Criticizing specific Israeli policies is certainly not intrinsically anti-Semitic.
Indeed, many Israelis are critical of some of their nation’s policies. But support for Hamas is anti-Semitic, because Hamas’s policies and actions are based, at their core, on Jew-hatred.
Yet many prominent individuals, some out of ignorance, many more with full knowledge of what they are doing, are overtly supporting Hamas. Some have even praised it. Others, like Italy’s most famous philosopher, Gianni Vattimo, are trying to raise money and provide material support to this anti-Semitic terrorist organization. Still others refuse to condemn it, while condemning Israel in the strongest terms.
Here is part of what the Hamas Charter, which continues to articulate its governing principles, says about Jews: “The enemies have been scheming for a long time. [Their] wealth [permitted them to] take over control of the world media such as news agencies, the press, publication houses, broadcasting and the like. [They also used this] wealth to stir revolutions in various parts of the globe... They stood behind the French and the Communist Revolutions... They also used the money to establish clandestine organizations which are spreading around the world, in order to destroy societies and carry out Zionist interests. Such organizations are: the Freemasons, Rotary Clubs, Lions Clubs, B’nai B’rith and the like. All of them are destructive spying organizations... [T]hey stood behind World War I, so as to wipe out the Islamic Caliphate... They obtained the Balfour Declaration and established the League of Nations in order to rule the world by means of that organization. They also stood behind World War II.... They inspired the establishment of the United Nations and the Security Council to replace the League of Nations, in order to rule the world by their intermediary. There was no war that broke out anywhere without their fingerprints on it.”
Most of these allusions to “the enemies” pertain to events that precede the establishment of Israel. The charter plainly means “the Jews,” and it invokes the usual tropes of anti-Semitism and Jew-hatred.
It expressly calls for the murder of Jews, citing Islamic sources for its genocidal goal.
Hamas has been looking forward to implementing Allah’s promise, no matter how long it might take. “The prophet, prayer and peace be upon him, said: The time will not come until Muslims will fight the Jews; 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 should not be surprising. Hamas is a wholly owned subsidiary of the Muslim Brotherhood, which is an outgrowth of the German Nazi Party. The brotherhood was founded in 1928 by Hassan al-Banna, a close ally of Adolf Hitler. It worked hand in hand with Hitler during World War II, establishing the Muslim Waffen-SS Handschar Division, which committed war crimes against Jewish communities. It then helped to rescue Nazi war criminals following the defeat of Nazism and the disclosure of the Holocaust.
Nor is the charter and origin of Hamas merely past history. Current Hamas leaders frequently invoke the blood libel, accusing “the Jews” of killing Christian children and using their blood for the baking of matza. They regard Jewish places of worship and Jewish schools, anywhere in the world, as appropriate targets for their terrorist attacks.
Some of those who support Hamas, such as former US president Jimmy Carter and former Irish president Mary Robinson, claim that they support its political goals, but not its anti-Semitic policies. (They say we must recognize “its legitimacy as a political actor.”) Others, such as the Turkish foreign minister and the leaders of Qatar, support its military goals. (They support the Palestinian Resistance Movement Hamas “because it embraces the Palestinian cause and struggles for its people.”) These distinctions hold no water, since Hamas’s anti-Jewish policies are central to its political and military actions. Some supporters of Hitler made the same argument, claiming that the Nazi Party and its leaders espoused good economic, educational and political policies. No reasonable person today accepts that excuse, and no reasonable person should accept the excuses offered by supporters of Hamas who claim to be able to slice the bologna so thin.
The same is true for those who argue that Hamas is preferable to the Islamic State or other jihadist groups that might replace it. A similar argument was made by fascists who claimed that their parties were preferable to the Communists. The reality is that Hamas is an anti-Semitic organization, based on a Jew-hating philosophy, which has the goal of destroying the nation-state of the Jewish people and killing its Jewish inhabitants. It is evil personified. There is no excuse or justification for supporting Hamas, and anyone who does is supporting anti-Semitism.
Some Hamas supporters – such as those who chant “Hamas, Hamas, Jews to the gas” – proudly acknowledge this reality. Others, such as Prof. Cornell West, who according to The American Spectator “headlined a high profile pro-Hamas demonstration,” deny the charge of anti-Semitism. But all are complicit, even if they are themselves Jewish or have Jewish friends. Supporting an organization that at its core is anti-Jewish and whose charter calls for the killing of all Jews is anti-Semitic in effect if not in intent. And those politicians, academics, entertainers and others who support Hamas – and there are many – must be called out and condemned, as Roger Waters of Pink Floyd has been. So must those, like Navi Pillay, the head of the United Nation’s Human Right Council, who see a moral equivalence between this anti-Semitic terrorist group and the democratic nation-state of the Jewish people.
She demanded that Israel share its Iron Dome system with Hamas, without condemning Hamas for using Palestinian civilians as its own Iron Dome.
Among the worst offenders is retired Bishop Desmond Tutu, who has a long history of anti-Semitism. He, like Carter, has urged recognition of Hamas, whose leaders he compares to Nelson Mandela. Among Tutu’s alleged “Mandelas” with whom he has collaborated is Ahmad Abu Halabiya, who has said: “Have no mercy on the Jews, no matter where they are, in any country. Fight them, wherever you are. Wherever you meet them, kill them... and those Americans who are like them, and those who stand by them.”
I’m quite certain the real Nelson Mandela never made any comparable statement. Yet Bishop Tutu, who refused to sit on the same stage as Tony Blair, has worked hand in hand with murderous Hamas leaders such as Halabiya.
Jimmy Carter argues that Hamas is a “political force” that has received widespread support among Palestinians. So was the Ku Klux Klan in the 1920s in much of the South. Would Carter have accorded legitimacy to the KKK?
It may be necessary to negotiate – directly or through intermediaries – with Hamas, just as one “negotiates” with kidnappers, hostage takers or extortionists. But to “recognize” their “legitimacy,” as Jimmy Carter and Bishop Tutu would do, is to recognize the legitimacy of anti-Semitism. Carter, Tutu and other Hamas cheerleaders may be willing to do that, but no reasonable person who hates bigotry should legitimate Hamas’s anti-Semitism or its express goal of destroying Israel and killing its Jewish inhabitants.
Alan M. Dershowitz’s latest book is Taking the Stand: My Life in the Law.