Other Blogsites published by the Institute for Media Ethics

  • Disinformation and Xenophobia in the Western Media
  • Disinformation and Xenophobia in the Middle East Media
  • Issues Raised by Journalists
  • Wednesday, February 01, 2006

    Dissinformation and the Hammas Charter

    In covering the elections in Palestine and the subsequent victory of Hamas many commentators have identified as a founding principle of Hamas the "obliteration" of the State of Israel, and some have alluded to the 1988 Hamas Covenant in support of this.

    We thought it a good idea to draw everyone's attention to the text itself, and in as reliable a format as we think available. Please find the link below to an English translation of the Hamas Covenant available at the open source site 'Wikisource'.


    It should be noted that the quotation mentioning the "obliteration" of Israel is a quotation from a Imam Hassan al-Banna, the founder of the Mulsim Brotherhood, not of Hamas. While the distinction is small, Hamas states clearly at Article 2 that it considers itself an armed wing of the Muslim Brotherhood, it is notable. More importantly, this quotation is not contained in the body of the text of the Covenant (it does not appear in any of the Articles). The significance of this is to be debated, and perhaps only becoming clear when we see the actions of the Hamas leadership over the coming months.

    The Government of the State of Israel, in the run-up to the elections in Palestine, released a statement containing the following:

    "Hamas' charter states clearly that "It strives to raise the banner of Allah over every inch of Palestine ... Israel will exist and will continue to exist until Islam will obliterate it." (Art. 6)"

    The manner of presenting this quotation is at best inaccurate. As you will see, it takes the wording of Article 6 "It strives to raise the banner of Allah over every inch of Palestine ..." and joins it with the quotation from the prologue to the Covenant set out above. It then attributes the whole quote to Article 6.

    Nothing said here goes to deny the various statements of Sheikh Yassin and Rantissi indisputably supporting and / or inciting the destruction of Israel, or indeed that there are sections of the Covanent that call for armed "jihad" against "Jews" (Article 7, Article 15). We just thought that on the "obliteration" point, the misquoters should be put right.


    Richard Yorke, Policy Advocate
    The Next Century Foundation


    Anonymous Davis said...

    I find myself gripped by disbelief with a substantial dash of anger, that NCF is examining the semantics of an Israeli statement in this context. We are all keen on accuracy, but there is a time and a place. The passages are both from the covenant, what difference does it make where? And if you are so keen to explain the exact origins of Hamas’ stated genocidal intent, where are the passages about the Jews causing the French Revolution, First World War, and Zionists founding your local Rotary Club? These words kill.

    Tue Feb 14, 04:57:00 pm GMT  
    Anonymous Alastair said...

    (Fm Beirut). This exercise really has not a great value. Hamas distanced themselves from the language of the Charter as early as '89. Their recent election platform and Mishaal's press conference are the points of reference now.

    Tue Feb 14, 05:05:00 pm GMT  
    Anonymous Richard said...

    Firstly, Alastair, thank you for your comments as regards Hamas distancing themselves from the Charter and the exact manifesto that they were elected on. These require more investigation, especially following the Israeli elections, to evaluate correctly where and how Hamas can be dealt with. It is a shame that these were not investigated more thoroughly by the British press in their coverage of the Hamas victory.

    Davis, thank you also for your words. The intentions behind the piece were not to exercise semantics or to incite anger. I am not a historian myself, but as a lawyer, a great deal of my time is spent considering the meaning of relevant documents. From a lawyer's point of view, the fact that a given phrase appears in a pretext as opposed to in the body of a document often has great significance when interpreting its meaning.

    More fundamentally, the elision of sources and their re-quotation is a dangerous game in my view, and one that requires highlighting and correction wherever it occurs. I'm afraid I cannot agree that there is "a time and a place" for accuracy. Especially where government statements are concerned, we should not be prepared to settle for anything less.

    Wed Mar 01, 06:27:00 pm GMT  

    Post a Comment

    << Home