- There is a widespread claim that “Israel has helped establish Hamas”
- It was repeated by an Israeli journalist on Bret Weinstein’s Dark Horse podcast.
- She was repeating a rumor.
- US Intelligence is behind that rumor.
- US Intelligence is conducting anti-Israeli psychological warfare.
The other day, Bret Weinstein said the following:
Brett Weinstein: … Because we [the little people] are left only with the evidence we can see and the ability to extrapolate, I think we have to [extrapolate]. And we are bound to get some stuff wrong. And what we have to do is just commit—as we discover that we have got something wrong—to fix it.
That’s a statement I can get completely behind. It’s the kind of thing that Bret says that makes me love him. And I do love him: I follow him faithfully, listen to all his podcasts, agree with every moral position he has ever defended, consider him indispensable to the fight for the West.
Immediately after what I quoted above, most ironically, Bret’s guest made a claim that needs fixing, so I am going to invoke the principle that Bret defended, and I am sure that he will make the needed correction if I have made a proper presentation.
Here’s what happened next:
Brett Weinstein: But I want to go back to something you said at the beginning which struck me as important and potentially relevant. You said that Hamas was in some way a creation of Israel or words to that effect. I don’t want to put words in your mouth…
Indeed, Bret and his guest, independent Israeli journalist Efrat Fenigson, had earlier exchanged the following:
Brett Weinstein: … describe as best you can what Hamas is, for people who, uh, you know, know the name [‘Hamas’] but little more.
Efrat Fenigson: So, it’s hard to say this, but Israel has helped establish Hamas, early on. I think it was 1967 when it [Hamas] started. And, um, Hamas was, at the beginning, a movement, and with, with time, it received more and more power, and more and more—um—influence and—uh—incentives from different powers around the world. Iran was one of them. Israel was one of them, for a while. Qatar… I mean there were different messengers that were using Hamas as a—um—tool to spark conflicts with Israel.
I have nothing against Fenigson. She seems like a fine person. And I found her contributions in that interview—when she was talking about her own experiences as a soldier—mostly interesting and valuable. But anybody can get something wrong. My interest is in getting the facts right.
Fenigson said something remarkable: that “Israel has helped establish Hamas, early on.” Indeed, she claimed that “Israel was one of them,” meaning one of various “powers around the world,” which she calls “messengers” (that might be a problem with translation), “that were using Hamas as a … tool to spark conflicts with Israel.”
One may read this to mean that Israel was attacking itself. Perhaps Fenigson didn’t mean it that way. But I am just quoting her, and she can certainly be read that way. But even if Fenigson doesn’t mean to say that Israel was attacking itself, she certainly did claim that “Israel has helped establish Hamas, early on,” and also that Israel sponsored it for a while.
This is quite serious, because when people around the world hear that “Israel has helped establish Hamas,” many think: “Well, then Israel had it coming.”
So my question is: Does Fenigson have any evidence for her astonishing—and in PR terms, so damaging—claim? The answer is no. When Bret asked for details, Fenigson herself quickly confessed that, no, she didn’t really know anything about this:
Brett Weinstein: … You said that Hamas was in some way a creation of Israel or words to that effect. I don’t want to put words in your mouth. Do you want to describe what the early relationship that you were alluding to is …
Efrat Fenigson: Yes, I would love that, but I am no expert in that. So I don’t want to say things that are wrong and, uh, I want to be responsible here because there is a history about it I need to go back and look at my notes and read more about it before I answer this. Uh, I know that Israel was the one that sponsored and created the organization and with—with the different administrations that have changed during the years that were different relationships with this organization but again I don’t want to bring the details because I don’t have them on me and, and as I said, I’m not an expert. So I—I don’t want to go into it too much.
Clearly, this is not Fenigson’s area of expertise. In fact, she said Hamas was created in 1967 (see her first quote, above), which is completely wrong. A quick Wikipedia search would have settled that one. Hamas was founded twenty years later, in 1987, during the First Intifada.
Chronology—as they say—is the backbone of historiography. If you can’t get your dates right, you can’t get causality right.
Fenigson’s public confession of ignorance is in itself laudable. More people called upon to play the role of ‘expert’ should be this forthcoming when out of their depth. Point for Fenigson. And yet, her otherwise impeccable display of humility is marred by her stubborn insistence—expressed, remarkably, in the middle of her confession of ignorance—that “I know that Israel was the one that sponsored and created the organization.”
Whew! And that’s quite the accusation she is making. So I ask: Should one insist on making accusations of such caliber and gravity, and with such confidence, while confessing, in the same breath, that one has no real knowledge of the subject? (Fenigson didn’t even know when Hamas was created.)
I believe Fenigson caught herself and confessed her ignorance because, when Bret asked for specifics, she realized she was repeating a rumor. She had absolutely nothing with which to back this up. It seems obvious she just… heard it from someone (who no doubt said it with strong conviction). And indeed this rumor, always confidently stated, has been circulating for many years.
I don’t have too many readers, and Fenigson can be forgiven for not being among them, so she doesn’t know that I debunked this rumor long ago. But now seems like an opportune time to revisit the evidence on this immortal lie, considering the present horrors authored by Hamas in Israel (may the Lord console us).
