Fact-Checking: ‘Hamas is Israel’s Frankenstein’

Categories Journalism

As you traverse social and mainstream media to understand the current Israel-Gaza war, you won’t be able to hop far on one foot before you stumble or fall over or get in the hit in the face by a barrage of conspiracy theories, myths, and urban legends that have become ‘accepted fact’. (In the Middle East, this can be read as ‘I heard it and it then must be true because it’s anti-Israel and anti-America’)

The only defense available, in the midst of the proverbial faecal shower, is to grab the myth or ‘accepted fact’ in your hand and crumble it, piece by piece.

I stumbled upon this piece by Hassane Zerouky the other day. It attempts to assert and prove that Hamas was created and fashioned by the Israeli regime, and then let to grow in size under its bemused eyes… while the regime twirls its mustache.

Origin of Piece and Authorship

There is no information online about the author. The piece is quoted across a myriad of message boards, conspiracy theory blogs, and alternative news websites. However, the identity of the author cannot be ascertained from either Google web or image results. I contacted L’Humanité to confirm the identity of Hassane Zerouky. [add response from them]

The first clue comes from one article on the alternative website War is Crime that references the piece:

The article below originally appeared in the French daily L’Humanité on December 14, 2001, translated to English by Global Outlook in 2002, and published by Global Research in March 2004. It shows how the so-called Islamic Resistance Movement (Hamas) was founded by Israel’s Institute for Intelligence and Special Tasks (Mossad) with the strategic purpose to prevent the creation of a Palestinian State.

On L’Humanité‘s website, the only information about the author is a cryptic single sentence: “International News” with no further hyperlinks or explanatory paragraph. The link to the original French article points to the wrong piece; the real essay in question is found here.

I ran Google Translate over the article because my French is as impeccable as my Sanskrit. This is the opening paragraph from the original French:

For many Palestinians, people without territory, subject to repression, humiliation and repeated closures, the radicalism of the fundamentalist Hamas embodies the ultimate recourse against the occupation. How was created and developed the organization that took the late train “resistance” to Israel? It does not say enough, it is Israel that has basically created Hamas, “thinking ensures Zeev Sternell, historian, professor at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, it was smart to play the Islamists against the PLO. “

Compare this with the opening paragraph in the alleged English translation:

Thanks to the Mossad, Israel’s “Institute for Intelligence and Special Tasks”, the Hamas was allowed to reinforce its presence in the occupied territories. Meanwhile, Arafat’s Fatah Movement for National Liberation as well as the Palestinian Left were subjected to the most brutal form of repression and intimidation

Let us not forget that it was Israel, which in fact created Hamas. According to Zeev Sternell, historian at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, “Israel thought that it was a smart ploy to push the Islamists against the Palestinian Liberation Organisation (PLO)”.

I searched through the original French article for the phrase ‘Institute for Intelligence and Special Tasks’. It’s not there. A cursory glance shows that the English leans more towards a paraphrase of the original French, with some editorialized embellishments thrown in for good measure. I contacted Global Research for comment. [add their response]

Questions around the Publisher

The editor’s note above on the War is Crime article mentions that Global Outlook translated the article from the French original, and then Global Research published it on its website. It’s curious that the two links in the editor’s note point to the same translated piece. A search online didn’t bring up any results for Global Outlook.

Global Research (Centre for Research on Globalisation) does not list its editorial or production teams on the about page, but does outline its submission requirements. They stipulate that references and sources be made available and linked to citations. For a controversial piece like Hamas is a Creation of Mossad, there are no footnotes or sources in both the English and French articles.

Let’s Go Through It… One by One

I will be using the English translation, referring to the original French in the event of a substantial discrepancy between the two versions.

Let us not forget that it was Israel, which in fact created Hamas. According to Zeev Sternell, historian at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, “Israel thought that it was a smart ploy to push the Islamists against the Palestinian Liberation Organisation (PLO)”.

