Hamas Charter (Covenant) Explained

BBSNews 2014-08-03 — By Michael Hess. It’s been ten years since Yassir Arafat died and ten years since the “separation barrier” or the Apartheid Wall, was ruled illegal by the International Court of Justice 1. Today, near the end of July 2014, the Hamas Charter from 1988 2 is one of the most talked about topics and it is being used as a reason, an excuse, a rationalization, of evil. The killings of mothers and babies, and entire Palestinian families, and even a call for a genocide of Gaza 3, under the guise of a conflict that has at its root, land and resource theft from a captive, occupied, and subjugated people; that is evil stateified.

For most people that would be enough reason to move against a country, any country on the planet, that has committed so many international crimes, and even Crimes Against Humanity; such a country would be brought to task with at the least international sanctions to bring the rogue country into compliance with international law, or even a United Nations Chapter Seven resolution authorizing force to bring about compliance. The United States has certainly gone to war for far less legitimate reasons.

The Hamas Charter from 1988 (the one online at the Avalon Project) is one of the the most quoted online documents when trying to justify Israel’s war on civilians that it brought about itself by creating the tensions of “belligerent” occupation in the first place.

To rationalize the killings and collective punishment of an entire innocent people on any one document, with a dubious translation at that, is an indication of a loss of moral compass. It is a horrible basis for a foreign policy as well. This analysis intends to explore in part the document from 1988 and its translations, but more importantly the evolution of Hamas as a movement over time; changes in the organization that get short thrift or no notice at all in the Western media.

The document at the Avalon Project, The Covenant of the Islamic Resistance Movement, at first look is obviously written very much as a religious document, and it quotes freely and copiously from religious texts. In this vein it is in league with other such religion driven manifestos such as those that teach that the United States of America is a “Christian” nation 4 and as such must always, without regard for the consequences, support Israel “unconditionally” under most forms of Christian Dispensationalism 5 and in other brands of extremist Christian interpretations such as “Christian Zionism” 6.

Greater Israel, at least according to many Christians.

Greater Israel, at least according to many Christians.

There are a variety of theological fish in this sea of competing interests with respect to the Arab-Israeli Conflict. Hamas, embodied for a huge segment of the chattering classes, in one line, through the Hamas Charter of 1988 is not even a particularly big fish; being essentially so unnoticed that they are compelled to shoot homemade rockets of dubious aim towards the occupying and blockading country of Israel just to stay, in their minds, relevant.

It is important to also note that the Hamas Charter was written ten years after the “original” Likud Party Platform 7 that flatly rejects there ever being a notion of a Palestinian state, and this stance has informed Israeli political policy ever since the state was first formed in 1948.

It is also important to understand that even the Hamas Charter notes that the conflict is fueled by the occupation:

… The society that confronts a vicious enemy which acts in a way similar to Nazism, making no differentiation between man and woman, between children and old people – such a society is entitled to this Islamic spirit. Our enemy relies on the methods of collective punishment. He has deprived people of their homeland and properties, pursued them in their places of exile and gathering, breaking bones, shooting at women, children and old people, with or without a reason. The enemy has opened detention camps where thousands and thousands of people are thrown and kept under sub-human conditions. Added to this, are the demolition of houses, rendering children orphans, meting cruel sentences against thousands of young people, and causing them to spend the best years of their lives in the dungeons of prisons.

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 bread-winning 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…

Hamas used Nazi imagery and other traditional antisemitic tropes to tweak Israeli noses in the same way that Mahmoud Ahmadinejad did, and it works in a perverse contradiction to the nursery rhyme ‘sticks and stones…” When an entire people are subjected to the conditions imposed by the occupier that attest to a reality of no hope, no possible way out, and later claim that violent collective punishment of innocent civilians is because of words written by people suffering under the belligerent occupation that they live their lives under, it is perverse indeed to perpetuate the root cause and then to blame the people forced by Israel to live under these conditions who are downtrodden and yet dare fight against them for their very lives.

