Hassan al-Banna, founder of the Muslim Brotherhood, of which Hamas is the Gazan branch
Are you, like me, experiencing a sense of 'deja-vu' when it comes to the current conflict in Gaza? Plus ca change, plus c'est la meme chose. The only difference, this time round, is that the present Egyptian government is ideologically sympathetic to Hamas, and only pragmatism will prevent it from supporting Hamas' war against Israel. I am re-posting an article I wrote in 2009 at the time of Operation Cast Lead in Gaza.
In spite of the record press and media coverage of the conflict
between Israel and Hamas in Gaza, rarely are Hamas's objectives put in
historical perspective. Hamas are not Palestinian nationalists but
Islamists. Well-meaning do-gooders
talk about the need for an end to violence and for the two sides to sit
down and talk. But Hamas, an acronym for Islamic Resistance Movement,
simply does not have a negotiating position, short of the annihilation of Israel and the subjugation of Jews to Muslim rule, as per its Charter.
is the local Gaza branch of the Muslim Brotherhood. This organisation,
founded in Egypt in 1928 by Hassan al-Banna, a teacher, was directly
inspired by the rise of Nazism,
as well as Mohammed's campaign against the Jewish tribes of Arabia in
the Koran. The German-funded Brotherhood's membership rocketed during
the 1930s from 800 to 200,000. Its primary target was not colonialism.
It has only ever targeted the Jews and other non-Muslims - and more
specifically, the Jews of Egypt.
explains how this campaign, which established the Brotherhood as a mass
movement, was set off by the 1936 uprising in Palestine directed
against Jewish immigration and initiated by the notorious Grand Mufti of
Jerusalem, Haj Amin al-Husseini. Between 1936 and 1938 the Brotherhood
organized mass demonstrations in Egyptian cities under the slogans "Down
With the Jews!" and "Jews Get Out of Egypt and Palestine!" Leaflets
called for a boycott of Jewish goods and shops. The Brotherhood's
newspaper, al-Nadhir, carried a regular column on "The Danger of
the Jews of Egypt," which published the names and addresses of Jewish
businessmen and (allegedly) Jewish newspaper publishers all over the
world - attributing every evil, from communism to brothels, to the
"Jewish danger." The Jews of Egypt were repeatedly called on to publicly
dissasociate themselves from Zionism.
In June 1939 bombs were
planted in a Cairo synagogue and Jewish homes, but this was as nothing
compared to the violence to come. In November 1945, just six months
after the end of the Third Reich, the Muslim Brotherhood carried out
what Kuntzel calls the worst anti-Jewish pogroms in (modern*)
Egypt's history, when demonstrators penetrated the Jewish quarter of
Cairo on the anniversary of the Balfour Declaration. They ransacked
houses and shops, attacked non-Muslims, and torched the synagogues. Six
people were killed, and a hundred more injured. A few weeks later the
Islamists' newspapers "turned to a frontal attack against the Egyptian
Jews, slandering them as Zionists, Communists, capitalists and
bloodsuckers, as pimps and merchants of war, or in general, as
subversive elements within all states and societies," as Gudrun Krämer wrote in her study The Jews in Egypt 1914-1952.
rest is, as they say, history. More riots erupted in 1948, thousands of
Jews fled, discriminatory laws were introduced against non-Egyptians
and in 1956, a third of Egypt's original 80,000-strong community were
expelled and dispossessed. After 1967, hundreds more Jews were interned
The pitiful status of Jews in Egypt today would gladden the heart of any Hamas supporter: the country is almost judenrein, and the few dozen fearful Jews still living there - almost all converts to Islam or married to non-Jews - 'know their place'.
*worse pogroms erupted in medieval times