3. They Were Responsible For Developing Hamas.
Israel has long been a powder keg of tensions between Muslims and non-Muslims. For the past nearly 25 years, one organization has played a front and center role in the violence against Jews and Christians in Israel: Hamas. What a lot of people don’t know is that the seeds of Hamas were planted and cultivated by the Muslim Brotherhood.
After the creation of the state of Israel in 1948, the Muslim Brotherhood played sort of a quiet role among Arabs there, more akin to a religious revival or a social program than a militant force. As more Palestinian Muslims joined the ranks of the Muslim Brotherhood, it began to take a more active role.
In the meantime, Israel tolerated (and even encouraged) Islamists as a counterweight to secular and more political groups like the Palestine Liberation Organization. These religious zealots from the Muslim Brotherhood coalesced into Hamas:
When Israel first encountered Islamists in Gaza in the 1970s and ’80s, they seemed focused on studying the Quran, not on confrontation with Israel. The Israeli government officially recognized a precursor to Hamas called Mujama Al-Islamiya, registering the group as a charity. It allowed Mujama members to set up an Islamic university and build mosques, clubs and schools. Crucially, Israel often stood aside when the Islamists and their secular left-wing Palestinian rivals battled, sometimes violently, for influence in both Gaza and the West Bank.
“When I look back at the chain of events I think we made a mistake,” says David Hacham, who worked in Gaza in the late 1980s and early ’90s as an Arab-affairs expert in the Israeli military. “But at the time nobody thought about the possible results.”
Obviously, Israel’s plan to counterbalance the PLO with more strictly religious Islamists backfired. While biding their time, waiting for an opening, the Muslim Brotherhood was quietly building mosques (from 1967 to 1987, the Muslim Brotherhood tripled the number of mosques in Gaza from 200 to 600) and developing militant Islamists. When the door opened, these Muslims led and largely funded by the Muslim Brotherhood became Hamas. And the rest, they say, is history.
Next: Inspiring and training others…