I was raised to curse Israel and pray for the destruction of Jews, writes AYAAN HIRSI ALI… That’s why I know all too well Hamas is another ISIS – whatever useful idiots in the West say
All across the West, there is no shortage of people blaming the horrors in Israel on Israel itself — and openly supporting the perpetrators.
The head of policy at the Community Security Trust, which monitors hate crimes committed against British Jews, has said: ‘Anti-Semites are getting excited by the sight of dead Jews . . . Hamas murdering Israeli civilians has exhilarated them . . . We’ve had reports of people driving past synagogues shouting ‘Kill the Jews’.’
Anti-Semitic incidents in Britain are currently three times higher than they were this time last year, the charity adds.
‘Free Palestine’ graffiti has been scrawled on a railway bridge in Golders Green, a Jewish area of north London, while in Oxford Street, one young woman — who may well have been radicalised in England — was filmed ripping down posters that pleaded for the safe return of the babies taken hostage by Hamas. ‘Free Palestine, f*** you!’ she screamed at an onlooker who dared to remonstrate with her.
On Thursday night in Paris, police used tear gas and water cannon to disperse hundreds of people at a pro-Palestine rally, in which protesters chanted ‘Israel murderer [sic]’ and ‘End the siege of Gaza.’
Pro-Palestinian protesters gathered outside the Israeli embassy in London on Monday
‘Free Palestine’ was scribbled on a railway bridge in Golders Green, North London – an area with a large Jewish population
Women were filmed tearing down posters calling for the safe return of Israeli hostages captured by Hamas
Outside the Sydney Opera House, about 1,000 protesters lit flares and waved Palestinian flags — and some were filmed chanting: ‘Gas the Jews.’
In the U.S., meanwhile, 31 student groups at Harvard signed an open letter claiming that the ‘Israeli regime’ was ‘entirely responsible for all unfolding violence’, while California’s Stanford University displayed a banner declaring that Palestine would be made free ‘by any means necessary’ — a sinister slogan that tacitly justifies Hamas’s slaughter of children in pursuit of its aims.
Not to be outdone, the Chicago ‘chapter’ of the Black Lives Matter movement posted an image of a paraglider alongside the slogan ‘I stand with Palestine’. The reference, of course, was to Hamas paragliders who descended on Israel’s Supernova music festival last Saturday to rape and butcher at least 260 young people.
In short, anti-Semites the world over have been emboldened by this crisis, and Jews are once again being blamed for their own massacre. And I am not remotely surprised. In my childhood, I was steeped in the Islamist movement’s noxious anti-Semitism — which has been on such ugly display this week.
Born in Mogadishu, Somalia, I spent my early years escaping political strife after my father was imprisoned for being an anti-government activist. We moved between countries before settling in Kenya.
The worst insult in the Somali community was to be called a ‘Jew’, not that any of us actually knew one. To be called a ‘Jew’ was so abhorrent, some felt justified in killing anyone who so dishonoured them with this ‘slur’.
As a teenager in Nairobi in the 1980s, I joined the Muslim Brotherhood — the strict Sunni Islamist movement, founded in Egypt in 1928, from which Hamas ultimately descends.
I vividly remember sitting with my female fellows in mosques, cursing Israel and praying to Allah to destroy the Jews. We were certainly not interested in a peaceful ‘two-state solution’: we were taught to want to see Israel wiped off the map.
When I was 16, my school’s teacher of religion was Sister Aziza. She read to us the Koran’s lurid descriptions of the everlasting fire that burns flesh and dissolves skin — the place reserved for Jews.
Sister Aziza described Jews as physically monstrous, with horns coming from their heads, out of which flew devils that would corrupt the world. Jews controlled everything, she told us, and it was the duty of Muslims to destroy them.
It was a lot to take in for a teenager who read Western romance novels in secret, but I believed every word.
French police deployed tear gas and water cannons after a pro-Palestinian protest in Paris
Protesters allegedly chanted ‘Israel murderer [sic]’ and ‘End the siege of Gaza’ in Paris
Riot police push back pro-Palestine protesters after the organised protest in Paris was deemed illegal due to security concerns
When the fatwa was issued against the British writer Salman Rushdie in 1989, a small crowd gathered in a Nairobi car park to burn a copy of his novel The Satanic Verses.
Sister Aziza urged us to join in the condemnations of Rushdie and I am ashamed to say I took part in the book-burning. I was certain Rushdie should be killed, but the scene nevertheless made me uncomfortable.
That seed of doubt grew over the next few years as I questioned why, if Allah was so just, women were treated as mere chattels in some Muslim families.
AYAAN HIRSI ALI: ‘Jews controlled everything, she told us, and it was the duty of Muslims to destroy them. It was a lot to take in for a teenager who read Western romance novels in secret, but I believed every word’
Over time, my questions turned into open rebellion against the Muslim Brotherhood, Islam and, ultimately, my family.
My father sent me to relatives in Germany in 1992 so I could go from there to Canada to join the distant cousin he had married me off to. I ran away from that marriage and travelled to the Netherlands where I sought asylum.
Eventually, I became a member of the Dutch parliament, and later settled in America.
I abandoned my religion, but I have never lost my clear-sighted understanding, forged in my childhood, of Islamism’s pathological hatred of Jews, as well as Muslims considered as heretics and non-Muslims in general.
The former Egyptian president Mohamed Morsi — a one-time leader of the Muslim Brotherhood — declared that Muslims should ‘nurse our children and our grandchildren on hatred’ of Jews. His organisation has done just that — and the despicable sentiment is the underlying context to Hamas’s most recent attacks.
The truth, however, is that Hamas is no more a friend of the Palestinians than it is a friend of Israel.
