With its 2006 victory in the Palestinian elections and subsequent defeat of Fatah in Gaza, Hamas has emerged as a dominant force among the Palestinian people. Its mission, spelled out in the 1988 Hamas Covenant, contains some of the most hateful, incendiary anti-Jewish writings in history. To understand Hamas, we must understand its Covenant.
The Hamas Covenant opens with the assertion that the Qur’an views “the Jews” as the enemies of the Arab “nation” and of God:
“And if they who have received the scriptures [i.e. the Jews] had believed, it had surely been the better for them: there are believers among them, but the greater part of them are transgressors….They are smitten with vileness wheresoever they are found…unless they obtain security by entering into a treaty with Allah, and a treaty with men; and they draw on themselves indignation from Allah, and they are afflicted with poverty. This they suffer, because they disbelieved the signs of Allah, and slew the prophets unjustly; this, because they were rebellious, and transgressed.”
–Hamas Covenant Introduction
Hamas claims that the Jews deserve God’s/Allah’s enmity and wrath because they received the Scriptures but violated its sacred texts, disbelieved the signs of Allah, and slew their own prophets. In indicting the majority of Jews as vile unbelievers or infidels, the Covenant makes no distinction among Jews of biblical times, Jews of Muhammed’s time (570–632), and Jews of today.
The Day of Judgement and the Jews
Islam, like Christianity, and to a lesser degree Judaism, proclaims a “Day of Judgement,” also known as the “Day of Resurrection,” “Day of the Accounting,” “Day of Reckoning,” “Day of Distress,” or “Great Announcement.” At that time, according to the Qur’an, every human being will be judged by God/Allah for his/her deeds (“good” or “evil”) and go either to “Heaven” or to “Hell.”
For Qur’an literalists, including Hamas adherents, this “Day of Judgement” cannot arrive until “Muslims fight the Jews.”
“The Day of Judgement will not come until Muslims fight the Jews, when the Jew will hide behind stones and trees. The stones and trees will say, ‘O Muslims, O Abdullah, there is a Jew behind me, come and kill him. Only the Gharkad tree would not do that because it is one of the trees of the Jews” (related by al-Bukhari and Muslim).
For Hamas, the Qur’an is to be the governing document of any nation-state on Muslim soil and where Muslims are in the majority, regulating the behavior of every inhabitant, Muslim or not. It sees itself as fighting a religious war against an enemy that has usurped consecrated Muslim lands— land that must be regulated by Sharia (religious Muslim) law.
“The Islamic Resistance Movement believes that the Land of Palestine is an Islamic Waqf consecrated for future Muslim generations until Judgement Day.”
Jihad Is the Only Solution
Articles 13 and 15 assert that Jihad is the only solution to the Israeli-Arab conflict, and it is the “individual duty” of every Muslim—man and woman—to “join the ranks of the fighters.” “So-called peaceful solutions” are nothing more than attempts to grant power to the “infidels” (read Jews and/or Israelis) at the expense of the oppressed.
“Initiatives and so-called peaceful solutions and international conferences are in contradiction to the principles of the Islamic Resistance Movement. The Islamic Resistance Movement does not consider these conferences capable of realizing the demands, restoring the rights or doing justice to the oppressed. These conferences are only ways of setting the infidels in the land of the Muslims as arbitrators. When did the infidels do justice to the believers? 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 day that enemies usurp part of Muslim land, Jihad becomes the individual duty of every Muslim. In the face of the Jews’ usurpation of Palestine, it is compulsory that the banner of Jihad be raised.”
The Jews as Nazis
In calling for Jihad, Hamas brands Jews as war criminals on the model of the Nazis.
“The Islamic spirit is what should prevail in every Muslim society. In their Nazi treatment, the Jews made no exception for women or children. Their policy of striking fear in the heart is meant for all. They attack people where their breadwinning is concerned, extorting their money and threatening their honour. They deal with people as if they were the worst war criminals. Deportation from the homeland is a kind of murder.”
