The Palestinian Christians Defending Hamas
Most would-be “peacemakers” in the Middle East know better than to shill for Hamas, a jihadist organization whose leaders have repeatedly called for Israel’s destruction and regularly exhort their supporters to murder Jews. And most peacemakers, Christians especially, would understand that downplaying Hamas’ hostility toward Israel would elicit disdain and contempt from people who pay any attention to political realities in the Holy Land.
There is at least one person, however, who has not gotten the memo about Hamas. It’s Rev. Alex Awad, a Palestinian Christian who resides in America and is a US citizen. Awad, a member of the well-known Awad family from Bethlehem, seems to think that he can shill for Hamas without damaging his credibility.
In a recent letter to US President Joseph Biden and Secretary of State Antony Blinken, Awad declares that Hamas should not be dismissed as a terrorist organization, saying that “assigning the label of ‘terrorist organization’ to Hamas hides the more complicated truth that Hamas is a reflection and result of the untenable and unjust status quo in the land.”
In the same letter, written on behalf of a group that calls itself the “Palestinian Christian Alliance for Peace,” Awad writes that a “sizable number of Palestinians support Hamas because it is seen as less corrupt and more effective in governing than Fatah, not necessarily due to its ideology.”
Awad also reports that “Hamas even has a number of Palestinian Christians among its representatives and constituents,” and that the organization has “called for a decades-long truce (hudna) with Israel, which the latter has consistently rejected.”
With this line of reasoning, Awad is trying to portray Hamas as a credible negotiating partner, and Israel as singularly responsible for the lack of peace in the Holy Land.
But Israel withdrew from the Gaza Strip in 2005 and Hamas launched more rockets into the Jewish state than it had before the withdrawal. For some reason, Awad is unable to acknowledge the injustice of Hamas’ actions, nor is he able to recognize that Hamas helped create the “untenable and unjust status quo in the land.”
Awad describes Hamas as less corrupt than Fatah, but that’s not saying much. If the organization is so honest, they why did it try to convict journalist Hajar Harb in absentia and sentence her to six months in prison for reporting on corrupt practices at a Hamas-run hospital in the Gaza Strip? (Fortunately, Harb, who was going through cancer treatment in Jordan at the time of her trial, was able to have her sentence overturned.)
And if Hamas is so trustworthy, then why does foreign aid intended to promote the health and welfare of Palestinians get funneled into the construction of rockets and tunnels to facilitate the murder of Israeli Jews? Why does Hamas use schools operated by the United Nations Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA) to store its weapons?
And if Hamas’ offer of a ceasefire is so credible, then how does Awad explain the ongoing invective, rocket attacks, attempted terror attacks, and arson fires directed at Israel by the organization?
Most public figures would suffer a loss of credibility after shilling for Hamas in such an obtuse manner, but not Awad — for one simple reason: he has no credibility left to lose.
At the 2018 Christ at the Checkpoint Conference, Awad, a former Methodist missionary, revealed his animus toward Jews who dare work at the White House. During the conference, Awad displayed a slide with the picture of three White House officials surrounding a headshot of Donald Trump: Jason Greenblatt, Trump’s special representative for international negotiations; David Friedman, US ambassador to Israel; and Jared Kushner, Trump’s son-in-law and senior advisor. The images were accompanied by the words, “Foul! A Recipe for Failure.”
Awad then told his audience to look at the picture.
“Anything wrong?” he asked. “What’s wrong?”
One audience member said, “They’re all Jews!” And another said, “They’re all Jewish.”
Awad then drove the point home.
“They’re all Jewish,” he said. “Millionaires or billionaires.”
Maybe this helps explain why Awad is willing to shill for Hamas, because they have something in common — a contempt for Jews.
Article 22 of the original Hamas covenant declared that its enemies (the Jews, of course) “have been scheming for a long time […] and have accumulated huge and influential material wealth. With their money, they took control of the world media … With their money they stirred revolutions in various parts of the globe [….] There is no war going on anywhere without them having their finger in it.”
As it turns out, Hamas has updated its covenant, declaring now that its problem isn’t with Judaism as a religion, but with Jews who insist on maintaining their self-determination (AKA, “Zionists”).
That’s how bad Christian peacemaking has gotten. Hamas could give Awad some advice on how to hide his contempt for Jews while still getting his message across.
Lord have mercy.
Dexter Van Zile is Shillman Research Fellow for the Committee for Accuracy in Middle East Reporting and Analysis (CAMERA).