Professor David Patterson

Professor David Patterson

David Patterson is a Senior Research Fellow at ISGAP and a member of the Executive Board of the Annual Scholars’ Conference on the Holocaust and the Churches. David holds the Hillel A. Feinberg Distinguished Chair in Holocaust Studies at the Ackerman Center for Holocaust Studies, University of Texas at Dallas. He has lectured at universities on six continents and throughout the United States. A winner of the National Jewish Book Award, the Koret Jewish Book Award, the Hadassah Myrtle Wreath Award, and the Holocaust Scholars’ Conference Eternal Flame Award, David has published more than 40 books and 250 articles, essays, and book chapters on antisemitism, the Holocaust, and Jewish studies. His most recent books are Eighteen Words to Sustain a Life (Wipf & Stock, 2023), Judaism, Antisemitism, Holocaust: Making the Connections (Cambridge, 2022), Shoah and Torah (Routledge, 2022), Portraits: Elie Wiesel’s Hasidic Legacy (SUNY, 2021), The Holocaust and the Non-Representable (SUNY, 2018), Anti-Semitism and Its Metaphysical Origins (Cambridge, 2015), and A Genealogy of Evil: Anti-Semitism from Nazism to Islamic Jihad (Cambridge, 2010).

In recent days the word Hamas has been all over the media.  Protesters around the world have come out in support of the murderous terrorists, denying the truth of the photos that Hamas themselves have posted, much as their compatriots deny the Holocaust.  The organization has earned its notoriety not through its “fight for freedom” or any humanitarian endeavor but through acts of sheer, unabashed, mind-numbing, head-spinning horror—acts of premeditated, systematically perpetrated evil.  By now many people have heard their name, but very few know much about their history, genealogy, ideology, and aims.  Here I shall briefly lay out that background so that we may better understand of whom and what we are speaking when we say, “Hamas.”  It begins with the Nazis.  Yes, the Nazis.

National Socialism emerged not only from social, political, and other vicissitudes of modern Germany but also from the convergence of religious, philosophical, and cultural expressions of a modern Jew hatred that surpassed every manifestation to date: it was an antisemitism foundational to Nazi thinking and exterminationist in its aims.  In 1922 Adolf Hitler told German journalist Josef Hell, “Once I am in power, my first and foremost task will be the annihilation of the Jews.”[i]  He also declared to Hermann Rauschning that, as Führer, his mission in life was to destroy the “tyrannical God of the Jews” and His “life-denying Ten Commandments.”[ii]  The object of extermination, then, was not only the Jews but also the teaching and testimony of Judaism—the Holy One Himself—that the Jews represent through their very presence in the world.  Here we see exactly what the antisemite, both Nazi and Jihadist, is anti-, what the exterminationist antisemite seeks to exterminate in the extermination of the Jews.

For the Nazis, when it came to the Jews, race was not the defining category of their thinking.  The Nazis were not antisemites because they were racists; rather, they were racists because they were antisemites: they had to establish an antisemitic, anti-Judaic premise in order to arrive at a racist outlook.  As Nazi ideologue Alfred Rosenberg maintained, the Aryan “mind” or “spirit,” “has been poisoned by Judaism,” and not merely by Jewish blood, for the –ism is in the blood.[iii]  Therefore, every Jew is a carrier of the contagion of Judaism—every Jew tests Judaism positive—so that the extermination of the Jews must be total.  That is why Jewish students on college campuses are attacked, reviled, and humiliated every time the Jewish state defends itself.  In the Nazis’ struggle against the Jews and Judaism Hitler is the savior of humanity, who wages war with a satanic evil.  Following their own ideologue Sayyid Qutb, Hamas understands itself to be waging the same war.[iv]  It is, indeed, a holy war waged against the satanic God of the Jews.  Nazi antisemitism was about the usurpation of the divine throne of judgment, and that required the elimination of the millennial witnesses to the Divine Judge: the Jewish people.  Whether it is Hitler or Hamas, one cannot become like God without this usurpation or appropriation of God, which requires the extermination of the Jews.

As the Führer hid in his bunker and prepared for his suicide, he penned his last political will and testament.  His last written words were a plea to the world to continue to “resist mercilessly the poisoner of all nations, international Jewry,”[v] a plea most thoroughly and systematically heeded by the Islamic Jihadists and one of their primary movements, Ḥarakat al-Muqāwamah al-ʾIslāmiyyah, the Islamic Resistance Movement known as Hamas.  Before proceeding to Hamas, however, a few words must be said about the Muslim Brotherhood from which Hamas stems and Haj Amin al-Husseini, the tie that binds Hitler to Hamas. 

The Muslim Brotherhood and the Hitler Connection

            The Muslim Brotherhood was founded in March 1928, when Hasan al-Banna and five other brothers gathered to draft their creed: “Allah is our goal.  The Prophet is our leader.  The Qur’an is our law.  Jihad is our way.  Death in the service of Allah is our highest desire.”  Soon after this affirmation of their creed, al-Banna turned to Hitler and found deep inspiration.[vi]  Hitler confirmed for him that Zionism is about establishing neither a haven nor a homeland for the Jews but a base of operations for world domination.  “While the Zionists try to make the rest of the world believe that the national consciousness of the Jew finds its satisfaction in the creation of a Palestinian state,” said Hitler, “the Jews again slyly dupe the dumb Goyim… .  All they want is a central organization for their international world swindle.”[vii]  One thing that al-Banna learned from Hitler was the power of propaganda against the Jews,[viii] as a means not of persuasion but of inciting hatred.[ix]  By 1935 the Brotherhood had formed its own propaganda division.  For both Hitler and al-Banna, the first principle is not that all Jews are evil but that all evil is Jewish.  Therefore the Jews must be hated and ultimately exterminated.  For the Jihadists of the Brotherhood, it is, indeed, a holy act pleasing to God and therefore a religious duty

            From 1935 onward the Brotherhood sent delegations to the Nazis’ rallies in Nuremberg.  In 1938 they led demonstrations against Egyptian Jews and held the Parliamentary Conference for Arab and Muslim Countries in Cairo, where they distributed Arabic translations of selections from Mein Kampf and the Protocols of the Elders of Zion.  In 1939 they bombed a Cairo synagogue and ransacked Jewish homes.  With the outbreak of the war, the Nazis enjoyed their full support.  When King Farouk granted asylum to Nazi war criminal Haj Amin al-Husseini on 20 June 1946, al-Banna hailed the former Mufti of Jerusalem as a hero and a great Jihadist.  Al-Husseini also had meetings with Sayyid Qutb, the man who would become the Brotherhood’s most influential Jihadist ideologue.  In al-Husseini, then, we have an important link between the Nazis and Hamas.  

Haj Amin al-Husseini: Nazism as Jihadism

 Haj Amin al-Husseini came to power through a British act of appeasement after he had been tried in abstentia and found guilty of inciting riots in Palestine in 1920; the riots arose in response to the first proposal for a two-state solution outlined by the Faisal-Weizmann Agreement of January 1919.  Attempting to calm the Arab population, British mandate governor Herbert Samuel appointed him Mufti of Jerusalem on 8 May 1921.  Among the newly appointed Mufti’s first actions was a declaration of jihad against the British and the Jews.[x]  On 31 March 1933 he paid his first official visit to the new Nazi German General Consul Heinrich Wolff in Jerusalem.  On 13 October 1937, once again wanted by the British for inciting the Arab Revolt of 1936 – 1939, al-Husseini fled Palestine. 

Al-Husseini had his first meeting with the Führer on 28 November 1941, when they discussed their alliance in the extermination of European and Palestinian Jewry.  The extermination project pleased al-Husseini and his desire for the annihilation of the Jews as a necessary means of bringing salvation to the believers of Islam.  To be sure, he had always preached that murdering Jews pleases Allah and is essential to salvation.  If it pleases Allah, then, for Hamas and other Jihadist murderers, killing Jews is not about “freeing Palestine” or driving out an “oppressor” or even revenge.  It has nothing to do with “colonialist occupation.”  It is about serving God.  Just as a Nazi cannot be a true Nazi without murdering Jews, so an Islamic Jihadist cannot be a true Muslim without murdering Jews.  The Jihadist’s ticket into paradise is a dead Jew.  For a dead Jew pleases Allah. 