Those who see the conflict as a simple territorial dispute between a colonial state and a dispossessed minority fail to recognise Hamas for what it really is: a gang of genocidal Islamist thugs backed by a theocratic, anti-Semitic regime in Iran.
A pro-Palestinian protester in New York City on Friday
A child takes part in a pro-Palestine rally held in Canberra, Australia on Friday
Useful idiots on the far-Left in Western countries, who blindly support Hamas because they see it as a freedom-fighting group, harm the very people they claim to defend.
They say they want peace —and perhaps many of them do. But real peace talks based on the 2020 Abraham Accords between Israel and Arab countries have made painstaking but undeniable progress despite the efforts of Hamas.
Until Hamas’s recent attacks, Saudi Arabia and Israel had looked set to normalise relations. This murderous incursion was an attempt to derail such talks — and thus ruin any chance of lasting peace.
Ordinary Palestinians want to build a prosperous, functioning society. Hamas, in its obsession with annihilating Israel, doesn’t care about that. It wishes only to bring about a genocidal Islamist dystopia.
It is Hamas, after all, that holds Palestinians hostage in Gaza, setting up military installations in — and launching rockets from — civilian areas in the full knowledge that counterstrikes will kill innocent people.
It is Hamas that impoverishes Palestinians by stealing humanitarian aid to fund its terror. This is what ‘by any means necessary’ truly signifies: supreme callousness towards Palestinian life.
If you genuinely want to see peace between Israelis and Palestinians, or more generally between Muslims and Jews in the Middle East, then Hamas should be your enemy.
And even if — like many in the West, as we can now see — you don’t care at all about Israeli or Jewish lives, even if you care only about the lives of Palestinians, Hamas is still your enemy. After all, Hamas ruthlessly persecutes any Palestinians who disagree with it: a 2022 U.S. State Department report found that, among other abuses, Hamas detained and assaulted critical journalists.
It is especially hostile to public figures associated with its rival Fatah, the Palestinian party voted out of office in Gaza in 2006, but which still runs the West Bank.
Hamas harasses its own dissidents, and has invaded the home of at least one young critical activist, telling his parents to keep their son under control — or else.
As a Dutch MP in 2004 and 2005, I travelled to the West Bank and met Palestinians.
In public, they spouted all the usual lines about Israel being their ‘oppressor’. But once the cameras were switched off, they spoke more truthfully.
A Palestinian demonstrator uses a slingshot amid clashes with Israeli forces in the West Bank
Hamas gunmen, seen in a file photo taken in December 2018
A Hamas fighter stands with a belt-driven machine gun as part of a military parade held in July this year
They complained bitterly about their treatment by Hamas and other radical groups, and told me how money meant to feed the people was being taken to fund those organisations’ activities and their leaders’ luxurious lifestyles. Arabs and Palestinians alike told me how fed up they were with conflict, and how ready they were for peace.
Hamas, like other Islamist groups, has done its best over the course of decades to stomp all over those wishes.
And it has been successful. The shocking rise in anti-Semitism in the West owes much to the entrenched Islamist networks that have spent years stirring up this ancient hatred.
Europe must now wake up to these fifth columnists who shamelessly celebrate violence and bigotry, promoting hatred of the Jewish minority in Europe.
The West must also wake up to the moral corruption of its own Hamas supporters, from Left-wing university students to flag-waving street thugs.
Meanwhile, elite human-rights organisations need to do far more to name terrorism when they see it.
It is horrifying to see Amnesty International claiming that one of the ‘root causes’ of the crisis is ‘Israel’s system of apartheid imposed on Palestinians’.
Human Rights Watch, meanwhile, should do more than merely equivocating in its insistence that no injustice can justify another.
This is not to argue that Israel should be immune from criticism. My point is that much of the criticism is at best misguided and at worst thinly veiled anti-Semitism.
Hamas, like Lebanon’s Hezbollah, Isis in Syria and Iraq, Nigeria’s Boko Haram, Somalia’s Al-Shabaab and several other groups, are fighting not for the liberty and prosperity of Muslims but, ultimately, for the annihilation of Israel and the imposition of an Islamic state.
If Palestinians and other Muslims have to suffer for that aim, then so be it.
Well-meaning celebrities and broadcasters who, out of wilful ignorance and good intentions, hesitate to condemn Hamas as terrorists need to recognise this truth.
Palestinian protesters clashed with Israeli forces in the West Bank on Friday, leading to ugly scenes
An Israeli missile explodes as it strikes Gaza City on Sunday – a day after Hamas began its murderous incursion into Israel
Israeli border police struggle with a Palestinian Muslim woman during the first Friday prayers at the Al Aqsa Mosque since Hamas mounted its attack
These are dark times for Israel and for the world, but there are some reasons to be hopeful.
This week’s strong statement by America, Britain, France, Italy and Germany condemning Hamas while recognising the ‘legitimate aspirations’ of the Palestinians is a good sign.
Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer’s condemnation of Hamas is particularly welcome, given that, until recently, his party was led by a man who called these butchers his ‘friends’.
And if Israel and the Arab states do not allow their worst instincts to rule them, talks may continue — and might just secure peace in the longer term.
Hamas is another Isis. They are the enemies of Israel; they are the enemies of all Jews; they are the enemies of Palestinians; they are the enemies of peace and freedom. They are the enemies of Western civilisation itself.
It is about time they were recognised as such.
To achieve a two-state solution — with free and prosperous Palestinians and a safe Israel — the first, fundamental step is for people to stop chanting slogans in support of terrorists and murderers, and for everyone to cry in unison: ‘Down with Hamas!’
Ayaan Hirsi Ali is a research fellow at the Hoover Institution and founder of the AHA Foundation.
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