In today's world, news travels fast and, aided by social media and omnipresent video devices, is unbound by borders. Audiences are exposed to material devoid of context, and their perceptions are exploited and manipulated for political purposes.
Such is the case of Nour and Safa Hawash (Falls Church mosque holds Israel responsible for attack on staff members, Fairfax Times, March 22nd, 2019) who at a press conference in Falls Church alleged being attacked and arrested, for no reason, when Israeli security forces closed the Al Aqsa Mosque/Temple Mount complex on March 12th.
What was not reported is that the complex was closed after two Palestinian protestors threw Molotov cocktails at a police station located on the premise, causing one police officer to suffer smoke inhalation injuries. The Molotov cocktail attack took place as part of protests against the closure of the Mercy Gate, a structure on the Al Aqsa mosque grounds, that Israeli officials closed amid allegations it was being used by supporters of the terrorist group Hamas to store weapons and organize violent disturbances (Temple Mount shuttered after firebomb thrown at police post, Times of Israel, March 12th, 2019).
It is unsurprising that the Hawash press conference failed to address these facts, considering its organizers: Dar al-Hijrah Mosque, where the Hawash sisters are employed as communications staff, the Council on American Islamic Relations (CAIR), and the American Muslims for Palestine (AMP).
All three organizations are linked by a shared history, founded by individuals the U.S. government has alleged were linked to supporting the terror group Hamas in the United States.
In the case of Dar Al-Hijrah, the U.S. government linked early mosque leaders Abelhaleem Hasan Abdelraziq Ashqar, Mohammad Al-Hanooti, and Ismail Elbarasse to a conspiracy to finance and support Hamas (Facing New Realities as Islamic Americans, Washington Post, September 12th, 2004).
CAIR was identified by the FBI as a front organization created to support Hamas in the media according to testimony during the 2008 Holy Land Foundation trial. (FBI: CAIR is a Front Group, and Holy Land Foundation tapped Hamas Clerics for Fundraisers, Dallas Morning News, October, 2008)
AMP was likewise founded by individuals who were linked to the Hamas fundraising network by the U.S. government during the Holy Land Foundation trial, according to expert testimony before U.S. Congressional committees. (Israel Imperiled: Threats to the Jewish State, House Foreign Affairs Committee: Subcommittee on Terrorism, Nonproliferation, and Trade and the Subcommittee on the Middle East and North Africa, April 19, 2016).
Is it a coincidence that these organizations with shared historic ties to Hamas came together to promote a one-sided narrative which foments tensions between Palestinians and Israelis?
News consumers must be cautious about those who manipulate our understanding of events for their own purposes while misstating facts and hiding their affiliations and agendas. When reading the news ask yourself, "Who wants me to believe this story, and why?"
Kyle Shideler is the Director of the Counter-Islamist Grid, an initiative of the Middle East Forum (MEF), which identifies and tracks domestic Islamist groups.