As early as January 1941 al-Husseini was recruiting Bosnian Muslims to serve in the Waffen SS and in SS killing units.  The largest of the Mufti’s Muslim killing units was the infamous 13th Handschar Division of 21,065 men.[xi]  As a result of his murderous actions in service to the Nazis, al-Husseini was charged with war crimes.  On 20 June 1946 he turned up in Cairo, where, as noted above, the Muslim Brotherhood gave him a hero’s welcome.  That same year the Mufti took in Yasser Arafat as his protégé; he brought in a former Nazi commando officer to teach Arafat “the fine points of guerilla warfare.”[xii]  Some scholars argue that “al-Husseini was himself most likely the true founder of the al-Fatah,… Arafat’s terror cell,… the nucleus of the PLO,”[xiii] which is currently the ruling authority in the West Bank. 

Hamas: Hitler’s Heirs in the Struggle against World Jewry

Hamas emerged immediately after the outbreak of the Palestinians’ First Intifada against Israel as a militant Palestinian wing of the Muslim Brotherhood on 9 December 1987.  The Movement was founded by Sheikh Ahmed Yassin and his comrades Dr. Abdel Aziz al-Rantisi and Mahmoud al-Zahar.[xiv]  Born in Ashkelon in 1938, Yassin grew up in awe of Haj Amin al-Husseini.[xv]  He joined the Muslim Brotherhood in 1957 and in 1973 established the Islamic Congress in Gaza to expand the influence of the Brotherhood; in 1978 he was among the founders of the Islamic University of Gaza.  Yassin and his cohorts embraced the Nazis’ fundamental view that the Jews are “the dirtiest and meanest of all races, defiling the most sanctified and honored spot on earth,” making “no distinctions between Jews, Zionists, and Israelis.”[xvi]  In her scholarship Esther Webman confirms these findings: “Generally no differentiation is made in the leaflets between Jew and Zionist, inasmuch as Judaism was perceived as embracing Zionism.”[xvii]  As in all ideologies driven by Jew hatred, from Hitler to Hamas, where the Jew is the enemy, Judaism is the enemy. 

Beverley Milton-Edwards writes, “The Hamas view of the Jewish people is not drawn solely from the pages of the Qur’an and hadith.  Its myopia is also the product of Western anti-Semitic [primarily Nazi] influences.  While Hamas, like other modern-day Islamic Jihadists, has developed its argument on the Jewish question by relying on Qur’anic and other Islamic sources, it also… [borrows] from such classical Western anti-Semitic sources as The Protocols of the Elders of Zion.”[xviii]  What Hamas has in common with Hitler is not merely the desire to exterminate the Jews.  No, it is this: exterminationist Jew hatred forms a definitive, foundational basis for their entire worldview.  Both for Nazis and for Islamic Jihadists, both for Hitler and for Hamas, exterminationist Jew hatred is a first principle defining the very essence of their thinking.

After Yassin’s assassination on 22 March 2004, Rantisi succeeded him as the leader of Hamas, only to meet the same fate on 18 April 2004.  After Rantisi came former physics teacher Khalid Mashal, who governs Hamas from Qatar.  In 2006 Ismail Haniyeh was voted the leader of Hamas and the Palestinian government in Gaza.  Like his predecessors, Haniyeh applied lessons learned from the Nazis on the use of propaganda to incite a “wrathful hatred” of the Jews.  In all of this we see the thread from Hitler and Hamas, as it passed through al-Husseini, through the Brotherhood, again through al-Husseini, and into the PLO and Hamas.  Nowhere is the linkage more evident than in the Hamas charter.  Drafted on 18 August 1988, this document that defines the essence of Hamas is deemed “The Charter of Allah,” with the clear implication that the word of Allah is the word of Hamas.  As a “Charter of Allah,” it is a holy covenant that cannot be amended, altered, or negotiated.  What, then, is the Word of Allah when Islamic Jihadism appropriates it? 

