On Monday, Hamas spokesman Osama Hamdan was interviewed by Wolf Blitzer on CNN. Usually these interviews take the form of the interviewer asking a series of anodyne questions which the Palestinian interviewees ignore in order to repeat their standard mantra of 'occupation.' etc.
This interview appeared to he headed towards the same formula, until Blitzer skewered Hamdan by referring to an interview Hamdan had given on an Arab TV channel. Blitzer confronted Hamdan with the comments he had made, in Arabic, saying that Jews use Christian blood to make matzoh, a classical example of blood libel. Hamdan had said:
"We all remember how the Jews used to slaughter Christians in order to mix their blood in their holy matzoh. This is not a figment of the imagination or something taken from a film. It is a fact acknowledged by their own books and historical evidence."
Unusually, Blitzer would not be deflected, and insisted on pushing the point, telling Hamdan he would play him a tape of the interview. At this stage Hamdan lost it and started shouting, " I don't need you to play the tape, I know what I said." Blitzer persisted, did play the tape, and asked again if Hamdan stood by what he had said about the Jews using blood for baking.
Again, Hamdan did not answer, choosing instead to go into a rant about "the truly disgusting rhetoric is coming from the Israelis."
Then, Hamdan pulled out his trump card. Either that, or he was desperate. He told Blitzer, "They are misusing the words. I've said on the same occasion that we don't have problems with the Jews… I have Jewish friends who are supporting the Palestinian rights."
Hamdan also made a theological point about how Muslims believe in some of the same prophets, such as Moses and Jesus, as do Christians and Jews.
This is interestingly reminiscent of the defense of Germans being tried for war crimes during the Nuremberg Tribunals which followed the end of the Second World War.
They offered three standard defenses:
Just one more proof, as if proof were needed, that what the Arabs say in English, and what they say in Arabic is not the same.
But only rarely are they challenged.