– Article 20
That Hamas equates Israelis and Jews with Nazis and Zionism and Judaism with Nazism is perversely ironic. During World War II, the Mufti of Jerusalem, Mohammed Amin al-Husayni, was an Arab propagandist for the Nazi cause, urging Hitler to export to the Middle East the so-called “final solution to the Jewish problem” so that Arabs could join in the slaughter. On Berlin radio, March 1, 1944, al-Husayni proclaimed: “Arabs, rise as one man and fight for your sacred rights! Kill the Jews wherever you find them! This pleases God, history and religion! This saves your honor. God is with you!”
It is widely believed throughout the Arab Middle East that the State of Israel’s founding in May 1948 was in compensation for Europe’s and America’s failure to save Jews from the Nazis—all at the expense of the Palestinians. This belief fully disregards the Jewish people’s historical longing for return to Israel, as well as the groundbreaking and ground-rejuvenating work of the Jewish chalutzim (pioneers) throughout the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. Thus, by inverting historical reality, Hamas joins with other antisemitic distorters of Jewish history, including those who deny the Holocaust. By proclaiming that the victims have become the perpetrators and repeatedly branding Israelis and Jews with swastikas in portrayals of the Zionist enemy, Hamas aims to challenge the moral legitimacy of Israel’s very existence.
Jewish World Plot
Articles 22 and 28 of the Hamas Covenant are lifted straight out of The Protocols of the Learned Elders of Zion. A forgery created by an agent of the Okhrana (the Russian secret police) before the turn of the twentieth century, the Protocols accuse the Jews of using their supposed fantastic wealth to bankroll a nefarious conspiracy to subjugate and rule the world—fomenting revolutions and wars; and using the media, fraternal organizations, and governments as tools in their vast Jewish conspiracy network. While the Protocols have been consistently refuted as a forgery in courts of law and in the press (in Great Britain in 1921, in Switzerland in 1934, in Russia in 1993), the Hamas Covenant treats its antisemitic assertions as truth:
“For a long time the enemies have been planning, skillfully and with precision, for the achievement of what they have attained. They took into consideration the causes affecting the current of events. They strived to amass great and substantive material wealth which they devoted to the realization of their dream. With their money they stirred revolutions in various parts of the world with the purpose of achieving their interests and reaping the fruit therein. They were behind the French Revolution, the Communist Revolution and most of the revolutions we heard and hear about, here and there. With their money they formed secret societies, such as Freemasons, Rotary Clubs, the Lions and others in different parts of the world for the purpose of sabotaging societies and achieving Zionist interests. With their money they were able to control imperialistic countries and instigate them to colonize many countries in order to enable them to exploit their resources and spread corruption there.
“You may speak as much as you want about regional and world wars. They were behind World War I, when they were able to destroy the Islamic Caliphate, making financial gains and controlling resources. They obtained the Balfour Declaration [of 1917], formed the League of Nations through which they could rule the world. They were behind World War II, through which they made huge financial gains by trading in armaments, and paved the way for the establishment of their state. It was they who instigated the replacement of the League of Nations with the United Nations and the Security Council to enable them to rule the world through them. There is no war going on anywhere without having their finger on it.”
The conspiracy indictment continues:
“The Zionist invasion is a vicious invasion....It relies greatly in its infiltration and espionage operations…[and arms] undermining societies, destroying values, corrupting consciences, deteriorating character and annihilating Islam. It is behind the drug trade and alcoholism in all its kinds so as to facilitate its control and expansion.”
Throughout the Arab world, including Egypt and Jordan, copies of the Protocols remain easily available in bookshops, and the forgery is the basis of the long-running television series The Horseless Rider,shown both in Egypt and Syria. Thus, evidenced by the “truth” of the Protocols, Hamas proclaims that all Jews everywhere are linked together in a vast network of domination and, therefore, all Jews are guilty—yet another reason to target Jews for destruction.
