Sky News interviews Khaled MeshaalGive Sky News' Tim Marshall credit. He tried. He really did.
Marshall went to Damascus where he interviewed Hamas politburo leader Khaled Meshaal on Sunday night. The interview is below. Sky also has a news story and Marshall has a blog post about the interview. Watch the interview, read the news story and the blog post and then I'll have a few points for you. The actual interview was much better done than either of the written posts. The full text of the interview is here, but most of it is in the videotape.
You'll note that in the interview, Marshall doesn't let him get away with too much. If Marshall were an Israeli, perhaps he would have thought to ask Meshaal what he means by 'occupation' (Hamas considers all of Israel occupied including lands liberated in 1948. Then again, so does Fatah) and what he means by civilians (both Hamas and Fatah define civilians to include all revenants and all Israeli reserve soldiers - most of the country between the ages of 18-45 - whether or not they are in uniform). Marshall accuses Meshaal of targeting children but doesn't really follow up on the accusation when Meshaal denies it. Meshaal has the audacity to ask for more accurate weapons with which he claims Hamas will no longer hit schools! Yeah, sure. But Marshall doesn't follow up on the subject.
In the news article, Marshall writes the following:
The Hamas leader appeared to question the opinion of the respected Holocaust historians.Marshall seems to miss that Meshaal is effectively denying the Holocaust. Then again, much of the world has missed that 'moderate' 'Palestinian' President
"We don't deny the Holocaust, but we believe the Holocaust, was exaggerated by the Zionist movement to whip people," he said.
"We don't deny the fact but we don't accept two issues. We don't accept the exaggerating of numbers and we don't accept that Israel uses this to do what it wants."
Those comments will infuriate Israel and Jews around the world but the Israeli government may also want clarification on the offer not to target civilians.
A deal is unlikely but it could be a way forward to a truce on Hamas suicide bombings.
On the so-called truce, there is an almost wall-to-wall consensus in Israel that there are no 'truces' with Hamas. For Hamas, a truce is an opportunity to regroup and come back at us harder. Even though the Olmert-Barak-Livni government is not willing to do what needs to be done - go into Gaza and clean out the nests of vipers - everyone agrees that the pressure must be kept up on Hamas and that it will use any lull to smuggle in more fighters and weapons under the watchful eyes of the Egyptians.
In his blog post, Marshall says the following:
Marshall is wrong. He knows very well who is right and it's not Meshaal. If the 'Palestinians' were - God forbid - to win tomorrow, it would still have cost thousands of unnecessary deaths because Israel has been trying to negotiate a 'settlement' with the Arabs (and since 1967 with the 'Palestinians') since before the State of Israel gained its independence in 1948.
Thousands had died and each year there was less and less Palestinian land to fight for. Put a map of Palestine in 1948 on a table. Then place a transparent map of what they have left in 2008 and you see the extent of the Palestinian defeat. Hamas says my logic is wrong but of course neither of us knows who is right.
Fatah is now taking the line of salvaging what they can. But Hamas fight on and when you look Khalid Mashaal in the eye, you know why. He is a true believing revolutionary who could easily have coined the phrase 'By Any Means Necessary' had not Malcolm X got there first. Of course, the Israelis and most Western governments believe him to be a terrorist.
And he's mistaken about Fatah as well. Fatah is not 'salvaging what they can.' They are trying to take what they can get now and leave the rest for later. Anyone who thinks that the day after Israel - God forbid - signs a 'peace treaty' with Fatah it will all be over is living in an alternate reality.
Even Marshall himself seems to understand that in part because he ends with the following:
I was reminded of a conversation with a Hamas chief in Gaza last summer. I gave him the 1948, 1967 spiel and he said: 'You know what, you're talking about 60 years, I don't care if takes another 100 years, but we will win.' Khalid Mashaal would agree. That's his logic.What Marshall doesn't get is that it's Abu Mazen's logic too.