It was misleading for Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan to call Israel's defensive interception of the Mavi Marmara ferry late last month a "bloody massacre." It was another matter of self-delusion entirely when Mr. Erdogan recently downplayed the violent extremism of Hamas.
"I do not think that Hamas is a terrorist organization," the prime minister said June 4 at a rally in the Turkish province of Konya, according to the Turkish daily Hurriyet. "They are Palestinians in resistance, fighting for their own land."
In truth, these "resisters" have perpetrated bombings and other violence that in the past 23 years alone have killed hundreds of people inside Israel and wounded more than 1,300. Hamas' charter calls for the destruction of the Jewish state, saying Israel "will remain erect until Islam eliminates it as it had eliminated its predecessors" and vowing to "raise the banner of Allah over every inch of Palestine."
Hamas has been responsible for attacks that have ended the lives of pregnant women, babies and children, young parents and the elderly. It has sent explosives-packed bombers disguised as Orthodox Jews and Israel Defense Forces soldiers to shopping malls, coffee shops, pizza parlors, pubs and onto public buses. Many of those lucky enough to survive these attacks live the rest of their lives with disfiguring scars, permanent pain, missing limbs or digits and/or loss of hearing or sight.
But Hamas tyranny is not limited to Jews and visitors to Israel. In 2005, Israel removed its troops, residents and buildings from Gaza in an effort to facilitate peace between itself and its Palestinian neighbors. Last December, the New York Daily News described the IDF-free, Hamas-ruled Gaza as "an isolated, angry place - a toxic stew of Islamic radicalism and political repression" where school-age children rarely attended school, women risked verbal or physical assault - or both - if they walked the streets alone, and unemployment hovered around 40 percent.
Hamas has long had a practice of lynching, maiming and executing Palestinians suspected of collaborating with Israel or the rival Palestinian political party Fatah. Do these "collaborators" have the right to a fair trial? If only. In March, Hamas executed two such Palestinians for supposedly aiding Israel; in response to public outcry, Hamas Minister of the Interior Fathi Hammad said the organization would "continue to implement execution sentences" when and where it saw fit.
After winning the 2006 Gaza elections on a platform of change and an end to corruption, Hamas forcibly took control of the strip and blew up Fatah headquarters. In recent years, the group also has begun implementing bizarre and oppressive laws: Motorcycle riders may no longer carry female passengers, men are prohibited from working in women's hair salons, beaches are sex-segregated and, through June 12 of this year (when student matriculation exams end), beach night life is banned.
Hamas also has a well-developed terrorist-recruiting tool in its television shows. Earlier this year, the Treasury Department imposed sanctions against Hamas' Al-Aqsa TV network for its airing of programs "designed to recruit children to become Hamas armed fighters and suicide bombers upon reaching adulthood."
The United States, Canada, Israel, Japan and European Union member countries all classify Hamas as a terrorist entity.
Resistance movement, indeed.
Anath Hartmann is letters editor for The Washington Times and a Legacy Heritage fellow.
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