            Quoting Hasan al-Banna, the Charter’s preamble declares the exterminationist aims of Hamas: “Israel will exist and will continue to exist until Islam will obliterate it,” where Israel is a reference to the Jewish people, not to the Jewish state.  No mention of “occupation” or to “colonialism”: the problem for Hamas, as for Hitler, is the very presence of the evil contagion of Jews and Judaism on the face of the earth.  This point becomes clear if we recall a simple fact: when al-Banna made his assertion, the Jewish state did not yet exist: as in the case of the Nazis, the Hamas hatred of the Jews has nothing to do with the Jewish state.

            For Hamas, a key to the universal rule of Islam is the universal extermination of the Jews, a position justified by Article Seven’s invocation of a teaching of the Prophet himself found in the al-Bukhari hadith, no. 3,593: “The Prophet, Allah bless him and grant him salvation, has said: ‘The Day of Judgment will not come about until Moslems fight the Jews (killing the Jews), when the Jew will hide behind stones and trees.  The stones and trees will say, ‘O Moslems, O Abdulla, there is a Jew behind me, come and kill him.’”  Nature itself rebels against the existence of the Jews.  Nature itself vomits up the Jews as an alien, unnatural entity: natural law, therefore, requires the eradication of the Jews, so that Jew is not just an ontological enemy but a metaphysical threat.  

            Reading Article Eleven, one realizes that Hamas can allow no compromise on the status of Palestine, for the presence of the Jews is not only unnatural—it is unholy: “Palestine is an Islamic Waqf land consecrated for Moslem generations until Judgment Day.”  As an “Islamic Waqf land,” Palestine is consecrated ground reserved for Muslims alone.  The issue of Palestine, then, is not about politics or economics—it is about holiness and truth, something that no government or ruler can negotiate.  To ask a Muslim to negotiate peace with the Jews is to ask him to renounce Islam.  Therefore “initiatives, and so­-called peaceful solutions and international conferences, are in contradiction to the principles of the Islamic Resistance Movement.  Abusing any part of Palestine is abuse directed against part of religion” (Article Thirteen). 

            Because there can be no peaceful solutions, Article Fifteen ends with the refrain from the al-Bukhari hadith: “I will assault and kill, assault and kill, assault and kill”[xix]—assault and kill the Jews.  Assault and kill and rape and torture and butcher and mutilate women, girls, and toddlers, as shown in the recent videos taken by the Hamas terrorists themselves.  In their appropriation of the Word of Allah, Hamas transcends Allah and his Word to sanctify not just the killing of Jews but also the torture and mutilation of Jews as a holy act pleasing to Allah: Allah-hu akbar!  

Reading further, one sees that the Jihadists have taken Hitler’s assertion in Mein Kampf to heart: “Only the greatness of the sacrifices,” said the Führer, “will win new fighters for the cause.”[xx]  Understanding their struggle as a holy war, Hamas takes this idea to a level that even the Nazis failed to attain.  What sacrifice is greater than child sacrifice, made at the hands of the mothers who brought them into the world?  If the Nazis captured the souls of their children, the Jihadists destroy them by training them not just for sacrifice but for murder, torture, and slaughter: if they do not destroy their bodies with bombs, they destroy their souls with acts of barbarity.  For the duty of a good Muslim mother towards her children is “to teach them to perform the religious duties in preparation for the role of fighting awaiting them” (Article Eighteen). 

            Echoing Hitler’s insistence that the Jew is an “invisible wirepuller” who by stealth conspires to rule the world,[xxi] Article Twenty-Two states:

[The Jews] took control of the world media, news agencies, the press, publishing houses, broadcasting stations, and others.  With their money they stirred revolutions in various parts of the world… .  They were behind the French Revolution, the Communist revolution and most of the revolutions we heard and hear about, here and there.  With their money they formed secret societies, such as Freemasons, Rotary Clubs, the Lions and others in different parts of the world for the purpose of sabotaging societies and achieving Zionist interests.  With their money they were able to control imperialistic countries and instigate them to colonize many countries in order to enable them to exploit their resources and spread corruption there… .  They were behind World War I, when they were able to destroy the Islamic Caliphate… .  They obtained the Balfour Declaration, formed the League of Nations through which they could rule the world.  They were behind World War II, through which they made huge financial gains by trading in armaments, and paved the way for the establishment of their state.  It was they who instigated the replacement of the League of Nations with the United Nations and the Security Council to enable them to rule the world through them. There is no war going on anywhere, without having their finger in it.

