You can be Anti-Hamas and Support Palestinians at the Same Time


I am sickened by the Hamas attack on Israel. It is evil and must be seen and named for what it is.

And I support Palestinians. Is that possible? Yes, and the distinction between Hamas and the wider Palestinian cause is crucial to make right now.

Hamas is a terrorist organization whose invasion of Israel, along with the murder of civilians, brutalizing of Israeli elderly and children, and kidnapping of hostages, are hideous acts. They are aimed at, among other things, creating a devastating response from Israel. This will then be used by Hamas and its allies to justify their actions and cause.

Hamas does not want peace with Israel nor is it remotely interested in the two-state solution. Hamas wants to eradicate the nation of Israel from the earth.

Moreover, Hamas terrorizes the Palestinian people under its control in Gaza. Hamas uses civilians as human shields. Expressions of dissent by people in Gaza are not tolerated, but lead to prison or death. Hamas forces Palestinians and Palestinian children to work building its network of tunnels, a project in which hundreds of children have perished. Hamas is funded and supplied by Iran, as is Hezbollah.

Here is New York Times columnist Tom Friedman on what Hamas has done during its nearly 20 years of control of Gaza:

“But as bad as Netanyahu has been for Israel, Hamas has been a deadly curse for the Palestinian people since it took over Gaza in 2007. The billion-plus dollars in aid that it received from Qatar alone over the years could have gone into building Gaza into a productive society, with decent schools, universities, and infrastructure, that might have been a model for a future Palestinian state with the West Bank. Instead, Hamas has devoted most of its energies and resources to digging tunnels into Israel and building rockets to try to destroy a vastly more powerful enemy — thus depriving Gazans of any chance to realize their full potential, via a government that is decent, democratic and productive.”

Later in the piece Friedman termed Hamas and its governance of Gaza as nothing more than a “Palestinian Islamist mafia.”

Hamas is not identical with the Palestinian cause or its search for greater justice and peace for Palestinians living in Israel. And yet exactly that identification is being made by pro-Palestinian activists, demonstrators, and media here in the U.S.

An organizer of a pro-Palestinian demonstration in the Seattle area this past weekend, Bissan Barghouti, justified the Hamas action saying, “Ultimately, this [the Hamas invasion] is our people defending themselves against over 75 years of occupation, apartheid and ethnic cleansing . . . Palestinians are fighting to breathe, and Gaza has broken out of a prison that has existed for 20 years.”

While I am no expert, my own guess is that Iran pushed the Hamas invasion, possibly at Russia’s behest. If the U.S. has to increase military support for Israel, it will likely come at the expense of Ukraine, which some U.S. Republicans are already busy undercutting, and as Trump has long been doing. So that new front means that Russia’s chances of success in its invasion of Ukraine are far better.

Like Friedman, I have been disgusted with Netanyahu’s attempt to undermine Israeli democracy by throttling the Supreme Court there. And I have been inspired by the massive Israeli protests against that scheme.

But at this point the key message for Americans is to not simply merge the actions of Iran-backed Hamas and Hezbollah with the Palestinians and their cause. The two are not the same. Americans sympathetic, as many of us are to Palestinians and their conditions, need to strengthen the moderates not the radicals who are really criminals as well as terrorists, and who are using the larger plight of Palestinians as cover for their brutality.

Anthony B. Robinson
Anthony B. Robinson
Tony is a writer, teacher, speaker and ordained minister (United Church of Christ). He served as Senior Minister of Seattle’s Plymouth Congregational Church for fourteen years. His newest book is Useful Wisdom: Letters to Young (and not so young) Ministers. He divides his time between Seattle and a cabin in Wallowa County of northeastern Oregon. If you’d like to know more or receive his regular blogs in your email, go to his site listed above to sign-up.


  1. Mr. Robinson,

    Sometimes, when people tell you who they are, you have to believe them.

    If an expert quoted-above like Bissan Barghouti (Digital Communications Strategist of the Washington ACLU!!! — take a look at LinkedIn) tells us that Hamas and the Gaza people are one, we should take her seriously.

    I personally have no idea of the depth of support for Hamas in Gaza, but a lot of people who know more than I do think that Hamas speaks and acts for the mass of Palestinian population. So maybe we should take such people at their word.

  2. Mr. Robinson,
    I’m re-reading your article and wonder where you get the statement, with reference to the Palestinian people and Hamas, “The two are not the same.”
    What do you know that Ms Barghouti does not?

    Taking a look at a bigger picture, are there any groups promoting the two states solution among Palestinians, American citizens, or in the Middle East? Go look into the political action groups over the last 30-40 years concerning “liberal” positions — the ones where you and I might find great agreement – on finding a solution… You’ll find very few Palestinians. I wish you were so, but that’s cold hard reality.

  3. When a columnist says, “I am NO EXPERT, ….my own GUESS is….” well, I stop paying attention to this person right there.

  4. I think it’s very important for us on the outside, not living in Gaza, and likely not having sufficient information to speak for Palestinians living in Gaza, to simply take the word of an ‘expert’ that Hamas and the Palestinians in Gaza are ‘one.’ It’s known that Hamas tolerates no criticism of its policies and actions in Gaza. Criticism or dissent is severely punished. So while Hamas ‘won’ an election, it’s difficult for me to believe that Palestinians in Gaza had a real choice in that election.

    I am appalled that the everyday living conditions in Gaza are routinely ignored in coverage of this war. Palestinians in Gaza live in inhumane conditions that have persisted for many years. That seems to not matter to the media in this country, nor to those who tout ‘Israel’s right to exist.’ The history of the establishment of Israel seems ignored and perhaps forgotten. The now largely ignored peace accords that were designed, with hope, to lead to a two-states solution are likely defunct. Palestinians in Gaza apparently have little to no right to exist, for many people. The government of Israel reportedly advised them to leave, but with no right of return, an offer, I think, to abandon what Palestinians consider their home.

    There are a few, mostly small, groups promoting the two-states solution and there are exchanges between Palestinians and Israelis, including young people. One of them is Unitarian Universalists for Justice in the Middle East. Descriptions of their membership by ethnicity or country of origin is not what they publicize. Their efforts are small, but pale in comparison to those of the governments of Israel and the U.S. and other countries.

    Political considerations are one thing and supporting Israel is strong among political leaders in this country. Ignoring the inhumanity of Hamas and its leadership in Gaza and its effects on Palestinians living there receives little political attention. Those political positions are morally indefensible in many ways.

  5. Hamas has, for a very long time, brutally crushed any dissension among Palestinians. Even if they had not, wide scale retaliation, that wreaks destruction on defenseless children, is indefensible

  6. The photo in the story is very puzzling, since it definitely does not show a poverty, stricken people… Take a look at the photo carefully. I’m really puzzled about Gaza. Lots of what appear to be relatively new and solid buildings. It’s not mud huts.
    & Obviously Gaza produces enough to support a vigorous arms industry.

  7. The celebrations of some celebrating the invasion of Israel by Hamas reminded me of those celebrating the 9/11 attacks. Pointing out the Israeli encroachments on the West Bank and sealing off the Gaza Strip borders is one thing; celebrating the murders of ordinary Israelis who had nothing to do with the Netanyahu government’s actions by a terrorist group is another.

    Nothing will change, however, until Hamas is ousted and Netanyahu faces justice for corruption (he’s been trying to avoid trial). I seriously doubt this happens in my lifetime, though.

    Re: Iran, apparently they were as surprised by the Hamas attack as much as Israel and the West were, according to early US intelligence reports.


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