APRIL 5, 2004
In his March 25 column, Ray Hanania misleads readers by stating that Israeli officials like Ariel Sharon and former Prime Ministers Menachem Begin and Yitzhak Shamir aided in founding Hamas in the late 1970s. While the Israeli government of the time registered the Islamic Association, a religious and social-services organization founded by Ahmed Yassin and affiliated with the Muslim Brotherhood, that organization was largely non-violent.
According to Ziad Abu-Amr, an associate professor of political science at Birzeit University, the Hamas leadership did not adopt a violent platform until a Dec. 9, 1987, meeting at Yassin’s home (“Islamic Fundamentalism in the West Bank and Gaza,” Indiana University Press), one day after an Israeli truck accidentally hit Palestinian workers, sparking the first intifada. Abu-Amr notes that until that time, Islamic Jihad, a rival group, mocked the Muslim Brotherhood for avoiding “resistance” against Israel. He writes: “The Jihad supporters wonder how the Brotherhood, which considers jihad to be one of the pillars of its doctrine, did not engage in armed struggle . . .”
To say Israel had a hand in the founding of Hamas, a terrorist organization, because it followed international law by registering a non-violent charity that really did provide social services a decade earlier is a gross manipulation of the facts.
SENIOR RESEARCH ANALYST
COMMITTEE FOR ACCURACY IN MIDDLE EAST REPORTING IN AMERICA