Whenever I have heard these words, "We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Happiness..." from our own Declaration of Independence, I swell with pride at the founding documents of our country and the values that underlie what America is ultimately all about. I realize that you can tell a lot about the underlying truths that inform a country, a government or an organization by reading its founding documents. So perhaps we can learn something valuable about the fundamental values of both Israel and Hamas in a similar way, by looking at their respective founding documents as well.
It's just possible that although the conflict itself so often seems overwhelmingly complex and impossible to unravel, perhaps sharing some knowledge from each of their founding documents will help clarify both what Israel and Hamas, the "Islamic Resistance Movement" stand for at the core of their foundations and therefore shed a bit more light in the midst of so much heat and trauma.
On November 29,1947 the General Assembly of the United Nations adopted a resolution for the establishment of an independent Jewish State in Palestine, recognizing the self-evident right of the Jewish people to be a nation, as all other nations, in its own Sovereign State within the boundaries of its own ancient, historic homeland.
After the United Nations voted to partition Palestine into two countries, one Jewish and one Arab, the leaders of Israel established Israel as the Jewish state and issued the Israeli Declaration of Independence on May 14, 1948 which included the following language as a fundamental expression of the values that have formed the foundation of Israel as a country from 1948 until this very day. The declaration reads in part...
"The land of Israel was the birthplace of the Jewish people. Here their spiritual, religious and national identity was formed. Here they achieved independence and created a culture of national and universal significance. Here they wrote and gave the Bible to the world. Exiled from Palestine, the Jewish people remained faithful to it in all the countries of their dispersion, never ceasing to pray and hope for their return and the restoration of their national freedom."
"Impelled by this historic association, Jews strove throughout the centuries to go back to the land of their fathers and regain their statehood...They reclaimed the wilderness, revived their language, built cities and villages and established a vigorous and ever-growing community with its own economic and cultural life. They sought peace yet were ever prepared to defend themselves. They brought the blessing of progress to all inhabitants of the country."
"In the year 1897 the First Zionist Congress, inspired by Theodor Herzl's vision of the Jewish State, proclaimed the right of the Jewish people to national revival in their own country. This right was acknowledged by the Balfour Declaration of November 2, 1917, and re-affirmed by the Mandate of the League of Nations, which gave explicit international recognition to the historic connection of the Jewish people with Palestine and their right to reconstitute their National Home..."
"Accordingly, we, the members of the National Council...by virtue of the natural and historic right of the Jewish people and of the Resolution of the General Assembly of the United Nations, HEREBY PROCLAIM the establishment of the Jewish State in Palestine, to be called ISRAEL..."
"THE STATE OF ISRAEL will be open to the immigration of Jews from all countries of their dispersion; will promote the development of the country for the benefit of all its inhabitants; will be based on the precepts of liberty, justice and peace taught by the Hebrew Prophets; will uphold the full social and political equality of all its citizens, without distinction of race, creed or sex; will guarantee full freedom of conscience, worship, education and culture; will safeguard the sanctity and inviolability of the shrines and Holy Places of all religions; and will dedicate itself to the principles of the Charter of the United Nations..."
"In the midst of wanton aggression, we yet call upon the Arab inhabitants of the State of Israel to return to the ways of peace and play their part in the development of the State, with full and equal citizenship and due representation in its bodies and institutions -- provisional or permanent."
"We offer peace and unity to all the neighboring states and their peoples, and invite them to cooperate with the independent Jewish nation for the common good of all..."
"With trust in Almighty God, we set our hand to this Declaration, at this Session of the Provisional State Council, in the city of Tel Aviv, on this Sabbath eve, the fifth of Iyar, 5708, the fourteenth day of May, 1948."
Throughout the history of Israel, as it has welcomed immigrants from throughout the world, including hundreds of thousands of Jews forcibly evicted from Arab lands where they had lived in peace for literally thousands of years, this Declaration of Independence has formed the guiding principles of the country along with the basic biblical and Jewish values that have been part of the spiritual inheritance of Israel stretching back thousands of years to the original Jewish homeland when Jerusalem was the capital city of the Kingdom of David in Biblical times.
