Understanding the Jihad Against Israel and America
Article 28, which is free of any eschatological references, clearly “widens the circle of hate” towards Jews, as historian David Littman first observed, targeting all contemporary Jews: “Israel, Judaism and Jews challenge Islam and the Muslim people: ‘May the cowards never sleep.’”
Articles 22 and 32 invoke modern conspiratorial themes reminiscent of European (secular) antisemitic motifs, especially the latter (article 32), which makes explicit mention of the Czarist Russian forgery, The Protocols of the Elders of Zion. But even these articles are peppered with Koranic citations, including references in both articles 22 and 32 to Koran 5:64, mentioned previously as the Koran’s ancient antecedent to The Protocols. (Arberry translation, Koran 5:64: “The Jews have said, ‘God's hand is fettered.’ Fettered are their hands, and they are cursed for what they have said. Nay, but His hands are outspread; He expends how He will. And what has been sent down to thee from thy Lord will surely increase many of them in insolence and unbelief; and We have cast between them enmity and hatred, till the Day of Resurrection. As often as they light a fire for war, God will extinguish it. They hasten about the earth, to do corruption there; and God loves not the workers of corruption.”)
Jihad is the other pillar of Hamas’ foundational Jew-annihilationist ideology featured in the 1988 Covenant. Once again, this is already suggested in the opening statement before the preamble which includes the following quote by Hasan al-Banna, founder of the Egyptian Muslim Brotherhood: “Israel will exist, and will continue to exist, until Islam abolishes it, as it abolished that which was before it.” Hamas openly claims to be a wing of the International Muslim Brotherhood. Article 2 of the Hamas Charter states: “The Islamic Resistance Movement is one of the wings of Muslim Brotherhood in Palestine. The Muslim Brotherhood Movement is a universal organization which constitutes the largest Islamic movement in modern times.”
But the body of the Hamas Covenant includes unequivocal statements of Hamas’ irredentist commitment to the annihilation of Israel via jihad. Jihad martyrdom is lauded in article 8 “the Hamas slogan,” (in fact borrowed from the 1928 Charter of the Egyptian Muslim Brotherhood), which states, “Allah is its target, the Prophet is its model, the Koran its Constitution; Jihad is its path, and death for the sake of Allah is the loftiest of its wishes.” Article 13 makes plain that Hamas’ jihadism is completely incompatible with any meaningful Middle East peace settlement:
Initiatives, and so-called peaceful solutions and international conferences, are in contradiction to the principles of the Islamic Resistance Movement. Abusing any part of Palestine is abuse against part of religion. Nationalism of the Islamic Resistance Movement is part of its religion. Its members have been fed on that ... there is no solution to the Palestinian question except by Jihad. All initiatives, proposals, and International Conferences are a waste of time and vain endeavors.
And article 15 (subtitled, “Jihad for the Liberation of Palestine is a Personal Duty”) elucidates classical jihadist theory -- including jihad martyrdom (i.e., homicide bombing) operations -- as well as its practical modern application to the destruction of Israel by jihad, and the need to recruit the global Muslim community, or “umma” in this quintessential Islamic cause:
The day the enemies conquer some part of the Muslim land, jihad becomes a personal duty of every Muslim. In the face of the Jewish occupation of Palestine, it is necessary to raise the banner of jihad. This requires the propagation of Islamic consciousness among the masses, locally [in Palestine], in the Arab world and in the Islamic world. It is necessary to instill the spirit of jihad in the nation, engage the enemies and join the ranks of the jihad fighters. The indoctrination campaign must involve ulama, educators, teachers and information and media experts, as well as all intellectuals, especially the young people and the sheikhs of Islamic movements ...
