BY HUGH FITZGERALD
Republished below in full unedited for informational, educational, & research purposes.
The New York Times has a new reporter, even worse than those already covering Israel and the Palestinians. She is Raja Abdulrahim, who, when a college student, was helped by financial aid from CAIR, and she has remained loyal to that organization, an unindicted co-conspirator in the country’s largest terrorism financing trial. She has a special sympathy for Hamas, about which she has had nothing bad to say, and now that she works for the Times, her opinion pieces, masquerading as news reports, carry much greater weight. More on Abdulrahim’s sympathetic coverage of Hamas can be found here: “The New York Times’ Gift to Hamas,” by Tamar Sternthal, CAMERA, April 23, 2023:
In 2019 and again in 2022, Gaza residents launched the “We Want to Live” campaign, protesting Hamas corruption, taxes, and policies that condemn citizens to a life of poverty.
Whenever Hamas leaders want more money, they simply impose a new tax – on gasoline, on heating oil, on electricity, on food. Few dare to openly protest; on a few occasions when Gazans have been pushed to public protests, they have been clubbed into submission by the bullyboys of Hamas. Some protests dramatically show the depth of their immiseration: Gaza merchants were recently filmed dumping their produce as a protest of a heavy Hamas tax crushing Gazans struggling to make ends meet, making them unable to buy the products that the merchants had to sell.
But Hamas, it seems, can count on The New York Times’ Abdulrahim to be more compliant than ungrateful Gaza residents. Indeed, Abdulrahim’s 1200-plus word article highlighting the dire financial situation of the Gaza Strip does not mention Hamas once, a glaring omission sure to have brought great holiday cheer to the territory’s repressive regime (“As Gaza Celebrates Eid, a Gift for Women — and a Duty For Men,” in print April 21).
Since her university days, Abdulrahim was groomed to provide coverage favorable to Hamas. As a student sponsored by CAIR (the Council on American-Islamic Relations, whose executives were unindicted co-conspirators in the United States’ largest terror finance case in history), Abdulrahim defended anti-Israel terror groups, denying that Hamas and Hezbollah are terror organizations that have murdered innocent Israeli civilians. Now, as a Times reporter, she churns out propaganda on behalf of Palestinian terrorists, justifying CAIR’s long-ago investment in the young writer.
Two weeks after the 9/11 attacks, Abdulrahim, then a student at the University of Florida, defended Hamas and Hezbollah in a letter to her campus newspaper, the Independent Florida Alligator, denying that Hamas and Hezbollah are terrorist organizations. The Sept. 26, 2001 letter stated: “I decided to respond to Guy Golan’s letter (‘Jews must help all Arab people’) from Monday’s Alligator because he erroneously refers to Hamas and Hizbollah as ‘fundamentalist’ and ‘terror organizations’ that have ‘murdered innocent Israeli civilians.’”
Her latest lengthy feature [in the New York Times] in service of Hamas, covers in great detail the coastal territory’s enduring custom of giving cash gifts to female relatives despite severe economic hardship. “Despite economic pain, Palestinian Muslims follow a costly annual custom,” was the subheadline in the international print edition.
About the bankrupting tradition, Abdulrahim explains:
To give the eidiya [the gift given as part of celebrating Eid], some men will go into debt. Others will wait until their wives get their eidiya from relatives before turning around and using that money to give the gifts to their other female relatives.
However bad one’s financial situation is, we have to go and give,” said Mr. Helles’ father, Hamid al-Abid Helles.
Abdulrahim stresses the wretched state of the impoverished people of Gaza, who don’t even have enough money to buy the presents they are required to give to female relatives at Eid. Some go into debt to pay for the Eidiya gifts they will give, while others wait until their own female relatives receive their Eid gifts, and then they re-purpose them, sending them as their Eid gifts to others. We are made to feel keenly the economic pain of the Gazans. But Abdulrahim has no intention of putting the blame for their poverty where it belongs: on the despotic regime of Hamas, which has ruled Gaza since 2007.
Hamas has caused that impoverishment in two ways. First, the Hamas leaders have helped themselves to billions of dollars in aid money, which they then squirrel away abroad, in bank accounts, on stocks, or on real estate. Abdulrahim never raises the issue of Hamas’ corruption.
While Abdulrahim tactfully refrains from mentioning the word “Hamas,” she reserves blame for the coastal territory’s bleak financial situation solely on the Israeli-Egyptian blockade, writing:
These days, coming up with the money for the eidiya is especially onerous. The 16-year-blockade of Gaza by Israel and Egypt has undermined the living conditions of more than two million Palestinians and led an unemployment rate of nearly 50 percent, among the highest in the world.
