An Ideology to Die For and Changing the FuturePosted: 2012/11/21
Yesterday, as Jerusalem suffered its second rocket attack from Gaza in five days (Friday’s was the first in forty years), I had just started a lecture when the sirens sounded. I promptly led my class into the bomb shelter down the corridor.
A few minutes later, on seeing that a group of hijab-wearing students had remained in their classroom I left the protective area and called on the young women to enter the shelter as well: The bomb, had it struck, could have killed or injured them as surely as its intended targets, Jewish Israelis. Many enrollees at David Yellin College of Education where I teach are Israeli Arabs or Palestinians. Not all of the later are proficient in Hebrew and I imagined that they might not be familiar with the civil defense procedures widely announced in the Israeli press. Accordingly, I went and conducted them into the secure area. That, in my opinion, is what any educator ought to do, regardless of what the student wears on her head or the language he speaks at home.
Later, while reflecting on the day I recalled not only that incident but also the time I had spent that morning reading the Hamas Charter, which was written in 1988 and guides that movement to this day. I did so in an attempt to understand what lays beneath Hamas’s persistently murderous activities against Israel’s civilian population and which precipitated the current conflict. The Hamas Charter, the movement’s guiding program, is a most shocking writ, far more odious than I imagined.
The Islamic Resistance Movement, Hamas
The Islamic Resistance Movement, Hamas, and its confederates have steadily and concretely advanced their ideologically-based program as set out in the Charter. It is an explicit document that envisions a program of jihadist Islam imposed on all of contested Palestine (Article VI) as part of a region-wide and international movement led by the Moslem Brotherhood: Hamas views itself as the Palestinian Branch of the latter (Article II).
Hamas slogan as stated in the Charter is “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 VIII). Article VII cites this passage from the Koran
The Day of Judgment will not come about until Moslems fight the Jews (killing the Jews), when the Jew will hide behind stones and trees. The stones and trees will say O Moslems, O Abdulla, there is a Jew behind me, come and kill him.
The section of the Charter, “Strategies and Methods” (Article XIII), reads
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 directed against part of religion. Nationalism of the Islamic Resistance Movement is part of its religion. Its members have been fed on that. For the sake of hoisting the banner of Allah over their homeland they fight.
There is no solution for the Palestinian question except through Jihad. Initiatives, proposals and international conferences are all a waste of time and vain endeavors. The Palestinian people know better than to consent to having their future, rights and fate toyed with.
The ideology is clear and uncompromising. There is no room for coexistence or a dialog and jihad is the only path toward the “liberation” of the Moslem land of Palestine. This is divinely mandated.
Putting the Program into Action
In this context it is no coincidence that leaders of the Islamic governments newly installed in Arab states (Tunisia, Egypt) have rushed to express solidarity with Hamas. The group is regarded as the spearhead in the effort to render the Middle East a monolithic, Moslem Arab domain in partnership with Turkey, now governed by an extroverted Islamic government.
Hamas, Islamic Jihad and their offshoots have terrorized southern Israel’s 1.2 million civilians with unrelenting rocket attacks over the past nine years. They have done so with the encouragement, armament and training of the Iranian Islamic Republic. Since its ascent to power in 2007 the Gaza regime has installed a vast military infrastructure in the heart of civilian areas aimed at “liberating” Palestine through terrorism. Its repressive government has fostered a culture of martyrdom.
Liberation is sought not through the socioeconomic development of the population it rules, but through a dogged attempt to eradicate of Israel and its citizenry which, in the group’s mythology, are demonized as “Zionist invaders.”
The Drizzle of Rocket Fire Became a Flood
The “drizzle” of rocket fire on the South of Israel in recent years became in recent months a torrent of deadly projectiles including the Iranian rocket, Fajr-5 with a range of 75 kilometers and an explosive payload of nearly 100 kilograms of explosives; in recent days the projectile was hurled toward Tel Aviv and Jerusalem on multiple occasions.
In the last two months, Hamas has ramped up the hostilities, targeting exclusively civilian areas, not only in the adjacent south of Israel but into the center of the population where Israel’s population is most concentrated. Homes, businesses, schools, buses and other vehicles have been hit.
In response to the increased bombardment in the South and other recent provocations, the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) acted on Nov. 13th by slaying the commander in chief of Hamas’ guerrilla forces and launching an intensive air operation aimed at destroying the terrorist infrastructure of rocket launchers, arsenals and smuggling tunnels.
These forces took extraordinary care to minimize civilian losses though, most regrettably, innocent people have been killed and injured due to the placement by Hamas and its related groups of offensive weapons and ordnances in population centers. There have also been unintentional mistakes committed by the IDF. Still, the Israeli air force has operated prudently, attempting to target with precision Hamas’ murderous capacity while the decision-makers deliberate concerning a possible ground operation, though public opinion seems not to favor this and many public figures counsel against it.
There is overwhelming support among Israeli citizens for the Israeli military response to the ongoing rocket attacks. The relatively low number of fatalities and other casualties Israel, has suffered is due only to the country’s highly effective civil defense and public information systems and the discipline the public has shown in adhering to the protective measures prescribed by the authorities.
The support Hamas now enjoys of the Arab Islamic regimes and Turkey, however reprehensible, is consistent with the recent rise of hegemonic Islam in Middle East politics and culture and is expected. But more galling are those supporters of Hamas outside the region, in Europe North America and elsewhere and who succumb to either propaganda or prejudice in denouncing Israel’s recent actions. Many of these detractors react with a reflexive condemnation of Israel that disregards the circumstances that compelled the Israeli forces to act against the continuing barrage of deadly rockets and missiles from Gaza.
Among the critics of the Israeli operation, too little or no consideration is shown for the population in Israel’s south that have lived under virtual siege, not knowing when the next rocket would be fired, for nearly a decade. These commentators from afar have not endured the constant threat of annihilation, which is fundamental to Hamas’ mission against Israel, nor have they had their collective legitimacy called into question. They have not suffered the trauma of living under the constant pall of lethal intent prosecuted by bellicose regimes on the doorstep of their country.
Among our dead, killed yesterday by a missile, was an Israeli Bedouin; the aggressors operate without discrimination, lashing out with whomever they might strike. Scores of Israelis have been injured and maimed and damage to property has been extensive. Hundreds of thousands of lives have been upended, hundreds of people have been treated for shock following blasts, and the prospect of continuing post-traumatic stress syndrome among those who have lived with the ceaseless bombardment is very real for many of those living in the affected areas, now including the central Dan region as well as the South.
In the past days there have been expressions of support, including violent demonstrations among some Palestinians in the West Bank and East Jerusalem, in support of Hamas and against Israel’s operation. The violence will have to stop, but the dissent must be tolerated. There are legitimate Palestinian grievances which must be addressed. The best framework for this is the enactment of a two-state solution to the Palestinian problem.
People to People
As I look back on the mild risk I took yesterday by venturing out of the protective space to draw the Moslem students into it, I did not consider what their politics might be or how fervently they hold opinions contrary to my own. Those students, like me, are human beings with families, hopes, frustrations and dreams. We are destined to live together in our difficult neighborhood. We are going to have to share our land and its resources. I have a name, it is a Hebrew one and they are going to have to know it. They have their religion and I must tolerate it. And we are going to have to talk, and hopefully find a way to make a better future for our children together.