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Understanding the Jihad Against Israel and America

The late Southern Sudanese leader John Garang, in 1999, posed the following dual-part existential question for our era:

Is the call for jihad against a particular people a religious right of those calling for it, or is it a human rights violation against the people upon whom jihad is declared and waged?

As I hope to make plain, the answer to both parts of John Garang’s query is “Yes!”

Hamas cleric Muhsen Abu ‘Ita was interviewed July 13, 2008, on Al-Aqsa TV. After reminding listeners that the Koran’s opening prayer itself, the Fatiha, which pious Muslims repeat 17 times daily, declares that the Jews are “those who incur Allah's wrath,” specifically in the 7th verse of the Fatiha, re-affirming the verse’s standard exegesis, or interpretation, for over 13 centuries, he declared:

The annihilation of the Jews here in Palestine is one of the most splendid blessings for Palestine. This will be followed by a greater blessing, Allah be praised, with the establishment of a Caliphate that will rule the land and will be pleasing to men and God.

Three months earlier Hamas MP and cleric Yunis Al-Astal had made these more elaborate remarks during a speech which aired on Palestinian Al-Aqsa TV April 11, 2008:

Very soon, Allah willing, Rome will be conquered, just like Constantinople was, as was prophesized by our prophet Muhammad. Today, Rome is the capital of the Catholics, or the Crusader capital, which has declared its hostility to Islam, and has planted the brothers of apes and pigs [i.e., Jews, Koran 2:65, 5:60, and 7:166, and other foundational Muslim texts] in Palestine in order to prevent the reawakening of Islam -- this capital of theirs [Rome] will be an advanced post for the Islamic conquests, which will spread through Europe in its entirety, and then will turn to the two Americas, and even Eastern Europe. I believe that our children or our grandchildren will inherit our Jihad …

These words debunk widely accepted tropes that Hamas is merely a nationalist movement, albeit religious, desiring a “Palestinian homeland” in the territories of Gaza (which it already possesses), Judea, and Samaria. Hamas’ blatantly annihilationist rhetoric towards Jews and Israel within the 1949 armistice borders indicates that the jihadist organization wishes to replace Israel. Why then, in addition to the monotonous rhetoric of Jew-hatred (which is Islamic, and specifically Koranic, in origin), the unabashed expression of Hamas’ will to wage global jihad?

Not surprisingly, Hamas’ founding covenant issued in 1988 is redolent with similar Islamic Jew-hatred and jihadism, but also expressly integrates this jihad terror organization into the largest Sunni Muslim jihadist movement -- the Muslim Brotherhood. As I will demonstrate, it is this nexus -- Hamas’ connection to the Muslim Brotherhood, mainstream Islam’s most important movement, which has deep roots and extraordinary popularity amongst the global Muslim masses -- that explains the closely related phenomena of Islamic Jew-hatred, and the jihad against Israel, the U.S., and indeed all outposts of Western civilization.

Koran 3:112 is featured before the pre-amble to Hamas’ foundational Covenant -- it is literally part of the very first statement of the document. [Here is the standard Hillali-Khan translation of 3:112: “Indignity is put over them wherever they may be, except when under a covenant (of protection) from Allah, and from men; they have drawn on themselves the Wrath of Allah, and destruction is put over them. This is because they disbelieved in the revelations (Ayat proofs, evidences, verses, lessons, signs, revelations, etc.) of Allah and killed the Prophets without right. This is because they disobeyed (Allah) and used to transgress beyond bounds (in Allah's disobedience, crimes and sins).”]

In classical and modern Koranic exegeses by seminal, authoritative Islamic theologians this central motif is coupled to Koranic verses 5:60, and 5:78, which describe the Jews transformation into apes and pigs (5:60), or simply apes, (i.e. verses 2:65 and 7:166), having been “ ... cursed by the tongue of David, and Jesus, Mary’s son” (5:78). Muhammad himself -- Islam’s founding prophet -- repeats this Koranic curse in a canonical hadith (the words, deeds, and even unspoken gestures of Muhammad as ostensibly recorded by his earliest pious Muslim companions; Sunan Abu Dawoud, Book 37, Number 4322), “He [Muhammad] then recited the verse [5:78]: ‘ ... curses were pronounced on those among the children of Israel who rejected Faith, by the tongue of David and of Jesus the son of Mary’”. And the related verse, 5:64, accuses the Jews -- as Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas did in a January 2007 speech, citing Koran 5:64 -- of being “spreaders of war and corruption,” a sort of ancient Koranic antecedent of The Protocols of the Elders of Zion.

The Koranic curse (verses 2:61/3:112) upon the Jews for (primarily) rejecting, even slaying Allah’s prophets, including Isa, the Muslim Jesus (or at least his “body double” 4:157-4:158), is updated with perfect thematic logic in the canonical hadith: following the Muslims’ initial conquest of the Jewish farming oasis of Khaybar, one of the vanquished Jewesses reportedly served Muhammad poisoned mutton (or goat), which resulted, ultimately, in his protracted, agonizing death. And Ibn Saad’s sira account -- the sira being the earliest pious Muslim biographies of Muhammad -- maintains that Muhammad’s poisoning resulted from a well-coordinated Jewish conspiracy. Thus Hamas cleric Wael Al-Zarad explained on Al-Aqsa TV on February 28, 2008 that the Muslims’ blood vengeance against the Jews, “will only subside with their [the Jews] annihilation, Allah willing, because they tried to kill our Prophet (i.e., Muhammad) several times.” And they ultimately succeeded. Again, these allegations are part of a central antisemitic motif in the Koran -- simply repeated in the Hamas Covenant, and ad nauseum by Hamas clerics -- which decrees an eternal curse upon the Jews  for slaying the prophets and transgressing against the will of Allah (Koran 2:61/ reiterated at 2:89-91, and 3:112).

The annihilationist sentiments regarding Jews, as expressed by Hamas cleric al-Zarad, are further rooted in Islamic eschatology [end of times theology], and also incorporated permanently into the foundational 1988 Hamas Covenant. As characterized in the hadith, Muslim eschatology highlights the Jews’ supreme hostility to Islam. Jews are described as adherents of the Dajjâl -- the Muslim equivalent of the Anti-Christ -- or according to another tradition, the Dajjâl is himself Jewish. At his appearance, other traditions maintain that the Dajjâl will be accompanied by 70,000 Jews from Isfahan, or Jerusalem, wrapped in their robes, and armed with polished sabers, their heads covered with a sort of veil. When the Dajjâl is defeated, his Jewish companions will be slaughtered -- everything will deliver them up except for the so-called gharkad tree, as per the canonical hadith (Sahih Muslim, Book 41, Number 6985) included in the 1988 Hamas Covenant (in article 7). This hadith is cited in the Covenant as a sacralized, obligatory call for a Muslim genocide of the Jews:

...the Islamic Resistance Movement aspires to realize the promise of Allah, no matter how long it takes. The Prophet, Allah's prayer and peace be upon him, says: “The hour of judgment shall not come until the Muslims fight the Jews and kill them, so that the Jews hide behind trees and stones, and each tree and stone will say: ‘Oh Muslim, oh servant of Allah, there is a Jew behind me, come and kill him,’ except for the Gharqad tree, for it is the tree of the Jews.” (Sahih Muslim, Book 41, Number 6985)