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by Steve Emerson


The U.S. Army War College Strategic Studies Institute (SSI) published a monograph last month by Sherifa Zuhur entitled, "Hamas and Israel: Conflicting Strategies of Group-Based Politics," a fairly bland heading that only hints at its deeply disturbing content. This monograph is more accurately described as an apologia for Hamas, a violent Islamist organization dedicated to jihad and the destruction of the State of Israel. Hamas was first designated by the United States (U.S.) government as a terrorist organization in 1995 by a presidential executive order and then again as a foreign terrorist organization (FTO) in 1997. Hamas has remained on the FTO list ever since. The essay also consistently demonizes Israel and its legitimate defense of national sovereignty under international law.

The U.S. Army War College is an official educational facility of the Department of Defense, and is accredited by the Chairman, Joint Chiefs of Staff. The mission of the Carlisle, Pennsylvania-based War College is to prepare its students for strategic leadership positions in the U.S. military and senior levels of civilian policymaking. American taxpayers fund the War College and its Strategic Studies Institute.

According to the monograph's forward (written by SSI Director Douglas C. Lovelace, Jr.), "Hamas and Israel" provides "an orientation to HAMAS and its base" that demonstrates how " separate HAMAS from is popular support and network of social and charitable organizations...have not been effective in destroying the organization, nor in eradicating the will to resist among a fairly large segment of the Palestinian population."[1] The pronounced bias in support of Hamas and against the State of Israel that suffuses this monograph shows in the absence of any explanation for why Hamas would continue to be engaged in resistance of any sort through the end of 2008, much less incessant rocket attacks aimed at Israeli civilian population centers, more than three years after Israel withdrew completely from Gaza. Instead, key recommendations include the need for "Israel and the United abandon their policies of non-negotiation and non-communication with HAMAS."[2] Additionally, according to Zuhur, Israel needs to "abandon the aspects of its new defensive strategy which are calculated to thwart peace efforts,"[3] by "[d]ismantling the settlements in the West Bank"[4] and recognizing what Zuhur calls "Hamas' political and strategic development"[5] instead of villainizing the group. She claims that "Israel could not tolerate Palestinian Arabs' resistance of their [sic] authority on the legal basis of denial of self-determination"[6] and slips in a stab at what she terms "Israel's rejection of all comprehensive peace offers by the Arabs."[7] Statements like these betray the actual purpose of this monograph: to criticize Israel for exercising its sovereign right to self-defense while giving Hamas a free pass for terrorist assaults that deliberately target Israel's civilian population. It should be noted that this monograph was published the very week that Israel launched Operation Cast Lead in the Gaza Strip on 27 December 2008.

American dedication to free speech should not extend to using taxpayer money to pay for a paean to Islamist terrorism, backed by shoddy research and written at what is supposed to be this nation's premier U.S. Army institute for national security research and analysis. Unfortunately, there is precedent at SSI for this genre of terrorist apologia. Sherifa Zuhur, an American citizen who is Research Professor of Islamic and Regional Studies at SSI, is the same author who penned an April 2008 SSI monograph, "Precision in the Global War on Terror: Inciting Muslims Through the War of Ideas."

That monograph takes the form of a Glossary of Terms, from A to Z, which Zuhur uses to identify "a trend of pathologizing beliefs and practices that are at the core of Islam."[8] Her definitions invariably deny any link between Islam and terrorism and claim that the violence of the suicide bomber is "not a manifestation of belief nor a natural outcome of Islamism or 'fundamentalism,' but rather a tactic, labeled with the religious principle of Jihad, that is intended to build an ethos, a camaraderie, and dependency on others engaging in violence."[9]

Zuhur overlooks the Hamas charter, a theological covenant with Allah, which takes the motto of its parent organization, The Muslim Brotherhood, as its own:

Allah is its goal, the Prophet its model to be followed,

the Koran its constitution, Jihad its way,

and death for the sake of Allah its loftiest desire

Article Seven of the covenant justifies its anti-Semitic mission to obliterate Israel with the notorious hadith authenticated by the two most authoritative hadith scholars in Islam, Sahih al-Bukhari and Sahih Muslim:

The hour of judgment shall not come until the Muslims fight

The Jews and kill them, so that the Jews hide behind trees and stones,

And each tree and stone will say: 'Oh Muslim, oh servant of Allah,

there is a Jew behind me, come and kill him...

Had Zuhur included something more than false, dismissive references to the Hamas Covenant in her latest monograph, she may have had a much harder time excoriating Israel for its "...stance towards the democratically-elected Palestinian government headed by HAMAS [which] has been a major obstacle to substantive peacemaking."[10] Zuhur describes the charter as "defunct" and claims that Hamas leadership no longer "cites or refers to" it while generally playing down its aggressive anti-Israel elements.[11] Yet, as recently as 2007, the Hamas leadership issued an official statement to defend itself against criticism from Ayman al-Zawahiri, al-Qaeda's number two. "We will not betray promises we made to God to continue the path of Jihad and resistance until the liberation of Palestine, all of Palestine,"[12] according to the statement. This statement not only clearly reaffirms Hamas' commitment to the destruction of Israel, but notably as well underscores the theological character of the Hamas Covenant, which declares "promises we made to God."

Tellingly, Zuhur's monographs lack citations from recognized Islamic authorities, legal texts, or scriptures. Such quotations would refute her premise that the violent intolerance intrinsic to Hamas, the Muslim Brotherhood, and Shari'a is not based explicitly in Islamic doctrine.

She also neglects to cite key references in her attempt to portray the Brotherhood as an organization "committed to global change for many decades"[13] that has "restricted its activities to Muslim education and social support."[14] Here, she conveniently ignores the self-described mission of the Muslim Brotherhood in the U.S., which was revealed in a Brotherhood document first introduced into evidence at the 2007 Holy Land Foundation terror financing trial:

Understanding the role of the Muslim Brother in North America: ...The Ikhwan must understand that their work in America is a kind of grand Jihad in eliminating and destroying the Western civilization from within and 'sabotaging' its miserable house by their hands..."[15] (emphasis added)

Zuhur's protestations on behalf of Hamas' "charitable social services"[16] make a false distinction between those affiliated with al-Qaeda (acknowledged as violent) and those connected to Hamas, which has "carefully separated political and military wings."[17] Similarly, she claims that "Hamas shares an acceptance of the scientific rational traditions of the West along with moderate Islamist groups like the Muslim Brotherhood."[18] In the rush to publish, Zuhur must have missed reports that the Hamas parliament voted in December 2008 to legalize Shari'a hudud punishments like amputation, flogging, and crucifixion.[19]

In publishing these two monographs by Sherifa Zuhur, the U.S. Army War College exposes itself to serious questions about its advocacy and promotion of views it knows or should have known are deeply inimical to U.S. national security interests. These two publications are each described on their title pages as "a work of the U.S. Government as defined in Title 17, United States Code, Section 101."[20] But their author shills for a foreign terrorist organization. She attacks Israel, a friend and ally of the U.S. and an outpost of liberal democracy in the Middle East, which has been forced to fight jihadist efforts to destroy it for the entire 60 years of its existence. It is fine to present students with varying perspectives on a conflict, but when taxpayer money is used, a higher standard should be demanded. Congress should investigate why the US Army is funding papers supporting Hamas.


[1] Zuhur, Sherifa, "Hamas and Israel: Conflicting Strategies of Group-Based Politics," Strategic Studies Institute, U.S. Army War College, December 2008. (pg. v)

[2] Ibid, pg. 63

[3] Ibid, pg. 18.

[4] Ibid, pg. 65

[5] Ibid, pg. x

[6] Ibid, pg. 1

[7] Ibid, pg. 14

[8] Zuhur, Sherifa, "Precision in the Global War on Terror: Inciting Muslims Through the War of Ideas," Strategic Studies Institute, U.S. Army War College, April 2008. From the Forward, pg. v.

[9] Ibid, pg. 110

[10] Zuhur, "Hamas and Israel," pg.1

[11] Ibid, pg. 30-31

[12] Al-Mughrabi, Nidal, "Hamas says still seeks Israel's destruction," Reuters, March 12, 2007.