This exercise is useful not merely to correct a widespread lie, but also
- to reflect on how what passes for ‘journalism’ normally works;
- to comment on how it should work;
- to explain how certain impressions of the State of Israel are created for the public at large;
- to examine the consequences of that for our Western culture; and
- to shed some light on the role of US-Intelligence operatives in this type of media operation, because US Intelligence has a long history of attacking Israel.
This, then, will be a useful exercise (it’s lengthy; I think it’s worth it).
First, a recent example
I need to do something fresh or this gets boring for me. Also, fresh means relevant to our present moment. So let us first examine how this undying rumor is getting recycled yet again today.
Just two days after Fenigson’s interview with Weinstein, the Indian publication FirstPost (created by something called ‘Vantage’) published an article with the headline: ‘How Israel helped create Hamas that it’s fighting today’ (sic).
This, by the way, is an institutional editorial—it’s “The Vantage Take,” as announced in the piece. And for further institutional effect and gravitas, the piece doesn’t sport a byline. Meaning this: Vantage has stuck its neck out and wagered its institutional prestige on these claims.
The body of the article states:
“We know the supporters of Hamas—the likes of Qatar, Iran and the Hezbollah. But in the 1960s and 70s this list included another country—Israel. We know it sounds surprising, but it’s true. Many experts say Hamas is Israel’s creation. Allow us to explain.”
Notice the confidence again: “we know.” And notice the attribution to “many experts,” which is intimidating because experts (they tell me) know stuff.
But can FirstPost name just one expert? Apparently not. And why not? If the experts exist, they should be named. That is basic journalistic and scientific professional ethics.
Yes, I understand that FirstPost is hardly alone in violating journalistic and scientific ethics. If I had a penny for every time the hallowed New York Times has made a claim about reality based on sources that, like the FirstPost experts, “preferred to remain anonymous,” I would be inviting Elon Musk over for a drink in my intergalactic, wormhole-thrusting jet to make him feel bad about his tiny chemical rocket. But just because the New York Times and everybody else violate the most fundamental journalistic ethics does not make it right—it’s still wrong.
Anybody can simply make up multitudes of nonexistent experts in alleged support of a false claim by writing the phrase “many experts.” So the only way to control for this problem—and this should be obvious—is to have a journalistic standard that says: ‘When the support for a claim is an alleged expert, or an alleged witness, the name of that person must be provided.’ Because then a skeptic can investigate certain questions. Such as: Does this alleged expert a) exist?; b) have any relevant expertise?; c) stand by the reported claim?; and d) have any evidence to back it up?
This standard applies especially when making an extraordinary claim—for example, that “Hamas is Israel’s creation”; or, what is more extraordinary still, that Israel was among the “supporters of Hamas … in the 1960s and 70s.”
That’s a bombshell, and the FirstPost editors know it: “We know it sounds surprising, but it’s true.”
I can agree with the first part: it certainly “sounds surprising”—indeed it does—that “many experts” should claim that Israel was supporting Hamas in the 1960s and 70s. You know why? Because Hamas was created in 1987!
So what are these “many experts” specializing in? Not calendars…
And such insouciance with basic chronological facts, and with the effects of such facts on questions of causality, does not inspire much confidence in those who accuse Israel of creating Hamas.
But notice now how, after making this claim that cannot be true, this claim that any child can refute with a 15-second Wikipedia search, and which is nevertheless confidently attributed to nameless multitudes of experts, there follows the smug segue, rich with confident swagger: “Allow us to explain.”
And here below (bear with me) is that explanation:
“Gaza wasn’t always under Hamas rule. Until 1966, it was ruled by Egypt. Back then, there was no place for radical Islamists, some of them were executed by Egypt. But in 1967, Gaza changed hands. The Arab-Israeli war was fought that year and Israel gained control of Gaza. There Israel encountered a wheelchair bound Islamist, Sheikh Ahmed Yassin. He would go on to found Hamas.
Israel meets a charity worker
In 1967, Israel didn’t make much of him. They thought he was interested in running schools and hospitals, sort of like a charity worker. But they did like one thing about him—Sheikh Yassin hated the Palestinian Liberation Organisation (PLO). The PLO, led by Yasser Arafat, was a coalition that officially represented the Palestinian people. Israel couldn’t stand the PLO and Arafat. Their charter called for the destruction of Israel, and they carried out attacks and hijackings. So, Israel wanted to weaken the PLO.
Enter Sheikh Yassin. He too couldn’t stand the PLO, but his reasons were different. While Arafat claimed to be secular and nationalist, Yassin wasn’t. He was an Islamist. So the classic equation was at play here—your enemy’s enemy is your friend—and Israel helped Yassin and company.
The birth of Hamas
What happened next is detailed by a former Israeli official. Yassin had created a group called Mujama and Israel recognised it, that too as a charitable group. They also allowed him to create the Islamic University of Gaza. Today, it’s considered a hotbed of radicalism. In fact, Israel attacked the university yesterday. They called it an important Hamas military centre.
So, when did Israel realise its mistake? When it was too late. In 1984, Israel arrested Yassin. He was found storing weapons, which should have been a red flag, but Israel ignored it. They considered him to be the lesser threat. So the next year Yassin walked out of jail. And in 1987, he formed Hamas.
The setting was perfect for him because 1987 was also when the first intifada started—a major Palestinian uprising. He used those sentiments to try and gain popularity and by the 1990s he succeeded.”
