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Checking for Hamas under the bed

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    Checking for Hamas under the bed By Rolf Ernst Monday, 07 May 2007 http://mastersofwar.org/content/view/39/2/ Yeshiva and Tufts University graduate Matthew
    Message 1 of 1 , May 8, 2007
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      Checking for Hamas under the bed
      By Rolf Ernst
      Monday, 07 May 2007

      Yeshiva and Tufts University graduate Matthew Levitt is one of a
      school of prominent terrorism experts en vogue these days both in the
      media and before congress. Levitt shares this standing with other
      renowned individuals such as journalist Steven Emerson (author,
      resident MSNBC terrorism expert 1 with predictably yearly
      congressional testimonies and living in hiding) and Alan Dershowitz (a
      regular expert witness for the prosecution in a number of
      Palestine-related terrorism trials and author of 'Why terrorism works').

      What Levitt has in common with these self-professed experts is that
      despite the fact that their work has been widely discredited 2 they
      continue to enjoy the unwavering trust of the media, congress and law

      Levitt joined the Washington Institute for Near East Policy (WINEP) in
      2001. The Institute, a brainchild of former AIPAC research director
      Martin Indyk 3, has been most famous for its mantra to "resist
      pressures for a procedural breakthrough" 4and ardent rejection of the
      so-called road map. This and previous administrations on the other
      hand have unilaterally embraced this concept as the ultimate peace
      objective in the Israel/Palestine conflict. Still, Martin Indyk
      himself was once recklessly appointed by president Clinton as National
      Security Council Middle East adviser, one in the long line of AIPAC
      protégées directly involved in shaping U.S. Foreign policy.
      Surprisingly so, since AIPAC's heads and staffers (Lawrence Franklin
      affair, et al.) have not only been accused of but convicted on charges
      of espionage for the state of Israel 5.

      It is a bit puzzling that in spite of WINEP's opposition to the road
      map, the foreword to Levitt's book was written by none other than
      Dennis Ross, one of WINEP's distinguished fellows. What is even more
      surprising is that Ross's anti-road-map position made him 'U.S. point
      man on the peace process in both the George H. W. Bush and Bill
      Clinton administrations' 6. Could this explain at least some of the
      failures of the road map?
      The Washington Institute's influence is tremendous, partly by
      operating as an AIPAC wing 7, lending academic credibility to AIPAC's
      otherwise partisan rhetoric. It has gained further power through the
      conflation of interest with neo-conservative think-tanks like the the
      American Enterprise Institute, the Project for a New American Century,
      the Jewish Institute for National Security Affairs (Jinsa), and the
      Centre for Security Policy (CSP) 8. The shared agenda is possibly best
      demonstrated by the fact that a variety of WINEP's scholars such as
      Michael Rubin and Joshua Muravchik work(ed) for both, sometimes

      The American Enterprise Institute, of course, is Richard Perle's lair
      9. The connections between this cabal run too deep to be explored
      here. As an example let me mention the 1970 investigation of Richard
      Perle on espionage charges for Israel 10. Richard Perle hired neo-con
      Douglas Feith after he was fired from the National Security Council
      right into the Pentagon. Like Perle, Paul Wolfowitz was investigated
      on charges of espionage for Israel in 1978 11. The list goes on and
      the loyalty to Israel is obvious. The question begs: 'Who really runs
      this country's Middle East policy'?

      Levitt's book continues WINEP's tradition of dishing up apocalyptic
      views on Islam and its devious plans for the end of civilization. His
      300+ page volume 'Hamas: Politics, Charity and Terrorism in the
      Service of Jihad' is heavily footnoted and essentially a reflection of
      Israel's paranoid perception of Middle East dynamics.

      To successfully dismantle the book's carefully crafted message, spun
      atop hundreds of factoids, often removed from their original context
      and reconstructed in a way as to reinforce the Levitt-specific
      interpretation, would take a book in itself. Instead, it can be better
      understood by analyzing its cosmology.

      According to Levitt, a 70+ year old Islamist conspiracy has lain in
      waiting, clothing the poor and feeding the hungry in Palestine via the
      Muslim practice of 'dawa', only to recruit them decades later as
      brain-washed suicide bombing zombies. For him, Islamism, the desire to
      establish a state based on religion not that much unlike Israel or
      even an America imagined by some evangelical Christians, possesses a
      sort of supernatural capacity for evil conspicuously absent in the
      other two religions.

      Levitt obsesses with an almost psychotic search for an ultimate,
      profound, omnipotent and omnipresent connection of literally
      everything and everyone in Palestine and terrorist masterminds.

      Nothing escapes his acute observation and powers of research: Zakat
      committees, mosques, morgues, schools (lower and higher education),
      associations in the community, of women, the elderly, academics – he
      presents an endless list of 'infiltrated organization'.

