Heads are spinning over the Islamic militant group Hamas since last week's big win in Palestinian parliamentary elections. Think about it, Hamas, the ruthless terrorist organization bent on obliterating Israel, captured 74 of 132 seats.
Founded in the late 1980s on the principle that "there is no solution for the Palestinian question except through Jihad," Hamas has since claimed responsibility for hundreds of deadly attacks on Israeli military and civilian targets, including numerous suicide bombings. The question now is whether Hamas will turn away from its terrorist past in order to maintain their international favors.
Some analysts say yes. They say that Hamas has more or less abided by a ceasefire for the past year, and that it has moderated its traditionally militant stance. They also say that much of Hamas's popularity stems not from terrorist activities, but from the network of schools, health clinics, and soup kitchens the group operates.
Other analysts say that all sides of Hamas are still, ultimately, dedicated to the same old goal - destroying Israel. They point out that, whatever services Hamas may provide to ordinary Palestinians, it has never renounced the program described in its 1988 charter.
So, what does Hamas say about Hamas?
"The Islamic Resistance Movement (HAMAS)"
- "The movement's program is Islam. From it, it draws its ideas, ways of thinking and understanding of the universe, life and man. It resorts to it for judgment in all its conduct, and it is inspired by it for guidance of its steps."
- "The basic structure of the Islamic Resistance Movement consists of Muslims who have given their allegiance to Allah whom they truly worship. . . . They fear Allah and raise the banner of Jihad in the face of the oppressors, so that they would rid the land and the people of their uncleanliness, vileness, and evils."
- "The Islamic Resistance Movement is one of the links in the chain of the struggle against the Zionist invaders. . . . The Islamic Resistance Movement aspires to the realization of Allah's promise, no matter how long that should take. The Prophet, Allah bless him and grant him salvation, has said: 'The Day of Judgment will not come about until Muslims fight the Jews (killing the Jews), when the Jew will hide behind stones and trees. The stones and trees will say O Muslims, O Abdulla, there is a Jew behind me, come and kill him.'"
- "The Islamic Resistance Movement believes that the land of Palestine is . . . consecrated for future Muslim generations until Judgment Day. It, or any part of it, should not be squandered: it, or any part of it, should not be given up. Neither a single Arab country nor all Arab countries, neither any king or president, nor all the kings and presidents, neither any organization nor all of them, be they Palestinian or Arab, possess the right to do that."
- "Now and then the call goes out for the convening of an international conference to look for ways of solving the (Palestinian) question. . . . These conferences are only ways of setting the infidels in the land of the Muslims as arbitrators. . . . There is no solution for the Palestinian question except through Jihad. Initiatives, proposals and international conferences are all a waste of time and vain endeavors."
- "The day that enemies usurp part of Muslim land, Jihad becomes the individual duty of every Muslim. In face of the Jews' usurpation of Palestine, it is compulsory that the banner of Jihad be raised. To do this requires the diffusion of Islamic consciousness among the masses, both on the regional, Arab, and Islamic levels. It is necessary to instill the spirit of Jihad in the heart of the nation so that they would confront the enemies and join the ranks of the fighters."
- "Muslim society is a mutually responsible society. . . . Mutual social responsibility means extending assistance, financial or moral, to all those who are in need and joining in the execution of some of the work. Members of the Islamic Resistance Movement should consider the interests of the masses as their own personal interests. They must spare no effort in achieving and preserving them."
- "Jihad is not confined to the carrying of arms and the confrontation of the enemy. The effective word, the good article, the useful book, support and solidarity--together with the presence of sincere purpose for the hoisting of Allah's banner higher and higher--all these are elements of the Jihad for Allah's sake."
- "The Zionist plan is limitless. After Palestine, the Zionists aspire to expand from the Nile to the Euphrates. When they will have digested the region they overtook, they will aspire to further expansion. . . . Leaving the circle of struggle with Zionism is high treason, and cursed be he who does that."
- "This is the only way to liberate Palestine. . . . It is one of the laws of the universe and one of the rules of existence. Nothing can overcome iron except iron."
Read Hamas's complete charter at Yale Law School