Subscribe to our Newsletter

click to dowload our latest edition



Unpacking Islamist Jew-hatred behind Hamas

Avatar photo



The barbarity of the attack by Hamas in Israel may have been shocking to many observers, but it wasn’t a surprise to those familiar with the ideology of the perpetrators, says Jeffrey Herf, distinguished university professor emeritus in the history department at the University of Maryland.

The worst instance of mass murder of Jewish civilians since the Holocaust is the logical outcome of the Jew-hatred that Hamas has openly expressed since 1988, says Herf, the curator of a YIVO Institute for Jewish Research three-part webinar series on the origins and ideology of Hamas.

“That hatred rests on a strand of Islamic antisemitism that emerged in the early 20th century and fuelled the Arab war of rejection in 1948,” he says.

Herf says Hamas’s decision to launch the attack in Israel “calls to mind the efforts of previous terrorist actors who sought to sabotage diplomatic efforts that could lead to negotiated settlements of longstanding conflict”.

“Yet, the cruelty of this latest operation – murdering young people at a music event, executing whole families in their homes, seizing hostages – demonstrates that Jew-hatred has deranged the minds of the killers. The history of Islamist antisemitism is critical to understanding the genocidal racism that supports Hamas’s long-term eliminationist goals.”

During the first episode of the series aired on 26 February, Herf said, “The Hamas Charter of 1988 stated, ‘Our struggle against the Jews’ – not Zionists, imperialists, or colonialists. It declared that it adopted Islam as its way of life.” He said that when the charter mentioned Palestine, “It was referring not to the West Bank or Gaza only, but to what was then the state of Israel. It called for the obliteration of Israel to be a religious obligation. It said the day of judgement wouldn’t come until Muslims fought the Jew, killing the Jew.”

Matthias Küntzel, a German-based political scientist who has published various works on this topic, says, “A well-known Palestinian politician stated that the Hamas Charter of 1988 ‘sounds as if it came straight from the pages of Der Stürmer’. Not only are the atrocities of 7 October reminiscent of Nazi atrocities, but the ideology of the murder of Jews is similar.

“Antisemitism is only one element of Hamas ideology. [The charter] quotes the slogan of Hamas, which at the same time was the motto the Muslim Brotherhood chanted on the streets of Cairo in the 1930s: ‘Allah is our goal, prophet our model, the Quran our Constitution, jihad our path, and death in the case of Allah.’

“’The Quran our Constitution’ means that Hamas want a bureaucracy in which people don’t decide on laws as the Quran is the supreme law,” Küntzel says.

“‘Jihad is our path’ means that peace negotiations aren’t just rejected, but actively torpedoed. Peace with Israel is the nightmare of the Hamas leadership, which wants Israel’s destruction.

“The final slogan of the Muslim Brotherhood and Hamas is, ‘Death for the case of Allah is the loftiest of our wishes.’ According to the Quran, a martyr’s death secures the killed person a privileged place in paradise. Since the Quran is known to always be right, this results in a win-win situation for jihadists.

“For Islamists, however, not only do their own lives have little value, so do the lives of other Muslims. They are abused and sacrificed as mass human shields. Without these human shields, Hamas would be weak in the current war and would probably already be defeated.

“Weapons are supposed to protect people. In the war, it’s people who are supposed to protect the weapons. The more Arab civilians are killed, the better for the Hamas propaganda that Israel is out to kill civilians, especially children.

“For Israel, this is a lose-lose situation. Either it loses the rocket war because it cannot defend itself, or it defends itself, kills civilians, and loses the propaganda war.”

Jonathan Brent, YIVO executive director and chief executive, says, “When an Arabic translation of Mein Kampf was discovered in a kindergarten in Gaza last year, I realised that the powerful current in the antisemitism in the genocidal destructive action of Hamas on 7 October was being fuelled by Nazi propaganda.

“The actions of 7 October represented the continuation of precisely the genocidal thinking of the Nazis into the present day. Thinking of the Holocaust and the antisemitism toward the Jews in the 1920s and 1930s as simply occurring in a geographical area circumscribed by Eastern and Western Europe as well as Russia is an obsolete way of understanding the nature of antisemitic thinking in the world today.”

Herf says the ideology of Hamas isn’t understood by the global left in South Africa and elsewhere that celebrates Hamas or believes its propaganda.

Hamas, he says, is “an offshoot of the Muslim Brotherhood, one of the after effects of the collaboration between Islamists and the Nazi regime during World War II and the Holocaust”.

Hamas should be understood as a movement of the extreme right. “That’s as a reactionary attack on the values of the Enlightenment, modern liberalism, and above all, as a movement waging a war of religion against the Jews.”

The YIVO series has been developed by the United States-based YIVO, which has the largest collection of materials pertaining to the Holocaust aside from Yad Vashem in Jerusalem. All three episodes will be screened live on Zoom through

Herf describes South Africa’s case against Israel at the International Court of Justice as a “travesty”. “The legal reasoning and use of evidence were woefully beneath the standards one expects from well-trained lawyers. It was an example of politics overcoming law, facts, and scholarship.”

He encourages people to read historical scholarship and give less attention to opinions on social media. “If governments, the press, non-governmental organisations, and academia had focused attention on the issues we’ll address, this war either wouldn’t have happened at all or would have happened many years ago with far fewer casualties.”

Continue Reading
1 Comment

1 Comment

  1. yitzchak

    March 1, 2024 at 9:52 am

    Two writers have analysed the Palestinian rapprochement with nazism and fascism. viz Elpeleg (of Moshe Dayan Institute) and Barry Rubin.
    That mainstay palestinians sojourned in Nazi germany during the war and encouraging the nazis with their holocaust in order to prevent Jews escaping to Palestine. The Mufti, his nephew abdel kader al husseini the bomb makers in Jerusalem in1948; Fawzi Kutub, Kawukji etc. all participated in Jewish genocide.
    Their political culture finds parallels in the moslem brotherhood,one of whose offshoots is Hamas. That is why there has not been a new election in Gaza.

    They also were present in Baghdad during the Farhud/pogrom in 1941 with Rashid Ali’s fascists and encouragement from the Nazi Arabic radio transmissions from Berlin and the Ambassador to Iraq , Groper.

    “Islam” means submission to Allah as they perform their prostrations in mosque, and by extension the new messengers of G-d namely the Mullahs in the mirhabs

    Mein kampf in Arabic has long been a best seller.

    All our lefty Jewish sisters are still silent on the vicious rapes and murders and abductions of 7.10.
    Beware. Your shtoom pills are about to run out.They are to be replaced by antipsychotic medication.
    Borderline personalities surprisingly always have ego problems not knowing what the borders of personality are.Thus a one state solution. Why not a one globe solution with no borders …all is globalized
    No passports, dompasses… go live where you want…just not Israel which has a strong sense of identity which minorities wont acceor understand. For a start Pakistan can negate its separate statehood and rejoin India…that’s going to be a noisy solution!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *