October 24, 2023 Editor

Israel says Hamas ‘is ISIS.’ But it’s not.

NABLUS, PALESTINIAN TERRITORIES - OCTOBER 17, 2023: A march in the city center of Nablus, West Bank, on October 17, 2023. The march was initiated by Fatah members, but Hamas flags (in green) also appeared in the crowd. A quarrel then broke out when Fatah members tried to push Hamas supporters to leave the demonstration. (Photo by Lorenzo Tugnoli/For The Washington Post)

By Ishaan Tharoor with Sammy Westfall


image above: A march in the city center of Nablus, West Bank, on Oct. 17. (Lorenzo Tugnoli for The Washington Post/FTWP)

WN: “But it’s not.” And just what kinds of “human animals” do what is being done to Gazans–to use Netanyahu rhetoric–with Western leaders cheering it on? What kinds of human animals are Biden, Macron, Trudeau’s feet-dragging because of tight-knit ties to the Canadian Bronfman Zionist billionaires1, and multiple Western politicians to endorse the overwhelmingly genocidal retaliation?

And my entire website chastizes Western Powers’ “in-bedness” with the most brutal empire ever–the United States of America: the ultimate terrorist organization–in bed with other such entities–on today’s world stage. Please also see my Interaction With “The CIA: 70 Years of Organized Crime” 10-21-2021.

On the contrary, the recently elected GOP House Speaker, Mike Johnson, responded thus to the following question from his wife on a podcast they do together:

“Why are we the freest, most powerful, most successful, most benevolent nation in the history of the world, and why does every other nation on the planet look to us for leadership and even expect it of us?” she asks in one episode. Her husband responds explaining that America is the only country in the world founded upon a creed, or a “religious statement of faith.”

With that kind of blind religious hubris, the words of the prophet Amos (chapter 5) ring out in response!:

21“I hate, I despise your feasts!

I cannot stand the stench of your solemn assemblies.

22Even though you offer Me burnt offerings and grain offerings,

I will not accept them;

for your peace offerings of fattened cattle

I will have no regard.

23Take away from Me the noise of your songs!

I will not listen to the music of your harps.

24But let justice roll on like a river,

and righteousness like an ever-flowing stream.

This article, by Rabbi Joshua Stanton | Cantor Olivia Brodsky, October 23, 2023, is balanced, and represents a love-your-neighbour approach to the above: How we write our history shapes how we think about the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. We read:

What you choose to include or exclude from your retelling of the region’s history determines your understanding of the more recent Israeli and Palestinian conflict.

Interfaith organizations and efforts are particularly vulnerable to the vortex of glib words and disjointed narratives. Dr. Eboo Patel, the president of Interfaith America, has noted the extent to which our social infrastructure depends on collaboration across religious traditions: a church that resides within a synagogue in New York, a community center on the South Side of Chicago that is hosted by Muslims but intended as a safe place for all, Lutheran-run hospitals open to all, nondenominational Christian aid organizations, and Jesuit universities across the country, several of which helped pioneer interfaith chaplaincies.

These organizations are emblems of religious pluralism. Though they maintain significant differences in worldviews and practices, they share a desire to serve others and create a more vibrant, inclusive society.

How can we keep such pain from upending the good work of so many individuals and communities?

And when it comes to sharing our narratives and personal accounts, timing is everything. Your chosen starting point may determine your story of events, especially when it comes to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

Are you going back to biblical times, when the Israelites became a tribal offshoot of the Canaanites? . . .

If you tell the story of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict starting from 1948, then the influx of Jewish Holocaust survivors to Israel can more easily be reduced to a kind of colonization, rather than as part of a continual Jewish presence for nearly four millenia. If you start your history in the biblical period, however, it might exclude Muslim rule of the Holy Land during the Umayyad, Abbasid and Ayyubid periods, or the later reign of the Ottoman Empire.

How can we keep such pain from upending the good work of so many individuals and communities?
What you choose to include or exclude from your retelling of the region’s history determines your understanding of the more recent Israeli and Palestinian conflict. Even so, there is no way to include every detail, much less to give each event the same weight as another person might. So-called objective history is woven through a process that is as much creatively subjective as it is analytical. Our inherently disparate narratives of the Holy Land give rise to yawning differences in how we understand the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

Do you refer to the War of Independence for Jews in 1948, or do you call it the Nakba (Arabic for “catastrophe”) for Palestinian Arabs who were expelled en masse to territories that at the time belonged to surrounding Arab nations (Jordan, Lebanon and Egypt, in particular)? Do you focus on the Six-Day War in 1967, where Israel defended itself against attacks from three surrounding Arab nations (Egypt, Jordan and Syria), then expanded its internationally recognized borders as it considered necessary for national security? Or do you think it was a breach of international law for Israel to retain these territories after the war, resulting in millions of Palestinians living under the edicts of the Israeli military for the subsequent five decades?

Rabbi Joshua Stanton is spiritual leader of East End Temple and senior fellow of CLAL, The National Jewish Center for Learning and Leadership. He is coauthor with Rabbi Benjamin Spratt of Awakenings: American Jewish Transformations in Identity, Leadership, and Belonging.


Olivia Brodsky is the cantor and co-spiritual leader of East End Temple in Manhattan, New York City. She was ordained in 2021.


The refrain became a hashtag, and has been echoed by Israeli officials and politicians across the spectrum, as well as by Israel’s allies. A week after the massacres, U.S. Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin described what Hamas did as “worse than ISIS.” On Tuesday, French President Emmanuel Macron appeared alongside Netanyahu and took the analogy further, suggesting that an international coalition the likes of which fought al-Qaeda and the Islamic State should now defeat Israel’s quarry. He said that Israel was not alone and that “France is ready for the coalition, which is fighting in Iraq and Syria against ISIS, to also fight against Hamas.”

But scholars of the Middle East contend that such rhetoric deliberately flattens the deep forces at play. Saying there’s no distinction between Hamas and ISIS is “an effective tactic to paint it — and all Gazans, given many Israeli leaders’ generalizing language — as inhuman, irredeemably evil and therefore legitimate targets for savagery in reprisal,” argued Monica Marks, a professor of Middle East politics at New York University’s Abu Dhabi campus. She added that Hamas’s Islamist character and theological convictions were arguably less important than its self-styled vision of being the armed standard-bearer of Palestinian national liberation.

Itzchak Weismann, an Israeli historian of Islamist movements at the University of Haifa, concurred. “There’s a tendency to say that [Hamas] was always ISIS. But that’s not necessarily true. It’s an organization that responds to the situation,” he told Israeli newspaper Haaretz last week, pointing to how Hamas has tolerated other religious groups in Gaza. “Hamas tried to be inclusive of all of Gaza’s population … In contrast, ISIS would murder any Muslim who didn’t pray at the correct time. You can’t just say, ‘ISIS slaughtered people and so did Hamas, so they’re the same.’ That’s very superficial.”

“For all of Israel’s efforts to paint it as the Palestinian branch of the Islamic State, and as reactionary and violent as it is, Hamas is an Islamic nationalist organization, not a nihilist cult, and a part of Palestinian political society; it feeds on the despair produced by the occupation, and cannot simply be liquidated any more than the fascist zealots in Netanyahu’s cabinet,” wrote Jewish American author and critic Adam Shatz, in an essay in the London Review of Books.

Please click on: Israel says Hamas ‘is ISIS.’ But it’s not.

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  1. see, Stephen Maher, : The ties that bind the Liberals and the Bronfmans.[]


Wayne Northey was Director of Man-to-Man/Woman-to-Woman – Restorative Christian Ministries (M2/W2) in British Columbia, Canada from 1998 to 2014, when he retired. He has been active in the criminal justice arena and a keen promoter of Restorative Justice since 1974. He has published widely on peacemaking and justice themes. You will find more about that on this website: a work in progress.

Always appreciate constructive feedback! Thanks.