A couple of weeks after publishing an op-ed by Hamas spokesperson Ahmed Yousef, the New York Times continues to present Hamas in the best possible light. In an article today, Isabel Kershner and Taghreed El-Khodary seem disappointed that
Hamas’s role in securing the release of Alan Johnston, the kidnapped BBC correspondent, was not enough to warrant any immediate change in policy toward it, Western and Israeli officials said today.
While Hamas, the more radical of the two main Palestinian factions, presented the release as proof of its ability to restore order in Gaza now that it is solely in control there, Western and Israeli officials said it would not translate into international recognition and support for the group — which the United States, Israel and the European Union still classify as a terrorist organization and formally boycott…
Nevertheless, Hamas has undoubtedly improved its image and gained some measure of respectability with Mr. Johnston’s release.
What actually happened was that Hamas, finding the time ripe, made some kind of deal with the criminal Dagmush clan and the related “Army of Islam” group (which may or may not be one and the same), and produced a typical Pallywood movie sequence, surrounding the Dagmush compound where Johnston has been held, and ‘forcing’ his release.
Johnston, a BBC journalist quite friendly to the Palestinian cause, was held for almost four months in what apparently started as a ransom scheme — the BBC having very deep pockets. If the BBC did pay for his release, they are of course not saying. But Hamas expertly orchestrated the release of Johnston, who was taken to a photo-op with Hamas leader Ismail Haniya before finally being allowed out of Gaza.
The Times also implies that Hamas has had success in bringing ‘security’ to Gaza:
“I feel extremely secure,” said Mona Bseiso, 43, a lawyer who works for the Palestinian Authority in Gaza City, and whose husband works for the intelligence service. “We are Fatah,” she said, but since Hamas took over, ”there is no theft, no crime and there are no bullets.”
Of course she is comparing the situation today to the nasty little civil war immediately preceding the Hamas takeover, in which Hamas guerrillas roamed the streets and settled scores, crippling and killing opponents, especially those associated with Fatah.
The piece ends with a filler, perhaps intending to contrast the clean, honest, secure atmosphere in Hamastan with a corrupt Israel:
In Israel, the parliament approved a cabinet reshuffle of ministers from Prime Minister Olmert’s Kadima party. Haim Ramon will serve as vice premier in place of Shimon Peres, who was elected to the largely ceremonial post of president; and the former interior minister, Ronnie Bar-On, will serve as minister of finance, replacing Abraham Hirchson, who resigned because he is under criminal investigation, accused of embezzlement in a previous position.
Mr. Ramon had previously resigned as justice minister, and recently performed 120 hours of community service after he was convicted of forcibly kissing a female soldier. [my emphasis]