How it speaks differently to Western and Arab media

Background Paper by IDF Intelligence

There are glaring inconsistencies in the messages Hamas sends to the Arab and Western media on the issues of terrorism, Israel, and negotiations. Hamas’s media strategy is to adapt its various messages to the relevant target audience: to Western media, Hamas attempts to put across a "soft" image; before the Arab media, including the Palestinian media, Hamas presents a defiant and uncompromising image (including on issues such as terrorism, the peace process, and recognition of Israel). Palestinian Prime Minister Ismail Haniya in particular presents contradictory messages in his appearances before the various media outlets.  
The following are significant examples of Hamas’s double messages:


Extreme statement (Arabic)

"Resistance is an option that the Palestinian people has adhered to in order to restore its national rights, the right of return, self-determination and the establishment of a Palestinian State." (Khaled Mashal, statement of the secretary-general of the Damascus factions, March 28, 2006).

"The Movement’s manifesto combines resistance with political action….the [government] guidelines have emerged from the womb of resistance." (Ismail Haniya, speech before the Legislative Council, March 28, 2006).

"Moderate" Statements (Arabic)

"We believe that the Palestinian arena is now affected by political conditions, just like the Israeli side. The way in which these conditions find expression is the main reason for the situation today, where no one has made a decision to calm down….there are few violations on either side."  (Moussa Abu Marzouk, Hamas Web site, April 6, 2006).

"Moderate" statements in the Western media

"Hamas never thinks about violence…Hamas in effect aspires towards peace and calm based upon justice and equality…anything which is offered to the Palestinian Authority on a political level will be considered and discussed….Hamas will look into a mechanism for conducting negotiations." (Ismail Haniya, CBS, March 17, 2006).

Recognition of Israel

Extreme statements (in Arabic)

"No to negotiations with Israel, no to recognition of Israel and no to surrender of Palestinian rights" (Khaled Mashal, Al-Rai Al-Aaam, March 26, 2006).

"One of the basic principles of the new government is not to surrender to international threats and to refuse to recognize Israel" (Ismail Haniya, Alsharoq newspaper, March 1, 2006).

"I dream of hanging up a large map of the world on my wall at home in Gaza, on which Israel does not appear"…. (Mahmoud al-Zahar, March 3, 2006).

"Moderate" Statements (in Arabic)

"The Government will agree to cooperate with Israel on many matters…in no way will it be possible to disrupt this partnership". (Moussa Abu Marzouk, Hamas Web site, April 6, 2006).

"Moderate" Statements in the Western Media

"We will respect the agreements which will ensure the establishment of a Palestinian state on the ’67 lines, as well as the release of prisoners… if Israel withdraws to the ’67 lines, we will formulate peace in stages." (Ismail Haniya, Jerusalem Post, February 25).


Extreme Statements (in Arabic)

"The new council will act to adapt the Palestinian laws to the spirit of  Islam…Hamas has placed an emphasis on the motto ‘Islam is the solution’, and this has to be reflected  in the laws that it is enacting". (Ahmed Abu Halbia, al-Ayyam, February 22, 2006).
"Moderate" statements (in Arabic)

"We will not force our views and opinions on anyone, that is our way. We will not force women to wear a veil as has been implied, and, at the same time, we will not enact laws that will violate Islamic law." (Maryam Saleh, Minister of Women Affairs, Al-Halij, March 24, 2006).

"Moderate" Statements in the Western Media

"We are committed to acting in order to improve the moral standards of our people. I hope that soon all places selling alcohol will be closed, not as a result of an order, but because there will not be any consumers." (Aziz Dweik, Secretary of the Legislative Council, Corriere Della Sera, March 1).

Negotiations with Israel

Extreme Statements (in Arabic)

"I will not meet with the leadership of the occupation, and we have those who will represent us in the visits of the prisoners" (Wasfi Kabha, the Minister for Prisoner Affairs, March 28, 2006).  

"The Palestinian security framework is not amenable to political negotiations, This is certainly not on my agenda" (Said Siam, Minister of the Interior, Press Conference in Gaza, April 2, 2006).

"Moderate" Statements (Arab media)

"I am ready to meet with my Israeli colleague… We do not see these meetings as simply meetings, if it is necessary, I do not think that there will be a problem". (Amr Mater, Minister of Finance, March 24, 2006).

"Moderate" Statements in the Western Media

"In regard to matters of day-to-day living, there are professional elements, and we will not carry out a coup on such matters…" (Said Siam, Reuters, March 23, 2006).

Terrorist Attacks

Extreme Statements (Arabic)

"Our resistance to occupation in Palestine continues, and will not cease under any circumstances….the al-Qassem Brigades will continue the march for the total liberation of the soil of their beloved homeland of Palestine, from the sea to the river." (Ahmad al-Jaabari, Hamas website, April 5, 2006).

"Moderate" Statement (Arabic)

"The military action is dependent first of all on considerations on the ground… it is related to conditions that have been agreed upon concerning the establishment of peace among the Palestinians". (Abu Abeida, Spokesman of the Izzadin al-Qassam Brigades,  Hamas website, March 6, 2006).

Moderate Statements in the Western Media

"Changes in Hamas are taking place in a gradual and measured manner. Hamas adapts political pragmatism in regard to the state and the ceasefire" (Aazi Hamad, Adviser to Ismail Haniya, March 28, 2006).