Let’s dig in, shall we? (Bon appetit!)
First, perform with me the following experiment: What happens if we accept everything that FirstPost has written above as true? Does it then mean that “Hamas is Israel’s creation”? Absolutely not.
Please note: I am not standing by anything asserted by FirstPost—let’s be clear about that. I am merely asking this question: Is the rest of what FirstPost writes even consistent with their accusation that “Hamas is Israel’s creation”?
They write that in the 1960s Israeli spies “didn’t make much of [Yassin].” According to FirstPost, they saw him as a holy man: “They thought he was interested in running schools and hospitals, sort of like a charity worker.” And Yassin was opposed to the PLO/Fatah terrorists—even better. So “Israel helped Yassin and company,” writes FirstPost.
The claim, then, is this: Israeli bureaucrats helped a man they considered to be an anti-terrorist charity worker. Not something to be ashamed of.
But did they really help him? How? FirstPost explains:
“What happened next is detailed by a former Israeli official. Yassin had created a group called Mujama and Israel recognised it, that too as a charitable group [sic]. They also allowed him to create the Islamic University of Gaza.”
The above is communicated on the authority of a nameless source that anyone can make up. And it’s “a former Israeli official,” as if this were some kind of tremendous insider revelation.
But even supposing this alleged “former Israeli official” really exists, he or she said nothing more than this: Israeli bureaucrats registered Yassin’s charity (they “recognised it”). Is that help? No. Registering a charity that someone put together is just what a government does. It’s paperwork; not help.historia
And if Yassin wanted to create a university, why shouldn’t Israeli bureaucrats allow it and process that paperwork too? According to FirstPost, they thought he was a charity worker.
We have, then, the claim that Yassin created a charity and a university, and the claim that the Israeli government—which believed Yassin to be a charity worker—did nothing more than process the paperwork involved in the creation of those two institutions, as it would have done for any other charity or university.
So far in this FirsPost narrative, Israeli bureaucrats haven’t created anything, nor have they done anything underhanded, and Hamas does not yet exist. But this is all supposed to count as evidence in support of the claim that “Hamas is Israel’s creation.”
Next, the editors write:
“In 1984, Israel arrested Yassin. He was found storing weapons, which should have been a red flag, but Israel ignored it. They considered him to be the lesser threat. So the next year Yassin walked out of jail. And in 1987, he formed Hamas.”
This needs to be corrected.
First, it certainly was a red flag that Yassin was storing weapons. And Israel did not ignore it. That’s why Yassin was in jail.
Second, the FirstPost editors make it seem as though Israeli authorities just let Yassin out in 1985. But it was not like that at all. Yassin walked out of an Israeli prison, along with many others, as part of the 1985 Jibril Agreement, in exchange for the lives of 39 hostages from TWA Flight 847, hijacked by Palestinian terrorists en route from Athens to Rome.
(I must note parenthetically—because it is necessary—that this entire attack against innocent civilians happened because the Palestinian terrorists gambled—correctly—that the Israeli Jews would care enough about foreigners to pay for those lives with a greater risk to their own, since the Palestinian terrorists released from the jails were professional murderers of Jews.)
Now consider the context: among the prisoners released in the Jibril Agreement were some accomplished mass murderers, such as Kozo Okamoto, a Japanese mercenary in the service of the Palestinian terrorists who had killed 26 and injured 80 in a frightful attack at Lod (now Ben-Gurion) Airport near Jerusalem. At that time, compared to Okamoto and some other stalwarts released in that prisoner-hostage exchange, Yassin was small fry—a nothing. He hadn’t even killed anyone. They’d found him storing some weapons—big deal.
Israeli authorities had no special reason to imagine that including Yassin among the prisoners released in 1985 would lead to the creation of Hamas. They are not clairvoyant.
So what have the FirstPost editors gotten from their alleged and nameless “many experts” and the alleged and nameless “former Israeli official” to support their extraordinary claim that “Hamas is Israel’s creation.”
Okay, but where does all this come from, originally?
My original investigation into this, years ago, was prompted by a reader of my earlier website Historical and Investigative Research (which continues to exist as an archive). This reader asked me the following question:
“Dear Mr. Gil-White,
Please walk me through this article.
Do you concur that it is a foregone conclusion that Israel founded and continues to fund Hamas?
The article—dated 18 June 2002—that Mr. Stehly was referring to, and which he kindly sent me, was from the wire service UPI (United Press International), published in the context of a 2002 confrontation between Hamas and Israel:
‘Analysis: Hamas history tied to Israel’; United Press International; June 18, 2002; by RICHARD SALE.
That UPI piece is still online and has yet to be corrected. In terms of impact, this has been a most important piece. It was—at least originally—quite convincing to Mr. Stehly (notice he was under the impression that it was a “foregone conclusion that Israel founded and continues to fund Hamas”!).
As far as I have been able to ascertain, this UPI piece is the original source for FirstPost’s (and everybody else’s) claim that “Hamas is Israel’s creation,” now become a ‘cultural commonsense’ so that today even some heads of State (here is one recent example) repeat the claim as if it were obviously true, referencing nothing—not even this problematic UPI piece (or anything else).
So what I did for Mr. Stehly and for all my readers back then was go through the UPI piece and see what support I could find therein for the claim that “Hamas is Israel’s creation.” I have reworked that material below.
