I argued in Spring Fever: The Illusion of Islamic Democracy that the illusion’s signature feature is a fantasy: By holding free elections, a people is choosing freedom: joining modernity, adopting pluralism and tolerance, rejecting revolutionary violence and totalitarianism.
Today, we are yet again being inundated with tales of Palestinian woe after Hamas’s familiar barbarism has provoked an Israeli military response. It thus bears remembering that the Palestinian people chose Hamas. What ever happened to all those Democracy Project paeans to self-determination? Hamas is Palestinian self-determination. Hamas was not forced on Palestinians. Hamas did not militarily conquer Gaza. No, Hamas swept parliamentary elections freely held in the Palestinian territories in 2006 – thrashing its rival, Fatah, which is only marginally less committed to the destruction of Israel.
Hamas did not suddenly become a terrorist organization after it was elected. Hamas was elected because it was a jihadist organization. It was elected because, by its own declaration, Hamas connects Palestinians to something they find attractive: the global Islamic-supremacist movement. Palestinians widely reject Israel’s right to exist. They regard not just Gaza, Judea and Samaria but all of Israel as “occupied Palestine.” Even those Palestinians who purport to accept the “two-state solution” see it as a way-station on the march to a one-state solution in which the Jewish state eventually ceases to be. Palestinians chose Hamas precisely because Hamas was seen as more dedicated than Fatah to the achievement of that goal—not to mention, more brutally competent.
At the time of its election, Hamas was well known to be the Muslim Brotherhood’s Palestinian terrorist wing. It has been formally designated as a terrorist organization by the United States since the mid-nineties. Indeed, shortly before Palestinians endorsed Hamas at the ballot box, the U.S. Department of Justice indicted several Hamas operatives in the Holy Land Foundation case, a multi-million dollar terrorism financing conspiracy orchestrated by the Muslim Brotherhood in which several of the Brotherhood’s American affiliates—CAIR, the Islamic Society of North America, the North American Islamic Trust, among others—were proved to be complicit in the promotion of Hamas and thus designated as unindicted co-conspirators.
The Wall Street Journal gets close to the heart of the matter in its fine editorial this morning about Hamas’s “civilian death strategy”:
The people of Gaza overwhelmingly elected Hamas, a terrorist outfit dedicated to the destruction of Israel, as their designated representatives. Almost instantly Hamas began stockpiling weapons and using them against a more powerful foe with a solid track record of retaliation.
What did Gazans think was going to happen? Surely they must have understood on election night that their lives would now be suspended in a state of utter chaos. Life expectancy would be miserably low; children would be without a future. Staying alive would be a challenge, if staying alive even mattered anymore.
To make matters worse, Gazans sheltered terrorists and their weapons in their homes, right beside ottoman sofas and dirty diapers. When Israel warned them of impending attacks, the inhabitants defiantly refused to leave.
On some basic level, you forfeit your right to be called civilians when you freely elect members of a terrorist organization as statesmen, invite them to dinner with blood on their hands and allow them to set up shop in your living room as their base of operations. At that point you begin to look a lot more like conscripted soldiers than innocent civilians. And you have wittingly made yourself targets.
It also calls your parenting skills into serious question. In the U.S. if a parent is found to have locked his or her child in a parked car on a summer day with the windows closed, a social worker takes the children away from the demonstrably unfit parent. In Gaza, parents who place their children in the direct line of fire are rewarded with an interview on MSNBC where they can call Israel a genocidal murderer.
I say this “gets close to the heart of the matter” because it pulls up just short. The problem in the Palestinian territories is not Hamas; it is the Palestinians. Hamas is a natural outgrowth of the Islamic supremacist ideology that is dominant among Palestinians. It is not just that the Palestinians chose Hamas with eyes open. It is that the Palestinians are Hamas. That Hamas Charter speaks for Palestinians, particularly in its scripturally-based Jew hatred. “[O]ur struggle against the Jews is extremely wide-ranging and grave,” its Introduction proclaims, “so much so that it will need all the loyal efforts we can wield, to be followed by further steps and reinforced by successive battalions from the multifarious Arab and Islamic world, until the enemies are defeated and Allah’s victory prevails.”
