News Release

Hamas: A “Golem” that Emerged from Israel’s “Divide and Rule” Strategy


Kfoury recently wrote the piece “Hamas: From Candidate Enforcer to Implacable Foe,” which states: “In September 1973, a pious Palestinian schoolteacher, Sheikh Ahmed Yassin, presided over the founding of al-Mujamma al-Islami (the ‘Islamic Gathering’ or the ‘Islamic Gathering Center’) — or al-Mujamma for short — at a mosque in Gaza. Yassin was a refugee from al-Jura, a village destroyed in 1948 near the present-day city of Ashkelon in Israel.

“Yassin … categorically refused to join the resistance in any form, despite repeated urgings by the others. … While the nationalist resistance groups were systematically dismantled and decimated, Yassin was taking advantage of Israel’s deliberate benign neglect. He was patiently expanding his network of charitable and social activities throughout the Gaza Strip.

“In the words of Gaza’s military governor (general Yitzhak Segev) in 1986: ‘We extend some financial aid to Islamic groups via mosques and religious schools in order to help create a force that would stand against the leftist forces which support the PLO.’ …

“In an internal memorandum dated March 1984, an advisor (Avner Cohen) of Gaza’s Israeli commander described al-Mujamma and the rest of the Islamist network as a golem — a creature in Jewish folklore formed out of lifeless substance which, when brought to life by ritual incantations, ultimately escapes (and in this case, turns against) its creator.”

The first Intifada, which began in 1987, avoided the use of firearms but was ultimately crushed. Hamas was formed shortly thereafter with its initial charter, which had a “scrambled mixture of the Brotherhood’s socially puritanical version of Islam, several concessions to the nationalism espoused by the PLO, and a superficial rehash of Euro-centric antisemitism.” (Hamas revised its charter in 2017.)

Kfoury added: “A major beneficiary of the Oslo agreements and post-Oslo period was undoubtedly Hamas, as the main party that did not fall for an illusory peace agreement between Israelis and Palestinians. …

“In 2006 Hamas beat Fatah in Legislative Council elections, as the latter was increasingly perceived as a subcontractor for Israeli occupation. …

“All Israeli leaders have tried to play the divide-and-rule game, but perhaps none played it as deviously and myopically as Netanyahu. ‘Anyone who wants to thwart the establishment of a Palestinian state has to support bolstering Hamas and transferring money to Hamas,’ he told an audience of Likud members in March 2019. ‘This is part of our strategy — to isolate the Palestinians in Gaza from the Palestinians in the West Bank,’ he declared.”

Kfoury also quotes Sara Roy, author of Hamas and Civil Society in Gaza (Princeton University Press): “The current desecration of Gaza is the latest stage in a process that has taken increasingly violent forms over time. In the 56 years since it occupied the Strip in 1967, Israel has transformed Gaza from a territory politically and economically integrated with Israel and the West Bank into an isolated enclave, from a functional economy to a dysfunctional one, from a productive society to an impoverished one. It has likewise removed Gaza’s residents from the sphere of politics, transforming them from a people with a nationalist claim to a population whose majority requires some form of humanitarian aid to sustain themselves.”