The Economist Excises Religion from Extremism…And Whitewashes Hamas’ Gaza Tyranny

Reprinted from Honest Reporting.


An August 28 article by The Economist describes how the “ripple effects” of the Taliban’s swift takeover of Afghanistan will be a boon to Islamic fundamentalists and terrorists much further afield. The piece describes how jihadist groups will be emboldened by the Sunni militants’ return to power in Kabul; this, as United States-led forces withdraw after intervening in 2001 to oust the Taliban, which harbored the Al Qaeda leaders that coordinated the 9/11 attacks.

The article argues the US’ drawdown, described as a “humiliation,” will send a clear message that “wretched rulers” can be toppled.

What is most striking, however, is that in a feature focused on the global threat of jihadism, the word “Islam” is not mentioned once.

While in Arabic jihad can narrowly refer to “struggle,” the term is widely associated with extremists whose overriding aim is to take over by any means, including violence, a territory so that they can impose Sharia (Islamic) law.

However, according to The Economist:

Most jihadist groups are motivated primarily by local grievances: a predatory government, an ethnic or sectarian divide, infidel intruders. Yet they also tap into a global narrative. On their phones they see daily evidence that the oppression they face at home is part of a wider pattern of persecution of Muslims, from the gulag of Xinjiang to the hellscape of Gaza. [emphasis added]

That the situation in Gaza is lumped into the article without any context is tantamount to journalistic malfeasance. Hamas, designated a terrorist organization by most Western countries, rules over that ‘hellscape.’ Its hand in both creating and maintaining the situation in the Palestinian coastal enclave has repeatedly been exposed by HonestReporting (see, for example, here and here).

A ‘Hellscape’…of Hamas’ making

Furthermore, none of the mitigating factors cited by The Economist are applicable to Hamas, but, for argument’s sake, they shall be considered in turn.

First, Hamas is not subjected to the whims and mistreatment of a predatory government. The facts are that Israel disengaged from the Gaza Strip in 2005 – a move that despite leaving the Jewish state vulnerable to rocket attacks, was specifically designed to encourage Palestinians to lay down their arms and work towards building a more prosperous, peaceful society. 

Nevertheless, Hamas wrested control of the territory in a 2007 internecine war and rules as a strict Islamic dictatorship while spending billions of dollars in international aid on funding its terror infrastructure instead of helping its citizens.

After the organization seized power in the Strip, Israel and Egypt both imposed restrictions on movements in and out of the enclave out of necessity: that is, to prevent the smuggling of weapons by Hamas and other terrorist groups into Gaza that will then be turned against the Jewish state.

Second, the primary ethnic or sectarian divide that is relevant to Hamas is regarding its conflict with the rival Palestinian faction Fatah, which erupted when the former won the legislative elections in 2006. The split between the two groups culminated in fierce fighting in Gaza that left dozens dead.

Third, considering not a single Jew has lived in Gaza since the disengagement, Hamas does not have to worry about “infidel intruders” in the territory it rules. Nevertheless, Hamas views all of Israel as occupied even though Jews have for thousands of years lived in the Land of Israel.

The Economist’s juxtaposition of the “hellscape of Gaza” and the “gulag of Xinjiang” is deceitful. It is seemingly a crafty way of equating these two situations, despite them being in no way similar. It is Hamas that is responsible for what happens under its regime in the Strip, including a documented history of human rights violations. And while the Chinese government is accused of perpetrating atrocities against Uighur Muslims, including executions, rapes and torture, Israel is not.

The Economist omits Hamas’ genocidal charter

Regarding The Economist’s decision to exclude any reference to Islam in an article about jihadists, it is useful to consider Hamas’ 1988 charter – The Covenant of the Hamas.

While large portions of the document are a clarion call for the destruction of Israel, Hamas itself is clear that annihilating the Jewish state and imposing “Sharia” is made necessary by Islamic law.

Article 15 of the charter states: “It is necessary to instill in the minds of the Moslem generations that the Palestinian problem is a religious problem, and should be dealt with on this basis.”

When discussing its overriding objectives, Hamas asserts its movement “found itself at a time when Islam has disappeared from life.” It claims the absence of Islam from society is what precipitates lands being “usurped,” “oppression” prevailing and the disappearance of “justice.”

Far from The Economist’s assertion that local grievances are the driving factor behind jihadism, jihadists such as Hamas claim otherwise.

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