Did Israel Create Hamas?

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Did Israel create Hamas? Ron Paul, in his 2009 speech on the House floor (below), said they did. He was opposing H.R. 34 at the time and said, “Israel created Hamas.”

The clip of Ron Paul blaming the creation of Hamas by the US and Israel is circulating the Internet. Is Mr. Paul accurate? There is so much more to the story. Taking things out of context is never a good idea. While Israel allowed the group’s founder to exist in the early 1970s to early 1980s and might [that’s might is capital letters] have helped them financially, they were not at all what they became, or at least pretended to be – humanitarians.

Israel tolerated Hamas for nearly a decade as a counter to Fatah. They were a religious group until the 1990s. That’s when they became a fighting force. To say Israel is responsible for Hamas and what they became is unfair and more victim blaming.

Watch:

Mehdi Hassan, no friend of American values or Israel’s, narrated and co-authored an article for The Intercept claiming the same, but it appears exaggerated.
THE EVIDENCE

The evidence for the claim comes out of the early 1970s and is backed up by a letter to the NY Times editor from Daniel Sherman, Modiin, Israel, who was a former senior general staff officer in the Israel Defense Forces who dealt with strategic planning issues and the peace process.[1]

Letter To the Editor:

Re “The U.S. Should Condition Aid to Israel on Reducing Conflict” (column, May 13):

Nicholas Kristof is right when he mentions that Israel once allowed the rise of Hamas as a counterweight to the Palestine Liberation Organization. But Israel did much more than “allow.”

In 1981, Brig. Gen. Yitzhak Segev, Israel’s military governor of Gaza, told me that he was giving money to the Muslim Brotherhood, the precursor of Hamas, on the instruction of the Israeli authorities. The funding was intended to tilt power away from both Communist and Palestinian nationalist movements in Gaza, which Israel considered more threatening than the fundamentalists.

Judging by a distressed phone call I got later from the army spokesman, General Segev’s superiors were not happy with his disclosure of a practice that did not look very clever, even at the time. They thought incorrectly — but apparently wished — that he had made his comments off the record.

Other reports blame Rabin for bringing the movement to Israel in the early days as a counter to secular socialist Yassar Arafat, who sought the destruction of Israel. When Bill Clinton offered Arafat everything he wanted, Arafat turned it down.

If Rabin did, the Labor Party leader also signed the Oslo Accords with Arafat, which was opposed by Hamas.

Sergev’s comments might be true, as quoted by Sherman, but it is hearsay. In any case, the movement didn’t take off until 1987.

THE ORIGINS OF HAMAS AS WE KNOW IT TODAY [2,3,4]

Hamas is a militant Palestinian movement currently led by Ismail Haniyeh. The group is one of the two major political factions in the Palestinian territories. Its main rival is Fatah, which is secular socialist and not as violent and controls the Palestinian Authority in the West Bank.

In 1987, four Palestinians were killed in a traffic accident involving an Israeli driver, and the events that followed–a Palestinian uprising against Israel’s West Bank and Gaza occupation–led Yassin and six other Palestinians to found Hamas as an offshoot of Egypt’s Muslim Brotherhood.

Hamas is the Arabic acronym for the Islamic Resistance Movement and a recognition of the group’s roots and early ties to one of the Sunni world’s most prominent groups, the Muslim Brotherhood, founded in Egypt in the 1920s.

A spin-off of the Palestinian branch of the Muslim Brotherhood in the late 1980s, the Islamist militant group Hamas took over the Gaza Strip after defeating its rival political party, Fatah, in elections in 2006.

Shortly after Hamas won elections in the Gaza Strip in 2006, a power struggle ensued between Fatah and Hamas, which resulted in Hamas fighters’ ousting all Fatah politicians from Gaza by force. Since then, no elections have been held, and Hamas maintains political control of the area.

The group has vowed to annihilate Israel and has been responsible for many suicide bombings and other deadly attacks on civilians and Israeli soldiers. They tempered the goal somewhat but still called for the destruction of the State of Israel.

