News Release

How Israel Backed Hamas


Available for a very limited number of interviews, Dreyfuss is author of Devil’s Game: How the United States Helped Unleash Fundamentalist Islam. His recent pieces at The Nation include “Iran-Saudi Deal Is Crucial to Resolve Iraq-Syria Civil War,” “Obama Fiddles While Gaza Burns” and “US Should Back Syria’s Assad Against ISIS.”

He said today: “In Gaza, between 1967 and 1987, when Hamas was founded, the number of mosques tripled in Gaza from 200 to 600. And a lot of that came with money flowing from outside Gaza, from wealthy conservative Islamists in Saudi Arabia and elsewhere. But, of course, none of this could have happened without the Israelis casting an approving eye upon it.

“And during these years, during that 20-year span, the Hamas organization was a bitter opponent of Palestinian nationalism, clashed repeatedly with the P.L.O. and with Fatah, of course, refused to participate in the P.L.O. umbrella. And just as during the ’50s and ’60s, the Muslim Brotherhood fought against the Nasserists, the Baath Party, the communists and the rest of the Arab left, in the 1970s and ’80s, the Muslim Brotherhood fought against the Palestinian national movement.

“There’s plenty of evidence that the Israeli intelligence services, especially Shin Bet and the military occupation authorities, encouraged the growth of the Muslim Brotherhood and the founding of Hamas. There are many examples and incidents of that. But there were armed clashes, of course, on Palestinian university campuses in the ’70s and ’80s, where Hamas would attack PLO, PFLP, PDFLP and other groups, with clubs and chains. This was before guns became prominent in the Occupied Territories.

“Diplomats and intelligence people who I interviewed say that there was plenty of reason to think that the Israelis were fostering the growth of Hamas. And, of course, Yasser Arafat himself, in a quote to a newspaper reporter a number of years ago, explicitly described Hamas as, quote, ‘a creature of Israel.’ And he said that he discussed this with Yitzhak Rabin during their Oslo process. And Rabin told Arafat that it was ‘a fatal error’ for the Israelis to have encouraged the growth of Hamas. The theory of it, of course, was that Hamas would be a force against Palestinian nationalism.”

See: “Analysis: Hamas history tied to Israel” by Richard Sale, June 18, 2002, UPI; “An Alternative to the P.L.O. — Fundamentalists” by Israeli historian Clinton Bailey, Sept. 9, 1989, New York Times.