Assad and Meshaal speak (and we should listen)

The idea of journalists speaking to our “enemies” happens so rarely that it’s refreshing to see the exception to the rule. Too many media hacks fear being labeled as unpatriotic. Surely blindly backing the state, any state, is unhealthy.

So, here’s Charlie Rose interviewing Syrian President Bashar al-Assad and Hamas leader Khaled Meshaal and gives them the opportunity to explain the reality of the Middle East, why Hamas and Hizbollah are legitimate resistance movements and the vast importance of resolving the Palestinian issue (ending the occupation would stop resistance, argues Meshaal).

Here’s how the Israeli press reports the Assad interview:

Syrian President Bashar Assad told PBS this week that his country was not supporting Hamas and Hezbollah “out of love”.

Asked by interviewer Charlie Rose why his secular regime was supporting the Islamist movements he said, “This is one of the things that they don’t understand in the West. If I support you, that doesn’t mean I’m like you or I agree with you. That means I believe in your cause. There’s a difference.

“We support the Palestinian cause, and Hamas is working for that cause. Hezbollah is working for the Lebanese cause, so we support that cause, not Hezbollah.

When asked whether Syria was supplying Hezbollah with Scud missiles Assad said, “This is very good story by the Israelis. We told them, what evidence do you have? You are scanning the border between Syria and Lebanon 24 hours a day and you cannot catch a big missile—scud or any other? This is not realistic.

“When Israel attacked Lebanon in 2006, they didn’t know about the bunkers that they have in the south of Lebanon just few kilometers away from the Israeli forces. How could they know about the advancement that they have? These are rumors,” the Syrian president added.

“They are afraid and worried about what Hezbollah is doing. Hezbollah, like any other organization, it’s a war. When you have a war, everybody will make his position better and stronger. That’s normal,” Assad said.

And Haaretz on the Hamas interview:

Hamas political leader Khaled Meshal spoke out on Friday against American support of Israel and said that the Hamas was not against the United States but rather against its bias in favor of Israel, and stated Israel as the main obstacle to peace in the Middle East.

“We don’t have a problem whatsoever with the United States, nor with the American interests,” Meshal told U.S. broadcast journalist and acclaimed interviewer Charlie Rose. “America is a great state; it is a superpower and its right to keep its interests, but its interests shouldn’t be at the expense of others and the people of the region.”

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