Mel Alexenberg
Author of "Through a Bible Lens"

Hamas is the reincarnation of Amalek

This article is a sequel to my Time of Israel article “Emblems of Israel and Hamas tell the whole story” of June 3, 2021. It contrasts Israel’s emblem that shows a menorah and olive branches that represent light and peace with Hamas’ emblem that shows rifles and hand grenades representing death and destruction. It applauds the genocidal Hamas terrorists aim to wipe Israel off the map and slaughter all its Jews.

Israel’s Declaration of Independence states: “We extend our hand to all neighboring states and their peoples in an offer of peace and good neighborliness, and appeal to them to establish bonds of cooperation and mutual help with the sovereign Jewish people settled in its own land.”

The Hamas Charter states:  “I indeed wish to go to war for the sake of Allah! I will assault and kill, assault and kill, assault and kill.”

I am presenting the full words of the Hamas charter below in a paper that my son Moshe Alexenberg wrote sixteen years ago that speaks so strongly to issues of today’s war against Hamas.

He presented his thesis on peace and war in Judaism in 2007 to his professor Amnon Sella at the Lauder School of Government, Diplomacy and Strategy of IDC Herzliya (now Reichman University). Moshe was Valedictorian twice, awarded with highest honors for both his B.S. and his M.S. degrees. He wrote the following:

The significance of peace in Judaism is exemplified by the hundreds of references glorifying peace in Jewish texts spanning thousands of years.  On the other hand, hundreds of passages and laws in these same texts also refer to wars.  While war is not praised in Jewish tradition, it is recognized as an unfortunate necessity rendering pacifism untenable.

In addition to biblical references, large sections of Jewish ethical and legal writings are dedicated to examining warfare.   Jewish texts discuss warfare in great detail and establish a complicated system of ethical and legal categorization for different kinds of wars.  Within each category, specific rules of warfare are prescribed and debated among halakhic authorities in a collection of texts written over thousands of years until today.

Rabbi Joseph Dov Soloveitchik (1903-1993), was the preeminent Jewish philosopher of the 20th century who was head of the Rabbinical Seminary of Yeshiva University. He draws on Maimonides to argue that any nation that conspires to destroy Israel becomes, according to halakhah, Amalek.  His definition of Amalek as any hate filled group that directs its enmity towards the Jewish people or one that conspires to commit genocide against the Jewish people justifies a war in modern times against such enemies as being obligatory.  When a people emblazons on its banner, “Come, and let us cut them off from being a nation: that the name of Israel may be no more in remembrance” (Psalms 83:5) it becomes Amalek.  Hamas is Amalek of the 21st century.

The biblical passage, “God will be at war with Amalek from generation to generation” (Exodus 17:16) attests to the fact that this war will continue in all generations.  Since Amalek as a nation surely does not exist in this generation, the biblical passage attests to a war being waged against an enemy that is conceptually parallel to Amalek.  Amalek attacked without provocation the feeble and exhausted Israelites who were lagging in the rear of the group crossing the desert to the Land of Israel.  Amalek, at the time, was the standard bearer of terrorism against the nation of Israel since its inception.

The Hamas Charter (1988) considered a divinely inspired document that cannot be changed, easily qualifies Hamas as a present-day Amalek:

“Hamas looks forward to implement Allah’s promise whatever time it might take. The prophet, prayer and peace be upon him, said: The time will not come until Muslims will fight the Jews (and kill them); until the Jews hide behind rocks and trees, which will cry: O Muslim! there is a Jew hiding behind me, come on and kill him….  Israel, by virtue of its being Jewish and of having a Jewish population, defies Islam and the Muslims…. In order to face the usurpation of Palestine by the Jews, we have no escape from raising the banner of Jihad… We must spread the spirit of Jihad among the [Islamic] Umma introducing fundamental changes in educational curricula: ‘I swear by that who holds in His Hands the Soul of Muhammad! I indeed wish to go to war for the sake of Allah! I will assault and kill, assault and kill, assault and kill’.”

Prof. Boaz Ganor, President of Reichman University (formerly IDC Herzliya) and Founder and Executive Director of the International Institute for Counter-Terrorism (ICT) writes that like the modern-day terrorists Hamas, Amalek targeted, attacked and murdered civilians. A common and authoritative definition of terrorism that morally differentiates it from other kinds of armed conflict is targeting civilians. Due to the moral bankruptcy of this strategy, the Torah commanded that Amalek be obliterated, something that was not commanded about any of the other enemies that waged war against Israel.

Prof. Eliav Shochetman, head of the Institute for the Study of Jewish Law at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem wrote that the commandment to obliterate Amalek – in modern terms, suppression of terrorism into extinction – is the first which Israel was commanded upon entering the Land of Israel…. The reason for this is that it is impossible to maintain a proper society when terrorism is raging, and the commandment is to “eliminate its memory from the face of the earth and to eradicate them to oblivion”. The legacy for the generations is that there can be no compromise with terrorism and it must be battled into nonexistence.

Without delving deeply into the specific measures that must be taken to allow for civilians to escape harm, the general requirement is for a warning to be issued before an attack to allow for civilians to flee and for those who wish to surrender to do so.  Judaism thus assumes anyone who stays for the ensuing battle cannot be classified a civilian or non-combatant.  Jewish law allows for the unintentional killing of innocent civilians as a necessary but undesired byproduct of war (Rabbi Shaul Yisraeli, Amud Hayemini 16:5 and Rabbi Joseph Babad, Minchat Hinuch Commandment 425).

About the Author
Mel Alexenberg is an artist, educator, writer, and blogger working at the interface between art, technology, Jewish thought, and living the Zionist miracle in Israel. He is the author of "Through a Bible Lens: Biblical Insights for Smartphone Photography and Social Media," "The Future of Art in a Postdigital Age: From Hellenistic to Hebraic Consciousness," and "Dialogic Art in a Digital World: Judaism and Contemporary Art" in Hebrew. He was professor at Columbia, Bar-Ilan and Ariel universities and research fellow at MIT Center for Advanced Visual Studies. His artworks are in the collections of more than forty museums worldwide. He lives in Ra’anana, Israel, with his wife artist Miriam Benjamin.
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