Israel and Hamas in Their Own Words
by Lawrence J. Siskind
Much of the American media establishment and commentariat have adopted the familiar crouch position known as “equivalency.” They include both sides’ latest casualty figures, and juxtaposed photos of bombing damage in Gaza with rocket damage in Israel — as if efforts to kill civilians are equivalent to retaliatory efforts to prevent the killing of those civilians.
The problem with equivalency is that it reveals nothing about the actors beside their respective suffering. It says nothing about their values and motives.
Fortunately, that information is readily available — in the parties’ own words.
The Israelis’ desire for peace reflects the May 14, 1948, Declaration of the State of Israel:
WE APPEAL — in the very midst of the onslaught launched against us now for months — to the Arab inhabitants of the State of Israel to preserve peace and participate in the upbuilding of the State on the basis of full and equal citizenship and due representation in all its provisional and permanent institutions.
The Hamas Covenant of August 18, 1988, asserts a different viewpoint:
The day that enemies usurp part of Moslem land, Jihad becomes the individual duty of every Moslem. In face of the Jews’ usurpation of Palestine, it is compulsory that the banner of Jihad be raised. … Arab and Islamic Peoples should augment by further steps on their part; Islamic groupings all over the Arab world should also do the same, since all of these are the best-equipped for the future role in the fight with the warmongering Jews.
The Hamas commitment to ridding the land of Jews is so fervid, it even supersedes the organization’s unenlightened attitude toward women. According to Sheik Ahmad Bahr, a top Hamas official:
If the enemy sets foot on a single square inch of Islamic land, Jihad becomes an individual duty, incumbent on every Muslim, male or female. A woman may set out without her husband’s permission. … Why? In order to annihilate those Jews. Oh Allah, destroy the Jews and their supporters. Oh Allah, destroy the Americans and their supporters. Oh Allah, count them one by one, and kill them all, without leaving a single one.
What are the two sides’ positions on respect for other religions? Israel’s founding Declaration states:
THE STATE OF ISRAEL … will ensure complete equality of social and political rights to all its inhabitants irrespective of religion, race or sex; it will guarantee freedom of religion, conscience, language, education and culture; it will safeguard the Holy Places of all religions; and it will be faithful to the principles of the Charter of the United Nations.
Prime Minister Netanyahu repeated this position in reference to worship at the Temple Mount:
Those who visit or worship on the Temple Mount must be allowed to do so in peace, free from violence, from threats, from intimidation and from provocations. We will continue to ensure access to the Temple Mount for peaceful worshipers and visitors, while maintaining public order and security. Recognizing the importance of the Temple Mount to peoples of all three monotheistic faiths — Jews, Muslims and Christians — Israel re-affirms its commitment to upholding unchanged the status quo of the Temple Mount, in word and in practice.
The Hamas Covenant takes a different stand:
Our struggle against the Jews is very great and very serious … The Day of Judgement will not come about until Moslems fight the Jews, when the Jew will hide behind stones and trees. The stones and trees will say O Moslems, O Abdulla, there is a Jew behind me, come and kill him.
What are the two sides’ positions on condemning the current violence between Jews and Arabs in Israel?
Netanyahu recently told a Jewish audience:
I don’t care if your blood is boiling. So it’s boiling. It’s irrelevant. You can’t take the law into your own hands. You can’t come to an Arab civilian and try to lynch him, just as we can’t see Arab citizens do so to Jewish citizens. This will not stand.
Fathi Hamad, the Hamas Interior Minister, begs to differ:
People of Jerusalem. We want you to cut off the heads of the Jews with knives. With your hand, cut their artery from here. A knife costs five shekels. Buy a knife, sharpen it, put it there, and just cut off [their heads]. It costs just five shekels.
This is not a new position. In July 2019, Hamad declared:
Seven million Palestinians outside, enough warming up, you have Jews with you in every place. You should attack every Jew possible in all the world and kill them.
Perhaps one day the American media and pundits will take a closer look at the character of the combatants. When they do so, they may not be so hasty to find “equivalency” between those who wish to kill and those who wish not to die.
Lawrence J. Siskind is a San Francisco attorney, who blogs on issues of politics, foreign policy, law, and culture, at ToPutItBluntly.com.