The talk of the world this weekend was Hamas’ landslide victory in the Palestinian parliamentary elections. Israel, the United States and the European Union have refused to give money to Hamas. But how is this different from the previous Palestinian government run by Fatah, a branch of the Palestinian Liberation Organization? The PLO wants peace, and Hamas are terrorists, right? Not quite.
The U.S.’s and E.U.’s biggest problem with Hamas is that it calls for the destruction of Israel in its charter. “[Hamas] strives to raise the banner of Allah over every inch of Palestine” — referring to both the Palestinian territories and all of modern Israel, as can be seen from their charter and from the map of “Palestine” on their seal. This is obviously troubling for anyone who wants peace between Israel and the Palestinian people, given Hamas co-founder Mahmoud Zahar’s recent pronouncement that Hamas will continue to resist Israeli occupation.
Certainly the PLO disavowed its desire to destroy Israel before negotiating with it; anything else would be duplicitous. In 1996, the PLO promised the world and Israel they would remove the offensive part of the PLO charter, article 15: “The liberation of Palestine, from an Arab viewpoint, is a national duty and it attempts to repel the Zionist and imperialist aggression … and aims at the elimination of Zionism in Palestine.” The PLO’s Palestine here is the same as that of Hamas, as can be seen in the article 2. There’s one problem: They never removed article 15. That article, and the call for the elimination of the state of Israel, are still part of the charter.
In the 1993 Oslo Accords, Yasser Arafat and the PLO agreed to amend the charter to remove these parts and renounce terrorism. But nothing happened. In 1995’s Oslo II, the PLO again agreed to remove these parts of the charter. In 1996, the Palestinian National Council voted on these amendments and created a committee to investigate them. In 1998, the PNC voted in the presence of President Clinton to revise the charter, but they did nothing. The PLO charter is the same as it was in 1968.
Hamas has made no secret of its attacks against Israel, but the PLO does not attack Israel (anymore), right? Again, not entirely true. Member organizations of the PLO, including the militant arm of Fatah, the Al-Aqsa Martyr Brigades, continue to carry out terrorist attacks in Israel.
The Hamas charter echoes the infamous “Protocols of the Elders of Zion.” Article 22 is blatant anti-Semitism that Hamas does not even try to shield, as the rest of the Islamic world does. In article 22 of the PLO charter, “Zionism” is substituted for “Judaism.”
The differences between Hamas and Fatah certainly do not lie in their charters or their methods, or even their views on Israel or Jews in general. So what does it mean that Hamas has won the election instead of Fatah? For one, it means the Palestinian people no longer feel a need to dress up their hatred of Jews and their deep-seated desire to drive Israel into the sea in the guise of Fatah’s outwardly conciliatory actions and gestures of peace. Secondly, it means the Palestinians have grown tired of the corruption, greed and mismanagement that have characterized the rule of the Fatah party. Their rule has left the Palestinians not only still without a home, but without good schooling, resources, an economy or land management.
There is something dangerous in the legitimizing of Hamas that comes from their election by the Palestinians. With its charter, Hamas has shown they are unafraid of being openly anti-Semitic in a world that has, fortunately, tried to stifle anti-Semitism since 1945. Whereas Israel has allowed free elections in the territories, even allowing an avowed anti-Semitic, anti-Israel terrorist group to run, we can be sure that Jews (or Christians, or even secular Muslims) will be given no such luxury in a Palestinian state run by Hamas. Such an openly anti-Semitic (not just anti-Israeli) state cannot be allowed to exist in the Middle East or anywhere else. When almost 60 percent of voting Palestinians support a terrorist government in their first truly democratic election, the world must realize that honesty on the part of the Palestinians does not make the state a potential partner for peace. This honesty only emphasizes that Israel must be allowed to do what it must for its own security and that the Palestinian people care more about Israel’s destruction than peace.
Tovy Haber Kamine is a senior in Timothy Dwight College. He is a former Director of Finance for the News.