[13] Zuhur, "Hamas and Israel," pg. 63

[14] Ibid, pg. 91

[15] From 'On the General Strategic Goal for the Group in North America' (5/22/1991); entered into evidence at the 2007 Holy Land Foundation trial in Dallas, TX. While this federal prosecution ended indecisively, Zuhur would have known before "Hamas and Israel" was published in late December 2008 that on November 24, 2008, a unanimous jury conviction on 108 counts was returned in the retrial against five former Holy Land Foundation officials for conspiring to provide material support to terrorists.

[16] Zuhur, "Hamas and Israel," pg.18; also "Precision in the Global War on Terror," pg. 114, where she protests that "...with the War on Terror came an attack on many Islamic charitable associations, both those somehow linked to al-Qa'ida and to organizations that most Muslims regard as nationalist and more moderate like Hamas."

[17] Ibid ("Hamas and Israel"), pg. 39

[18] Ibid, pg. 60

[19] "Hamas Sanctions Sharia Law,", December 24, 2008.

[20] Zuhur, "Hamas and Israel," from the bottom of the monograph's title page

Editor's Addendum:

These are two comments from readers representing two very different views. The first to me sounded very much like defending the Mafia because they are all for family values.

Inaccurate Criticism
Submitted by Jerry Landrum,
Jan 27, 2009 18:01

I read Dr. Zuhur's monograph, and it is no way an apologia of Hamas' targeting of civilians. She does not deny that the Izz al-Din al-Qassam Squads, the military wing of HAMAS, has used terrorism as a tactic. However, she also acknowledges that Israel has at times used a disproportionate amount of force in its response to these acts. The most important point Dr. Zuhur makes is that there is more to Hamas than its military wing. She states that 95% of Hamas' budget is used for social programs. This is a fact which is verified by other sources such as the Council on Foreign Relations backgrounder on Hamas: " Hamas funds schools, orphanages, mosques, healthcare clinics, soup kitchens, and sports leagues. "Approximately 90 percent of its work is in social, welfare, cultural, and educational activities," writes the Israeli scholar Reuven Paz." This group is much more than a terrorist organization. In fact, they have been democratically elected as leaders of the Palestinian people. Given this reality, is it not wise to consider the idea that discussions with them might be the correct course of action? In a CFR interview, Richard Murphy advocates for this dialogue as a contrast for the belated opening of dialogue with the PLO.

More on Sherifa Zuhur
Submitted by Jeffrey Imm, Jan 21, 2009 18:49
July 2, 2008

The Strategic Studies Institute of the US Army War College publishes security and strategic reports for U.S. military agencies, military leaders, and to influence policy. So when this branch of the US Army War College calls for America to run from fighting a war to defend its values, Americans should be deeply concerned. The US Army War College sent this message in April 2008 to American military leadership in publishing a study by Islamic scholar Sherifa Zuhur on "Precision in the Global War on Terror: Inciting Muslims through the War of Ideas." Professor Zuhur is not ambiguous about her message to the American military in stating that "the effort to pursue 'militant Islam' instead of simply opposing 'terrorism,' is too grand a project" (page 9), and that "it is time to abandon the assumptions of a clash of civilizations between Islam and the West" (page 115). In effect, this Islamic scholar is guiding American military away from looking at Islamic supremacism as an ideology, and instead advises that the only possible course for America is the circular, tactical guerilla warfare against "terrorists" or "extremists" instead. Professor Zuhur tells America's military that "[p]lanners and policymakers should avoid essentialist and reductionist interpretations of key concepts like the Caliphate" (page 117). Professor Zuhur tells America's military that the "United States (even along with Europe) cannot undo the Islamic awakening, the growth of Islamist movements and principles, and popular support for them. Work with Islamists instead of engaging them in what surely will be a very long war" (page 118). In summary, this study distributed by the US Army War College was provided to American military around the world to tell them to ignore the ideology of Islamic supremacism, and to discourage any type of confrontation with Islamic supremacism to defend our values of equality and liberty. Clearly the Islamic supremacist propaganda campaign is working.


Steven Emerson is an internationally recognized expert on terrorism and national security and heads the Investigative Project on Terrorism.

This article appeared January 21, 2009 in IPT News us-army-war-college-publishes-apologia-for-hamas
Thanks are due Barbara Sommer for sending it in.


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