THE SPINE JULY 5, 2007
Alan Johnston, having been held in captivity for four months by the Army of
Islam (what else could the Army be?) in Gaza, was released, via Hamas, to
British consular officials in Israel. Johnston immediately credited his
freedom to Hamas's program for a "law and order agenda," and, as Khaled Abu Toameh reports, Hamas is hoping to gain "legitimacy" for allegedly brokering the deal. Attributing a "law
and order" purpose is an odd goal with which to credit Hamas since the
movement has been committed to violence--actually terror and random
killing--as an instrument of political change for decades. It succeeded in
Gaza, and no one can be certain that the strategy will fail in the West Bank.
In any case, by praising his "liberators," as the London Times has termed Hamas, Johnston has confirmed that he
is (and has been) a committed "friend of the Palestinian people" as both the jailed Fatah terrorist Marwan Barghouti and Johnston's own father described the BBC man. At the
moment of his release, however, he condemned the group that had imprisoned
him under "appalling" conditions and with the threat of murdering him. He also said that, "If Hamas didn't come in and put the heat on, I'm pretty sure I'd still be there."
I am glad he has been released ... not only for his own sake, but in part because
he has said he is done with Gaza, at least as a journalist. For this,
we can all be grateful. And BBC listeners, in particular.