      The book is hardly meant to be fully read by a casual American
      audience: For that it is much too detailed. Instead, it is written to
      impress with a stream of hundreds if not thousands of references,
      litanies of facts with a precision that can only leave the reader with
      the conclusion that the academic attire of this work authenticates its
      authority. It elaborates in painstaking detail on large sums of money
      down to the dollar, distribution percentages down to the fraction of a
      percent and thousands of aid recipients to the individual. Albeit
      overwhelming, here is also where the author stumbles: While Levitt
      manages to name 9 supposedly Hamas-related recipients of aid of a U.S.
      based 'Hamas front', he apparently overlooks that these constitute
      less than half a percent of the total recipients (a figure he leaves
      up to the reader to calculate).

      His prerogative of 'guilty unless proven innocent' may cost his
      publisher, Yale University Press, as KinderUSA, one of the smaller
      Muslim charities left in the U.S. and accused by Levitt of wrongdoing
      (what exactly this wrongdoing is he leaves up to the imagination of
      the reader), just filed a libel suit against the Press.

      This book is not about Hamas or terrorism: It is guided by an almost
      religious zeal to paint the picture of a war between good and evil in
      which Israel can do no wrong and Islam represents an occult threat
      that only complete eradication can defuse.

      The underlying racism is always palpable. Be it aid to Palestine's
      needy or legitimate resistance against Israel's brutal military
      oppression - Levitt knows no distinctions. In his pathological
      world-view the nations of the world, including the United Nations,
      particularly UNWRA 12, have seemingly banded together to unleash
      unspeakable terror 13 (even if the only evidence is the demonstrable
      use of a vehicle).

      At times this unawareness of Israel's own capacity for terror is
      almost comical: When chronicling Al-Rantissi's life (a Hamas leader
      extrajudicially assassinated by Israel), he refers to 'Rantissi's
      family move 14 from Jaffa to a refugee camp in Gaza after the
      establishment of Israel'. (Hint: The Rantissis fled Israel's Junta as
      a consequence of its expulsion doctrine). These euphemisms are only
      eclipsed by his demonic characterizations of apparently trivialities:
      He 'exposes' that 'Abu Ahmad taught Tawil how to use e-mail for
      publicity and communication purposes but also to maintain contact with
      Khaled Mishal and other senior Hamas political officials in Lebanon
      and Syria' 15. (Hint: He showed Tawil email, not quite as sinister
      sounding as Levitt would like for it to come across).

      Levitt's book draws heavily on reports of interrogations of purported
      Hamas members by the Israeli security apparatus. This is the same
      Gestapo that brought the world the famous technique of the
      'Palestinian hanging', causing extreme pain, dislocation of the joints
      and occasionally death of the victim 16. (Israel's security forces
      continue the practice of torture today in spite of an adverse Supreme
      Court ruling17).

      Levitt carelessly mixes information extracted via torture with
      official records or public statements. His greatest sin is possibly
      the lack of distinction between serious research, anecdotes and often
      sensationalist propaganda. It is not that Levitt does not know his
      subject matter extremely well. What bothers me is the nonchalance with
      which he perpetuates his half-truths.

      Levitt apparently sees no connection between Israel's state-sponsored
      18 terrorism, brutal occupation and the resulting reaction. He lapses
      and alludes to this circumstance in a single paragraph, though
      comfortingly assuring his readers that the Palestinians find
      themselves only in an 'unfortunate' situation. Wagging the finger he
      tells us that this lack of fortune isn't reason enough to sufficiently
      radicalize Palestinian society on its own. (I failed to find a degree
      of psychology in his pedigree, though).

      To an extent, the book reads like 'The Illuminati in Palestine' but
      one should not overlook its political implications or ignore this
      work. His contention that practically all aid to Palestinians funds
      terror plays directly into the hands of Israel's right-wing Likud
      party and its American branch office AIPAC 19.

      As Israel's human-rights violations eventually did not escape the
      American eye during the Lebanon war in spite of all mainstream media
      efforts, rationalizing the terror Israel inflicts on the Palestinian
      people employs pseudo-academic science eerily reminiscent of eugenics.

      The book's purpose would not be fully served if it failed to address
      U.S. private aid to Palestine in detail. After all, when Israel as
      occupying power fails to meet its international obligations to protect
      the civilian population 20, when the civilian population is then
      literally starved through AIPAC lobbied legislation, 21 private
      charities and NGOs represent a final, thin lifeline 22. Levitt is
      doing his part to set the stage for cutting it.

      His book shows disturbing similarities with Steven Emerson's material.
      Both Emerson and Levitt 'consult' with the FBI's counterterrorism
      investigations. Dale Watson's (yes, the FBI's Executive Assistant
      Director of Counterterrorism and Counterintelligence who apparently
      was not required to have experience 23) seems to have had his
      underlings craft a replica of Emerson's phantasmagoria into the famed
      'Watson memorandum' 24 leading to the dismantling of several Muslim
      charities. The same memorandum then found its way directly into the
      indictment papers of the Holyland Foundation for Relief and
      Development (HLFRD) 25, the most significant U.S. charity providing
      aid for Palestine.

