It was a law designed to prosecute organized-crime outfits that were harming innocent civilians and businesses and in some cases strangling entire American cities. It was called the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act, and the law was passed in the early 1970s. It helped put an end to an era of sprawling organized-crime families, to the Mafia as we knew it.
Most Americans know the statute’s acronym, RICO, and that it allows prosecution for racketeering activity performed as part of an ongoing criminal enterprise. Such activity may include illegal gambling, bribery, kidnapping, murder, money laundering, counterfeiting, embezzlement, drug trafficking, slavery, and a host of other unsavory business practices. If a criminal enterprise commits murder and extortion, members from top to bottom can be prosecuted as if they committed the crimes themselves.
Hamas knows that much of the Western media will spin the narrative in terms of moral equivalency, at best, and, at worst, as a narrative about Israel as occupier and the Palestinian residents of Gaza as innocents — about Israel the Goliath, and Gaza Palestinians the David; about Israel the guilty power, and Gaza Palestinians the innocent casualties.
But those casualties in Gaza are not innocent. The deaths of all those women and children are not collateral damage but part of a deliberate plan — not of Israel’s design but Hamas’s.
The truth is that dead women and children in Gaza are the lifeblood of the Hamas campaign. The slaughter of their own innocents is a public-relations tactic to gain sympathy from Western media. The very same media are either predisposed to side against Israel for any reason or incapable of distinguishing between good and evil.
The latter does Hamas’s bidding by perpetuating the myth that there are two morally competing visions at war in Gaza.
But anyone with any sense knows there is no real moral equivalency between the government of Israel and Hamas. How can that be when there have been recent reports that Hamas and Islamic Jihad are transporting themselves around the streets of Gaza in ambulances packed with children? Israel, on the other hand, sends its soldiers into the streets of Gaza at great risk, and does so to mitigate civilian casualties. Israel goes to great lengths to spare innocent lives, dropping leaflets, where and when they can, warning the people of Gaza of impending strikes.
What’s Hamas’s response? So determined is Hamas to give media the story the media crave, its leaders convince their own people to ignore the warnings. Indeed, the stark difference between Israel and Hamas was summarized in one perfectly calibrated sentence by Israel’s prime minister, Benjamin Netanyahu. “We’re using missile defense to protect our civilians,” he explained, “and they’re using their civilians to protect their missiles.”
As Charles Krauthammer pointed out in a recent Washington Post column, rarely is the world presented with such striking moral clarity. The Washington Post’s editorial page actually had the guts to call Hamas’s strategy what it is: depraved.
What no one is really pointing out is the depravity of many media outlets for treating this tragic situation as something it is not. It is not a conflict between two legitimate and competing visions of life. Were it not for the Western media’s work in furthering the narrative of disproportionate retaliation, and moral equivalency, and were it not for the media’s steadfast refusal to face their own complicity in Hamas’s murderous endgame, Hamas would cease its perverse use of children and women as human shields and return to the old-fashioned strategy of using women and children as human bombs.
Even the most committed Hamas apologists can’t excuse such activity. Blaming Israel for the dead children of Gaza is a much easier moral lift.
The truth is that few in the media are pointing out their own complicity in Hamas’s overarching strategy. But then again, the media are not very good at turning the cameras on themselves — or at asking themselves hard questions. Like it or not, Western media are the point of the spear in Hamas’s plan to delegitimize Israel and destroy it. And yet the media act like innocents, as if they were witnesses rather than enablers.
One thing is certain. It’s a long-running reality-TV series Hamas is producing and directing in Gaza. It is supplying real-life victims and choreographing their deaths. And the Western media are covering the story without conveying the stark reality of the degree to which it is scripted. Indeed, the Western media are playing precisely the role that the leaders of Hamas hoped they would play, acting as the distribution arm of the terrorist organization’s snuff film.
Does anyone believe Hamas would be doing what it has been doing in Gaza if the media revealed its insidious modus operandi? The truth is that Western media have in large part been acting as co-conspirators in Hamas’s deadly endgame masquerading as an avoidable tragedy.
Sadly, it is the people of Gaza who are paying the price of this deadly alliance, along with the innocent civilians in Israel who want only to live in peace.
— Lee Habeeb is the vice president of content at Salem Radio Network. Mike Leven is the president and COO of the Las Vegas Sands and a member of the Job Creators Alliance.