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How Hamas has become a marketable brand - Part 1

Abu Ubaida, spokesman of the Izz ad-Din al-Qassam Brigades, the military wing of the Palestinian Islamist movement Hamas, speaks during a memorial in the southern Gaza Strip town of Rafah on Jan. 31, 2017. (Abed Rahim Khatib/ Flash90)

“The message is clear: Hamas is not just a danger to Israel but to the entire world.” This was the warning published in the Jerusalem Post weekend editorial.

But that’s not really news, because, for anyone who’s been alive since October 7, the meteoric rise in antisemitism and related incidents have skyrocketed to alarming levels, not seen since pre-Holocaust times, so what is really new about this story?

The editor is attempting to emphasize that this is no longer an isolated geographical phenomenon but one that has spread throughout every corner and crevice of the globe, whose far-reaching tentacles are now touching every nation and every person. One example of this is found in the phrase, “Hamas seems to be hoping that its ideology, its cause and its brand will go global in much the same way the Islamic State’s did. Its propaganda is resonating with broad swaths of Western publics, especially younger generations and many university students who have turned out in large numbers at anti-Israel demonstrations and protests.”

This is the shocking story of our time – that evil has succeeded in enticing and drawing in young people whose penchant for trends has managed to make Hamas an alluring and attractive brand - one which is being sold under the guise of championing their “fight for freedom.” And who doesn’t like a good cause?

Someone whose expertise lies in the field of merchandising, advertising, public relations and current trends has figured out a cunning way to disguise hate, vitriol, prejudice and intolerance by the simple use of rebranding despicable characteristics into virtuous and altruistic pursuits. Even if they don’t believe it themselves, almost any anti-Israel protester will do their utmost to convince others that they are fighting for a cause that is giving voice to the downtrodden and forgotten elements of society who are now seen as persecuted victims. And who is their chief oppressor? Naturally, those who are whiter, stronger and more prosperous than all others.

But the irony, here, is that even those supposed traits are also a rebrand of the true identity of Jews and especially Israelis who are represented by every skin tone, economic level and cultural diversity that one could imagine. So, the question is, “Who is responsible for this clever but deceptive rebrand of David and Goliath, portraying the “bad guys” as those who possess the land and are trying to disenfranchise the “good guys” from what was wrongfully stolen and misappropriated by Israel but rightly belonging to Palestinians?”

From the start, everyone knows that a successful marketing campaign not only depends upon knowing how to sell your product but also having a bucketload of finances in order to do it on a large scale and for a protracted time period. Who has those kinds of finances? Well, it just so happens that Hamas has not only been in the terror business but also in the world of high finance. A Jerusalem Post article, entitled, “Hamas’s blood-soaked billions: How does the terror group stay rich?” goes into detail about how all of this was accomplished. 

The disclosure that many among the Palestinian leadership now find themselves in the company of the world’s richest tycoons is not too perplexing, once you understand how they accomplished that status. The article says that “Hamas has an octopus-like financial empire that funds its terrorism, despite being legally defined as a terrorist organization by the US and the EU which together manage the major global financial markets and supposedly sanction terrorist groups.”

Ironically, the writer, Shlomo Maital explains that these same “founders and leaders of Hamas were refugees or descendants of refugees with no money at all” just a few short years ago. He claims that they became fabulously wealthy through “the Israeli military government,” which was responsible for nurturing and propping them up as the prospective leadership of Gaza in order to replace the uncooperative Palestinian Authority which was seen as an ineffective peace partner.

Isn’t that the joke of the century that backfired on Israel – that we were deluded enough to think that the snake wouldn’t eventually bite us? So, with our help, Hamas was turned into the savviest of all businessmen who quickly learned how to parlay their greatest asset of terrorism in order to amass untold wealth, the type that can only be attained through hard work, innovation and personal investment. 

With Hamas, none of that was necessary, because terrorism is yet another road to luxury and opulence after figuring out how to leverage it to one’s greatest advantage. For example, Hamas leaders “charged a heavy 25% tax plus $2,000 on disassembled vehicles ‘imported’ through smuggling tunnels from Egypt.” They also taxed “Gaza merchants on everything traded” as well as seizing seafront property. By their falsification of records, they were able to squeeze out more money as they added non-existent employees to their rosters. In short, they used every trick in the book to enrich themselves and gain wealth without having to rob banks at gunpoint. 

This rapid infusion of wealth facilitated their ability to seize even more power by “taking control of fuel, communications and any other profitable sector.” Thus, the corruption became endless, entering the crypto markets and other money-laundering mechanisms, including the Turkish banking system, which acted as a helpful agent in obscuring what was quickly becoming a very profitable enterprise – the money-making machine of terrorism which was dubbed as being “financially bulletproof.”

This massive seizure of wealth would not only help Hamas to become an established player on every front, but it also provided the means by which a reputation makeover could be accomplished – turning the grotesque and deplorable into the heroic and brave acts of an underclass which was finally able to rise up against its oppressor which kept them in bondage and subservience ever since that fateful day that Israel was permitted, through the majority vote of world nations, to exist as an independent nation-state.

But it wasn’t just the financial windfall, through corrupt means, that enabled Hamas to remarket their brand and become the darling of today’s protest movement. More than money was needed to make that giant leap.  There also had to be a propensity or leaning to see avowed barbaric terrorists through the lens of rose-colored glasses, choosing to believe that they are worthy of support, respect and even admiration.

In some ways, it seems that such a colossal feat would be impossible, but with the inculcating of Marxist and Woke ideology, coupled with inept parents who failed to pass on solid and time-tested values to the next generation, anything, even terrorism, could be rebranded and marketed as morally virtuous, respectable and even righteous and blameless. 

This is how Hamas went from thugs who rape, behead, burn and torture innocents to the just freedom fighters who have no choice other than resorting to the cruelest acts, all of which are permissible when battling an enemy that has denied them their rights.

Stay tuned for Part 2 – The generation who fell for the Hamas rebrand.

A former Jerusalem elementary and middle-school principal and the granddaughter of European Jews who arrived in the US before the Holocaust. Making Aliyah in 1993, she is retired and now lives in the center of the country with her husband.

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