In a word, the Jew is the hidden source of every evil, and Hamas is the salvation of humanity from the Zionist invasion not of Palestine but of the world: for Hamas, the butcher, rape, and mutilation of Jewish children, women and men is for the salvation of humanity.

            Here Article Twenty-Eight of the Charter of Allah is worth quoting: “The Zionist invasion [of the world] is a vicious invasion.  It does not refrain from resorting to all methods, using all evil and contemptible ways to achieve its end… .  They aim at undermining societies, destroying values, corrupting consciences, deteriorating character and annihilating Islam.  It is behind the drug trade and alcoholism in all its kinds so as to facilitate its control and expansion… .  Israel, Judaism and Jews challenge Islam and the Moslem people.”  (emphasis added)  Here too we see the metaphysical dimensions of Hamas’s assault on the Jews and Judaism, both of which they associate with evil as such: hence, in keeping with National Socialist ideology, the Jews, unlike the rest of humanity, cannot be rehabilitated; they fall outside the circle of redemption through conversion. 

            In Article Thirty-Two of the Charter of Allah we have yet another borrowing from National Socialism and modern Jew hatred: “Today it is Palestine, tomorrow it will be one country or another.  The Zionist plan is limitless.  After Palestine, the Zionists aspire to expand from the Nile to the Euphrates.  When they will have digested the region they overtook, they will aspire to further expansion, and so on.  Their plan is embodied in the Protocols of the Elders of Zion, and their present conduct is the best proof of what we are saying.  Leaving the circle of struggle with Zionism is high treason, and cursed be he who does that”—“high treason” meaning a betrayal of Allah, since Islamic Jihadism fuses the religious, nationalist, and political realms into one.  Continuing this theme of the betrayal of Allah, Article Thirty-Four invokes the words of Allah: “Say unto those who believe not, Ye shall be overcome, and thrown together into hell” (Quran 3:12), adding, “This is the only way to liberate Palestine.”  Indeed, according to Hamas, casting the Jews into hell, where they belong—and not just obliterated from this world—is the only way to liberate humanity.  In this move on the part of Hamas that transcends National Socialist antisemitism, we discover the ramifications of the link between Hitler and Hamas.

Who, Then, Is Hamas?

            One of the primary threads tying Hitler to Hamas is the metaphysical thread that comes to bear with the description of the Jew as the “invisible wirepuller.”  Casting the Jew in the metaphysical category of an invisible evil, both Hitler and Hamas render the Jew as invisible as Satan.  Rendering the Jew invisible, they transform the Jew into a ubiquitous threat, and the effort to eradicate the evil must be equally ubiquitous.  Finally, given the invisibility of the evil, the Jihadists cannot be certain of its defeat until they rule of all humanity, which is, indeed, their stated aim.[xxii]  Like the Nazi war against the Jews, the Jihadist war against the Jews is far more than a war against the “Zionist entity.”  Transcending political contingencies or issues of racism, scapegoating, or xenophobia, it is a metaphysical war, as evidenced by a speech given on 17 January 2009 on Egypt’s Al-Rahma television by Sheikh Muhammad Hussein Yaqoub: “If the Jews left Palestine to us, would we start loving them?… The Jews are infidels—not because I say so,… but because… Allah who said that they are infidels… .  They are enemies not because they occupied Palestine.  They would have been enemies even if they did not occupy a thing… .  Our fighting with the Jews is eternal…, until not a single Jew remains on the face of the Earth”[xxiii]—this in the name of God.  Yes: the Jews must be exterminated in the name of God.  In this non-negotiable absolute we find the tie that binds Hitler to Hamas.

