Washington Post columnist Roger Cohen writes that Hamas, "a totalitarian government steeped in a cult of violence and death" does not act in the best interests of the Palestinians:
It's a pity that Israel, while substantially loosening its grip on Gaza, will continue to enforce a blockade when, with just a little imagination, it could insist on a deal with the activists once again steaming its way: You can proceed to Gaza if, once you get there, you demand that Hamas cease the persecution of women, institute freedom of religion, halt the continuing rocketing of Israel, release an Israeli hostage, ban torture and rescind an official charter that could have made soothing bedtime reading for Adolf Hitler. This may take some time.
In fact, these demands would never be met. Gaza is a mean and brutal place with a totalitarian government steeped in a cult of violence and death. This hardly means that the government does not have a measure of popular support and did not, as some of the activists naively point out, come to power by democratic means. So did the Nazis.
The term "Islamic fascism" gets thrown around a lot. I initially recoiled from it because I prefer to reserve fascism for fascists. The term is too loosely employed — New York City cops were called fascists by Vietnam-era peace demonstrators — but Paul Berman, in his new book "The Flight of the Intellectuals," makes a solid case that it can, with justice, be applied to Hamas.
Berman traces Hamas's intellectual pedigree to Egypt's Muslim Brotherhood, whose founder, Hassan al-Banna, greatly admired Hitler, and to Haj Amin al-Husseini, the Grand Mufti of Jerusalem who spent much of World War II in Germany cozying up to Hitler, organizing a Muslim SS unit and, on occasion, remonstrating with the Nazis for not killing enough Jews. (See also Robert S. Wistrich's recent book, "A Lethal Obsession.") It's appalling not only that Husseini was granted sanctuary in Arab countries after the war but also that he continues to be revered as a Palestinian patriot.
The successor to both Banna and Husseini was Sayyid Qutb (1906-66), an Egyptian intellectual of uncontested importance whose influence can be found in the writing of the Hamas charter. Qutb was an indefatigable author (more than 20 books, some written while in an Egyptian prison where he was tortured), but the article that should interest the pro-Hamas activists the most is called "Our Struggle with the Jews." It is a shocking and repellent work of anti-Semitism that, among other things, says the "Jews will be satisfied only with the destruction" of Islam. Qutb cites that hoary anti-Semitic forgery "The Protocols of the Elders of Zion" for substantiation — suggesting that his status as an intellectual is somewhat due to heroic grade inflation.