Imagine if someone used the fact that Britain appeased Nazi Germany before the Second World War to play down or even deny the crimes of the Nazis. It would be a classic example of drawing a blatantly false conclusion from a correct premise.

There is little doubt that Britain did appease Nazi Germany in the late 1930s. Of course there is room to debate why British leaders acted in the way they did but there is a broad consensus on the fact itself.

Nevertheless it would be a monumental error to use this matter of historical fact to excuse the perpetrators of the “Final Solution”. Or to deny the totalitarian character of the Nazi regime.

The comparison being drawn here, as many readers will recognise, is with Israel’s relationship with Hamas. It is true that Israel has at times, for reasons of realpolitik, backed Hamas but that does not alter the Islamist organisation’s genocidal character. Israel arguably made a serious error of judgement but it remains nevertheless true that Hamas is pledged to the annihilation of its Jewish citizens. 

These are quandaries that have been widely discussed in the Israeli media. They are not the devastating revelation that some critics of Israel seem to assume. 

Of course it is always necessary to be wary of historical analogies but the one between Hamas and the Nazis is not so far-fetched. The historical contexts differ but Hamas shares with the Nazis a pathological intolerance to its opponents and an overwhelming desire to eliminate the Jewish people.

I know I frequently cite the Hamas covenant of 1988 but it is tragic how few of those with an interest in the conflict actually read it. Even leaving aside the openly stated desire to slaughter Jews it is characterised by a manic anti-Semitism of the most unhinged kind possible. This is just one choice example in its description of supposed immense conspiratorial power of the Jews: “With their money, they took control of the world media, news agencies, the press, publishing houses, broadcasting stations, and others. With their money they stirred revolutions in various parts of the world with the purpose of achieving their interests and reaping the fruit therein. They were behind the French Revolution, the Communist revolution and most of the revolutions we heard and hear about, here and there. With their money they formed secret societies, such as Freemasons, Rotary Clubs, the Lions and others in different parts of the world for the purpose of sabotaging societies and achieving Zionist interests. With their money they were able to control imperialistic countries and instigate them to colonise many countries in order to enable them to exploit their resources and spread corruption there.”

Nor is this statement out of kilter with what Hamas believes today. The organisation has never rescinded its charter, despite some claims to the contrary, and its leaders frequently make genocidal statements about Jews. Indeed on 7 October last year it murdered the highest number of Jews on any single day since the Holocaust.

Naturally this all begs the question of why Israel would ever give any support to Hamas. The short answer is that the Jewish state has sometimes caved into the temptation to do so because of the perennially precarious situation it finds itself in. 

In the early days of Hamas, before it became a substantial force, Israel already faced a potentially grave threat from the Palestine Liberation Organisation (PLO). At that time Israel sometimes took the view that it would back Islamists as a counter-weight against Palestinian nationalism. It was a cynical move on Israel’s part although the context was that it already had good reason to assume its survival was at stake.

More recently, with Hamas in control of the Gaza strip, Israel was concerned about the potentially destabilising consequences of it collapsing. It therefore took the view that it would be better to leave Hamas rule in Gaza intact as the alternative would be even worse. It therefore let Qatar pump billions of dollars into the area. Nor should it be forgotten that if Israel had refused to do this it would no doubt have faced hysterical criticism from abroad.

There is room, particularly with the benefit of hindsight, to argue that Israel’s moves in this area were a mistake. But to get a balanced view it is at least necessary to recognise the parlous situation Israel has always been in. Israel is constantly forced to make difficult decisions in the context of determined threats to its existence. 

It should also be recognised that sometimes the claims about Israel are overdone. For example, it did not, as some have maintained, create Hamas. The Islamist organisation was created at the start of the first Intifida (uprising) in December 1987. Those who formed it were reacting both to Israel’s rule over Gaza at the time and the growing illegitimacy of the PLO. It should also be remembered that, as started in its covenant, Hamas is the Palestinian arm of the (Egyptian) Muslim Brotherhood. It is part of an international Islamist network whose members openly state their desire to eliminate Israel.

Those westerners who raise Israel’s some time backing of Hamas as a “gotcha” argument are being profoundly disingenuous. At the very least they are failing to come to terms with the nature of Hamas as a totalitarian movement with openly stated genocidal intentions towards the Jews. 

In fact it is striking how time and again so many leftists refuse to acknowledge the anti-Semitism that is at the core of Hamas’s self-proclaimed mission. This is in line with the baleful historical record of the left in failing to take anti-Semitism seriously. Indeed it has sometimes succumbed to the “socialism of fools” itself.

The fact that Israel has sometimes done a deal with the devil does not make Hamas any less demonic.

PHOTO: "File:Gilad Shalit on Hamas poster.jpg" by Tom Spender is licensed under CC BY 2.0.

The aftermath of the 7 October Hamas pogrom in Israel has made the rethinking of anti-Semitism a more urgent task than ever. Both the extent and character of anti-Semitism is changing. Tragically the open expression of anti-Semitic views is once again becoming respectable. It has also become clearer than ever that anti-Semitism is no longer largely confined to the far right. Woke anti-Semitism and Islamism have also become significant forces.

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