Outside Gaza, Southern Israel — Open the pages of any daily newspaper or watch your favorite nightly news show and you are sure to see vivid and disturbing images of Israel’s war against Hamas. What is not being said, and certainly not being shown in the coverage of this confrontation, is that Hamas actually has a comprehensive war plan that it published years ago for all to see.
That plan sets the unambiguous goal of “obliterating” Israel and states that any method other than jihad in pursuit of this goal is a “waste of time.” But little is heard of this and few appear to be aware that the bible of Hamas, their covenant written in 1988, even exists.
What Israel is fighting is not a legitimate political organization with supposed nationalistic aims but rather an extreme religious ideology based on a treatise filled with racist diatribes, ethnic smears, vile stereotypes and genocidal intentions. Every Hamas action, including sacrificing their own population, is designed to destroy the independence of the Jewish state. For Israel the war against Hamas is one of survival. For Israel the ideology of Hamas is a clear existential threat.
Hamas’ charter promotes a gruesome cult of self-sacrifice that welcomes the suffering and death that has been visually presented in the living rooms of the world. For Hamas, dead civilians and grieving parents are part of the march of jihad.
The absurdly nihilistic strategy of booby-trapping homes and attacking from residential neighborhoods stems directly from the charter’s talk of “death for the sake of Allah as the loftiest of wishes” and the “readiness to sacrifice life and all that is precious for the sake of Allah.”
Hamas’ covenant calls for jhad, not only for “fighters” but also for women and children, the same women and children whose images are presented as victims of Israeli aggression. Hamas absolutely rejects compromise and negotiation, directly stating that “peaceful solutions” are in contradiction to their principles.
For Hamas, religion is not something subject to compromise or negotiation, so their covenantal declaration that the Palestinian problem is a religious problem leaves little room for traditional methods of conflict resolution. Since Islamic law is the basis of the Hamas movement, the only solution will come through their fundamental view of Islamic rulings.
Here is where the methods of reaching that solution are chillingly blunt. Hamas’ indoctrination of their people includes children’s programs where young people are shown armed in military fatigues and where they glorify and wish for death. It takes place in mosques, with broadcasts of religious leaders calling for the wholesale slaughter of Jews. It takes place in school, where compromise and peace with Israel is never mentioned but jhad and martyrdom is.
Hamas’ way of life and plan is to continue to fight and sacrifice their people, come what may.
The fight against Hamas is not about revenge and it is not about retaliation. It is not even about just stopping the deluge of rockets and missiles on Israeli civilians. The real fight against Hamas is for Israel’s existence and to prevent it from reaching a point when, with the help of their Iranian friends, they serve as the vanguard of a holy mission to destroy Israel.
Hamas’ charter describes Jews as a people who amassed money to control the media, world banking, publishing houses and the press. They claim Jews were behind the French revolution, the Communist revolution, the world wars. They see the Lions and Rotary clubs as secret societies designed to sabotage societies and colonize the world. They even see Jews as being behind a plan to create the United Nations in order to rule the world. This is what they preach and have been preaching for years. And this is whom Israel is expected to negotiate with.
What you see in Gaza today is not the result of Israeli shells, but rather the result of Hamas’ words. Read them for yourself.
Irwin J. (Yitzchak) Mansdorf directs the leadership program in Israel-Arab studies at Lindenbaum College in Jerusalem and is serving in the current Israel-Hamas war as a trauma psychologist for Gaza-area communities in Israel.