Statement on the Gaza-Israel War
We at the Minaret of Freedom Institute are committed to speaking truth and advancing liberty for all people. We do not employ armaments, but ideas. We speak the truth to academics, policy researchers, policymakers, journalists, and the general public with the information necessary for honesty, justice, and liberty to prevail. Accordingly, we condemn the October 7 Hamas attack on Israel, the Israeli occupation policies that provoked it, and Israel’s disproportionate retaliation. The following is not merely a statement of position, but an analytical collection of facts to assist those committed to peace, justice, and freedom in refuting the disinformation and obfuscation we face at this time.
- Hamas violated both international and Islamic law by including noncombatants (including women and children) in its targets. “And beware tumult or oppression, which affects not in particular (only) those of you who do wrong” [Qur’an 8:25]. Abu Bakr, the first khalifah of Islam instructed his general: “I advise you ten things: Do not kill women or children or an aged, infirm person. Do not cut down fruit-bearing trees. Do not destroy an inhabited place. Do not slaughter sheep or camels except for food. Do not burn bees and do not scatter them. Do not steal from the booty, and do not be cowardly” [Malik’s Muwatta Book 21, Hadith Number 10].
- As the history of Israel’s incursions into, siege of, and attacks upon Gaza (as well as the soldier-settler violence in the rest of Palestine) shows all too clearly, this Hamas attack was not without provocation.
- The refrain that “Israel has a right to defend itself” obfuscates the fact that, under international law, it is the occupied and not the occupier who has the right to self-defense. Neither the occupier nor the occupied has a right to attack unarmed civilians, hospitals, churches, synagogues, and mosques, but the occupied has a right to armed resistance that adheres to the international laws of war. Retaliation is not self-defense.
- This is not a religious conflict. Muslims have never excluded Jews from Palestine. It was the early Muslims who allowed Jews back into Palestine after the Romans had expelled them. (Moreover, Jews expelled by Christians from Spain and elsewhere in Europe took refuge in Muslim lands.) Nor does political Zionism seek to impose the religion of Judaism on anybody. This is a land conflict between the indigenous people who have lived there for hundreds if not thousands of years and colonists from Europe and America identifying themselves as Jews ethnically (not necessarily or even usually religious) who came not to live as good neighbors but as occupiers who would either dominate or displace those already in residence, whether Muslims or Christians, under a banner not of Jewish law, but of Jewish supremacy.
- Media reports are unreliable, usually just being an echo of Israeli propaganda. As Malcolm X warned us: “If you’re not careful, the newspapers will have you hating the people who are being oppressed, and loving the people who are doing the oppressing.”
- We call on all people to call out and condemn dehumanization. Of course, there is the overt dehumanization such as Israeli leaders calling Palestinians “animals,” but there is also dehumanization by omission. This can take many forms from mentioning war crimes by Hamas while omitting war crimes by Israel. Even some who make a show of balance (say, by expressing concern over the carnage in Gaza) engage in dehumanization of the Palestinians by failing to include Palestinian voices in the conversation and/or by categorically condemning Hamas excesses as willful brutality while minimizing Israeli brutality as “humanitarian cost.”
- It is true that Hamas does not represent all Palestinians, but it is a perversion of history to say that “Hamas seized Gaza in 2007.” In fact, the political wing of Hamas won the only free and fair election in Palestinian history in 2006 and an Israeli-instigated violent coup in 2007 installed Hamas’s rivals in the West Bank but failed to oust Hamas in Gaza. Although new elections are long overdue, it is not Hamas, but Israel and their rampantly corrupt Palestinian Authority security subcontractors who are the functional obstacles to new elections.
- Resources: Institute for Middle East Understanding, Mondoweiss, Gisha, Green Olive Tours, Alternative Tourism Group, Siraj Center, Adalah Justice Project, American Muslims for Palestine, BDS, Middle East Children’s Alliance, Jewish Voice for Peace, KinderUSA, If Americans Knew.
Omar Hisham Altalib
Charles E. Butterworth
Board of Directors, Minaret of Freedom Institute