A vacationing couple, in Tel Aviv with their three children right now during Cast Lead II, whose Israeli inflicted casualties have now surpassed Cast Lead I, made the following observation in a piece that is a must-read 8, from on the ground in the midst of “normal” life in the city of Tel Aviv during this war, the latest that Israel has waged upon its captive and occupied population of millions of Palestinians and in particular Israel’s War On Gaza:

…”The script for a ceasefire was already written before the ground invasion began. It is a matter of ending the bloody spectacle with a mere semblance of two sides mutually bettering their positions. The tragedy of course is that so many stand-ins and movie extras must die so spectacularly in vain for the status quo of occupation-resistance to continue. It may sound crazy, given all that we have said so far about Israel in the grip of fascism, but right to left people understand perfectly well the futility of the bloodshed. They already talk about the next round as inevitable. Depressed and helpless to stop it many express confusion and are simply torn between their instinct of victimization and sense of horror at the high price in human life. What is entirely lost or powerfully sublimated is the consequence of being implicated in and authorizing crimes against humanity. Israelis consider the war of position between Hamas and their government to be an existential war, and the conduct of their enemy, they feel, absolves them from any accountability. In their battle of survival, real and imaginary, it only makes sense to let the enemy die and verify the killing (vidu hariga). In this savage place no laws of war apply.

Our children’s renewed Israeli passports arrived just before the ground invasion. Staring at their pictures, Israeli IDs and passport numbers, the thought crossed our minds – why can’t they be spared this terrible burden? Why should they carry an identity associated with cruelty, horrors, war, occupation, apartheid, crimes against humanity?”

Of course that’s not the quote from the Hamas Covenant that people traffic in, and the musings of a couple in Tel Aviv is of no interest to Israel “supporters” who have lost their humanity in the inhumanity of their extremist religions, because they are only interested in one line that they believe rationalizes state brutality and outright murder in what almost everyone already knows is primarily a land dispute. The line most often cited is incorrect. Let’s take a look at the correctly translated version 10 and consider where it came from and who.

“Israel will be established and will stay established until Islam nullifies it as it nullified what was before it”

While this passage is included in the Hamas Covenant, it is actually by Imam Hasan al-Banna who established the Muslim Brotherhood in 1928. He was assassinated in Cairo, Egypt 39 years before the first known Hamas Covenant/Charter in 1988. The line is of bluster and portent of a continued struggle for Palestinian rights on their own land. And it is a struggle because the Israeli side of this one-sided narrative is represented now, as kids and women are being killed in Gaza by Israel by their Likud leader, Benyamin Netanyahu, who according to the Times of Israel, the news entity that let through a call for a genocide in Gaza, where he told them:

“I think the Israeli people understand now what I always say: that there cannot be a situation, under any agreement, in which we relinquish security control of the territory west of the River Jordan. 11

That’s funny, that mirrors the Likud position, the Israeli position, on record since at least 1977:

A plan which relinquishes parts of western Eretz Israel, undermines our right to the country, unavoidably leads to the establishment of a “Palestinian State,” jeopardizes the security of the Jewish population, endangers the existence of the State of Israel. and frustrates any prospect of peace.”

The Hamas Covenant must be looked at through the lens of occupation and land and resource theft from a largely captive people, who do not control their own destiny, being used by at least three religions and or their offshoots, Judaism, Islam, and Christianity, as a means to an end. For the Israelis, the end is “Greater Israel”. For the right wing extremists Christians it is the ushering in of the Second Coming(tm), and for the Muslims it is getting their rights back and there must be a fair understanding of why the animus exists.

It really is quite simple and diabolical. The Israelis have kept the Palestinians in a wretched state 12 for decades, the Israelis have striven to keep separate and at odds the Palestinian people themselves – and then they point to them, in the state that the accusers have kept them all this time and dare, with all due respect to chutzpah that it’s all the Palestinians fault and look, we must keep control of them because the conditions we have formed for them make them dangerous and likely to violently react.

