The trail of blood left by Hamas terrorists in the Gaza Strip is another chapter of the Palestinian cruelty and brutality that was born over 100 years ago. There have been several inflection points along the way that we can refer to: the lynching in Ramallah in October 2000, the Pogel family massacre in Itamar, the Salomon family massacre in Halamish, the suicide bombings on buses during the Second Intifada, and events farther back like the 1929 Hebron Massacre, the Lavi family massacre, the Ma’alot school massacre, the Coastal Road massacre in 1978.
This brutality is deeply rooted in the ethos of Palestinian society. It is part of their social beliefs related to Jews and Zionism, woven into their collective emotions, and embedded in their fundamentalist religious beliefs. The moral justification for killing and committing jihad, as they call it, is drawn from delegitimizing Jews, creating negative stereotypes, stigmas, and characterizing them as deviating from the moral norms. This delegitimization, carrying emotional implications of hatred and revenge, has been cultivated since the beginning of the conflict by the Palestinian leadership through various cultural products like radio and television broadcasts, social networks, press, children’s songs, textbooks, and mass rallies commemorating martyrs who became heroes of their society.
The hatred is nurtured by comparing Jews to groups symbolizing evil and hatred or to despicable animals, all with the purpose of dehumanizing those who they consider not to be human beings.
In 1911, David Ben-Gurion explained that “the external factor that hinders Zionism is the increasing Arab animosity,” and in 1914, he said, “No one hates us like the Arabs.”
The culture of hatred developed during the Mandate period and intensified with the establishment of the PLO. The Palestinian national covenant declared that “Zionism is a racist, aggressive, expansionist, and fascist movement.” Since the founding of Hamas in 1987, hatred and delegitimization have reached new heights, taking on a religious cover. The first Hamas leaflets declared that “the Jews are bloodsuckers, offspring of apes and pigs, who love to live in blood and the blood of children, and revel in a sea of skulls and body parts.”
The imagery of Jews in the Hamas ideology is drawn from the Protocols of the Elders of Zion and attributes all the world’s evils to Jews: “They controlled communication means, the press, publishing houses, and broadcasting stations. They ignited revolutions, were behind the Communist revolution, stood behind World War I, which they utilized to eliminate the Islamic Caliphate, were behind World War II, and there is no war that the Jews don’t stand behind.”
After Hamas took control of Gaza in 2007, hatred and delegitimization became an inseparable part of Palestinian education, emphasizing children and youth who were raised to hate and later became bloodthirsty terrorists in Gaza.
Hatred has become a dominant emotion and a strategic factor driving Palestinian society in the conflict. It is a pervasive, ideological, religious, and imaginary hatred that fuels murder and terrorism against Jews without distinction. This hatred is nurtured mainly by the intellectual elite, particularly in Hamas. Dr. Ahmed Youssef al-Halabiyya, director of the Islamic University of Gaza and one of the terror leaders targeted by the IDF in the past week, explained that “the Jews are liars, terrorists, they must be slaughtered and killed according to the word of Allah. You must not have mercy on the Jews; you have to fight them everywhere. Kill them.” One of the most common motives in Palestinian delegitimization is the analogy between Israel and the Nazis. Article 34 in the Hamas Charter states, “The Crusaders were defeated by the Muslims in Jihad. So will the Jews be defeated and it will be as the Prophet said: “Judgment Day will not come until the Muslims fight the Jews. The Jews will hide behind the rocks and the trees, but the rocks and the trees will say: ‘Oh Muslim, oh servant of Allah, there is a Jew behind me, come and kill him.’”
In Palestinian communication, especially in cartoons and sermons in mosques, Jews are depicted as lowly, harmful creatures like parasites, worms, scorpions, donkeys, monkeys, pigs, and derogatory creatures taken from the world of imagination. In Ramallah, on Jan. 13, 2001, all Palestinian factions held a demonstration, led by a donkey covered in a prayer shawl, and on its nose was a drawing of the Star of David. In other cases, the Star of David was drawn on the body of donkeys. Every Palestinian child knows the verse from the Koran that states Jews are the descendants of monkeys and pigs (Koran, Surah Al-Baqara, verse 60-59).
Hamas terrorists infiltrated kibbutzim armed with religious fundamentalist hatred, and they killed based on what they learned from Hamas doctrine. It’s highly doubtful that this insane ideology can be changed. Even if Hamas’s rule falls, the ideology will remain. We must prepare for the next confrontation. Θ
Dr. Ronni Shaked, a researcher at the Truman Institute at the Hebrew University, is the author of the book “Behind the Keffiyeh – The Ethos of the Palestinian Conflict,” published by Yediot Ahronot in 2018. Shaked received the Yitzhak Sadeh Prize for Military Literature in 2020.