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The Top Five Laughable Lies From Hamas’s New Political Document

The theocratic terrorist group now claims it supports religious tolerance, women’s empowerment, and electoral democracy

Yair Rosenberg
May 04, 2017
Mahmud Hams/AFP/Getty Images
Palestinian high-school students show off their skills during a graduation ceremony from a military school course organised by the Hamas security forces and the Hamas Ministries of Interior and Education on April 2, 2017 in Gaza City.Mahmud Hams/AFP/Getty Images
Mahmud Hams/AFP/Getty Images
Palestinian high-school students show off their skills during a graduation ceremony from a military school course organised by the Hamas security forces and the Hamas Ministries of Interior and Education on April 2, 2017 in Gaza City.Mahmud Hams/AFP/Getty Images

On Monday, Hamas, the U.S. and E.U.-designated terrorist group that controls Gaza, released a new political document that attempted to put a moderate face on its extremist agenda of eliminating Israel. Few were convinced. As the New York Times reported, “Experts on all sides of the complex struggle here say the new document is unlikely to represent any profound change in Hamas’s true position toward Israel. The group recently chose a hard-liner, Yehya Sinwar, as its new leader in Gaza, and it has still in no way recognized Israel or renounced violence.”

As the Times noted, the new document does not accept Israel’s right to exist. It also does not disavow or replace the group’s official charter, which blames the Jews for both world wars, cites the anti-Semitic screed The Protocols of the Elders of Zion, and is riddled with anti-Jewish tropes.

The document does, however, contain many obvious and hilarious lies. It’s worth enumerating a few of them, if only to underscore the fact that this document is a work of propaganda intended for gullible foreigners, and not a serious policy statement.

1. Hamas believes in “democracy” and “pluralism.”

“Hamas believes in, and adheres to, managing its Palestinian relations on the basis of pluralism, democracy, national partnership, acceptance of the other and the adoption of dialogue,” the document states. “Hamas stresses the necessity of building Palestinian national institutions on sound democratic principles, foremost among them are free and fair elections.”

In reality, Hamas hasn’t held elections in Gaza since it seized power in 2007 and literally threw its political opponents off roofs. To secure its rule, the terrorist group imprisons journalists and violently suppresses any attempts at political dissent.

2. Hamas supports women’s rights.

The document makes several somewhat awkward and formulaic nods to female empowerment. “The role of Palestinian women is fundamental in the process of building the present and the future, just as it has always been in the process of making Palestinian history,” reads one line. “Hamas believes that the message of Islam upholds the values of truth, justice, freedom and dignity and prohibits all forms of injustice and incriminates oppressors irrespective of their religion, race, gender or nationality.”

But if this is what Islam preaches, it is not what Hamas practices. In fact, as the New York Times reported in February, even a woman riding a bicycle in public is considered an act of defiance by Hamas, which banned women from Gaza’s 2013 marathon. Abortion is illegal in Gaza, and honor killings go unprosecuted.

3. Hamas advocates religious tolerance.

The document contains several gestures toward religious inclusion, at least for Christianity. It acknowledges Jesus Christ (who is considered a prophet by Islam), and the Christian holy places of Jerusalem. “The Palestinian people are one people,” it asserts, “irrespective of their religion, culture or political affiliation.” Similarly, “Islam is a religion of peace and tolerance. It provides an umbrella for the followers of other creeds and religions who can practice their beliefs in security and safety.”

Given the significant Palestinian Christian minority, this sort of ecumenical tolerance is a prerequisite for any form of national unity and responsible governance. Unfortunately, contrary to its florid language, Hamas has offered exactly the opposite. “Gaza Christians long for days before Hamas cancelled Christmas,” wrote The Guardian in 2011, just a few years into the terror group’s reign in Gaza. “Of the 1.5 million Palestinians now living in the Gaza Strip, fewer than 1,400 are Christian and those who can are leaving,” the article went on. “There hasn’t been a Christmas tree in Gaza City’s main square since Hamas pushed the Palestinian Authority out of Gaza in 2007 and Christmas is no longer a public holiday.” The piece interviewed a Palestinian Christian who had been threatened by a Hamas officer when he refused to remove his cross. Under Hamas, Reuters later reported, Gaza’s Christians have been forcibly converted and even murdered.

And that’s before we get to Hamas’s outlook toward Jews.

4. Hamas is not anti-Semitic, because only Europeans are anti-Semitic.

The document clumsily attempts to shrug off Hamas’s long history of anti-Jewish bigotry. But it goes so far overboard that even the most credulous readers are unlikely to be taken in. “Hamas rejects the persecution of any human being or the undermining of his or her rights on nationalist, religious or sectarian grounds,” the document dubiously claims. “Hamas is of the view that the Jewish problem, anti-Semitism and the persecution of the Jews are phenomena fundamentally linked to European history and not to the history of the Arabs and the Muslims or to their heritage.”

In actuality, Hamas’s official spokesman is someone who claims Jews bake their Passover matzo with the blood of gentile children, and just this past February, the group released a gruesome music video featuring “an ultra-Orthodox Jew having his head blown off and stuck on a pike, as well as another being shot in the head through crosshairs.” And this is to say nothing of the Anti-Defamation League and Pew Research Center findings on anti-Semitism in the Arab and Muslim world, which is far from immune to anti-Jewish prejudice. Which brings us back to the new Hamas document itself, which is replete with anti-Semitic notions, despite efforts to sanitize its language. For example:

5. Jerusalem has no Jewish holy places.

Regarding Jerusalem, the document claims, “Its Islamic and Christian holy places belong exclusively to the Palestinian people and to the Arab and Islamic Ummah.” Why are Jewish holy places entirely omitted from this assertion? Not because Hamas recognizes Jewish rights to their most sacred sites, but because the group has repeatedly denied that the Jewish Temples ever stood in Jerusalem, claiming that such archaeologically proven facts are “Israeli fictions.”

Yair Rosenberg is a senior writer at Tablet. Subscribe to his newsletter, listen to his music, and follow him on Twitter and Facebook.