Jodi Rudoren, the Jerusalem Bureau Chief for the New York Times, seems to make so many extremely serious errors (here, here and here, for example) it makes you wonder how she can presume to intelligently report on what she apparently doesn’t really understand. And how do her editors in New York make the same irresponsible presumption?
The startling error this time, in Hamas Emerges Buoyant Despite Bloodshed and Devastation in Gaza, is her characterization of the relation between Hamas and the Muslim Brotherhood:
Hamas, founded in 1987 as the Palestinian branch of the Muslim Brotherhood and considered a terrorist group by the United States and Europe…
Yes, Hamas was founded in 1987, not as the Palestinian branch of the Muslim Brotherhood, but by the Muslim Brotherhood in Gaza, which existed long before 1987. And, again contrary to Rudoren, the Muslim Brotherhood in Gaza is a branch of the Egyptian Muslim Brotherhood.
Here are some of the details that have apparently escaped Rudoren:
The Muslim Brotherhood rejects the existence of Israel, but was explicitly non-violent in the 1970’s, believing that Islamic society would have to be strengthened over the long term before any conflict could be initiated with Israel. (See, for example, Islamic Fundamentalism in the West Bank and Gaza, Ziad Abu-Amr.)
In contrast, the Islamic Jihad was explicitly violent from its founding in 1980, calling for immediate jihad against Israel, and showing little interest in building social institutions. Indeed, it was created out of frustration with the non-violent policy of the Muslim Brotherhood. Islamic Jihad’s cofounder, Fathi Shikaki, was arrested by Israel in 1983 and again in 1986, and was then deported to Lebanon in 1988 (Islamic Fundamentalism, p 93-94).
When the intifada began, the Muslim Brotherhood feared a loss of influence and popularity to the terrorist Islamic Jihad, which had openly mocked the movement for its non-violent stand. In response, under the leadership of Sheikh Ahmed Yassin, the Muslim Brotherhood created on December 9, 1987 a subgroup eventually called Hamas, which was meant to compete with Islamic Jihad in murdering Israelis.