It is necessary to establish in the minds of all the Muslim generations that the Palestinian issue is a religious issue, and that it must be dealt with as such, for [Palestine] contains Islamic holy places, [namely] the Al-Aqsa mosque, which is inseparably connected, for as long as heaven and earth shall endure, to the holy mosque of Mecca through the Prophet's nocturnal journey [from the mosque of Mecca to the Al-Aqsa mosque] and through his ascension to heaven thence. “Being stationed on the frontier for the sake of Allah for one day is better than this [entire] world and everything in it; and the place taken up in paradise by the [horseman’s] whip of any one of you [jihad fighters] is better than this [entire] world and everything in it. Every evening [operation] and morning [operation] performed by Muslims for the sake of Allah is better than this [entire] world and everything in it.” (Recorded in the Hadith collections of Bukhari, Muslim, Tirmidhi and Ibn Maja). “By the name of Him who holds Muhammad’s soul in His hand, I wish to launch an attack for the sake of Allah and be killed and attack again and be killed and attack again and be killed.” (Recorded in the Hadith collections of Bukhari and Muslim)
Unfortunately, Hamas’ views on the jihad against Israel, and Islamic Jew hatred, are entirely concordant with those of the most authoritative religious educational institution within Sunni Islam for over 1200 years, since the late 8th century -- Al Azhar University, in Cairo, Egypt. Consider a fatwa written January 5, 1956, by then Grand Mufti of Egypt, Sheikh Hasan Ma’moun, and signed by the leading members of the Fatwa Committee of Al Azhar, and the major representatives of all four Sunni Islamic schools of jurisprudence. [English translation from State Department Telegram 1763/ Embassy (Cairo) Telegram 1256 D441214] This ruling elaborated the following key initial point: that all of historical Palestine -- modern Jordan, Israel, and the disputed territories of Judea and Samaria, as well as Gaza -- having been conquered by jihad, was a permanent possession of the global Muslim umma (community), “fay territory” -- booty or spoils -- to be governed eternally by Islamic Law. The January, 1956 Al Azhar fatwa’s language and arguments are indistinguishable from those employed by Hamas (in its Covenant), revealing the same conjoined motivations of jihad, and conspiratorial Islamic Jew hatred:
Muslims cannot conclude peace with those Jews who have usurped the territory of Palestine and attacked its people and their property in any manner which allows the Jews to continue as a state in that sacred Muslim territory.
[As] Jews have taken a part of Palestine and there established their non-Islamic government and have also evacuated from that part most of its Muslim inhabitants ... Jihad ... to restore the country to its people ... is the duty of all Muslims, not just those who can undertake it. And since all Islamic countries constitute the abode of every Muslim, the Jihad is imperative for both the Muslims inhabiting the territory attacked, and Muslims everywhere else because even though some sections have not been attacked directly, the attack nevertheless took place on a part of the Muslim territory which is a legitimate residence for any Muslim.
Everyone knows that from the early days of Islam to the present day the Jews have been plotting against Islam and Muslims and the Islamic homeland. They do not propose to be content with the attack they made on Palestine and Al Aqsa Mosque, but they plan for the possession of all Islamic territories from the Nile to the Euphrates.
The continual, monotonous invocation by Al Azhar clerics of such jihadist and antisemitic motifs from the Koran (or other foundational Muslim texts) is entirely consistent with the published writings and statements of the late Sheikh Muhammad Sayyid Tantawi -- Grand Imam of this pre-eminent Islamic religious institution from 1996, till his death in March 2010.
My book The Legacy of Islamic Antisemitism includes extensive first-time English translations of Tantawi’s academic magnum opus, Jews in the Koran and the Traditions. Tantawi wrote these words rationalizing Muslim Jew-hatred in his 700-page treatise:
[The] Koran describes the Jews with their own particular degenerate characteristics, i.e. killing the prophets of Allah [Koran 2:61/ 3:112], corrupting His words by putting them in the wrong places, consuming the people's wealth frivolously, refusal to distance themselves from the evil they do, and other ugly characteristics caused by their deep-rooted lasciviousness ... only a minority of the Jews keep their word ... [A]ll Jews are not the same. The good ones become Muslims [Koran 3:113], the bad ones do not.