It was US Intelligence that accused Israel
Here is what the UPI wire says at the top, by way of summary:
“Israel and Hamas may currently be locked in deadly combat, but, according to several current and former U.S. intelligence officials, beginning in the late 1970s, Tel Aviv gave direct and indirect financial aid to Hamas over a period of years.”
Remarkable. UPI is reporting that “beginning in the late 1970s, Tel Aviv gave direct and indirect financial aid to Hamas.” Only one problem: Hamas was created in 1987. Oops.
But let us charitably forgive this and ask: Does UPI have any evidence that Israel gave “direct and indirect financial aid to Hamas” at any time?
I shall now reproduce every single phrase (I will not skip a single one) in the UPI wire that refers to one of its claimed sources, and I shall consider each alleged source in turn. Let’s see how well UPI does.
I start by grouping five alleged sources that fit into the same broad category.
- “…according to several current and former U.S. intelligence officials.”
- “a former senior CIA official”
- “One U.S. intelligence source who asked not to be named”
- “According to U.S. administration officials”
- “a U.S. government official who asked not to be named”
The old pattern again: unnamed official sources that anybody can make up.
What is the difference, really, between accepting claims of alleged but unnamed official sources and accepting someone’s alleged mystical inspiration or divine communication? If claims cannot be verified, the media is a Church and we its faithful believers. It’s idolatry, really.
Anyway, one thing is clear: UPI is attributing the accusation to US Intelligence.
But look: three names!
UPI does give three names. That’s good news for everyone. Here’s one:
- “Israel ‘aided Hamas directly…’ said Tony Cordesman, Middle East analyst for the Center for Strategic Studies.”
The beauty of having a name is that the credibility of the witness can be investigated. But unless it is investigated, the Fourth Estate is a complete fiction. UPI gave its readers zero information on whether Tony Cordesman is credible. So let us do the work that UPI neglected.
First, UPI got the name of Cordesman’s employer wrong: it’s the Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS). This outfit bills itself as an “independent not-for-profit organization.” Thus, when Richard Sales, the author of the UPI wire, quotes Tony Cordesman, he gives the impression of acting as a dutiful Fourth Estate, seeking information from sources outside State officialdom.
But is CSIS really ‘independent’ from government? Take a look at Cordesman’s CV:
“He has previously served in the Office of the Secretary of Defense, the National Security Council, the State Department, and the Department of Energy. Dr Cordesman also served as the national security assistant to Senator John McCain
He has been awarded the Distinguished Service Medal by the Office of the Secretary of Defense. During his career, he has held assignments in the U.S. embassy in London, the U.S. embassy in Iran, and in official assignments elsewhere in the Middle East. Dr. Cordesman also served as a consultant to the Royal United Services Institute (RUSI), worked on force planning and net assessment in the NATO International Staff, and held a position as an analyst on security developments in China and Asia.
[Cordesman] has served as a consultant to the Departments of State and Defense during the Afghan and Iraq wars. He served as part of General Stanley McChrystal’s civilian advisory group during the formation of a new strategy in Afghanistan and has since acted as a consultant to various elements of the U.S. military and NATO.”
Now ask yourself: On what planet does it make sense to declare Anthony Cordesman independent of the US government? Not on planet Earth.
To anyone not in a coma, it should be obvious that Cordesman is a US-Intelligence agent. Indeed, an earlier version of his CSIS bio stated that he once functioned as “director of intelligence assessment in the Office of the Secretary of Defense” and that he “directed the analysis of the lessons of the October War for the secretary of defense in 1974, coordinating U.S. military, intelligence, and civilian analysis of the conflict.”
Cordesman is hardly an outlier at CSIS. This entire think-tank is chock-full of creatures of the US foreign policy, military, and intelligence establishments. To begin with, “CSIS is led by John J. Hamre, who has served as president and chief executive officer since 2000” and who also “served as the 26th U.S. Deputy Secretary of Defense.”
In the past, the trustees and counselors of CSIS have included:
- a former Secretary of Defense (William S. Cohen)
- a former Assistant Secretary of State (Richard Fairbanks)
- a former intelligence-committee senator (Sam Nunn)
- a former CIA Director (James Schlesinger)
- a general who was Assistant for National Security Affairs in two administrations (Brent Scowcroft)
- another former Secretary of Defense (Harold Brown)
- a former US Secretary of Labor (William E. Brock)
- Henry Kissinger, who needs no introduction
- Zbigniew Brzezinski, former National Security Advisor in the Carter Administration and a major foreign-policy powerbroker until his death.
At present, the trustees and counselors include:
- Sam Nunn (still at it)
- Henry Kissinger (still at it)
- a former US ambassador to Israel (Thomas R. Nides)
- a former CIA and Department of Defense officer (Phebe Novakovic)
- a former White House Chief of Staff (Erskine Bowles)
- a former United States Secretary of Defense (William S. Cohen)
- a former White House Chief of Staff, and former United States Secretary of Commerce (William Daley)
- a former Administrator of the United States Agency for International Development, former Under Secretary of State for Management, and former Director of the United States Mint (Henrietta H. Fore)
- a former United States Trade Representative, former United States Secretary of Housing and Urban Development, and former United States Assistant Attorney General for the Civil Division (Carla A. Hills)
- a former United States National Security Advisor (James L. Jones Jr.)
