Hamas is explicit in wanting to kill not only all Israelis but all Jews. The organization states as much in its charter and declares that goal a religious duty. Hamas has sought to translate the genocidal intent into action, including through innumerable missile attacks targeting Israel’s civilian population since the terror group gained control of Gaza in 2007.
Yet Hamas has a coterie of apologists, supporters, cheerleaders and other enablers in Congress, including those who criticize Israel and are silent about Hamas’s actions and objective.
Hamas missile barrages doubly fit the internationally recognized definitions of war crimes, by virtue of their objective of killing civilians and by virtue of their use of Gazan civilian areas as launching sites for their attacks, thus endangering Palestinians in Gaza. Yet this too has not dissuaded Hamas’s Congressional enablers.
In initiating its latest missile war against Israel, Hamas justified doing so by claiming Israel was seeking to expel Palestinians from the Sheikh Jarrah neighborhood of eastern Jerusalem and also that Israel was attacking the Al Aqsa Mosque and other Muslim sites on the Temple Mount.
The Sheikh Jarrah issue relates to some of the Jewish property that was seized and held as “enemy property” by Trans-Jordan after it conquered the eastern part of Jerusalem in 1948 and killed or expelled all Jews living there. Following the 1967 war, Israeli courts confirmed Jewish ownership of the property but granted Arabs residing there the status of protected tenants, able to remain and even pass the right of residence on to their heirs as long as they paid rent. But the tenants have refused to pay and it is in response to this that the courts have for some years ordered the vacating of the property. This is one of Hamas’ justifications for firing over 4,000 missiles at Israeli civilians, a justification parroted by members of Congress.
The other justification, that Israel was threatening Al Aqsa, has been a rallying cry for virtually a century by Palestinian leaders seeking to instigate murderous attacks on Jews. In 1929, the grand mufti of Jerusalem, Haj Amin Al-Husseini, then the most prominent figure among Palestinian Arabs, used the claim to choreograph assaults on Jews that took some 130 lives. According to reports at the time, such as those by Dutch-Canadian journalist Pierre van Paassen, Husseini also produced and distributed bogus photographs of a supposedly demolished Jerusalem mosque in hopes of instigating the murder of Jews in the Mandate territory and beyond.
Dismissed from his position by the British in 1936 after fomenting anti-British riots, al-Husseini made his way to Iraq, where he supported a pro-Nazi revolt, and subsequently to Berlin, where he remained through much of the war as Hitler’s guest – the original intersectionality – recruiting southern European Muslims for the SS and broadcasting calls to the Arab world to support the Nazis and kill Jews. He also planned with Nazi officials arrangements for the extermination of the Jews of the Mandate after what was anticipated to be Rommel’s Afrika Korps’ conquest of Egypt and advancement eastward. Al Husseini remains a revered and inspiring figure for Palestinian leaders and their followers.
Since Israel regained control of the Temple Mount, the holiest site in Judaism, in 1967, it has allowed Muslim authorities to administer the area and has prevented Jews from worshipping on the Mount. Yet claims that the Jews are destroying Al Aqsa have continued in efforts to spur anti-Jewish violence.
The events on the Temple Mount that preceded Hamas’s war-triggering missile attack on Jerusalem entailed the storing of rocks and explosives in Muslim religious sites to be used for attacking Jews in the area, including Jews praying at the Western Wall at the base of the Mount, and subsequent clashes between assailants and Israeli police. This is Hamas’s other excuse for unleashing its 4,000 plus missiles and this justification is likewise parroted by members of Congress.
Ilhan Omar, much given to anti-Semitic tropes, used the current hostilities to call essentially for Israel’s destruction. Rashida Tlaib characterized the Sheikh Jarrah issue as an “…attack on Palestinian families being ripped from their homes right now”; and the events on the Temple Mount as a “… a sustained campaign of harassment and terror by Israeli police against worshippers kneeling down and praying…” Omar’s blood-thirstiness and Tlaib’s lies left no room, of course, for any mention of Hamas’s missile onslaught beyond the Congresswomen’s implicit endorsement of the onslaught in their embracing of Hamas’s justifications.
Congresswoman Pramila Jayapal explicitly sought to blame Israel for Hamas’s rocket attacks, claiming they were provoked by “legal fights over evictions.”
