The recent violence in the Middle East has prompted me to take a close look at the founding documents of Israel and Hamas—the governing authority of Gaza. Reading through the Hamas Charter it is clear that the principal aim of Hamas is the extermination of Jews. As article seven states, “Hamas has been looking forward to implement Allah’s promise whatever time it might take. The prophet, prayer and peace be upon him, said: The time 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!” Hamas is fundamentally committed to jihad and opposed to peaceful negotiation with Israel (see article 13).
As for Israel’s founding documents, it is interesting to note that they have no formal constitution. Rather, the legal foundation of the country is a document called the Basic Laws of Israel. See especially the basic laws on Human Dignity and Liberty. These fundamental laws concern the protection of human rights to life, property, dignity and privacy, regardless of a person’s race, religion, or ethnicity. It is striking to note the vast difference of content and tone between this document and the Hamas Charter. In short, we see in these two documents the essential differences between founding principles that respect human rights and those which do not. Or, to be more blunt: the difference between a rational political system and a terrorist state.
I would encourage anyone interested in Middle East relations—which should include all of us—to take a close look at these documents. They go a long way in explaining the on-going events in that region. As it is with individual people, so it is with nations and political systems: Our basic values drive our conduct.