- a former United States Trade Representative (Ronald Kirk)
- a former Secretary of Defense, former Director of the CIA, and former White House chief of staff (Leon Panetta)
- a former Assistant Secretary of Defense for International Security Affairs and former Chair of the National Intelligence Council (Joseph S. Nye)
- a former Chair of the National Commission on the BP Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill and Offshore Drilling, and former Administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency (William K. Reilly)
- a former Speaker of the US House of Representatives (Paul Ryan)
- a former United States Homeland Security Advisor (Frances Townsend)
- a former Chair of the President’s Intelligence Advisory Board (James Winnefeld Jr.)
You really must repeat to yourself that CSIS is an independent policy institute or the bios of nearly everyone at CSIS will distract you.
The other two names mentioned as sources for UPI’s claim are:
- “former CIA official Vincent Cannestraro”
- “former State Department counter-terrorism official Larry Johnson”
It’s good to have names, but a journalist should try to get them right. The first one is Vincent Cannistraro, not Cannestraro. And he is, as UPI tells us, another intelligence agent.
As for Johnson, he is a former State Department officer focused on “counterterrorism,” and “a former analyst at the U.S. Central Intelligence Agency.”
Yet another US spy.
So, as UPI aptly summarizes at the top of its wire, the accusation that Israel created and funds Hamas is basically one that US Intelligence is making.
Ordinary people distracted and numbed by the media show believe it makes sense to interview intelligence officers on what is going on in the world because, they think, spies know stuff.
And spies do. That’s certainly part of their job. But what is not part of their job is to inform you. To the contrary, spies are—by professional trade!—conmen who routinely tell lies in order to obtain information or to influence political outcomes. Indeed, as we have documented elsewhere, the National Security Act of 1947 gave US Intelligence explicit authority to corrupt and distort the media and political processes in foreign countries, and the Twitter Files is the latest demonstration (there have been others) that US Intelligence also happily corrupts the US press.
The press therefore cannot function as a check on government if it simply repeats what US spies say. And that’s what UPI is doing.
So here is the question: Might this accusation about Hamas supposedly being created by Israel be part of a broader US Intelligence policy to conduct psychological warfare against Israel?
Let us see…
Let’s get to the bottom of this
The UPI wire is full of somber judgments by US Intelligence sources that the Israelis were idiots for creating and funding Hamas. Every single time, this works as an implicit reinforcement for the reader that the Israelis really did do this—otherwise, why are these US spies so frustrated and upset? A neat trick.
But where is the beef? Where is the documentation to support UPI’s extraordinary claim and tremendous accusation: that Israel supposedly “had given aid to Hamas”? UPI offers none.
The closest thing to providing ‘support’ for the claim is the allegation of:
“a report by U.S. officials that Brig. Gen. Yithaq Segev, the military governor of Gaza, had told U.S. officials he had helped fund ‘Islamic movements as a counterweight to the PLO and communists.’ ”
Notice: the names of the alleged authors, the title of the alleged report, and the US department or agency that allegedly produced that alleged report are all omitted. Does the report even exist? Why should we believe that?
Anybody can ‘support’ a claim by attributing it to “a report by US officials.” Watch: According to a report by US officials, everything that UPI said is false. See?
And what did the accused party—Israel—have to say about this?
According to the journalistic rules of fair play, a major wire service such as UPI, whose output is used by major mainstream newspapers, TV, and radio outlets all over the world, should not make grave accusations without getting a reaction from the accused party: the Israeli government. But UPI only pretended to do this:
“An Israeli defense official was asked if Israel had given aid to Hamas [and he] said, ‘I am not able to answer that question. I was in Lebanon commanding a unit at the time, besides it is not my field of interest.’
Asked to confirm a report by U.S. officials that Brig. Gen. Yithaq Segev, the military governor of Gaza, had told U.S. officials he had helped fund ‘Islamic movements as a counterweight to the PLO and communists,’ the official said he could confirm only that he believed Segev had served back in 1986.
The Israeli Embassy press office referred UPI to its Web site when asked to comment.”
UPI approached an (again nameless!) “Israeli defense official” who knew nothing relevant and explained that this was “not my field of interest.” It’s almost as if UPI set itself up next to an Israeli defense building and interviewed—at random—the first person to walk out.
The effect of this outrageous procedure, for the distracted reader, is to make it seem as though the accusation went unchallenged. It may even seem like an ‘Israeli evasion’ (further strengthened by the Israeli Embassy’s supposed refusal to comment).
What would have been a real effort to verify the accusation made by US Intelligence? At a minimum, UPI should have interviewed “Brig. Gen. Yithaq Segev, the [erstwhile] military governor of Gaza”—or at least people close to him, whether personally or institutionally.
But hey, thanks to that passage at least we have a name! According to UPI, the alleged report alleged the existence of an Israeli official—allegedly named “Yithaq Segev”—who allegedly confessed to having funded Hamas. Having a name gives us something to investigate.
But UPI slowed me down because they can’t even get the name right: the military governor of Gaza was Yitzhak Segev (‘Yitzhak,’ the Hebrew version of ‘Isaac,’ can also be spelled ‘Yishaq,’ but apparently not ‘Yithaq’). Anyway, chasing it down, I found that UPI was lifting all of this from an article published in the Middle East Times, a now defunct newspaper owned by the Unification Church, which also owns UPI.