Congresswoman Ocasio-Cortes suggested that Israel’s response to the Hamas missile attacks was somehow an attack on Palestinians’ “right to survive” and that Hamas’s missiles were defending that right.
Congresswoman Rep. Ayanna Pressley opined: “Palestinians are being told the same thing as black folks in America: there is no acceptable form of resistance.” It’s not clear if she meant the rocks and explosives stored on the Temple Mount for attacking Jews, or Hamas missiles, or both, should be recognized as acceptable forms of resistance. Congresswoman Cori Bush likewise drew an analogy between Blacks in America and the Palestinians and seemed to justify Hamas’s missile barrages as part of “the fight for Palestinian liberation,” which she saw as “interconnected” with the struggles of African-Americans. Congressman Jamaal Bowman also took up this supposed interconnection: “Enough of Black and brown bodies being brutalized and murdered…” He characterized the events in Sheikh Jarrah and on the Temple Mount as “violently evicting families from their homes…” and “A show of strong force during prayer… Destroying holy sites…,” once more echoing Hamas lies.
These and other Congressmen and women’s racial rhetoric draws much of its inspiration from the Black Lives Matter organization. BLM leaders have also condemned Israel in the context of the current fighting and declared the organization’s “solidarity with Palestine.” For some years they have embraced the Hamas-led Boycott, Divest and Sanction movement against Israel aimed at the nation’s destruction, and in the last year Black Lives Matter “demonstrators” have attacked synagogues and Jewish businesses in Los Angeles and elsewhere. They have done all this while playing up the “intersectionality” between African Americans and Palestinians. The organization’s justification for the linkage and for supporting Hamas in its genocidal anti-Semitism is grounded in its perceiving Palestinians as people of color and Israelis as white. Ironically, the intersectionality earlier cultivated by Palestinian leaders was with a partner, the Nazis, who insisted Jews are not white and therefore are fit for extermination. (The Nazis reserved the term “White Jews” for non-Jewish Germans and others in Europe who sympathized with and helped the Jews.) But, of course, such ironies always abound in promotions of genocidal bigotry and hatred, which are always irrational and ultimately incoherent.
Twenty-five members of Congress signed a letter to Secretary of State Blinken decrying what one of the letter’s two sponsors, Marie Newman, characterized as “these heinous actions by the Israeli government against Palestinian families in East Jerusalem.” The letter cites among the heinous actions the issue of the Sheikh Jarrah property as well as various spurious anti-Israel assertions. There is no mention of the war crimes being carried out by Hamas at the time of the letter’s submission.
Some days later, as the war still raged, Congressional Democrats blocked passage of the “Palestinian International Terrorism Support Prevention Act.” The act would have placed sanctions on foreign parties engaged in providing financial support to Hamas.
Additionally, throughout the war, members of Congress cited, and blamed Israel for, civilian casualty numbers taken from Hamas or its agents. They did so even though, in the three previous wars triggered by Hamas missile assaults against Israeli civilians, it had been shown that Hamas had inflated numbers of civilian casualties, and even though in the present conflict some fifteen percent of Hamas missiles had fallen on Gaza and caused a number of the civilian casualties that the group then blamed on Israel. Also, of course, Hamas intentionally places its missile launchers and other military sites close to civilian homes as well as schools, mosques and hospitals, knowing that doing so will either inhibit Israeli targeting of those sites or will cause civilian casualties that supporters such as those in Congress will ascribe exclusively to Israel.
The current Administration in Washington has stated as one of its essential goals the reassertion of American moral authority in the world. The world has witnessed for some time now a dramatic increase in anti-Semitism in America, much of it coming not from marginalized groups but from academia, cultural elites, media elites and political elites. The further, ugly phenomenon of a sizable segment of the Congressional delegation of a major American political party serving as supporters of or apologists for the criminal actions of a genocidal anti-Semitic terrorist group – a group recognized as such by much of the world, including much of the Arab world – is hardly likely to be seen as an expression of moral authority but rather as a demonstration of moral bankruptcy.
Kenneth Levin is a psychiatrist and historian and is author of The Oslo Syndrome: Delusions of a People under Siege.
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