For those of you who haven’t been following the latest activities of the Islamist group Hamas…
In 2007, a character by the name of Farfur was introduced on the Hamas-produced children’s show Tomorrow’s Pioneers. Farfur, the little mouse, bore a striking resemblance to Mickey Mouse and was killed by an Israeli interrogator. I have to say that I think it’s amusing that the outcry against Farfur seemed to have centered around his relationship to Mickey Mouse, not that he was virulently anti-Semitic and incredibly violent. But this is about Hamas’ stupidity, not stupidity in general.
Farfur was replaced by a bee named Nahul, who died when he was refused medical care by the Israeli authorities. Now, I don’t deny the medical needs of Gaza, but Hamas rests its support on providing the community services that Fatah was unable to deliver. If someone dies because of lack of medical care, what is Hamas’ reputation based on? I would question Hamas as much as Israel for the death of Nahul.
Now, the latest children’s beast is Assud (literally “lion”) the Rabbit. I nearly fell out of my chair laughing when I saw this article. The reason I found it amusing is because it reminded me of the killer rabbit from Monty Python and Holy Grail. The idea is so farcical it can’t be taken seriously. But then I realized how serious the character is, especially the line “I will finish off the Jews and eat them.” The daily life of Palestinians has moved from tragedy to farce in Hamas’ worldview, but they maintain their hatred of Jews.
I don’t hold Hamas responsible for all the ills befalling the Palestinians; I don’t “blame the victims,” to use the words of Edward Said. I do accuse Hamas of exacerbating the ills of the Palestinians. Fatah has failed for a variety of reasons, but they don’t claim to speak in an Islamic voice. Hamas claims to use Islam to better the lives of their people, but they have clearly been frosting their ideological cake with Islamic icing. This use of Islam makes them particular targets of my ire. Their ideology now claims that Muslims must kill Jews and eat them (have these people no sense of irony? It used to be that Jews were accused of killing infant Christian babies to make matzoh; it was meant to be a sign that Jews were subhuman. Now Hamas gladly says they themselves are subhuman.)
This virulent anti-Semitism is not part of a general Islamic ethos, and more people have addressed this issue than I can count. But I look at Assud and I think there is another strain of thought that emerges that is abhorrent to Muslim understandings of Islam, and that thought is hopelessness.
Farfur, Nahul, and Assud all speak to a nihilistic view of the world that says the only point of life is to die. What then does the individual live for? What are their hopes and aspirations? This nihilism is not just in the present, but by targeting youth, hopelessness becomes the cultural norm. The Qur’an asks “Which of [God’s] wonders would you deny?” (55:15, etc.), and for Hamas the answer is all. Children no longer see the blue sky and ask “why?” but say “I must die.”
All of mankind has the spirit of God breathed into them (15:29). Why is Hamas so eager to extinguish that breath? Are they denying God in their lives? Mankind is the caretaker of this earth (2:30) to care for all of creation, including one another. Hamas is teaching the exact opposite of this. Their ideology offers care for no one. It does not offer care for the individual or the community. If Nahul died for lack of medical care, shouldn’t children be encouraged to become doctors? The character Saraa Barhoum doesn’t count because her only option other than being a doctor is to die.
The leaders of Hamas have been lauded as technocrats, but all they seem to have absorbed are pop culture references (I’m waiting for “Itchy and Scratchy” to appear in some iteration). What they haven’t done is to take concepts of social support structures that contribute to longterm growth and development of their people. They are also lacking in a consistent and meaningful understanding of Islam. It needs to be clear that Islamism is not Islam. Islam is an attempt to submit to God’s will, it is an engagement with the world, it is not a fatalistic “let us die” worldview. Hamas’ rise to power seems to have made them less aware of the future of their people. Their ideology of hate has become a hodge-podge of symbols that puts Mickey Mouse on the same level as God. I don’t know what it means that Monty Python’s killer rabbit was killed by the Holy Hand Grenade of Antioch, a weapon of the “Crusaders.” I don’t know if Hamas has thought about it either.