And here is what the Middle East Times wrote:
“Brigadier-General Yitzhak Segev, then military governor of Gaza, told the New York Times how, during 1979-84, he financed the Islamic movement as a counter-weight to the PLO and Communists: ‘The Israeli government gave me a budget, and the military government gives [money] to the mosques.’ ”
Notice that the phrase “Islamic movement” is from the Middle East Times, not from Segev. What Segev is quoted as saying is that he gave money “to the mosques.” Why interpret that as “Islamic movement”? Is it because it sounds almost identical to Islamist (read: jihadist) movement? Do they want people to think ‘Hamas’?
But you can’t put Hamas in there, no matter what you do, because, according to the Middle East Times, Segev was giving money to mosques “during 1979-84,” and Hamas was created in 1987.
And, anyway, it cannot even be true that Segev told the New York Times that he gave money to mosques in the period “1979-84,” because Segev spoke to the New York Times in 1981.
Again: chronology is the backbone of historiography.
We must now get to the bottom of this, and that means consulting the NYT article that reported interviewing Yitzhak Segev.
Ground zero: the New York Times
The NYT article is chock-full of surprises.
First of all, Hamas terrorists are nowhere mentioned in the NYT piece. Does that make sense? It sure does. The piece is from 1981 and Hamas—did I mention this?—was created in 1987.
So what was General Yitzhak Segev doing?
First, some historical context. For years prior to the 1967 war, Israel suffered attacks against Israeli civilians from the Jordanian and Syrian borders. This was organized by Gamal Abdel Nasser, the leader of the Arab League. Nasser meanwhile promised an impending Arab genocide of the Jews: “ ‘We shall not enter Palestine with its soil covered in sand,’ he said on March 8, 1965. ‘We shall enter it with its soil saturated in blood.’ ” And in a speech to the Arab Trade Unionists on May 26, 1967, right before the war, he announced: “The battle will be a general one and our basic objective will be to destroy Israel.”
But the Arabs lost. Nasser couldn’t exterminate the Israeli Jews. And the Arab states in fact lost territory. For Egypt, this meant all of Sinai and of course the Gaza Strip. Israel established a military government over Gaza.
In the year 1979, Anwar el Sadat of Egypt and Menachem Begin of Israel signed a peace treaty. It worked like this: Egypt promised to stop trying to exterminate the Israeli Jews; in exchange for this, mere words on paper, Israel gave the Sinai back to Egypt. Oh yes, and to reward Egypt for putting some meaningless words on a paper, the United States government committed to sending billions of dollars every year to Egypt, in perpetuity, so that Egypt could arm itself to the teeth (which it needs to do, of course, because it will never again try to exterminate the Israelis).
But Egypt didn’t get Gaza.
The relationship between Egypt and Israel was a big topic in Gaza because Gaza borders Egypt and had only recently been ‘part’ of Egypt, if illegally. There was a lot of controversy inside Gaza over the peace treaty with Egypt. Many Arabs in Gaza were against. Others were for. For this and many other reasons there was a lot of violence between factions in Gaza.
So in 1981, which is shortly after the signing of the peace treaty, the NYT went over to Gaza and interviewed the Israeli military governor, Yitzhak Segev, to see how things were going there. Segev described the difficult situation that he was charged with improving:
“ ‘For the last thousand years, all life here [in Gaza] existed without democracy,’ General Segev tried to explain. ‘There are no elections. The people are afraid of each other like animals. There is a stream supporting the P.L.O. Many P.L.O. leaders are from here. The father of Abu Jihad (a leading P.L.O. official) lives here. There is a stream supporting Jordan. The other stream supports Egypt and supports the peace treaty [with Egypt].’ ”
What was this “other stream [that] supports Egypt and supports the peace treaty”? As it turns out, it was led by the Imam of Gaza. The New York Times explained:
“The most significant political killing after the signing of the Israel-Egypt Peace Treaty in March 1979 came three months later, on June 1, when Sheik Hashim Huzandar, known as the Imam of Gaza, was killed near his home after leading a delegation to Cairo to endorse President el-Sadat’s program of peace. He had been warned. The P.L.O. took responsibility for the murder.”
Hm. Interesting. What is an Imam?
“An Imam is an Islamic leadership position. It is most commonly in the context of a worship leader of a mosque and Muslim community by Sunni Muslims.”
So in 1981, long before the invention of Hamas, we have that a Muslim religious authority, a leader of the mosques of Gaza, a man of such importance that he was popularly identified with the entire territory (the Imam of Gaza), was at the forefront of the pro-peace movement. For this, the PLO/Fatah terrorists—flush from their recent success putting Ayatollah Khomeini in power—murdered this man, the Imam of Gaza.
That’s an important context, because Segev is supposed to have said that he was funding mosques, and, at that time, the leader of the mosques in Gaza wanted peace with Israel.
But weren’t there any religious extremists in Gaza? There were. And they were participating in the crazy violence that was plaguing Gaza, making Gazans “afraid of each other like animals.” In this context, the beleagured Israeli authorities could at least be grateful for some “cooperation with Israeli security” by the drug smugglers in Gaza, as Israeli authorities badly needed information to help control the internecine violence. But such cooperation was offensive to the jihadists, and drugs are forbidden in Islamic law, so, wrote the Times, “General Segev believes that the murders [of the drug smugglers] were committed by fanatic religious extremists.”
