Tuesday, June 19, 2007

The Objectionable Smell of Blowback

In Sunday's Outlook section, Warren Bass wrote a short profile of Hamas, and about the competition between it and Fatah which has now boiled over into a Palestinian civil war. For some reason, however, while noting that Hamas grew out of the Palestinian Muslim Brotherhood, he did not mention the role that Israel played in cultivating the Brotherhood as a pan-Islamic alternative to the secular nationalist Fatah. While the true extent of Israeli support for the Brotherhood is not known, that it took place is not questioned. Sari Nusseibeh, whose memoir Bass recommends, writes about this in some detail, noting that while the Israel occupation authorities harassed and detained Palestinian activists of every stripe, Sheikh Yassin and his organization were left strangely unmolested, as Brotherhood-run social services and study centers went up at a peculiarly high rate throughout the territories. In addition to being rather relevant to Hamas’s story, you’d think that a bitter irony such as this, Israel now frantically trying to prop up Fatah against Hamas as it earlier propped up Hamas's precursor against Fatah, would be attractive to any writer.

Curious at why Bass ignored this low hanging fruit, I wrote and asked him about it. He responded that because of “limited space” he was not able to include every little bit of information on Hamas than he might have wanted. You will notice, however, that he devoted some of this very precious space to referencing a satirical Onion article about Hamas. Heh, indeed.

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