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Media Week - Springtime for Khaled; All the news that’s fit to Tweet

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Springtime for Khaled

Maybe it's the fact that Hamas' outgoing leader Khaled Meshal and Fairfax's Paul McGeough both have a penchant for beards, or that they are both persona non grata in Israel but their bromance spilled over into three separate articles in the Age and Sydney Morning Herald on March 2 and 3.

The author of the 2009 book "Kill Khalid" (which largely whitewashed Hamas and Meshal) McGeough waxed lyrical, suggesting that Meshal's moment to take over the leadership of the PLO has come.

Expressing shock that "incredibly Hamas has quit Damascus", McGeough argued that Hamas deserves to be "'rewarded' for coming to the right side in the conflict with Tehran, Damascus and the rest".

This largely ignores the fact that Meshal saw the writing on the wall, making his HQ in Assad's Syria both dangerous and damaging to the Hamas brand.

With Hamas' Gaza leadership holding onto power in the Strip since 2007 and the support of the Muslim Brotherhood next door in Egypt a more natural fit, Meshal has also become largely redundant.

Furthermore, al-Qaeda is also anti-Assad. Should we "reward" them too?

McGeough's sentimentality for his subject clearly blinds him to Meshal's actual views, bizarrely claiming that although "Hamas' embrace of a two-state solution is qualified...it implicitly recognises Israel and it shrinks the movement's ''river to the sea' territorial claims to the West Bank and Gaza".

McGeough even dismisses it as mere "rhetoric" when Meshal tells him "I say publicly, for all to know, that I reject the [West's] conditions - we will not recognise Israel. We will not renounce violence. We will not agree to all previous agreements entered into by the PLO.''

It would seem that Meshal has a new PR man desperate to assist him to come in from the cold.

All the news that's fit to Tweet

The death in an Israeli jail of 30-year-old Palestinian man Arafat Jaradat saw Fairfax's Middle East correspondent Ruth Pollard pen a story on Feb. 26 announcing his death, with a follow up the next day reporting the demonstrations in the West Bank that accompanied his funeral.

The articles noted the disagreement over the autopsy results with the Palestinian Authority claiming they showed Jaradat died from torture and Israel deeming them to be inconclusive.

But Jaradat was not the only Palestinian to die last week whilst in incarceration. Ayman Mohammad Sharif Samara, 40, died whilst being held in a Palestinian Authority jail on assault charges.

Of course, the Palestinian Authority denied any impropriety.

Fairfax readers interested in this death could read the details of the case courtesy of Pollard but not in any of the newspapers she works for.

Instead a reader would have to visit her Twitter account, which linked to an article from the Palestinian Maan news agency reporting Samara's death.

Incidentally, on Jaradat, the Canberra Times and Sydney Morning Herald (27/2) clearly decided which version of the truth they accepted, with the former selecting "‘Torture' victim's funeral focuses anger" and the latter entitling the story "Israel ‘torture' victim's funeral focuses anger".

- Allon Lee

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