Immediately following that, the Times wrote:
“But the Islamic fundamentalists are also receiving some Israeli aid, General Segev said. ‘The Israeli Government gave me a budget and the military government gives to the mosques,’ explained the general, who was a military attaché at the Israeli Embassy in Teheran before the Islamic revolution there. The funds are used for both mosques and religious schools, with the purpose of strengthening a force that runs counter to the pro-P.L.O. leftists.”
Did you notice? Here we go again…
The New York Times writes “Segev said” after a phrase that does not belong to Segev. The phrase “Islamic fundamentalists are also receiving some Israeli aid” belongs to David K. Shipler, the New York Times writer. What Shipler quoted Segev as saying was something else:
“The Israeli… military government gives to the mosques.”
Is this the same thing as giving aid to “Islamic fundamentalists” (read: fanatical religious extremists who murder drug smugglers)? Obviously not.
Why would the Menachem Begin government give money to the fanatical religious extremists then murdering the drug smugglers who furnished valuable intelligence on the violence of the fanatical religious extremists? That makes no sense.
Yitzhak Segev was quoted as saying that “The Israeli… military government gives money to the mosques.” To the mosques. Does that make sense? Moral sense?
In 1981, in Gaza, yes, it did. Because the most important religious authority in Gaza, the leader of those mosques, the Imam of Gaza, had just led a delegation to Cairo to support the peace treaty with Israel, and had gotten murdered for it by PLO/Fatah. So, at that time, the mosques in Gaza were (bravely) supporting peace.
Menachem Begin’s Israeli government was obviously supporting the mosques as a move for “strengthening a force that runs counter to the… P.L.O.”—because PLO/Fatah obviously wanted war.
(This must be said: it was right after murdering this man, Huzandar, the Imam of Gaza, for merely wanting peace that PLO/Fatah was reinvented as the ‘partner for peace’ with Israel, a testament to how deftly reality is managed for everyone.)
What Yitzhak Segev stated to the New York Times cannot be interpreted to mean that Israel had a policy of fomenting Islamist extremism, much less Hamas terrorism. Once again: Hamas did not even exist at that time.
This is important: I should not be read to be saying that any criticism of the Israeli government is illegitimate. What I am saying is that the Israeli government did not create Hamas.
Your reality is being managed
To what end?
Well, if they tell you that Israel created Hamas, your brain, trained by centuries of antisemitism, thinks: Well, then the Israelis deserve the Hamas violence.
See how that works?
And that, I believe, is the point. US Intelligence is conducting psychological warfare against Israel.
I have re-posted the Middle East Times piece in full below. It has the following reference.
“Policy Blunders That Spawn Terror”; Middle East Times; 9 November, 2001; by Dilip Hiro, London.
Now, the Middle East Times no longer exists. Nobody even owns the URL www.metimes.com anymore.
However, the article was reposted by Dawn, which, according to Wikipedia, is “the largest English newspaper in Pakistan, and also serves as the country’s newspaper of record.” This phrase, “newspaper of record,” which is how the New York Times talks about itself, is meant to telegraph that Dawn is the New York Times of Pakistan.
Dawn reposted the Middle East Times piece here:
Just in case the article should disappear also from the Dawn website, we reproduce it below:
[Article from Middle East Times begins here]
LONDON: While waging its war against the Taliban, the United States is actively promoting the anti-Taliban Northern Alliance as the major – if not sole – alternative. But the record of the eight-year-old Alliance is an unpalatable one.
Washington has blundered often in its Afghanistan policy since 1979. Its decision in 1980 to back Islamic fundamentalist Afghans, ignoring the secular, nationalist groups opposing the Soviet-backed leftist regime in Kabul, produced the Afghan Mujahideen – and its progeny, Osama bin Laden and Al Qaeda.
Though the title Northern Alliance today applies principally to the ethnic Tajik-dominated political formation in a small north-eastern enclave of Afghanistan, it was originally coined by Gen Abdul Rashid Dostum, an ethnic Uzbek and leader of the National Islamic Movement.
After consolidating his control of six north-western provinces of Afghanistan (out of 31), he began calling himself ’President of the Northern Alliance’ in 1993. Dostum, 47, is a chameleon-like character. He started out as a Communist union chief at a gas field constructed by Soviet technicians. Following the Soviet military involvement in Afghanistan from December 1979, he was told to establish an ethnic Uzbek militia. By the mid-1980s, it was 20,000 strong.
After the Soviet withdrawal in 1989, he actively helped leftist leader Mohammad Najibullah retain power. But in March 1992 he switched sides and went over to the seven-party Afghan Mujahideen Alliance. Najibullah fell the next month.
Dostum served briefly in the Mujahideen government headed by Burhanuddin Rabbani, an ethnic Tajik. Soon he broke away to become President of the Northern Alliance, with his capital in Mazar-e Sharif. He enriched himself and set up an airline, Balkh Air, which did not last. In August 1998, the Taliban defeated him, and he took refuge in Turkey.
In March 2001 he returned to Afghanistan and nominally joined the Northern Alliance, which by then had become almost totally Tajik. Given the record of flip-flops, his statement that if the Taliban were overthrown, he would accept President Rabbani’s orders must be treated with great scepticism.
