Washington Babylon — February 11, 2009, 3:02 pm

An Australian Reporter’s Take on the Middle East

Interesting interview about Middle East coverage at Columbia Journalism Review with Sydney Morning Herald foreign correspondent Paul McGeough. A few excerpts:

People keep repeating that Hamas’s charter is opposed to the existence of Israel. Yes it is, but Hamas has not stood by its charter for the best part of the last ten years. Hamas has recognized the Oslo peace process, which it said it would oppose. It has taken part in democratic elections, which it has won. It has de facto recognized the two-state solution by seeking to be elected as the government of the Palestinian Authority. It has not struck outside historic Palestine; it never has. So to dismiss it as a terrorist group that has to be stamped out misses entirely the point of its position in Palestinian society.

And this:

I think if you look at the history of the last twenty years of Palestinian affairs, Fatah is the faction that consumed itself. It thrived on corruption. It represented so much of what is bad about the exercise of power in Arab societies. It wasn’t democratic; it was bullying. It was venal. And Palestinians—who, you would have to say, are one of most democratically inclined Arab societies in the region—could see that. They could see that you didn’t get a job unless your family was Fatah. You didn’t get the house. You didn’t get the car. You didn’t get your snout in the trough unless you were Fatah.

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