Why did the Guardian change a headline originally suggesting Hamas culpability?

Nabila Ramdani’s essay at ‘Comment is Free’ (Israel’s Gaza bombardment has put Palestine at the top of the agenda, Nov. 23), about the aftermath of the Gaza war arrives  at quite predictable conclusions about the war’s effect on the region.

After offering a soft critique of “Rockets being fired into Israel from the Gaza Strip” (remember these words) and “the bombing of a bus [in Tel Aviv]”, Ramdani writes that Palestinians in Gaza are an “oppressed, forsaken people” who were “killed and maimed by the Israeli bombardment of Gaza”, which she characterizes as the US backed “Israeli war machine.” She further suggests that Israeli behavior in the war was “barbaric”.

Ramdani contextualizes the violence in a manner suggesting that the Palestinian casualties during the war has placed the ‘Palestine’ question in the front of the Arab Spring agenda:

The oppression of the Palestinian people regains its status as the most pressing problem in the Arab world today. [emphasis added]

This claim, however, is simply risible in light of the events she chooses to ignore: the daily murder and brutality in Syria which has claimed over 400,000 lives, or the increasingly dictatorial powers assumed by Egypt’s new President (dashing the hopes that anything resembling a democracy will take hold in that country) and the extreme poverty, underdevelopment and political backwardness which plagues the region.   

If the Arabs decide that continuing to feed their malign obsession with Israel is more important than the requirements of their own political progress, it will have signaled that the Arab Spring has failed miserably.

As thoughtful critics have maintained since the uprisings have begun, democracy is more than elections and revolutions. Democracy is a cultural habit which must be nurtured and, even in the best of circumstances, requires time to take root within the body politic.  In the Arab world true liberal democracy will require that they find a way to  stop scapegoating Jews and Israel and take responsibility for their failures and disappointments.

The decision by a plurality of Palestinians in 2006 to vote for Hamas – a religious extremist movement opposed to human rights and democracy, and opposed to peace with Israel – was a politically destructive act, and represented further evidence of the social and political pathos plaguing their society.

Every rocket fired by Hamas at Israel, and every attempted cross border attack or effort to kidnap Israeli soldiers represents continuing impediments to peace, Palestinian development, prosperity and freedom.  

The continued attacks by Hamas also ensure an Israeli response, which, in turn, takes the media focus away from Hamas’s failures and onto the desired narrative of ‘Israeli oppression’ of Palestinians. 

Interestingly, the original title of Ramdani’s piece implicitly acknowledged the cynical exploitation by Hamas.

First, here’s how it looks now:

However, here’s a cached version of the original title, published on Friday and evidently revised on Saturday.

The truce between Hamas and Israel would suggest that the rockets will be quieted for a while, but don’t expect the peace to last too long.  

Hamas’s temptation to engage in aggression which they know will end up sacrificing the lives of Palestinians, thus ensuring sympathetic coverage from a pliant media which wants desperately to avoid holding Palestinians responsible for their own failures, will be too great to resist. 

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