Rashid Khalid, a Palestinian American who revealed the Netanyahu quote above that delineates Israeli thinking going back decades, further writes:

“It’s worth listening carefully when Netanyahu speaks to the Israeli people. What is going on in Palestine today is not really about Hamas. It is not about rockets. It is not about “human shields” or terrorism or tunnels. It is about Israel’s permanent control over Palestinian land and Palestinian lives. That is what Netanyahu is really saying, and that is what he now admits he has “always” talked about. It is about an unswerving, decades-long Israeli policy of denying Palestine self-determination, freedom, and sovereignty.

What Israel is doing in Gaza now is collective punishment. It is punishment for Gaza’s refusal to be a docile ghetto. It is punishment for the gall of Palestinians in unifying, and of Hamas and other factions in responding to Israel’s siege and its provocations with resistance, armed or otherwise, after Israel repeatedly reacted to unarmed protest with crushing force. Despite years of ceasefires and truces, the siege of Gaza has never been lifted.

As Netanyahu’s own words show, however, Israel will accept nothing short of the acquiescence of Palestinians to their own subordination. It will accept only a Palestinian “state” that is stripped of all the attributes of a real state: control over security, borders, airspace, maritime limits, contiguity, and, therefore, sovereignty. The twenty-three-year charade of the “peace process” has shown that this is all Israel is offering, with the full approval of Washington. Whenever the Palestinians have resisted that pathetic fate (as any nation would), Israel has punished them for their insolence.”

The Hamas Charter/Covenant is a rather convenient ruse to commit heinous acts on an entire people that Israel has not been able to cow. They are using the support of religious extremists from all over the world, including the United States, to perpetuate the bloody and illegal occupation, and the “balance” in news reporting has been appallingly in favor of Israel’s continued road down a very dark path. The path that world governments, most visibly the American government, have allowed Israel to tread with impunity over decades, the very path that created Hamas in the very first place.

The American government seems to be powerless to stop the carnage by its Client State that it props up with the very weaponry and ordinance being used against these innocent civilians 13 and the current architect of death, Benjamin Netanyahu has even had the temerity to demand of the US President according to Politico 14:

“In a phone call with U.S. Ambassador to Israel Dan Shapiro, Netanyahu vented his anger, according to people familiar with the call.

Netanyahu told Shapiro the Obama administration was “not to ever second-guess me again” and that Washington should trust his judgment on how to deal with Hamas, according to the people. Netanyahu added that he now “expected” the U.S. and other countries to fully support Israel’s offensive in Gaza, according to those familiar with the call. They spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to discuss the matter by name.

They said Netanyahu made similar points to Kerry, who himself denounced the attack as “outrageous,” saying it was an affront to assurances to respect the cease-fire given to the United States and United Nations, which brokered the truce.”

The problem for Israel and the United States, is that Israel’s version of who broke this latest ceasefire is at the very least suspect 15 or worse. And this gambit also roped in President Obama who has been embarrassed by taking Israeli propaganda at face value from this purported “ally”. The point is, Israel is no stranger to propaganda, it is a cottage industry in Israel and its heart is in The Israeli Prime Ministers Office 16. Right now in today’s Israeli War on Gaza civilians, often using a document from twenty-six years ago when the propaganda out of the Netanyahu administration is at least as suspect; we know now that Bibi lied 17 about the three dead soldiers that touched all this off, and it is more than likely that this event, the kidnapping and subsequent lies about it, was used by Bibi to destroy the nascent Palestinian unity government because that would deal a death blow to the decades long illegal occupation(s) and as the world has seen, Israel will not let that happen at any cost, even its own humanity.

Khaled Hroub, an expert on Hamas, wrote in the beginning of “A ‘New Hamas’ through Its New Documents” 18 eight years ago:

“Since Hamas won the Palestinian legislative elections in January 2006, its political positions as presented in the Western media hark back to its 1988 charter, with almost no reference to its considerable evolution under the impact of political developments. The present article analyzes (with long verbatim extracts) three recent key Hamas documents: its fall 2005 electoral platform, its draft program for a coalition government, and its cabinet platform as presented on 27 March 2006.

