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The Associated Press Translation Guide for Gaza

Rosetta stoneLet’s run through one article and provide what the press refuses to:

Israel is methodically targeting the Hamas domain, bombing government offices, security compounds, commanders, and even Hamas-linked clinics, mosques and money changers.

Translation: Israel is methodically killing doctors and nurses, destroying medical facilities, religious houses of worship, and killing shop owners who happen to be Hamas members.

Hamas’ political and military leaders communicate from hiding places by walkie-talkie. Police patrol streets to prevent price gouging and looting.

Translation: Hamas is still providing the most basic service of government, it is making sure that people don’t take advantage of each other in hard times.

That suggests Hamas will be able to cling to power in Gaza, which it seized by force from moderate Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas in June 2007.

Accurate History: Hamas took power from Abbas after Abbas started massing troops at American and Israeli behest to get rid of Hamas, and after Hamas won a democratic election which the US insisted it participate in and then insisted be ignored, because Palestinians elected a party the US and Israel don’t like. Hamas "seized" power from a moderate whose party didn’t get a majority, and who wanted to use military force to get rid of the party who did.

The group’s leaders are demanding that Gaza’s borders be opened in exchange for calm; the territory has been largely sealed off by Israel and Egypt since the Hamas takeover.

Context: Egypt receives the second most American aid after Israel. They know better than to open the border if the US doesn’t want it opened. Plus they don’t want refugees to flood into Egypt.

A plan promoted by Egypt and the U.S. would link any opening of the borders to giving Abbas a new foothold in Gaza.

Translation: Since Abbas and Fatah can’t either win militarily against Hamas or beat Hamas in a fair election, the US and Israel will try and force their preferred leader and political party on the Palestinian people by force and by starving them into submission. Democracy is the most important thing, except when people elect the wrong party. (See Bush v. Gore.)

On Thursday, a warplane dropped a one-ton bomb on the house of Hamas strongman Nizar Rayan, killing him, his four wives and 10 of his 12 children.

Translation: do I need to translate this? Can you imagine the outrage if the same thing was done by a Hamas suicide bomber to an Israeli political leader, killing his wife and children?

The initial round of Israeli bombing wiped out key police installations, and Hamas officials say 185 members of the group’s security forces are among the nearly 400 dead. Hamas security men have slipped into civilian clothes to avoid being targeted, but still patrol the streets. Hamas’ Al Aqsa TV and radio have broadcast a toll-free number for residents to make criminal complaints.

Context: Israel’s first attacks were not aimed at military targets, but at the people keeping law and order in the streets, and the only people capable of restraining rocket attacks by non Hamas factions, making it uncertain if Hamas could any longer enforce a truce even if it agreed to one.

I have to say the AP has gotten a lot better since they sold George Bush’s war, actually. But they’ve got a long way to go before they provide their readers enough accurate information to make useful judgments, especially when it comes to politically sensitive issues like this.

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Ian Welsh

Ian Welsh

Ian Welsh was the Managing Editor of FireDogLake and the Agonist. His work has also appeared at Huffington Post, Alternet, and Truthout, as well as the now defunct Blogging of the President (BOPNews). In Canada his work has appeared in and BlogsCanada. He is also a social media strategy consultant and currently lives in Toronto.

His homeblog is at