I was watching Jeremy Corbyn being interviewed by media celebrity Piers Morgan the other day and two of the questions he was asked — no less than 15 times — were: “Do you condemn Hamas? Is Hamas a terrorist group?”
We were all shocked by the 7 October attack on Israel by Hamas, or the Palestinian Islamic Resistance Movement, to give it its full name. It was unprecedented and took place in the world’s most volatile hotspot where there are global interests and unimaginable consequences at stake.
While Israel was reeling from the attack and working itself up into a fury to lash out, the world held its collective breath. Britain’s intrepid Channel 4 News responded immediately by, erm, despatching a TV crew to track down and interview former Labour Party leader Jeremy Corbyn to ask, “Do you condemn Hamas?”
There followed a grim, dystopian game. For the past month, the media has tried to force anyone they interview — myself included — into condemning Hamas. It has all become rather tragic and pointless.
While all of this goes on in TV studios around the Western world, the Palestinians in Gaza are being slaughtered in their thousands by the terrorist state of Israel. The Zionist state has introduced a new low in its morally-bereft style of warfare by fighting in hospital wards where the sick and dying, barely conscious and unable to move, could only watch from their beds the violence meted out by the Israeli soldiers.
The media obsession with Hamas serves no purpose at all other than to expose a glaring ignorance about the whole conflict, which certainly did not start when Israelis were killed on 7 October. Why is no one asking where Hamas sprung from? When the movement was formed in 1987, it was the Palestine Liberation Organisation (PLO) and Yasser Arafat who were demonised and referred to in the same hysterical way as Hamas is today.
Hamas is a product of the Israeli occupation. Its leadership rose from the ashes of the 1948 Nakba, and its members have risen out of the Israeli military occupation of the West Bank, Gaza Strip and Jerusalem since 1967, while its current crop of activists and fighters have faced at least half-a-dozen major Israeli offensives in Gaza. The next generation of resistance fighters will rise from the ashes of Gaza 2023. Obviously, it remains to be seen if the “Class of 23” will graduate with Hamas, Islamic Jihad or another resistance movement we’ve not yet heard of.
You will note that I have not used the usual adjectives to describe Hamas, such as evil, barbaric and satanic. Having seen the “peace process” through the PLO since the early 1990s lead to no concessions whatsoever from Israel — which has, instead, built more illegal settlements and planted more than half-a-million more illegal settlers in them — and watched as Hamas was persuaded to take part in the 2006 Palestinian democratic election, win and be sanctioned for doing so, can any right-minded person seriously condemn Palestinians for resisting — legitimately, under international law — Israel’s occupation of their land?
The inference of the media obsession with Hamas is that failure to condemn the movement not only marks you out as a “terrorist sympathiser”, but also an “anti-Semite”. Hence the mantra: “Do you condemn Hamas?”
Well no, I don’t. Why should I condemn a group that is resisting the most brutal occupation in the world today? It’s like asking me to condemn the late, great Nelson Mandela because, let’s not forget, the African National Congress of which he was part bombed, fought and brought down the Apartheid regime in South Africa. Major rights groups and individuals have said that Israel has passed the legal threshold to be described as an apartheid state, including B’Tselem, Human Rights Watch and Amnesty International. The PLO called out Israeli apartheid decades ago, and the world has been playing catch-up ever since.
Nevertheless, the incessant lies and denials spewed out by Israel are there for everyone to see. Western leaders and their supporters, though, as well as the mainstream media in the West continue with the “Israel is a democracy” and “Israel has a right to self-defence” charade.
Instead of looking at the whole picture and putting 7 October into the context of ethnic cleansing, oppression and occupation, politicians and journalists are trapped in a Groundhog Day of their own making. The truth is that the State of Israel was born on the back of the terrorism of Zionist terror gangs such as Irgun, the Haganah and the Stern Gang, and has used oppression and deadly violence against the Palestinians ever since.
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Former Greek minister Yanis Varoufakis was also urged by a TV host to “condemn Hamas” but refused. “Those who are trying to extract from people like me a condemnation of Hamas will never get it,” he said later. “And they won’t for a very simple reason: Apartheid is always going to procure violence. The criminals here are not Hamas. It is the West.”
It is an observation that many are thinking, but are too afraid to say. I’ve yet to watch a TV debate where any mainstream broadcaster has ever condemned Israel or its sponsor America for its unprecedented terror and “text-book case of genocide”. Could this be because it is the only way the Western media and political classes can whitewash their own genocidal campaigns against those they occupied and brutalised during the days of the British Empire, and now the US empire?
