We don’t kill Jews because they are Jews. We kill the Zionists because they are conquerors and we will continue to kill anyone who takes our land and our holy places … We will free Jerusalem inch by inch, stone by stone.
This however is a blatant mistranslation. What Meshaal actually said is:
We do not fight the Jews because they are Jews. We fight the Zionist occupiers and aggressors. And we will fight anyone who tries to occupy our lands or attacks us. We fight those who fight us, who attack us, who besiege us, who attack our holy places and our land.
Can you see the massive difference? To an untrained ear the Arabic verbs for “kill” and “fight” could sound the same because قتل – to kill – and قاتل – to fight or combat – come from the same root. But to any fluent Arabic speaker there is no ambiguity at all in what Meshaal said as the clip below shows.
Resistance “a means not an end”
The Observer painted Meshaal’s speech as “uncompromising” and most other media called it “fiery.” I even heard someone on the BBC World Service say it was little changed from Hamas’ founding charter.
I have not seen any reports pointing out this passage in Meshaal’s speech
Resistance for us is a means and not an end. I am speaking to the whole world through the media. If the world finds a means, without resistance or bloodshed, to return Palestine and Jerusalem to us, and the right of return, and to end the Zionist occupation then we welcome it. We tried you [the world] for 64 years and you have done nothing. So if we resort to resistance do not blame us. If we found another way without war we would have seized it, but the history of nations shows that there is no victory or liberation without resistance, without battles, without sacrifice.
This is a theme Meshaal has spoken about before, including in a speech in 2009 where he used almost identical words.
Meshaal, while covering the bases, praising resistance and rebutting Mahmoud Abbas’ recent assertion that only the West Bank and Gaza are “Palestine” while the rest is “Israel,” was reaffirming Hamas’ longstanding openness to dealing with the world politically, rather than solely through armed resistance.
But if you read The Observer, you would think he said “kill Jews” where he said no such thing.
Update, 9 December
The Observer replaced the word “kill” with “fight” and added this note to its article: “This article was amended on Sunday 9 December 2012 to correct a mistranslation in a quote by Meshaal.”