Hamas is by far the most successful antisemitic entity in the world today.
Beyond all competition, it has mobilized Jew-hatred around the world, using the State of Israel both as its target and its primary weapon. By waging war against Israel over many years, Hamas has inspired and energized international organizations such as the UN and the EU; governments and parliaments; the Western media; university authorities, professors, and students; human rights groups; businesses; and large sectors of the general population.
All dance to its pernicious tune: some out of malevolence, some out of ignorance, and others blindly jumping on the virtue-signaling woke bandwagon.
Consequently, the global scope and scale of Hamas’s antisemitic influence dramatically exceeds even the Nazis from whom it takes much of its own inspiration.
The foundations of Hamas’s successful antisemitic influence
The foundations of Hamas’s success lie in the Soviet Union. Back in the 1950s and ’60s, when Israel aligned with the West rather than the USSR, the Soviet leadership decided to undermine American and British influence in the Middle East by fomenting a war of national liberation against Israel. Moscow invented a Palestinian national identity in order to turn religious malice against the Jews of Israel into a struggle over land, a cause it correctly understood would gain much greater traction and support in the West than a religious war.
That developed into the most successful slur campaign in history, giving rise to accusations of land theft, unlawful occupation, illegal settlement, apartheid, and all the other lies and distortions that are now accepted as undisputed facts by so many around the world. Decades of this anti-Israel propaganda have taken us to the dangerous position we are in today.
That means that whatever is done to Israel and its Jews is justified as legitimate resistance. I’ve even heard some saying that the people of Israel brought upon themselves the undiluted evil and savagery of Oct. 7. They had it coming. By the same token, any action taken by Israel to defend its people is unjustified, unlawful, and unacceptable. Like so much else in our post-truth world, facts and reality don’t matter. If the “oppressed” Palestinians are doing anything, it’s justified and understandable. If Israel is doing anything, it’s intolerable and wrong.
EVER SINCE Israel attempted a two-state solution in 2005, unilaterally pulling every soldier out of Gaza and uprooting every last Jew from the territory, Hamas has used all of its energies to intensify and expand this global anti-Zionist paradigm. Hamas has always known it does not have the military power to achieve its objective of eradicating the Jewish state or even coming close to it. Instead, it has weaponized Israeli self-defense to its own advantage.
Every attack against Israel has been designed with the overriding purpose of eliciting a military reaction. It has deployed its weapons, communications sites, command posts, fighters, and leaders in places where Israel would have to kill innocent civilians in order to protect its population from them – despite the unparalleled measures the IDF takes to minimize collateral damage. Added value is gained by positioning terrorist infrastructure in locations protected under international humanitarian law, such as schools, hospitals, and mosques.
Hamas’s aim is to maximize Gazan civilian deaths, especially of women and children, in order to provoke accusations of war crimes and crimes against humanity; to delegitimize Israel; and to vilify and isolate it across the international community. This plan comes together every time, and Israel’s necessary defensive action, rigorously adhering to the laws of armed conflict, is always accompanied by and followed up with outright condemnation in the UN Human Rights Council, by human rights groups and by hostile governments.
In what is the true cycle of violence in the Middle East, such denunciations in turn embolden and encourage Hamas to attack again and again.
These Hamas-provoked condemnations of Israel are amplified in the media and on campuses, including by the BDS movement and their like, as well as by the armies of useful idiots that slavishly follow Hamas’s depraved agenda. The objective of these malignant groups is not so much to damage Israel directly, but more to intimidate Jews in the Diaspora. They seek to bully the strongest backers of Israel internationally, to coerce them to either abandon their support or to directly turn against the Jewish state.
Those who succumb to such manipulation do so both to avoid intimidation and to gain social acceptance in an environment where Jew-hatred posing as anti-Zionism is increasingly fashionable. It is particularly effective on university campuses, where the student targets lack intellectual maturity, experience, and depth of knowledge. And where life-long standpoints often take root. It has been well documented that the level of Jew-hatred is multiplied when Jewish anti-Israel organizations – themselves created through such harassment – are present on campus, which they are in increasing numbers.
POLITICIANS TOO are susceptible to anti-Zionist hate campaigns, especially when large numbers of Muslims are among their voters. Even those political leaders who support Israel will often seek to appease their anti-Israel voters. For example, in this war, the likes of US President Joe Biden and UK Prime Minister Rishi Sunak have repeatedly called on Israel to observe the laws of war and to avoid killing civilians.
They say this time and again, despite knowing full well that Israel already does exactly that. This is especially dangerous because their words imply that Israel is, in fact, carrying out war crimes, and their “confirmation” serves to incite even greater Jew-hatred.
Thus Hamas and its supporters, in a carefully orchestrated campaign, stoke antisemitism around the world and feed off its malign effects. Terminating Hamas in Gaza, and hopefully elsewhere around the world, will have a major impact for as long as a successor to the terrorist group is not allowed to take hold there.
But although Hamas today is an antisemitism brand leader, it is of course far from the only major player. For its leading competitors, we don’t need to look any farther than Judea and Samaria and, indeed, to the Islamic Republic of Iran, whose controlling hand lies behind so much of it.
The current conflict has caused a profound spike in Jew-hatred in the West, and there is no doubt that after the war, the steady-state level of antisemitism will settle at a new high. That should be of immense concern to governments in Europe, the US, and elsewhere, with their Jews facing this growing prejudice. It is their responsibility to suppress antisemitic hatred by defunding or shutting down those groups that are responsible, and taking a much harder line against the arch-offenders – the UN bodies in New York and Geneva.
As well as that, governments should be working to actively counter anti-Israel propaganda with the truth about Israel, rather than turning a blind eye or even fueling it as they so often do, even if inadvertently.
Here they could apply the same very effective approach that many of them took to persuade their electorates of the need to support Ukraine in its resistance to Russian aggression. ■
The writer is a former British Army colonel, who commanded British forces in Afghanistan and Iraq.