Notably, even on the narrow issue of the blockade, Abdulrahim violates the journalistic imperative to report basic information, neglecting to include even one word about the reasons for the Israel-Egyptian restrictions. In contrast, this recent AP report, which cites the Israeli-Egyptian blockade only in passing, commendably informs: “A crippling Israeli-Egyptian blockade imposed after Hamas violently wrested control of Gaza in 2007 has made it difficult for Hamas to smuggle Iranian-made rockets into the coastal enclave in recent years.”
The blockade not only prevented the smuggling by Hamas of Iranian-made rockets into the Strip, but prevented “dual-use” materials that could be used to build weapons, or terror tunnels, from entering Gaza. Abulrahim makes no mention of why Israel imposes its blockade; in her telling, it seems inexplicable and cruel.
More broadly, Abdulrahim’s pronounced pro-Hamas agenda does not leave any space to note Hamas’ responsibility for stifling the local economy by investing in terror infrastructure as opposed to economic development and social welfare.
In Gaza, Hamas built an entire network of underground tunnels (since destroyed by Israel), where its operatives and their weapons could remain hidden from the view of Israeli pilots. The men of Hamas were thus able, until recently, to move across the Strip through these tunnels without being observed. Now Israel has both located and destroyed that network of terror tunnels. These tunnels cost hundreds of millions of dollars to build, money that might have gone to schools, hospitals, and relief aid to the 65% of Gazans who now live below the poverty line. Abdulrahim has nothing to say about the spending choices Hamas has made, so scandalously indifferent to the wellbeing of Gazans.
Last May, the US Treasury Department revealed that Hamas’ Investment Office, which oversees a network of three Hamas financial facilitators and six companies, raised more than $500 million for the terror organization. “Hamas has generated vast sums of revenue through its secret investment portfolio while destabilizing Gaza, which is facing harsh living and economic conditions. Hamas maintains a violent agenda that harms both Israelis and Palestinians,” charged Assistant Secretary of the Treasury for Terrorist Financing and Financial Crimes, Elizabeth Rosenberg.
All that money, coming to Hamas from rich Sunni Arab individuals in the Gulf, from the state of Qatar, and now, too, from Iran, which has chosen to overlook sectarian differences with Hamas for the greater good of the cause – the destruction of the Jewish state — adds up to hundreds of millions of dollars a year. Where does it all go? Much of it goes to the tens of thousands of members of Hamas, who live well amidst so much poverty. And while 60% of Gazans are unemployed, Hamas members and their relatives are assured of well-paid government sinecures. Abdulrahim ignores the economic benefits of membership in Hamas, a source of great resentment among the general population.
Meanwhile. the New Arab reported in July 2022 (“‘We Want to Live’: Gazans revive popular online campaign against Hamas“):
Residents in Gaza revived a three-year-old digital campaign against the Islamic Hamas movement, blaming it for the deteriorating living conditions in the territory over the years.
Under the hashtag “We Want To Live”, thousands of Gazans, including expatriates, joined the campaign which holds Hamas mainly responsible for the economic, political and social problems in the impoverished and besieged coastal enclave….
But Abdulrahim won’t touch these folks’ stories….
Hamas runs the Gaza Strip like a Mafia family. Those who are in the family – the “made men” of Hamas — get everything they want, for themselves and their relatives, while the general population endures a steady impoverishment. At the very top are the leaders, whose colossal corruption is a constant source of resentment and rage. Just two of those leaders, Khaled Meshaal and Mousa bin Marzouk, have each managed to accumulate fortunes of $2.5 billion. In addition, 600 “Hamas millionaires,” who have been allowed to take their more modest cuts from donors’ aid of between one and a few million dollars apiece, live in luxurious villas in the Strip.
Israel, meanwhile, is doing its best to improve the economic situation of Gazans. It has increased the number of work permits for Gazans from 7,000 to 17,000 in just two years and has now gone beyond even that number, providing more than 21,300 Gazans with work permits. And Jerusalem has made clear that if conditions are sufficiently peaceful, it is prepared to increase the number of such permits further still. Israel has similarly increased the work permits for Palestinians in the West Bank to more than 120,000. With these permits, Gazans can work in Israel and earn salaries seven times greater than what they can earn in Gaza – if that is, they can find work at all in the Strip. With these salaries, the Gazans working in Israel can support large numbers of people in their extended families. In fact, the only good economic news to report from Gaza is about an increase in the number of people who can now work in Israel.
Abdulrahim must know of the online protests against Hamas, and knows of the resentment and rage against Hamas felt by so many Gazans, but she fails to report on any of that. Hamas must be very pleased with Abdulrahim’s reporting. And so, it seems, is The New York Times.