Hamas, the elected government of Gaza has a founding charter as well. As with the Israeli Declaration of Independence, The Charter of Hamas, first articulated in 1988, reflects the goals and foundational values of Hamas which also remain unchanged to this day. Here is part of The Charter of Hamas:
"Article Six: The Islamic Resistance Movement (Hamas) is a distinct Palestinian Movement which owes its loyalty to Allah, derives from Islam its way of life and strives to raise the banner of Allah over every inch of Palestine."
"Article Seven: The time (of Islamic control over all of Palestine) 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!"
"Article Eight: The Slogan of the Hamas: Allah is its goal, the Prophet its model, the Qur'an its Constitution, Jihad its path and death for the case of Allah its most sublime belief."
"Article Eleven: The Strategy of Hamas: Palestine is an Islamic Waqf. The Islamic Resistance Movement believes that the land of Palestine has been an Islamic Waqf throughout the generations and until the Day of Resurrection, no one can renounce it or part of it, or abandon it or part of it. No Arab country nor the aggregate of all Arab countries, and no Arab King or President nor all of them in the aggregate, have that right, nor has that right any organization or the aggregate of all organizations, be they Palestinian or Arab, because Palestine is an Islamic Waqf throughout all generations and to the Day of Resurrection. Who can presume to speak for all Islamic Generations to the Day of Resurrection? This is the status [of the land] in Islamic Shari'a, and it is similar to all lands conquered by Islam by force, and made thereby Waqf lands upon their conquest, for all generations of Muslims until the Day of Resurrection."
"Article Thirteen: Peaceful Solutions, Peace Initiatives and International Conferences
Peace initiatives, the so-called peaceful solutions, and the international conferences to resolve the Palestinian problem, are all contrary to the beliefs of the Islamic Resistance Movement. For renouncing any part of Palestine means renouncing part of the religion; the nationalism of the Islamic Resistance Movement is part of its faith, the movement educates its members to adhere to its principles and to raise the banner of Allah over their homeland as they fight their Jihad.... There is no solution to the Palestinian problem except by Jihad."
"Article Twenty-Two: The Powers which Support the Enemy. They stood behind the French and the Communist Revolutions and behind most of the revolutions we hear about here and there. They also used the money to establish clandestine organizations which are spreading around the world, in order to destroy societies and carry out Zionist interests. Such organizations are: the Freemasons, Rotary Clubs, Lions Clubs, B'nai B'rith and the like. All of them are destructive spying organizations. They also used the money to take over control of the Imperialist states and made them colonize many countries in order to exploit the wealth of those countries and spread their corruption therein. As regards local and world wars, it has come to pass and no one objects, that they stood behind World War I, so as to wipe out the Islamic Caliphate. They collected material gains and took control of many sources of wealth. They obtained the Balfour Declaration and established the League of Nations in order to rule the world by means of that organization. They also stood behind World War II, where they collected immense benefits from trading with war materials and prepared for the establishment of their state. They inspired the establishment of the United Nations and the Security Council to replace the League of Nations, in order to rule the world by their intermediary. There was no war that broke out anywhere without their fingerprints on it."
The "Charter" of Hamas speaks for itself in their own words: "There is no solution to the Palestinian problem except by Jihad ... Hamas strives to raise the banner of Allah over every inch of Palestine." And if the goals of Hamas as stated in their own charter were realized, not only would Israel cease to exist as a country, but the over 6 million Jews who live within its borders would be killed. With thousand of rockets being fired by Hamas from Gaza indiscriminately into Israel, every one of them aimed at civilian populations, it is hardly surprising that Israel retaliates as any civilized country would do to defend its population from such clear, unapologetic, blatant attempts at its annihilation. What a tragedy that so many innocent Palestinian men, women and children end up paying the price for that aggression.