I used to enjoy Mehdi Hasan’s work at The Intercept. He’s incredibly articulate, he does his research and all that thinky stuff, and he does not tolerate “both sides”-ism or bullshit. He’s climbing his way up the ladder of the media heirarchy, so he’s moved on from The Intercept to his own show on MSNBC.

Something else I was looking for on Youtube caused its algorithm to feed up an oldish piece by Hasan, which I remembered from when it came out, but had forgotten about it. I think it’s worth posting a link.

Spoiler: Hamas is a creation of Israel, the same way that Al Quaeda was a creation of the US CIA. And by “the same way” I mean: checks were written – this is not just a story of a power vacuum being filled. Oh, no, it’s more like a power vacuum being created in order to divide and rule. Sound Familiar?

It has been very convenient for Israel to be able to say “… But Hamas!” and Mehdi explains why. I’ve fact-checked his story and it appears that he’s not lying, though I am sure someone would immediately gainsay him. After all, when you’ve got folks like Sam Harris saying “… But Hamas!” as the reason they don’t criticize Israel, it’s pretty obvious that the maneuver worked. Just about as well as the US’ similar maneuver with Al Quaeda and later ISIL. Authoritarian regimes like to have a bad guy that they can use to keep the right fear-level in effect.

Give Mehdi a chance:

I was in college, and accepting the popular propaganda narratives about Israel, and my initial learning about Palestine and Israel came from the occasional bit of rock-throwing at Yasir Arafat. I remember many times that he was described as “a terrorist” which was funny as hell because, I did not know at the time, that Menachem Begin – the founder of Likud and eventually Israeli Prime Minister – was also the founder of Irgun. Irgun was the group of terrorist Jews who helped drive the British out of Palestine by sniping at them, bombing barracks, and even capturing and torturing British soldiers. So, “it takes one to know one.” I remember at one point that Arafat, who at the time was an elected leader of the Palestinian government, was being cornered in his office by Israeli tanks – quite the “gunboat diplomacy.” If you want a good conspiracy theory, you can look into the details of Arafat’s death and decide for yourself whether he was murdered or not. He had been murdered, politically, years before. Arafat never accomplished anything as dramatic as the Irgun’s bombing of the King David Hotel [wik] which killed 91 people and wounded 46. It was a hotel, but it was justified as a military target because the British had some office space there. Plus ca change, n’est pas?


  1. anat says

    Try reading Begin’s ‘The Revolt’. He was proud of being called a terrorist. It meant he was having impact.

    (In the 70s there were Israeli performers who among other things had a skit where a veteran of the pre-state days is being interviewed. In the late 1970s after Begin became PM, they made the veteran a member of ‘the underground’. When asked about the bombing of the King David hotel they guy responds that they only bombed the lobby, the rest fell on its own.)

  2. jrkrideau says

    Well Al Qaeda got its military start as a CIA-funded group attacking Afghanistan as basically did most or all of the original Taliban.

    Israel creating Hamas seems par for the course. Short term gain for long term pain. Though what the devil the Israelis thought they were doing supporting a branch of the Muslim Brotherhood….

    I think a lot of intelligence services should be required to read the fable of King Log and King Stork every morning before starting work. Who was that Imperial Russian minister who claimed the Empire needed a nice victorious little war back in 1904?

  3. StevoR says

    @ ^ jrkrideau :

    FWIW my google-fu, such as it is, says that was Vyacheslav Plehve, Head of the Tsarist Police force and Imperial Russian Minister of the Interior. Plus authoritarian douche :

    Plehve’s foreign policies backed aggressive ventures that helped provoke the Russian-Japanese War of 1904 – 1905.This conflict grew out of the rival imperialist ambitions of the Russian Empire and the Empire of Japan over Manchuria and Korea. In January 1904, Russian General Alexey Kuropatkin reproached Plehve for instigating the Russian-Japanese war and cooperating with political crooks. Plehve responded: “Alexey Nikolaevich, you don’t know Russia’s internal situation. To avert a revolution, we need a small victorious war.” His quote is often cited as an ironical commentary about the governmental policy of trying to distract people’s attention from the failure of internal politics through an external war.

    Emphasis added.

    Source :

    Vyacheslav Plehve’s wikipage notes that he was both an accessory to anti-Jewish pogroms and also :

    “In August 1903 he met with Theodor Herzl in Saint Petersburg, discussing the establishment of Zionist societies in Russia and proposed a Russian government request to the Turks to obtain a charter for Jewish colonisation of Palestine.[4]”

    Plehve was assassinated in July the following year. I vaguely gather that the later NKVD / KGB were modelled on the Tsarist police in what could, just maybe, be described as a “blowback” of its own? They set a very bad precedent and model there anyhow.

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