Harold Behr

Hamas, Hatred and Antisemitism

In the storm of accusations and refutations flying around in the wake of the Hamas atrocities of October 7th, I find it steadying to hold on to a single, irrefutable truth: the raison d’ etre for Hamas is the destruction of the sovereign state of Israel and its replacement with an Islamic state. This is what Israel is fighting to prevent and this is where the lines of battle are being drawn in what is threatening to become a global conflict.

Hamas represents just one manifestation of antisemitic hatred. Having gained the spotlight with its barbaric attacks on Israel it has now succeeded in drafting a whole army of fellow antisemites into its service. Some share the Jihadi ideology, others are political extremists who disguise their antisemitism with self-righteous attacks on Israel as a colonialist state. Still others preach a spurious moral equivalence between Israel and Hamas, as if they were simply two warring tribes, neither of whom is irreproachable, who must be separated and forced to negotiate a peaceful solution to the conflict.

And then there is a starry-eyed minority among the protesters waving Palestinian flags, some of them Jewish, who conflate the reprehensible actions of the Israeli political leadership with an overall condemnation of the Israeli state. They fail to realise that by adding their voice to the chorus of chants for Palestinian freedom they are giving strength to those who wish to annihilate the Jewish people.

Those who nurse an unyielding hatred will never negotiate. They will exploit any respite in hostilities as an opportunity to regroup in order to resume their attacks. Despite this, Israel has rightly given priority to the recovery of the hostages, the only civilised course of action in the horrific predicament which Hamas has forced on the country.

The leaders of Hamas are masters at playing the diplomatic field. They milk every opportunity for casting blame on Israel for the casualties which they themselves have engineered and they exult in the support which this garners them for their cause. Millions are seduced by harrowing stories and images into seeing Israel as entirely to blame and Hamas as victims and martyrs to their cause.

Hatred leads to violence, which begets counter-violence. The resultant cycle leaves a legacy of pain and trauma, making healing and reconstruction more difficult for decades to come. For this reason, extremists such as Hamas who preach violence against an entire people, are to be condemned, treated as criminals and forced by whatever means possible to the margins of society, where they must be contained while more moderate elements undertake the repair of the damage they have caused.

It is for this reason that the mindless march of antisemitism, better thought of as Jew hatred, must be strenuously opposed wherever it appears. Just as in the case of a forest fire which is raging out of control, every new spread of the blaze must be fought wherever it is encountered until the fire has either been extinguished or has burnt itself out.

About the Author
I was born in South Africa in 1940 and emigrated to the U.K. in 1970 after qualifying in medicine. I held a post as Consultant Psychiatrist in London until my retirement in 2013. I am the author of two books: one on group analytic psychotherapy, one on the psychology of the French Revolution. I have written many articles on group psychology published in peer-reviewed journals. From 1979 to 1985 I was editor of the journal ‘Group Analysis’; I have contributed short pieces to psychology newsletters over the years.
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