Pundits and journalists on the left as well as on the extreme right are making the rounds that Hamas is the creation of the Israeli government. Alexander Riley, Senior Fellow, The Alexander Hamilton Institute for the Study of Western Civilization, finds such claims “outrageous.”  In the November 15 issue of the online journal American Mind, “Blowing Up Blowback Theory,” he explains why.

“The idea that Israel alone materially built and maintained Hamas as an artificial construct independent of the desires and efforts of the Palestinian people,” stated Dr. Riley, Professor of Sociology at Bucknell University, “purely as part of its divide and conquer strategy in the Palestinian territories” denies substantial evidence to the contrary.  Hamas looks to Iran for support virtually every step of the way.  That Benjamin Netanyahu and his Likud party substantially assisted Hamas at one time along the way amounts to an abhorrent fable.

It reminds Riley of the conspiratorial concoctions that the Left and the Right have hatched about the attacks of 9/11. “The Left,” he observes, “typically invokes this narrative because they reflexively want to blame the West for everything bad that happens in the world, and they ultimately sympathize with miserable people who turn to violence. To the Right, the extreme infantilization of Islamists makes them something other than morally free adults. They are incapable of acting freely and being judged for the consequences of their actions not because they are innocent victims but perhaps because they are too benighted or unsophisticated.”

In the beginning, Riley stresses, Hamas started out providing social services to Palestinians. It grew organically among various Palestinian factions, including Fatah, that resided on the West Bank and in Gaza. This movement of the “Mujama al-Islamiya, or Islamic Center” unrolled a popular paramilitary wing that became Hamas in 1987. Hamas “was elected to a ‘huge majority’ of parliamentary seats in 2006.”

Dr. Riley cited a 2014 Anti-Defamation League survey. The vast majority of Palestinians hold anti-Jewish beliefs. “Much more recently, a Washington Institute Poll asked Palestinians if they agreed that Hamas should stop calling for Israel’s destruction. Half of Gazans and nearly 60 percent of those in the West Bank disagreed. Half of those in the West Bank and nearly 60 percent of Gazans see Hamas positively. Palestinian Islamic Jihad is the recipient of still warmer support.”

In short, Israelis have every reason to think their survival is at stake.