Jews and Imperialist Powers
For Hamas, “world Zionism” is in league with “imperialist” powers (primarily the United States and Great Britain) as well as Egypt and other Arab states that have left the “circle of struggle” against Zionist expansionism.
“World Zionism, together with imperialistic powers, tries through a studied plan and an intelligent strategy to remove one Arab state after another from the circle of struggle against Zionism, in order to have it finally face the Palestinian people only. Egypt was, to a great extent, removed from the circle of the struggle, through the treacherous Camp David Agreement [of 1978]. They are trying to draw other Arab countries into similar agreements and to bring them outside the circle of struggle.
“The Islamic Resistance Movement calls on Arab and Islamic nations to take up the line of serious and persevering action to prevent the success of this horrendous plan, to warn the people of the danger emanating from leaving the circle of the struggle against Zionism. Today it is Palestine, tomorrow it will be one country or another. The Zionist plan is limitless. After Palestine, the Zionists aspire to expand from the Nile to the Euphrates. When they will have digested the region they overtook, they will aspire to further expansion, and so on. Their plan is embodied in ‘The Protocols of the Learned Elders of Zion’ and their present conduct is the best proof of what we are saying.”
Hamas condemns as co-plotters the so-called “imperialist powers”—the United States and Great Britain. Egypt, the birthplace of the Muslim Brotherhood, is viewed as having become irrelevant to the struggle ever since former Egyptian President Anwar al-Sadat’s Jerusalem visit in 1977.
Hamas concludes its Covenant by reaffirming its goal: the “total liberation” of Palestine and the defeat of the “Zionist enemy.”
“The Arab Palestinian people, expressing themselves by the armed Palestinian revolution, reject all solutions which are substitutes for the total liberation of Palestine and reject all proposals aiming at the liquidation of the Palestinian problem, or its internalization.”
In the final analysis, the Hamas Covenant is an incitement to violence against Jews. It lays out a series of justifications for hatred of Jews and Judaism, from Qur’anic references to The Protocols of the Learned Elders of Zion, with one overriding goal: the destruction of the State of Israel.
How seriously should we take the Hamas Covenant? More than eighty years ago, the world paid little heed to the ravings of an Austrian-German political upstart writing his autobiographical ideological testament from Landsberg Prison. The Hamas Covenant, like Hitler’s Mein Kampf,is a deadly serious statement of intent.
Steven Leonard Jacobs is an associate professor of Religious Studies at the University of Alabama, Tuscaloosa and co-author with Mark Weitzman of Dismantling the Big Lie: The Protocols of the Elders of Zion (2003) and his soon-to-be-released Confronting Genocide: Judaism, Christianity, Islam (2008). Download the full text of the Hamas Covenant. For an extended analysis of the Covenant, you can contact Professor Jacobs at firstname.lastname@example.org
Comparing “The Protocols of the Learned
Elders of Zion" with the 1988 Hamas Covenant
||Hamas Covenant |
Protocol 2:“The Jewish master conspiratorial plan already exists; the press is a tool of the Jews.”
|Article 22:“For a long time the enemies have been planning…. With their money, they took control of the world media, news agencies, the press, publishing houses, broadcasting stations, and others.” |
Protocol 7: “Jews sow the seeds of internal unrest and discord.”
Article 22:“There is no war going on anywhere without [the Jews] having their finger on it.”
Protocol 12:“Jews oppose freedom and liberty of others; Jews manipulate the media for selfish end.”
|Article 30:“The ferocity of the Zionist offensive and the Zionist influence in many countries [is] exercised through financial and media control.” |
Protocol 15: “A ‘grand secretive Masonic Lodge’ is governed by Jews….”
Article 22:“With their money they formed secret societies, such as Freemasons, Rotary Clubs, the Lions, and others in different parts of the world for the purpose of sabotaging societies and achieving Zionist interests.”
|Protocol 19: “Jews are gossipmongers and false martyrs.”
Article 24: “Unlike the Zionist Jews, Hamas ‘does not allow slandering or speaking ill of individuals or groups.’”