Swords of Iron

10/7 as Jihad

The events we’ve witnessed were not genuine expressions of solidarity with Palestinians; rather, they were celebrations of the demise of Jews, articulated with no apology. This is context.

Context matters, or so we have been reminded repeatedly over the past week. Advocates of this viewpoint stumble to contextualize the fatal incidents that transpired in Israel on October 7, when Hamas terrorists executed the deadliest massacre of Jews since the Holocaust. By now, most of us are familiar with the meek context behind the event – “occupation,” “self-determination,” “resistance,” “siege”. In November 2008, when Pakistani terrorists championing the liberation of Kashmir from Indian governance launched an attack on Mumbai, they dispersed across the city with specific targets in mind. Among them was the modest Chabad House, where they mercilessly took the lives of six individuals. The Chabad had nothing to do with the Indian government, or the Indian occupation of parts of Kashmir, nor the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. They too were killed because they were Jews. This is context.

But if the only context to the killings on Simchat Torah is the conflict between Gaza and Israel, then why are synagogues and Jewish schools around the world now compelled to implement heightened security measures, with many being forced to close? 

If the conflict between Israel and the Palestinians were solely the driving force behind the “Pro-Palestinian” demonstrations that erupted globally, why did these demonstrations commence in the aftermath of Hamas’ brutal massacre of Jews, even before Israel’s response in Gaza? 

Perhaps the answer lies in the cries from Palestinian protesters in Sydney, Australia, calling to “gas the Jews,” or once again, “kill the Jews,” echoing through the streets of Europe. Reflect on the “Holocaust, 23” graffiti defacing the walls of Cape Town, South Africa, in Sea Point, a predominantly Jewish neighborhood. What about the Star of David symbols spray-painted on the homes of Jewish individuals in Germany, serving as an ominous marker of a Jew’s residence. 

The events we’ve witnessed were not genuine expressions of solidarity with Palestinians; rather, they were celebrations of the demise of Jews, articulated with no apology. This is context.

Nevertheless, there are those of a certain ideological bent who endeavor to downplay these incidents. They shy away from confronting the disconcerting implications because acknowledging them means recognizing a fundamental contradiction in their worldview – the idea that the oppressed Palestinians, cast as the righteous victims, are capable of adopting the role of the oppressor. This is a reality that the intellectual elites cannot face, so they don’t. 

What of the prevailing sentiment among well-meaning rational thinkers who posit that this is a tragic affair resulting from the boiling over of frustration as part of a Palestinian effort to end the occupation in the West Bank and achieve self-determination. After all, these are rational goals and easily comprehensible. They are universal principles that resonate with the human desire for freedom and autonomy. Here too, there is no desire for reality to be faced.

Ironically, it is the rational approach Israel took that also failed. For years, the strategy was to grant increased work permits to Gazans and enhance electricity and water supplies, in the hopes that Hamas would eventually abandon its stated goal to “annihilate Israel”. For years, Israel operated under a misconception of rationality. This is because there is nothing rational about religious fundamentalism. To understand the severe violence in southern Israel, one must recognize the profound religious dimension deeply rooted in Islam, which holds jihad as one of its pillars. Not all Muslims subscribe to this belief — in fact, most don’t — but groups like Hamas, Iran, Hezbollah, and ISIS are religious militants who do. 

In the minds of these jihadists, they see the world divided into two categories: Dar Al-Islam, which refers to lands ruled by a Muslim ruler where the Shari’ah law is upheld, and Dar Al-Harb, which designates lands ruled by non-Muslims or where the Shari’ah is not recognized as the governing law. The ultimate goal is to expand Dar Al-Islam across the world. This isn’t just rhetoric for their followers; it is their fundamental policy, openly declared by Iran, Hezbollah, and Hamas. We simply need to read and understand their statements and actions to comprehend the full scope of their aims.