Even King Charles III was forced to condemn the brutality of empire in Kenya when he visited recently. How long will we have to wait for a British monarch to visit the Holy Land and criticise the terror state once known as Israel? No, I haven’t just wiped the state of Israel off the map; I think it is more likely to do that itself. No country can be on a permanent war-footing forever, and the bitter political divide in Israel could well lead to a civil war and the demise of the Zionist state. This was discussed by Middle East analyst Muhammad Hussein in MEMO recently when he asked if we are witnessing the beginning of the end of Zionism.
When Labour peer Lord Peter Mandelson went on TV and criticised Corbyn for failing to condemn what he called the “sadistic, gleeful, cold-blooded murder that Hamas undertook on 7 October,” he went on to opine in his usual smug way, “I think it’s because he doesn’t value the continued existence of the State of Israel.”
After the genocidal war crimes of the state, I wonder just how many people do value its existence, apart from die-hard Zionists and those who depend on their votes and financial support to stay in political office.
I will no doubt be vilified for these words, but I no longer care what Zionists think.
By supporting genocide in Gaza, they have exposed themselves as hypocrites; cruel, murderous hypocrites. When I’m called a Hamas apologist I know it’s just another way of being told to shut up and not criticise US-funded warmongering. In some ways the insults have worked, because I am rarely invited to take part in BBC or other mainstream programmes these days. All hail the rise of social media, is what I say. And Middle East Monitor, of course.
One of the most gratifying things as a journalist is knowing that some of the world’s leading opinion formers in Washington, London, Paris and Berlin go online to read the articles on the MEMO website as it gives them a chance of taking the pulse in the Middle East. Beyond the headlines in the Western media, they know that the news content in the mainstream is increasingly unreliable.
The problem is that they tend to ignore the opinions of their own people in the West and beyond. Just look at the amazing protest marches calling for a ceasefire in Gaza. One of the most amazing, and troubling for the Biden administration, was organised by Jewish Americans at New York’s Grand Central Station which killed, stone dead, the claim that such protests are anti-Semitic rallies full of Jew-haters.
I think that the Global South must look upon us here in the so-called civilised world with a sense of repugnance and revulsion. Africans, Asians and South Americans can see the harrowing scenes on social media and can see through Israel’s lies about being careful to avoid civilian casualties. Oh, and “Israel isn’t breaking international law.” Tell that to the Marines.
They listen with incredulity as we are told by its wicked PR machine that Israel has the most moral army in the world and that before being bombed Palestinians are warned to evacuate their homes. Then they watch in horror as Apache Attack helicopters and fighter jets swoop down and kill the fleeing citizens in a flaming landscape where even hospitals, schools and ambulances are targets for bombs paid for by US tax dollars.
Thanks to the efforts of citizen journalists and the heroic media in Gaza, one of the world’s most powerful war machines has been exposed as a criminal enterprise filled with psychopaths who think it’s acceptable to bomb children as they sleep and ambulances as they race to take casualties for life-saving surgery. Assuming the hospital hasn’t been put out of action by the tightened siege of Gaza, that is; at least 30 in the enclave have been since 7 October.
The hate from the pro-war zealots who yelled at those who marched against Vietnam is still around. Look at the far-right thugs who tried to derail the massive protest march in London last weekend. But the words of Ewan McColl are still around too. The late Scottish folk musician, poet and communist activist was arguably the best British protest singer of the Sixties. His Ballad of Ho Chi Minh, an upbeat folk song that praised Ho for his leadership and devotion to the people of Vietnam, was chanted by radicals in the 1960s and 1970s. I’ve already seen Arabic videos with songs eulogising Hamas fighters and criticising US-sponsored military aggression. The spirit of McColl lives on.
I guess the message is simple: apart from standing up for the Palestinians, we need to stand up for ourselves and stop being browbeaten into silence by the depraved class of politicians which churns out people like Suella Braverman and any number of other genocide-supporting MPs here in Britain, backed up by a corporate media which creates the environment for their vile populism to take root. Their hands are dripping with the blood of millions, including the tragic incubator babies fighting for oxygen in Gaza’s Al-Shifa Hospital.
Countless millions have been killed in Iraq, Afghanistan, Yemen, Libya, Vietnam, Central and South America and Africa, as well as Palestine. Despatched to early graves the innocent souls of those written off as supporters of the Taliban, Houthis, Libyan revolutionaries, Vietcong, Sandinistas, communists, Hamas and many other freedom fighters are now coming back to haunt the US, Israel and the West embroiled in their endless wars.
I wonder who will be big enough and tough enough to call out state terrorism when they see it, especially when the terrorists are Americans and Israelis? Do you condemn such terrorists? Or do you condemn Hamas?
The views expressed in this article belong to the author and do not necessarily reflect the editorial policy of Middle East Monitor.