Three weeks after the Oct. 7 massacre, Salam Fayyad, a former Palestinian Authority prime minister, published a piece in Foreign Affairs describing various options for “the day after” the Israel-Hamas war.
“The first step must be the immediate and unconditional expansion of the PLO to include all major factions and political forces, including Hamas and Palestinian Islamic Jihad,” Fayyad wrote. Noting the popularity of Hamas, Fayyad asserted: “It is impossible to see how the PLO can credibly make any commitment to nonviolence as part of any attempt to restart the peace process if Hamas and factions of a similar orientation are not represented.”
A few weeks later, Khaled Elgindy, a senior fellow at the Middle East Institute in Washington, also addressed “the day after” in Foreign Affairs. Like Fayyad, he argued for “the emergence of a unitary and cohesive Palestinian political leadership.” He added, “Israel and the United States will have to relinquish the wholly unrealistic idea that Hamas can be permanently excluded from Palestinian politics.”
Putting aside the issue that both authors make the unfortunately reasonable assumption that Hamas will survive the conflict, Fayyad and Elgindy are simply wrong. Hamas should not have a role in postwar Palestinian politics any more than the Nazis should have had a role in postwar German politics.
As an offshoot of the Muslim Brotherhood, Hamas is governed by the genocidal antisemitism of Sayyid Qutb (1906-1966), the Brotherhood’s leading ideologue and the founder of political Islam. Qutb joined the Brotherhood in 1949 after the death of its founder, Hassan al-Banna. In his 1950 pamphlet Our Struggle with the Jews, Qutb began to Islamize Nazi-style European antisemitism.
As the scholar Evin Ismail has written in her study The Antisemitic Origins of Islamist Violence, “Qutb was one of the first Islamist theorists to advocate permanent jihad until Islamism becomes global and embodies the only politico-religious legitimacy.”
“Specifically,” she stated, Qutb “justified violence and wrote on jihad and changed its religious meaning from defensive to offensive duty” that entailed “a religious war between Muslims and the rest of the world.”
In Our Struggle with the Jews, Qutb accused Jews of “cosmic, satanic evil” and, taking a page from Nazi ideology, repeatedly quoted the notorious antisemitic forgery The Protocols of the Elders of Zion. He claimed that Jews were conspiring to destroy Islam and, operating in secrecy, to rule the world.
Ismael noted, “Today, Qutb’s legacy lives on in the antisemitic Hamas charter, which is inspired by Qutb’s beliefs.”
German political scientist and historian Matthias Kuntzel wrote that the Hamas charter, first issued in 1988, is a “central document of Islamic antisemitism.”
“In May 2017,” Kuntzel noted, “Hamas published a more moderate program. Hamas representatives, however, have made it clear that the 1988 version has not been repudiated.” The attack of Oct. 7 bears this out.
The Hamas charter prominently quotes a well-known hadith that states, “The day of judgment will not come about until Muslims fight the Jews (killing the Jews); when the Jew will hide behind stones and trees. Then stones and trees will say: ‘O Muslims, O Abdullah, there is a Jew behind me, come and kill him.”
Thus, Kuntzel explained, “The resurrection or salvation of the Muslims is here made dependent on the murder of Jews.”
He further noted that, for centuries, this hadith was more or less dormant and “hardly ever mentioned in the mosques. … It was retrieved from oblivion and for the first time presented to a mass audience” after the Nazis came to power and began exporting their ideology to the Arab world. “Subsequently—and especially after the Six-Day War—it has gone on to become one of the most frequently cited hadiths of all.”
As the Syrian-German scholar Bassam Tibi has argued, “Hamas demonstrates how Qutb’s ideas are transformed into political action.” Hamas members are “Sayyid Qutb’s executioners.” Hamas calls itself “the armed hand of the Muslim Brotherhood” and the “spearhead” in the war against Zionism. Its goal is the elimination of Israel and it proclaims that those who pursue peace negotiations are guilty of “great treason.”
“In the past,” Tibi concluded, “Israel was able to negotiate the conflict with the secular PLO and even strike the Oslo peace that was unfortunately destroyed. Nothing like this could ever be repeated with Hamas, because the pending issues for these Islamists are simply nonnegotiable, as they are declared to be divine.” Thus, the idea that Hamas could join the PLO and work with non-religious parties like Fatah is a naïve fantasy.
As Professor As’ad Ghanem wrote in his book Palestinian Politics After Arafat, Hamas sees its “relationship with Israel in zero-sum terms, meaning that ultimately there could be only one winner. According to this logic, the process of dialogue and negotiation is not a priority, and peaceful means are unlikely to achieve the Palestinians’ legitimate rights.”
Hamas “sees all of Mandatory Palestine as an Islamic waqf [property]. Consequently, it does not recognize Israel and is not willing to accept it as a fact on Muslim ground.” Moreover, Ghanem added, Hamas “supports the armed struggle everywhere, including against Israeli citizens inside the Green Line.”
Yet Fayyad and Elgindy pretend that Hamas’s genocidal hate is merely benign rhetoric and act as if Hamas is a normal political party.
There can be no doubt that they know better. Shame on them.