Anti-Semitism is a major pillar in the ideology of Hamas (acronym of Harakat al-muqawama al-Islamiyya – Islamic Resistance Movement), a Palestinian national-Islamic movement, which perceives and articulates its conflict with Israel in Manichean and absolutist religious terms. Like most other Islamic movements in the Middle East, Hamas regards the conflict with the latest and most fateful phase of the relentless onslaught waged by western imperialism and culture against Islam since the Crusades.
Hamas publications portray the Jews as instruments of the West or, alternatively, as the power that controls and manipulates the West in this war. Concurrently, it views the current struggle as the last link in the war, which the Jews have been waging against Islam since its essence. Consequently, Hamas emphasizes the emphasis on the “Islamic essence” of the Palestinian cause.”
As such, the struggle is portrayed as an unbridgeable dichotomy between two absolutes: a “war of religion and faith,” between Islam and Judaism and between Muslims and Jews, rather than one between Palestinians and Israelis or Zionists.
It is a historical, religious, cultural and existential conflict between the true religion, which supersedes all previous religions, i.e. Islam, and the abrogated superseded religion, Judaism. It is a war between good personified by the Muslims who represent the party of God (Hizballah) against “evil incarnated…. the party of Satan” (hizb al-shaytan) represented by the Jews.
Justifying the Self and Demonizing the Other
Every conflict involves justification of the Self and the demonization of rivals and enemies, or in Hamas’ case the Jews as the “enemies of God and of humanity.” Such an accusation, in the words of Bernard Lewis, applies to all enemies of Islam since, if according to the Quran the fighters for Islam are fighting in holy war “in the path of God” and for God, then their opponents are fighting against God and are, therefore, his enemies.2 However, such depiction is used more forcefully and more often against the Jews in view of their explicit castigation by the Quran.
Unlike the non-Islamist Palestinian groups, Hamas makes no distinction between Judaism and Zionism, and uses Zionists and Jews synonymously and interchangeably. Judaism is a “religion that stipulates racism and hostility towards others in its books and incites to usurp unjustly Palestine under the slogan of the Holy Land.” Zionism, according to this view, transforms these Jewish ideas into reality. Likewise, terrorism is an integral and inherent pillar of Judaism, which stems from the teaching of the Tora, and it finds its expression in Zionist massacres in Palestine.3
The portrayal of the Jews as powerful archenemies of Islam departs from traditional Islamic depictions of the Jews that are associated with cowardice, degradation and wretchedness. It has become a central element in Hamas’ ideology and an important theme in the writings of all Islamist movements in the Middle East as part of a broader need to explain the current crisis of the Muslim world. It is particularly difficult within this context to explain Jewish or Zionist success vis-a-vis the Muslims since, according to Islamic tradition, the Jews were destined to humiliation and subjugation to Muslims after they had rejected the message of the Prophet. It is one thing to be defeated by a super-power such as the U.S., and a completely different situation to be defeated and ruled by the Jews, who had been an inferior minority in the past under the Muslim empire, and who are a small minority in the modern Middle East. The only way to explain this cognitive dissonance is to magnify the power and evil of the Jews, and thereby help to explain Muslim weakness.
View the full article at Palestine-Israel Journal.