That is just a warm-up for Jew-hatred that pervades the Charter’s Article Seven:
Hamas is one of the links in the Chain of Jihad in the confrontation with the Zionist invasion. It links up with the setting out of the Martyr Izz a-din al-Qassam and his brothers in the Muslim Brotherhood who fought the Holy War in 1936; it further relates to another link of the Palestinian Jihad and the Jihad and efforts of the Muslim Brothers during the 1948 War, and to the Jihad operations of the Muslim Brothers in 1968 and thereafter. But even if the links have become distant from each other, and even if the obstacles erected by those who revolve in the Zionist orbit, aiming at obstructing the road before the Jihad fighters, have rendered the pursuance of Jihad impossible; nevertheless, the Hamas has been looking forward to implement Allah’s promise whatever time it might take. The prophet, prayer and peace be upon him, said: The time will not come until Muslims will fight the Jews (and kill them); until the Jews hide behind rocks and trees, which will cry: O Muslim! there is a Jew hiding behind me, come on and kill him! This will not apply to the Gharqad, which is a Jewish tree.
This is what Palestinians voted for. The highlighted section of Article Seven comes straight from Islamic scripture, from the authoritative Bukhari and Muslim collections of hadith (the sayings and doings of the prophet Mohammed). It foretells an eternal struggle until the end of time, when, with Allah’s intercession, the rocks and trees will help Muslim battalions find and kill every remaining Jew.
Tellingly, as I recounted in The Grand Jihad, other than the Hamas charter, the place where you are most likely to find repetition of the doctrinally-based call to jihad against Jews is in the sermons of Sheikh Yusuf al-Qaradawi. He is the chief sharia jurist of the Muslim Brotherhood and, perhaps, the most influential Sunni Islamic-supremacist figure in the world. He is also a staunch champion of Hamas, having issued fatwas that enthusiastically authorize suicide attacks against Israeli civilians. “They are not suicide operations,” he claimed in April 2001. “These are heroic martyrdom operations, and the heroes who carry them out don’t embark on this action out of hopelessness and despair but are driven by an overwhelming desire to cast terror and fear into the hearts of the oppressors.”
But what about the fact that these indiscriminate “martyrdom operations” kill Israeli civilians? Qaradawi rejects the premise – there are, he maintains, no Israeli civilians. “Israeli society is a military society, and every person is either a soldier in the Israeli Army or a reserve soldier,” he told al-Jazeera that same spring – repeating a theme that, for him, is a constant. Israelis, therefore, “must be intimidated, until they return to the countries from which they came.” This, it should be noted, is substantially indistinguishable from al Qaeda’s rationale for mass-murdering American civilians. As Osama bin Laden explained, Americans choose and arm their government and should thus be attacked the same way a jihadist would attack their government.
To its great credit, Israel does not target Palestinian civilians even though, in the Palestinian terrorist jihad, there are few real civilians among a population that chose Hamas as its leader and provides Hamas’s atrocious campaigns with material support and encouragement. Like any competent military fighting a defensive war for its nation’s survival, Israel’s defense forces kill some Palestinian non-combatants collaterally, in the pursuit of necessary and wholly legitimate military objectives. The killings of non-combatants are inflated by the Palestinian practice of using “civilians” as human shields, the better to wage the all-important propaganda part of the jihad that is so effective in swaying Western progressives.
The war will not end unless Israel is allowed to fight until victory is achieved and the Palestinians, with their will having been broken, abandon the jihad and accept peaceful coexistence. As we all know, it is a peaceful coexistence they could have right now if they weren’t hell-bent on killing every Jew. In any event, people who claim a right to kill every enemy civilian, whose savage way of war is to target enemy civilians and deny them civilian status, should not be heard to complain about civilian casualties.