Friday, June 12, 2009

A case study in replacing facts with wishful thinking

There are many people, including many Jews, who wish no harm to Israel and really want peace. Their problem is that they will ignore facts that make peace unlikely and will vastly exaggerate any shreds of hope they come across that support their hopes.

Clearly, the number one obstacle of the many obstacles to real peace is Hamas. Hamas is an unrepentant terror organization, that separated itself from the PA, that controls a good portion of the hoped-for Palestinian Arab state, that not only will not but cannot recognize Israel by its very existence. Their words and actions have been consistent, explicit and undeniable in their desire to destroy Israel and murder all Jews who want self-determination in the Middle East. To say that Hamas' existence is antithetical to any real chance of peace would be an understatement.

Yet, Joe Klein finds a way to ignore terror bombings, Qassam rockets, calls to genocide against Jews, daily incitement to hate and terror - and grasp a silver lining in his interview with Khaled Meshal:
Halfway through my interview with Khaled Mashaal, about an hour after Barack Obama's Cairo speech, I realized that the leader of Hamas was calling the Israeli people, and their leaders, Israelis. That seemed new. The usual term of art used by Islamic militants is "Zionists" or worse. A few days later in Iran, for example, I watched Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad say in a debate, "I don't like to call them Israelis. Their leaders are so unclean that they could wash themselves in the cleanest waters and still be dirty."
A Hamas leader used a word that Klein had never heard! Could this indicate a sea-change in Hamas' attitudes? Is this the beginning of a new era where Hamas embraces peace? Please? Pretty please?

I asked Mashaal if his language implied that he accepted, de facto, a Jewish state called Israel. "Don't conclude this," he said. "These are the names they call themselves ... Once the Palestinians are enabled to have a sovereign state, then they can be asked whom they recognize."
But Klein noticed it, and, dammit, if he is as smart as he thinks he is, then it must be more significant than even his interview subject would admit:
And yet, calling Israelis by the name they call themselves seemed a different sort of body language. The meaning of this new tone can be debated. Part of it may be attributable to the terrible military defeat Hamas suffered in Gaza, a recognition, finally, that Israel is simply not going away. Or Mashaal may be trying to present a more sympathetic face to contrast with Benjamin Netanyahu's recalcitrant Likud government in Israel. Whatever the reason, it certainly seems time to reassess the West's unwillingness to deal with Hamas.
So Klein noticed something that he thought was new. He had zero evidence that it had any meaning. The interview subject explicitly denied that it meant anything. Yet he goes on not only to ascribe meaning to it, he uses his own personal fantasy as a reason that the United States should change its policy towards Hamas!

Klein is hardly the only person to do this. In fact, most Western politicians and journalists do this routinely, although not usually so obviously. They "know" that peace will cause a domino effect of goodwill through the Arab world, they "know" that Israel must make concessions that would inevitably be followed by Palestinian Arab concessions as well, they "know" that Hamas will inevitably be part of the solution - so they will fine-tune their ears and eyes to find moderation among terrorists even as they routinely find extremism among the Israelis who truly want real peace.

But Klein's attempt at sleigh-of-hand in the paragraph above shows in detail what others do more subtly, day in and day out, when looking at Israel and her Arab neighbors.

Followup: Bin Laden is a moderate!