This piece from the New York Times reports on Hamas boot camps in Gaza where teenagers receive military training and repeats oft-cited claims about Hamas textbooks that don’t recognize Israel. It is a one-sided depiction of an ugly reality that exists, of course, on both sides.
Having seen two major Israeli military operations in Gaza in their short lives, many of the teenagers came to this boot camp, which is run by Hamas, the Islamic militant group that has led Gaza since 2007, to prepare for what they see as the inevitable next round.
…The Futuwwa program, which was supported by the Hamas Education Ministry, followed other recent efforts by Hamas to inculcate Gaza’s youths with its militant ideology. Last year, for a required “national education” course in government schools, Hamas introduced its own textbooks that do not recognize modern Israel or mention the Oslo peace accords, which Israel signed with the Palestine Liberation Organization in the mid-1990s.
First of all, why should Hamas’s military training of Gaza youths be any more troubling to us than Israel’s mandatory military conscription of all Israeli citizens starting at age 18? We’re supposed to believe there is a qualitative difference because Hamas is a “terrorist organization” whereas Israel is a state. Obviously, this is a distinction without a difference, given that “terrorism” can come in lots of forms, including state terrorism, which Israel perpetrates all the time.
On the issue of biased Hamas textbooks which don’t recognize modern Israel, the New York Times is being negligent in its journalism. Any balanced article would have mentioned the academic study conducted last year that was, according to the Times‘s own reporting on it at the time, “unusually comprehensive,” and which found that 95 percent of Israel’s ultra-Orthodox schoolbooks don’t recognize Palestine’s borders either. They show “no borders in the land between the Jordan River and the Mediterranean Sea, implying that the Palestinian areas are part of the State of Israel,” observed Sigal Samuel at the Daily Beast’s Open Zion.
The academic study found “that each side generally presents the other as the enemy, but it undermines recent assertions by the Israeli government that Palestinian children are educated ‘to hate,'” the report explained.