Americans were shocked and horrified by Hamas’s atrocious attack on Israel. But Israel is not the only country suffering from blindness to potential threats. Many Americans were also shocked and horrified by the virulent, widespread pro-Hamas and anti-Israel statements and actions within the United States that followed the murderous Hamas attack on October 7. They ask themselves how such hatred could have suddenly boiled over here and what can be done to counter this trend.
Former college diversity administrator Tabia Lee gives an essential insight into this question. She attributes much of this outburst to the way in which DEI (diversity, equity, and inclusion) advocates classify Jews as oppressors so that “criticizing Israel and the Jewish people is not only acceptable but praiseworthy.” She cited a study before October 7 that “found 96% of Israel-focused tweets by campus DEI staff criticized the Jewish state.” The size and fury of the young crowds in the streets of major cities support her analysis.
In 1997, the United States declared Hamas, the group whose actions the crowds are celebrating, a terrorist organization, as have the European Union, the United Kingdom, Canada, and many other countries. Its revised charter from 2017 states: “Hamas rejects any alternative to the full and complete liberation of Palestine, from the [Jordan] river to the [Mediterranean] sea.” In other words, its goal is eradicating the State of Israel. And its methods for achieving that goal, as is now obvious, include rocket attacks and the indiscriminate torture and murder of Israeli citizens.
While the atmosphere described by Ms Lee is definitely a key incubator, students affiliated with the Students for Justice in Palestine (SJP) carried out many of the recent violent campus demonstrations in favor of Hamas. According to an article by Middle East analyst Eitan Fischberger:
With more than 200 chapters nationwide, SJP is widely viewed as the most influential anti-Israel student group in the United States. It’s often responsible for creating an atmosphere of intimidation for Jewish students due to its frequent praise of Palestinian terrorists, arranging pro-terror vigils on campuses, and, on at least one occasion, hosting a convicted terrorist at an event.
The Institute for the Study of Global Antisemitism and Policy (ISGAP) in 2020 reported that the “National SJP, founded with the support of American Muslims for Palestine and the US Palestinian Community Network, demonstrates continuous support for terrorism and blatant antisemitism.”
So what, beyond ideology, is the connection between Hamas and groups like SJP? It turns out that both are linked to the Muslim Brotherhood. The goal of the Brotherhood is to establish the rules of Islamic law, or sharia, worldwide under a global caliphate. Hamas was established in 1987 as the Palestinian branch of the Brotherhood, and the SJP was set up by Hatem Bazian, a professor with reported ties to the Muslim Brotherhood from his student years. Fischberger speculates that rather than advertise an open affiliation with the Muslim Brotherhood, Bazian followed the well-known Brotherhood strategy of joining a coalition, particularly with progressive-minded groups.
Many Western experts argue that while the Muslim Brotherhood initially supported Islamic terrorism or jihad, it no longer does so. Egyptian American political analyst Cynthia Farahat, in The Secret Apparatus: The Muslim Brotherhood’s Industry of Death, refutes this thesis. She provides a wealth of detail showing that promoting terrorism remains its core purpose. She also refutes the assertion – made often by its representatives – that the Muslim Brotherhood is not an organization per se but a loosely organized movement. Instead, she shows that shrouding the organization in secrecy protects its most crucial unit: the Brothers dedicated to promoting terrorism.
In past years, legislation calling on the U.S. Department of State to designate the Muslim Brotherhood as a Foreign Terrorist Organization has failed. It is time to pass this bill and to highlight the Brotherhood’s continuing connection to Hamas. Doing so will not stop the Brotherhood’s support for terrorism nor cause it to abandon its long-term goals. But it would clarify that groups like SJP should not be tolerated on campus.
*Leslie S. Lebl, Fellow at ACD, is the author of Hidden Struggle: The Challenge of Sharia in the West.