|Al-Modallal [Image Source: Der Spiegel]|
Isra Al-Modallal is a 24 year-old woman whose job today, literally, is to help Hamas change its public image. Her roots give her a boost. Born like so many self-styled Palestinian Arabs (Arafat among them) in Egypt, she attended high school in Bradford, England, the city of half a million people whose parliamentary representative Galloway, in a video-recorded rant ten days ago, embarrassingly declared it "an Israel-free zone". Living for some years in the UK, she says, was useful in helping her "to understand Western culture", for which we now have the evidence.
Al-Modallal trained in journalism at the Islamic University of Gaza ("closely associated with Hamas"), and was named in November 2013 to be head of foreign relations in Hamas' Information Ministry, evidently a newly-invented job. In an interview with a friendly media outlet, she described her mission as being to:
"address Western and Israeli media" [and to] "work to change media discourse, painting a different picture of Palestine and Gaza... The Western media has begun to realize that the Israeli media falsifies the facts, and so we have to make a great effort to debunk Israeli falsehoods." [source]On Thursday, industriously remaking Hamas' profile via some of that "media discourse", Ms Al-Modallal granted an interview via Skype to Lebanon’s al-Mayadeen TV. This was of course done in Arabic with the result that no working journalist (as far as we can tell) analyzed its content for the light it might shed on one of the world's most active terrorist organizations. Experience says the majority of those reporters who know enough Arabic are ideologically uninterested in revealing the things she said. The majority, knowing zero Arabic, are unable.
On Friday, the Middle East Media Research Institute - doing the invaluable work for which it has become famous - published an Arabic to English transcript, along with the video clip itself. Here, verbatim, are extracts of what the Hamas woman said:
- "Fewer journalists entered the Gaza Strip during this war than in the previous rounds, in 2008 and 2012. Therefore, the coverage by foreign journalists in the Gaza Strip was insignificant compared to their coverage within the Israeli occupation [i.e., Israel]. Moreover, the journalists who entered Gaza were fixated on the notion of peace and on the Israeli narrative."
- The foreign press was focused "on filming the places from where missiles were launched. Thus, they were collaborating with the occupation....
- "Some of the journalists who entered the Gaza Strip were under security surveillance. Even under these difficult circumstances, we managed to reach them, and tell them that what they were doing was anything but professional journalism and that it was immoral."
- "The security agencies would go and have a chat with these people. They would give them some time to change their message, one way or another.
- "These journalists were deported from the Gaza Strip."
And the chances that the head of the Jerusalem bureau of the New York Times who last week called claims by the Foreign Press Association of Hamas intimidation "nonsense", is going to issue an abject apology and set matters straight?