Take it from the horse’s mouth. The Hamas covenant states that: “The day the enemies usurp part of Moslem land, Jihad becomes the individual duty of every Moslem. In the face of the Jews’ usurpation, it is compulsory that the banner of Jihad be raised.” (Article 15). This is context. 

“The Day of Judgment will not come about until Moslems fight Jews and kill them. Then, the Jews will hide behind rocks and trees, and the rocks and trees will cry out: ‘O Moslem, there is a Jew hiding behind me, come and kill him.” (Article 7). This too is context.

In the midst of the first Israeli-Arab war, in August 1948, long before the occupation, Emil Ghoury, a member of the Arab Higher Committee—the “Cabinet” of the Palestinian Arab national movement—proclaimed, “we must inculcate in the heart of every Arab hatred for the Jews,” and urged the renewal of “the jihad against Israel.” Historians of the 1948 conflict have often regarded the first Arab-Israeli war as a pivotal moment and turning point in a national struggle between two groups, the Jewish-Zionist and Palestinian-Arab collectives, vying for a territory known as the Land of Israel or Palestine. However, a thorough examination of the available documentation reveals an additional, and for some of the Arab participants, a predominant aspect of that war: its religious dimension. In light of the available records, it would appear that many of the Arab participants in the 1948 War saw the onslaught against the Yishuv\Israel as a holy war – a war of Jihad against the Jews. This is context. 

To anyone with even a rudimentary understanding of history, the Jews have faced oppressive and murderous treatment under Islam for centuries – just as they did in Europe.  In ancient times, antisemitism rested on religious themes that deemed the Jew a moral failure. The mere existence of Jews continuing to practice their belief implied a rejection of Christianity and Islam’s “new, improved and enlightened” belief systems. Hence, the Jew could not be viewed as a moral being choosing wisely between good and evil. At best, Jews could be tolerated as relics against progress and the pathway to heaven. At worst, their continued existence was intolerable and should come at a cost. This is context.

The picture is of course incomplete, without acknowledging an official German record of the meeting between Adolf Hitler and the Grand Mufti of Jerusalem, Haj Amin al-Husseini, on November 28, 1941.

The Arabs were Germany’s natural friends, al-Husseini told the Nazi leader, “because they had the same enemies — namely the Jews and the communists.” The Mufti continued: “The Arabs could be more useful to Germany as allies than might be apparent at first glance, both for geographical reasons and because of the suffering inflicted upon them by the Jews.”

The Fuhrer replied that Germany’s fundamental attitude on these questions, as the Mufti himself had already stated, was clear. “Germany stood for an uncompromising war against the Jews. That naturally included active opposition to the Jewish national home in Palestine, which was nothing other than a center, in the form of a state, for the exercise of destructive influence by Jewish interests.” 

Take it from the horse’s mouth. The Hamas covenant states that: “The enemies have been scheming for a long time….They stood behind the French Revolution, the Communist Revolution and most of the revolutions we hear about… With their money they formed secret organizations – such as the Freemasons, Rotary Clubs and the Lions – which are spreading around the world, in order to destroy societies. They were behind World War II, through which they made huge financial gains… There is no war going on anywhere without them having their finger in it.” (Article 22) –  All of this is context as well.

“The HAMAS regards itself the spearhead and the vanguard of the circle of struggle against World Zionism… Islamic groups all over the Arab world should also do the same, since they are best equipped for their future role in the fight against the warmongering Jews.” (Article 32) – this is context.

The merging of these historical realities is what we saw unfolding on 7.10. The historical reality of European antisemitism and the historical reality of Islamic antisemitism. Both in rhetoric and in massacre. A war of Jihad against the Jews and a form of Nazism that seeped into the Islamic world in the 1930s and 40s. Hamas is a direct link and continuation of these two destructive forces. Context.

Samuel Hyde is a writer and political researcher.  He works at the Jewish People Policy Institute based in Jerusalem.

Published by the Jewish Journal