This is a very bold assertion. I contacted Dr. Zeev Sternell to confirm this and he replied with the following:

The quotation as far as I can remember is correct but totally out of context. I have said that various Israeli governments had preferred to play the religious elements against the nationalist, believing that religion was much less dangerous than nationalism. Must people did not understand so many years ago neither the nature of radical islam nor that of radical judaism. That does not mean that the Mossad has created Hamas, which is idiotic.

ABC Australia’s Stone Cold Justice report misses the mark

Categories Journalism

A friend shared this report on my Timeline yesterday. It talks about the IDF’s arresting of young Palestinian children in the West Bank and two lawyers – one Australian and one Israeli – involved in their defense, and towards the eventual lobbying and end of this practice.

I watched the report with a critical eye and despite certain sections being disturbing, I wasn’t convinced by neither its angle nor its execution. I’ve been researching lately for a piece to be posted soon here about the latest Gaza war and from reading outside the main news channels, I’ve started to develop an awareness of the intricacies of the overall Israel-Palestine question.

My critique of the report follows.

Although the contents of it cannot be disputed and the fact that children are being targeted for both arrest and systematic abuse is fundamentally objectionable, this report suffers the same problems of many Western reports. It lacks nuances and stops at the emotional appeals rather than delving into the details.

Firstly, other than a few cursory reports from the Israeli international spokeperson, there’s no comment by analysts or the like from the Israeli IDF or government. IDF and Shin Bet (Israel’s homeland security) do not engage in any operation without a motive and a meticulous plan behind it. There is more than 99% possibility that these children are being targeted for a specific reason. The report doesn’t tell you what parts of the West Bank they’re targeting the children, whether their families have indirect or direct links to Hamas or other political and militant Islamist groups, and whether these children are on some watchlist by the Israeli authorities. The report just glosses over all that nuance.

Secondly, deep within the report – approximately around the 37th minute – you suddenly hear something about children being either coerced to be informants or collaborators. Why didn’t the journalists and the producers press to find out more about this? I’d say this is pretty key to the whole report, that is, the *motive* behind the surge against the children. Does the IDF want to recruit these children to be double agents or moles inside PLO or Hamas or other groups?

Just as Hamas and other political Palestinian groups recruit young for their cadres, the IDF and Shin Bet may want to counteract that initiative by scaring or scarring the children. Whether this is moral or not is not the question here. It’s the why. So many why’s are unanswered and frankly ignored in this report to score emotional points against Big Bad IDF.

Finally, I picked up in the one of the last interviews with the children that the boy wanted to go back to Amman. This may mean that these are displaced Palestinians from Jordon, now living in the West Bank. And that opens up a whole line of questioning; could the IDF be targeting Jordanian Palestinians?

There’s just too much gray area in an otherwise fairly conventional report about Palestinian victim vs. Israeli bad guy. The nuances that could have been explored, developed, and explained would have lent to a report that shows the complexity of the geopolitics, history, and social realities of the conflict.

OLR – “Where the Wild Things Are”

Categories Film

This film, although lush with Spike Jonze’s dedication to detail for the dream world, is a little weak. It gets lost in the world of the giant creatures – beautifully made and astutely brought to life -, which drags on until a fairly predictable resolution. Film is intelligent and appealed to my emotions through its metaphor of childhood loneliness and alienation, but its lack of chutzpah left me bored. Still one for the collection. Nod to emotive and expansive soundtrack and sound design.

OLR – “Black Book”

Categories Film

I’m glad I discovered this absolutely priceless gem. Black Book is Europe’s answer to Inglorious Basterds, taking a more stark and less moralistic approach to revenge. The acting is measured but very powerful. The story breaks away from the three act structure without getting lost in the subplot of Ellis’ inner turmoil. Although I flinched when I saw the opening flashback mechanism used (it’s overused in both international and American cinema), the denouement reminded me again that she’s looking back and I wasn’t displeased at that. A breath of fresh air into the Nazi/WWII/Holocaust genre in the spirit of The Reader.