      Emerson's same accusations (he also alleged the Oklahoma bombing was
      the work of Islamist terrorists in 1995 26) find their way into
      Matthew Epstein's testimony before congress 27. Matthew Epstein is the
      assistant director of the 'Investigative Project', founded by none
      other than Steve Emerson himself. Emerson, of course, a tireless
      speaker at AIPAC conventions.

      Matthew Levitt picks up where Emerson's latest yarn ends (and not
      surprisingly we find Levitt right after finishing the book promoted 28
      to deputy assistant secretary for intelligence and analysis at the
      U.S. Department of the Treasury. Accomplishment or AIPAC?

      This book is agit-prop at its best. For an America whose thirst for
      terror-conspiracies is unquenchable, where bin Laden is a household
      name and lurks in every corner, the doctor is in. At a time where
      Israel's propaganda powers are waning in light of the picture of
      corpses in Qana, Levitt finds new ways to solicit support for the
      Likud agenda, all in the name of security and the ghost of terror.

      The infiltration of law enforcement and policy-making by a pro-Israel
      lobby that keeps re-inventing itself in new and remarkable, seemingly
      authoritative, ways, undermining the American justice system and peace
      in the Middle East is disconcerting, to say the least.

      Levitt's book is a small step for AIPAC but spells even greater
      suffering for Palestine.

      1 2005: Looking back at the year in terror
      http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/10651609/ or better
      MediaMatters analysis http://mediamatters.org/items/200408050003

      2 Steve Emerson, Profile, http://rightweb.irc-online.org/profile/3770,
      Fairness & Accuracy In Reporting
      Steven Emerson's Crusade, Fairness in Accuracy in Reporting (FAIR),
      January 1999
      "The prime-time smearing of Sami Al-Arian" Salon.com, By Eric
      Boehlert, Salon.com,
      'Beyond Chutzpah", Norm Finkelstein, University of California Press;
      (August 28, 2005)

      3 Source Watch,

      4 MERIP, Pro-Israel Hawks and the Second Gulf War, April 6, 2006

      5 USA v. Steven Rosen and Keith Weissman ("The AIPAC Case"): Selected
      Case Files, Project on Government Secrecy,
      http://www.fas.org/sgp/jud/aipac/index.html. Franklin was sentenced in
      2006 to thirteen years in prison.

      The Scandal is Bigger Than AIPAC, Alternet, August 12, 2005,

      6 Washington Institute for Near East Policy, expert bio,

      7 "Informed Comment", Juan Cole, president Global Americana
      Institute, August 28, 2004

      8 The Israel Lobby and U.S. Foreign Policy, John Mearsheimer, Stephen
      Walt, Chicago University, p 21.

      9 American Enterprise Institute,

      10 Washington Post, Wednesday, August 24, 2005; Page A15

      11 Ibid., quote from Washington Report on Middle East Affairs,
      December 2004.

      12 United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in
      the Near East

      13 Pp 95,ff, The logistics of terror

      14 P 37, Terror and the Hamas Political Leadership

      15 P 47, Terror and the Hamas Political Leadership

      16 See literally every Amnesty International yearly report on Israel
      since 1985. See various reports of the United Nations Special
      Rapporteur on Torture.

      17 B'Tselem May 2007, Joint report with Hamoked, The Torture and
      Ill-treatment of Palestinian Detainees

      18P 107, the goal of radicalization.

      19 For Likud connection see Washington Report on Middle East
      Affairs, April 1994, p. 31.

      20 Middle East Report 217, International Law and the al-Aqsa Intifada

      21 Palestinian Anti-Terrorism Act, H.R. 4681 – details at

      22 The Palestinian NGO Sector: Development Perspectives, Vol. 12, Nr.
      1, 2005

      23 FBI Admits Terror Experience Not Required for Top Jobs, AOL News,
      June 20, 2005,

      24 Holyland Foundation for Relief and Development, To Richard
      Newcomb, Director Office of Foreign Assets Control, from Dale Watson,
      Assistant Director, Counterterrorism Division, November 5,2001 here

      25 United States of America vs. Holyland Foundation for Relief and
      Development (http://news.findlaw.com/cnn/docs/hlf/ushlf72604ind.pdf)

      26 Steven Emerson's Crusade, Fairness in Accuracy in Reporting
      (FAIR), January 1999

      27 Matthew Epstein Before the United States Senate Judiciary
      Committee Subcommittee on Terrorism, Technology, and Homeland Security
      "Saudi Support for Islamic Extremism in the United States", September
      10, 2003

      28 Washington Institute for Near East Policy, expert biography,



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