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What Does Hamas Want?

March 11, 2024

by: Ilse Strauss, News Bureau Chief

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It happened during the height of the battle against ISIS. British author and political commentator Douglas Murray was making small talk at a cocktail party when a fellow guest asked, “What do you think ISIS wants?”

The question left him baffled, Murray admits. Hadn’t the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria been upfront about their objectives? ISIS leaders had proudly taken to the internet sharing their goals. Dozens of papers had been penned and published. There had even been a monthly online magazine in English proclaiming ISIS’s intent to seize ownership of the entire world, subjugating everyone under its “blessed flag.”

Oh yes, Murray told the guest. ISIS had been crystal clear about what they want: establishing the terror group as a world-wide caliphate ruled by the harshest form of Islamic law. The guest’s brow furrowed. “I don’t really see that,” he pondered.

Murray’s anecdote wasn’t aimed at exposing an ignorant individual. He sought to highlight an illusion prevalent in much of Western society upon which our enemies prey.

Biblical values have been so deeply interwoven into Western civilization that these principles are often presumed universal. Yet this misconception fails to acknowledge anything that falls outside the framework of a culture governed by freedom, respect and coexistence, and thus attempts to rationalize anomalies like ISIS until it fits the mold.

The result? Instead of facing the chilling truth that evil exists, it’s easier to dismiss radical fundamentalism as the fruit of intolerance, the result of a lack of sensitivity and understanding that could easily be remedied with compromise and dialogue.

History on Repeat

Hours after October 7, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu told his shaken nation, “Hamas is ISIS.”

The parallels of cruelty and savagery between the two terror groups are indeed striking, but go well beyond barbarous acts committed in the name of Islam. Hamas, like ISIS, presented humanity with the proof that evil exists. And once again, instead of facing the chilling truth, it was easier to revert to rationalization in an attempt to fit a genocidal terror group into a framework of a culture governed by freedom, respect and coexistence.

However, while ISIS was viewed as a global issue, Hamas is pigeonholed as an Israel­–Palestinian concern. That adds into the mix centuries of anti-Semitism and a role-player that has historically stood as the scapegoat for everything from the plague to poisoning the wells to serving as the cause for their own annihilation. The result? A noxious narrative that turns the victim into the culprit while presenting Hamas as nothing worse than a misunderstood adolescent sullenly slamming doors.

Words into Action

Occupation, suffering, apartheid and land theft. All these have been presented as the reason behind Hamas’s gleeful rampage through southern Israel. If only the Gazans were able to come and go as they please…If only Israel were open to peace…If only those Zionists hadn’t forced hapless Hamas’s hand…If only there were two states for two peoples…October 7 would never have happened and the Middle East would still be the utopia it was before the Jews came.

Yet each of these “root causes” fail to address the elephant in the room. Just like ISIS, Hamas has always been crystal clear about what they want, and it isn’t autonomy of movement, democracy, self-governance or a peaceful state alongside their Jewish neighbors. Topping the terror organization’s wish list is the annihilation of the Jewish people and replacing the State of Israel with a Muslim nation governed by radical Islamic law.

Hamas’s founding document unapologetically highlights Israel’s destruction as its raison d’etre. The manifesto declares that Hamas is opposed to Israel’s existence in any form, seeks to replace the Jewish state with a Palestinian one and calls for jihad to “raise the banner of Allah over every inch of Palestine.” Then, Hamas borrows from the Hadith—the collective body of Muhammad’s sayings or traditions—to serve up the slaughter of Jews in an Islamic eschatological context. “The Day of Judgment will not come about until Moslems fight Jews and kill them. Then, the Jews will hide behind rocks and trees, and the rocks and trees will cry out: ‘O Moslem, there is a Jew hiding behind me, come and kill him.’”

That puts October 7 in a chilling context. When thousands of Hamas terrorists stormed across the border to slay the Jews—many of them hiding behind rocks and trees—they were merely putting their genocidal law into action and doing what they had always said they would.

From the Horse’s Mouth

It isn’t Hamas’s charter either. There’s also leaders like Khaled Mashal proclaiming, “We love death like our enemies love life,” Yahya Sinwar adding the question of when Hamas should wipe out Israel as an agenda item to a roundtable discussion with Gazan youth and a spokesperson vowing, “We shall liberate our land with blood, with martyrs, with women, and with children. We shall take down the [border] fence with the fingernails of our children.” Let’s not forget an interior minister promising, “We will cleanse Palestine of the filth of the Jews. We will establish the caliphate, after the nation has been healed of its cancer—the Jews” and Hamas’s co-founder Mahmoud al-Zahar admitting, “When we talk about ‘peaceful resistance,’ we’re deceiving the public.”

Then, religious leaders link the destruction of Israel with the supreme will of Allah. For Friday sermons, the faithful gather for messages like, “Our doctrine in fighting the Jews is that we will totally exterminate them. We will not leave a single one alive.” Imams pray for the ability to “get to the neck of the Jews,” and cry out for the “annihilation” and “paralysis” of those whom “[Allah] transformed into filthy, ugly animals like apes and pigs because of the injustice and evil they had brought about.”

And as for a two-state solution, Hamas leaders have long since dispelled the myth. “Our plan is to liberate every inch of Palestinian land…Our ultimate plan is [to have] Palestine in its entirety. I say this loud and clear.”

True to their Word

“You can accuse Hamas of many things,” a friend confided after October 7, “but not of hiding their true colors. They’ve told us for years what they wanted. The least we could’ve done was take them seriously.”

Israel won’t make that mistake twice. As for the rest of the world, the jury is out.

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