Robert Wistrich sums it up very well:

Their Bible may be the Quran and not Mein Kampf, but the mental structures and world view behind their actions have striking analogies with German National Socialism.  The Muslim fundamentalists—like the Nazis before and during the Shoah—rant against the ‘anonymous powers’ of globalization and the plutocratic West… .  Like their totalitarian predecessors, they (falsely) claim to speak for frustrated, underprivileged, and impoverished masses betrayed by more traditional Arab and Muslim ruling elites… .  Anti-Semitic conspiracy theories lie at the very heart of the Muslim fundamentalist and Arab nationalist world view today—linking together plutocratic finance, international freemasonry, secularism, Zionism, and communism as dark occult forces led by the giant octopus of international Jewry… .  This mythical structure of thought is in many ways virtually identical with Nazi anti-Semitism…. .[xxiv]

If the Jihadist Bible is the Quran, and not Mein Kampf, then the Jihadist evil transcends (if possible!) the Nazi evil, inasmuch as the Quran is Scripture, a revelation from God, and not just the pronouncements of the Führer, no matter how godlike he may be.  Usurping God, the Nazis usurped the absolute obligation imposed from beyond, so that the will and imagination from within posed the only limits to their actions.  Hence the Nazis did not do what was unimaginable—they did everything imaginable.  Appropriating God, the Jihadists appropriate the authority to impose from beyond what they have determined to be the will of Allah, which is not a matter of human will but an absolute obligation.  There we have the nuanced difference between how this evil defined the Holocaust then and how it seeks to bring about another Holocaust now. 


[i] Quoted in Stephen E. Atkins, Holocaust Denial as an International Movement (Westport, CT: Praeger, 2009), 29.

[ii] Quoted in Dennis Prager and Joseph Telushkin, Why the Jews? The Reason for Antisemitism (New York: Simon & Schuster, 2003), 16.

[iii] Alfred Rosenberg, Race and Race History and Other Essays, ed. Robert Pais (New York: Harper & Row, 1974), 131-32. 

[iv] Sayyid Qutb, Ma‘alim ‘ala al-Tariq (Beirut: Dar al-Mashriq, 1986),

[v] Quoted in David Welch, Hitler (London: UCL Press, 1998), 97.

[vi] Hasan al-Banna, Five Tracts of Hasan al-Banna: A Selection from the Majmuat Rasail al-Imam al-Shahid Hasan al-Banna, trans. Charles Wendell (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1978), 97.

[vii] Hitler, Mein Kampf, 325.

[viii] Al-Banna, Five Tracts of Hasan al-Banna 45-46.

[ix] Hitler, Mein Kampf, 632.

[x] David G. Dalin and John F. Rothman, Icon of Evil: Hitler’s Mufti and the Rise of Radical Islam (New York: Random House, 2008), 131

[xi] Ibid., 201.

[xii] David N. Bossie, “Yasser Arafat: Nazi Trained,” Washington Times, 9 August 2002.

[xiii] Morse, The Nazi Connection to Islamic Terrorism, 90.

[xiv] Zaki Chehab, Inside Hamas: The Untold Story of the Militant Islamic Movement (New York: Nation Books, 2007), 25.

[xv] Dalin and Rothman, Icon of Evil, 139.

[xvi] Ziad Abu-Amr, Islamic Fundamentalism in the West Bank and Gaza: Muslim Brotherhood and Islamic Jihad (Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 1994), 26.

[xvii] Esther Webman, Anti-Semitic Motifs in the Ideology of Hizballah and Hamas (Tel Aviv: Tel Aviv University, 1994), 22

[xviii] Beverley Milton-Edwards, Islamic Politics in Palestine (London: I.B. Tauris, 1999), 188.

[xix] See Alexander, Palestinian Religious Terrorism, 57.

[xx] Ibid., 103.

[xxi] Ibid., 493.

[xxii] See Sayyid Qutb, Social Justice in Islam, trans. John B. Hardie (New York: Octagon Books, 1963), 167-68.

[xxiii] Muhammad Hussein Yaqoub, “We Will Fight, Defeat, and Annihilate Them,” Al-Rahma TV, 17 January 2009,

[xxiv] Robert S. Wistrich, “Islamic Judeophobia: An Existential Threat,” in David Bukay, ed., Muhammad’s Monsters: A Comprehensive Guide to Radical Islam for Western Audiences (Green Forest, AR: Balfour Books, 2004), 196.