Analysis of the documents reveals not only a strong programmatic and, indeed, state building emphasis, but also considerable nuance in its positions with regard to resistance and a two-state solution. The article pays particular attention to the sectarian content of the documents, finding a progressive de-emphasis on religion in the three.”

Contrary to the jaded opinion that you can find in almost any comment section about the Israeli Palestinian conflict on many news Web sites, it is a fact that Palestinians did not elect a “terrorist” group to govern themselves. They elected a party that had proved itself through years of humanitarian work with the Palestinian people, a political party that put down the plans for such governance on paper and in deed and they were elected in a free and fair election as Hroub has repeatedly pointed out along with countless others.

It is time that world powers, particularly the United States, takes off the willful blinders and faces the reality that so many see for themselves. Israel created Hamas as sure as it has created this latest violence and this all dates back decades in a powerplay by Israel to get the rest of the land and resources from the Palestinians with the least amount, if any, of the indigenous Palestinians possible. The root of this conflict revolves around land and resources; Palestinians want to keep them, and Israel wants them at any cost, even lying about it all outright.

What we can all see, and hear, and read for ourselves, is proving that Israel’s unceasing occupation breeds resistance and using a long defunct charter/covenant is only one of the one-sided arguments being used to excuse away the ongoing massacre in Gaza by Israel. But worse than that, it seems that not even the United States, who gives and has given life to Israel’s decades long immoral occupation(s) can put a stop to it and indeed, pays for it with blood, sweat, treasure, and most of all, credibility.

1 Masters, Jonathan. “Hamas” Council on Foreign Relations (CFR) November 27th, 2012 [updated]

2 ?. “The Covenant of the Islamic Resistance Movement” The Avalon Project August 18th, 1988

3 Fisher, Max. “Here’s the full text of the deleted Times of Israel post backing genocide in Gaza” Vox Media August 1st, 2014

4 Flax, Bill. “Was America Founded As A Christian Nation?” Forbes Magazine August 1st, 2014

5 Feinburg, John S.. “Dispensationalism and Support for the State of Israel” “Christ at the Checkpoint” Conference March 2010

6 Krusch, David. “Zionism: Christian Zionism” Jewish Virtual Library Accessed August 1st, 2014

7 Hess, Michael. “Likud Explained” BBSNews July 28th, 2014

8 Hilla Dayan and PW Zuidhof. “Why do Israelis support a costly ground invasion of Gaza?” Jewish Voice for Peace July 31st, 2014

9 Flax, Bill. “Was America Founded As A Christian Nation?” Forbes Magazine August 1st, 2014

10 Translated by Muhammad Maqds. “Charter of the Islamic Resistance Movement (Hamas) of Palestine” Institute of Palestine Studies 1990

11 Khalidi, Rashid. “Collective Punishment in Gaza” The New Yorker July 29th, 2014

12 Levy, Gideon. “Our Wretched Jewish State” Haaretz July 6th, 2014

13 Martinez, Lewis. “U.S. Has Sold Ammunition to Israel Since Start of Gaza Conflict” ABCNews July 30th, 2014

14 Associated Press. “Netanyahu to U.S.: Don’t second-guess me on Hamas” AP via Politico August 2nd, 2014

15 Blumenthal, Max & Deger, Allison. “Who broke the ceasefire? Obama blames Hamas against the evidence” MondoWeiss August 2nd, 2014

16 Pfeffer, Anshel. “Israel is more focused on ‘hasbara’ than it is on policy” Haaretz March 2nd, 2012

17 Goldberg, J.J.. “How Politics and Lies Triggered an Unintended War in Gaza” The Jewish Daily Forward July 10th, 2014

18 Khaled, Hroub. “A ‘New Hamas’ through Its New Documents” Institute for Palestine Studies Summer 2008

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Michael Hess

Michael Hess

I started writing and editing BBSNews in 1990. Before the 'web, back in the Bulletin Board System (BBS) days. My pursuit of factual and reality based information informs my worldview. The ever evolving BBSNews contains New Mexico news, national and international news, politics, space, foreign policy and in particular; news and facts about the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. See our About Us page for more details.