The U.S. State Department designated Hamas a terrorist group in 1997. The European Union and other Western countries also consider it a terrorist organization.

 

MONDAY MORNING QUARTERBACKS [5]

Arieh Spitzen, the former head of the Israeli military’s Department of Palestinian Affairs, says that even if Israel had tried to stop the Islamists sooner, he doubts it could have done much to curb political Islam, a movement that was spreading across the Muslim world.

He says attempts to stop it are akin to trying to change the internal rhythms of nature: “It is like saying: ‘I will kill all the mosquitoes.’ But then you get even worse insects that will kill you…You break the balance. You kill Hamas you might get al Qaeda.”[5]https://www.wsj.com/articles/SB123275572295011847

When it became clear in the early 1990s that Gaza’s Islamists had mutated from a religious group into a fighting force aimed at Israel — particularly after they turned to suicide bombings in 1994 — Israel cracked down with ferocious force. But each military assault only increased Hamas’s appeal to ordinary Palestinians.

 

GO DEEPER ON THE ORIGINS [14-18]

The acronym “Hamas” first appeared in 1987 in a leaflet that accused the Israeli intelligence services of undermining the moral fiber of Palestinian youth as part of Mossad’s recruitment of what Hamas termed “collaborators.”

Nonetheless, Israeli military and intelligence was still focused on Fatah and continued to maintain contacts with Gaza Islamic activists. Numerous Islamist leaders, including senior Hamas founder Mahmoud Zahar, met with Yitzhak Rabin as part of “regular consultations” between Israeli officials and Palestinians not linked to the PLO.[14]

Hamas carried out its first attack against Israel in 1989, abducting and killing two soldiers. The Israel Defense Forces immediately arrested Yassin, sentenced him to life in prison, and deported 400 Hamas activists, including Zahar, to South Lebanon, which was occupied by Israel at the time. During this time, Hamas built a relationship with Hezbollah.

From 1987 to 1991, Hamas campaigned for the wearing of the hijab alongside other measures, including insisting women stay at home be segregated from men and the promotion of polygamy. In the course of this campaign, women who chose not to wear the hijab were verbally and physically harassed, with the result that the hijab was being worn ‘just to avoid problems on the streets.’[18]

In 1984, the Israeli army received intelligence that Yassin’s followers were collecting arms in Gaza. Israeli troops raided mosques and found a cache of weapons.[14] Yassin was arrested but told his interrogators the weapons were meant to be used against secular Palestinians, not Israel. The cleric was released a year later and allowed to continue to develop his movement in Gaza.[14]

Around the time of Yassin’s arrest, Avner Cohen, an Israeli religious affairs official, sent a report to senior military officers and civilian leadership in Gaza advising them of the dangers of the Islamic movement, but this report and similar ones were ignored.[14] Former military intelligence officer Shalom Harari said the warnings were ignored out of neglect, not a desire to fortify the Islamists: “Israel never financed Hamas. Israel never armed Hamas.”[14][17]

SOURCES
  1. NY Times
  2. AP News
  3. NBC News
  4. CFR
  5. Wall Street Journal

14. ^ Jump up to:a b c d e f g h i j k l Higgins, Andrew (January 24, 2009). “How Israel Helped to Spawn Hamas”Wall Street Journal. Archived from the original on September 26, 2009. Retrieved August 24, 2010.

15. ^ Levitt, Matthew (2006). Hamas : politics, charity, and terrorism in the service of jihad. Foreword by Dennis Ross. New Haven: Yale University Press. p. 24. ISBN 978-0-300-11053-1. Retrieved September 26, 2023 – via Internet Archive.

16.^ Hitchens, Christopher (January 30, 2006). “Suicide Voters”. Slate.com. Archived from the original on September 3, 2010. Retrieved August 24, 2010.

17.^ Shavit, Ari (January 7, 2009). “Watching Hamas”New YorkerArchived from the original on August 5, 2011. Retrieved August 24, 2010.

18.^ Rubenberg, C., Palestinian Women: Patriarchy and Resistance in the West Bank (USA, 2001) p.230–231


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