published details of Meshaal’s plight, which are currently exciting the Israeli public. Other media outlets followed suit and began to publish articles that attacked the Hamas political bureau and its head.

With an election looming and last year’s military humbling in Gaza still in the public consciousness, it is in Benjamin Netanyahu’s best interests to promote news that strengthens his political standing and agenda. He needs to find new ways to win supporters and encourage settlers to live in the occupied territories in the face of heroic Palestinian steadfastness in Jerusalem.

The prime minister is searching for political gains to show the Israeli electorate after some important losses on the international stage. The governments in Sweden, Belgium, Norway, France and New Zealand are all calling for the establishment of a Palestinian state; the Palestinian Authority looks set to accede to membership of the International Criminal Court; and the European Union is largely in favour of a State of Palestine. The European Court also recently removed the political wing of Hamas from the terrorist list (although that decision is now being challenged by the EU).

The decision to target Hamas is thus considered to be a good tactic within Netanyahu’s closest circle. With his charisma and charm, regarded as a strong combination by Zionists, Khaled Meshaal embodies the ideal target.

If you want to know the reasons behind Israel’s campaign against Hamas, it is worth reading pro-Israel media. If you want to understand those reasons, then the remarks of Israeli officials and how they describe their defeat in the Gaza Strip last year are enlightening. Hamas is a threat to the occupation and its supporters. It is a political and military entity that has resisted the occupation and survived all attempts to destroy it, including a near-total blockade in Gaza. Zionist media outlets continue to blame Hamas for every single rocket fired from Gaza, the stabbings, hit and run operations, and general unrest in Jerusalem, the West Bank and the 1948 occupied territories.

Netanyahu appears to be confused; he knows that if he wins the March General Election it will not be because he has won over Israeli public opinion. On the contrary, his possible victory could only be credited to the fact that voters regard him as the lesser of two evils. Moreover, he seems to have a personal grudge against Khaled Meshaal, who he tried to assassinate in 1997 during his first term as prime minister. The media now credits Meshaal with defeating Netanyahu last year in Gaza. The Israeli leader’s wish to exterminate Meshaal overlaps with the desires of some Arabs who are opposed to the rise to prominence of Islamist groups in the region. These are the people who are analysing Qatar’s attitude towards Islamists and take a serious view of Meshaal’s presence in Qatar. As both an Islamist group and a resistance movement, Hamas is attacked on two fronts. However, much to the chagrin of its opponents, Hamas will continue to be a source of political power and resistance as long as it maintains its current policies and popular base.

We must focus on several factors in light of this reality. For a start, targeting Khaled Meshaal is an attempt to eradicate Hamas as a political party. He is a consummate politician and a symbol of the movement with a great deal of credibility with the media. This is why he is able to promote Hamas’s ideology and strengthen its alliances. In addition, the resistance continues against Israel’s military occupation of Palestinian territories, despite the best efforts of other parties and factions. Finally, experience has demonstrated that wherever Khaled Meshaal happens to be based, in Qatar or elsewhere, this will not affect the movement’s ideology or progress.

The views expressed in this article belong to the author and do not necessarily reflect the editorial policy of Middle East Monitor.