January 27, 2006
The denial started almost immediately after Hamas captured 57 percent of the seats in the Palestinian parliament. Associated Press reported that “Hamas capitalized on widespread discontent with years of Fatah corruption and ineffectiveness. Much of its campaign focused on internal Palestinian issues, while playing down the conflict with Israel.” Secretary of State Condoleeza Rice opined: “Palestinian people have apparently voted for change, but we believe their aspirations for peace and a peaceful life remain unchanged.”
But what kind of peace? And how does Hamas (Harakat Muqawama Islamiyya — the Islamic Resistance Movement) propose to rid the Palestinian Authority of corruption? To these questions the answer has been clear for as long as Hamas has existed; the answer to both is Islam. The Hamas Charter of August 18, 1988, quotes Hassan Al-Banna, founder of the Muslim Brotherhood, the first modern Islamic terror organization and the direct forefather of Hamas: “Israel will exist and will continue to exist until Islam will obliterate it, just as it obliterated others before it.” A Hamas supporter in Gaza amplified that principle on Thursday: “We’re happy that now we will have an Islamic state. God willing, Islam will prevail and we will get rid of corruption.”
The Iranian regime of President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, who has joined Hamas in calling for the destruction of Israel, expressed delight at the election outcome. An Iranian Foreign Ministry spokesman said: “Iran...hopes that the powerful presence of Hamas at the [political] scene brings about great achievements for the Palestinian nation.”
Others were not so joyful. Jasser Jasser, a Christian pharmacist in Ramallah, said of the prospect of Hamas rule: “We’re all afraid. We’re worried about the future, that we’ll become a second Iran.” Jasser and other non-Muslims have every reason to be afraid. Hassam El-Masalmeh, Hamas leader in Bethlehem, recently declared that his movement intended to reinstitute the traditional tax, the jizya, stipulated in the Qur’an for Jews and Christians in an Islamic state. “We in Hamas,” Masalmeh announced, “intend to implement this tax someday. We say it openly – we welcome everyone to Palestine but only if they agree to live under our rules.” Since along with this tax, Islamic law stipulates that Jews and Christians must submit to a series of humiliating and discriminatory regulations, ensuring their second-class status in line with the Qur’anic stipulation that they “pay the jizya with willing submission and feel themselves subdued” (9:29).
Some try to draw comfort from the fact that Hamas participated in the elections at all. Victor Batarseh, the mayor of Bethlehem and a Christian, echoed the view of many analysts when he said: “The only way to make Hamas more moderate is to bring them inside the system.” But that hope was belied by statements from Hamas operatives themselves, including Umm Farhat, a candidate for the Palestinian Legislative Council and the mother of a jihad terrorist who murdered five Israeli civilians. Umm Farhat emphasized that Hamas’ participation in elections did not mean it was moderating its jihadist goals one iota: “The jihadist project completes the political one and the political project cannot be completed without jihad.”
So now it should be clear to the world that exactly that – the jihad – is the agenda of Hamas, and now of the Palestinian Authority as a whole. While Mahmoud Abbas has been able to distance himself from terror attacks in Israel and claim that he was not able to stop them, now the government of the Palestinian Authority itself will be dominated by an organization that has celebrated such attacks.
Flush with victory, Hamas shows no sign of changing that posture. Hamas operative Ismail Haniyeh said the Islamic group will now work to “complete the liberation of other parts of Palestine.” In a sadly typical example of mainstream media cluelessness, the AP story reporting this adds: “But did not say which territories he was referring to or how he would go about it.” As if there were any doubt in the mind of anyone in Hamas at this point that “Palestine” refers to the entirety of Israel. The Hamas Charter states: “For renouncing any part of Palestine means renouncing part of the religion; the nationalism of the Islamic Resistance Movement is part of its faith, the movement educates its members to adhere to its principles and to raise the banner of Allah over their homeland as they fight their Jihad: ‘Allah is the all-powerful, but most people are not aware.’”
And how will Hamas go about “liberating” its “homeland”? Hamas’ Mahmoud Zahar reiterated after the electoral victory: “We have no peace process. We are not going to mislead our people to tell them we are waiting, meeting, for a peace process that is nothing.” Zahar was echoing the Hamas Charter’s declaration: “[Peace] initiatives, the so-called peaceful solutions, and the international conferences to resolve the Palestinian problem, are all contrary to the beliefs of the Islamic Resistance Movement.”
Those words should reverberate in the minds of all the world’s policymakers whenever they are tempted in the coming weeks to call yet again for Israel to moderate its stance toward Hamas and enter into negotiations with the group. Hamas is dedicated to establishing an Islamic state and will no doubt begin immediately to do so. Its Charter maintains, “the Islamic nature of Palestine is part of our religion, and anyone who neglects his religion is bound to lose.” The Charter follows this with a quotation from the Qur’an: “And who forsakes the religion of Abraham, save him who befools himself?” (2:130).
Hamas identifies itself in the Charter as “characterized by a profound understanding, by precise notions and by a complete comprehensiveness of all concepts of Islam in all domains of life: views and beliefs, politics and economics, education and society, jurisprudence and rule, indoctrination and teaching, the arts and publications, the hidden and the evident, and all the other domains of life.” That totalitarian vision, as Jasser Jasser knows well, bodes ill for Palestinian non-Muslims.
Nonetheless, Secretary of State Rice is, of course, correct: the Palestinian “aspirations for peace and a peaceful life remain unchanged.” But they are founded upon a societal model that is fundamentally different from that that Western analysts have so far imagined. “When Islam strives for peace,” wrote the Egyptian Muslim theorist Sayyid Qutb (1906-1966), “its objective is not that superficial peace which requires that only that part of the earth where the followers of Islam are residing remain secure. The peace which Islam desires is that the religion (i.e., the Law of the society) be purified for God, that the obedience of all people be for God alone, and that some people should not be lords over others.” In the Palestinian Authority, the voters have freely chosen such a society. Were they voting against corruption? So were many Germans who voted for Hitler in the early 1930s. The fact that much of the populace had not endorsed his agenda, however, did not prevent him from implementing it.
Ahmadinejad in Iran, Hamas in the Palestinian Authority: jihadists are closer than they have been in ages to realizing the Muslim Prophet Muhammad’s prediction that “the last hour would not come unless the Muslims will fight against the Jews and the Muslims would kill them until the Jews would hide themselves behind a stone or a tree and a stone or a tree would say: Muslim, or the servant of Allah, there is a Jew behind me; come and kill him” (Sahih Muslim, bk. 41, no. 6985).
Will the world stand ready to prevent this? Or continue to deceive itself with vain hopes that the men who won the Palestinian elections are men with whom they can deal?
Robert Spencer is a scholar of Islamic history, theology, and law and the director of Jihad Watch. He is the author of five books, seven monographs, and hundreds of articles about jihad and Islamic terrorism, including Islam Unveiled: Disturbing Questions About the World’s Fastest Growing Faith and The Politically Incorrect Guide to Islam (and the Crusades). He is also an Adjunct Fellow with the Free Congress Foundation.