When Soviet troops went into Afghanistan in late 1979, there were several secular and nationalist Afghan groups opposed to the Moscow-backed Commu-nists, who had seized power in a military coup 20 months earlier. Washington had the option of bolstering them and encouraging them to ally with the three hardline Muslim factions, two of them monarchist.
Instead, it beefed up the three radical Muslim groups there. Moderate Islamic leaders saw no option but to ally with hardliners, which led to the formation of the radical-dominated Islamic Alliance of Afghan Mujahideen in 1983.
The main architect of this US policy was Zbigniew Brzezinski, National Security Advisor to President Jimmy Carter. A virulent anti-Communist of Polish origin, he saw his chance in Moscow’s Afghan intervention to rival his predecessor Henry Kissinger as a heavyweight strategic thinker.
It was not enough to push Soviet tanks out of Afghanistan, he reasoned. It was also an opportunity to export a composite ideology of nationalism and Islam to the Soviet Union’s Muslim-majority Central Asian republics in order to destroy the entire Soviet order.
With this in mind, a US-Saudi-Pakistani alliance set about financing, training and arming Afghan and non-Afghan Mujahideen, an enterprise that lasted almost a decade. But though the Soviets left and the American involvement ended, the programme of training and financing assorted Mujahideen to fight holy wars in different parts of the world continued.
It culminated on Sept 11 when three flying bombs destroyed the World Trade Centre in New York and damaged the Pentagon in Washington DC. Washington is not alone in foisting such short-sighted policies. Israel made a similar mistake in regard to the Palestine Liberation Organisation – a secular nationalist body.
With the PLO emerging as the dominant force in the occupied Palestinian territories in the mid-1970s, Israel decided to encourage the growth of an organization known as the Islamic Centre, based in the Gaza Strip. Brigadier-General Yitzhak Segev, then military governor of Gaza, told the New York Times how, during 1979-84, he financed the Islamic movement as a counter-weight to the PLO and Communists: “The Israeli government gave me a budget, and the military government gives (money) to the mosques.”
The mosques to which Segev channelled government cash were the ones run by the Islamic Centre. In 1980, when Muslim radicals burnt down the Red Crescent Society building in Gaza city, a body funded indirectly by the PLO, the Israeli army looked the other way. The Israeli army and intelligence complicity was later confirmed by Moshe Arens, Israel’s defence minister in 1983-84.
“There was no doubt that during a certain period the Israeli governments perceived it [Muslim radicalism] as a healthy phenomenon that could counter the PLO,” he wrote in his memoirs.
- [MOR NOTE: Once again, the same trick. Moshe Arens did not say “Muslim radicalism.” This is obvious from the fact that the Middle East Times inserted those words in brackets (the brackets belong to them). The newspaper is putting words into Moshe Arens’ mouth.]
When the first Palestinian intifada erupted in December 1987, the leaders of the Islamic Centre established Hamas, the acronym of Harkat Al Muqawama Al Islami, Movement of Islamic Resistance. Hamas in turn set up a military wing, naming it after Izz al Din Qassam, a leader of the Arab intifada of 1936-39 against the British mandate in Palestine. Hamas has since proved to be unrelenting opponents of the Israeli military occupation of the Palestinian Territories – more so than the PLO.
Now things have come full circle. The rather unreliable Gen Dostum is being encouraged by the US to recapture Mazar-e Sharif. And the ‘war against terrorism’ is spawning a revival of activity in Egypt by al Gamaat as well as the more extreme Al Jihad Al Islami, which is allied to Osama bin Laden’s Al Qaeda.
[Article from Middle East Times ends here]
For years prior to the 1967 war, there were terrorists attacks against Israeli civilians from the Jordanian and Syrian borders, while Gamal Abdel Nasser promised an impending Arab genocide of the Jews.
“…Syria used the Golan Heights, which tower 3,000 feet above the Galilee, to shell Israeli farms and villages. Syria’s attacks grew more frequent in 1965 and 1966, while Nasser’s rhetoric became increasingly bellicose: ‘We shall not enter Palestine with its soil covered in sand,’ he said on March 8, 1965. ‘We shall enter it with its soil saturated in blood.’ ”
SOURCE: Sachar, H. (1979). A History of Israel: From the Rise of Zionism to Our Time. NY: Alfred A. Knopf. (p. 616).
To get an idea of Nasser’s mood and intentions immediately prior to the 1967 war, consider this speech which the Egyptian President gave to the Arab Trade Unionists on May 26, 1967
“If Israel embarks on an aggression against Syria or Egypt, the battle against Israel will be a general one and not confined to one spot on the Syrian or Egyptian borders. The battle will be a general one and our basic objective will be to destroy Israel. I probably could not have said such things five or even three years ago. If I had said such things and had been unable to carry them out my words would have been empty and worthless.
Today, some eleven years after 1956, I say such things because I am confident. I know what we have here in Egypt and what Syria has. I also know that other States Iraq, for instance, has sent its troops to Syria; Algeria will send troops; Kuwait also will send troops. They will send armored and infantry units. This is Arab power. This is the true resurrection of the Arab nation, which at one time was probably in despair.”
Then, in 1967, the Arab countries surrounding Israel mobilized, staging a provocation. Israeli foreign minister Abba Eban went on an emergency trip seeking French, British, and American aid. He got nothing.