Thursday, March 06, 2008

Two by Helena Cobban
"Well, they started squeezing Hamas almost immediately. Originally, in the weeks right after the late-January election, Hamas wanted to form a relatively moderate government that would include a large number of political "independents" under the leadership of Hamas's Ismail Haniyeh as Prime Minister. But as I know-- because I was the conduit of one of these threats-- threats of lethal violence were sent by the Israelis to any Palestinian "independents" who might be even considering joining a Haniyeh-led government. As a result, none of them did; and the government that Haniyeh ended up forming was 100% Hamas.
Thanks to McClatchy's Dion Nissenbaum for informing all readers of the specifics of the restrictions imposed on all Israel-based reporters covering the conflict with Gaza.Of course it is a nearly universal practice of parties to an armed conflict to restrict media coverage of many aspects of the conflict. But it is very useful for readers/consumers of the reporting that results to remain aware that there are several significant aspects of the events that we are prevented from seeing or reading about.For example, in Dion's list, #2 is perhaps especially important for readers to be aware of:

2. The IDF Censor will not authorize reports of rocket hits at IDF bases and/or strategic installations.

This, in line with the Israeli authorities' long-sustained practice of trying to describe the rocket attacks launched against it by Hamas and other groups in Gaza as being "targeted"-- inasmuch as they are targeted at all-- only against civilian neighborhoods.
When I was in the recent panel discussion with Daniel Levy on Capitol Hill, one of the notable things he said was that his information from Israel was that Hamas's rockets attacks had clearly been targeted at military installations, while it was the non-Hamas organizations that had sent rockets (whether "targeted", or more randomly, was unclear) into civilian neighborhoods.
Still almost nothing about the VF article or Gaza. A commenter at Arablinks found this at the Post. And Laura Rozen had the same response [from an email]: "Everybody who reads the newspaper knew the US was backing Fatah with money for buying arms and security training."
The money and support was for an attempted coup.
I sent a note to a 8 or 10 of the intellectual Poobahs of the liberal political web, pointing out that that their silence was telling.
Atrios at least linked to the VF piece, without much comment.

Support for the plan itself seems to have been universal, but it didn't work. The political and military figures, the journalists and "experts" now supporting negotiations with Hamas are the smart ones covering their asses.

Cobban, in a comment on the first post above, answering a question:
I have written about it before. It was Ziad. The threat was conveyed to me by Ziad’s and my mutual friend Ze’ev Schiff, a decent man who had been extremely close to successive generations of the leaders of Israel’s security establishment for half a century before his death last year.
To be specific, when I spoke with Ze’ev on the phone before I went to Gaza in March 2006– and he did help me to get in– he asked if I was going to see Ziad, who was then widely reported to be considering an offer from Hamas to be Haniyeh’s Foreign Minister (as he subsequently became, during the brief life of the 2007 national unity government.) I said yes. He said– and he repeated this a couple of times to make sure I got the meaning clear– that I should tell Ziad he would face “the worst possible consequences” if he joined the Haniyeh government, and that he said this “on good authority.”
I did pass the message on to Ziad.
Ziad also faced considerable family-based pressure from the Americans since his three children from his first marriage were at college here in the US, and I suppose if he had joined the Haniyeh government and then tried to visit them here he could be arraigned on all kinds of charges of aiding and abetting terrorists. But Ze’ev’s words about “the worst possible consequences” struck me as constituting a more severe and immediate threat.

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