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Georgetown Research Project Calls Hamas a ‘Political and Social Organization’

Jewish Journal

White-Gravenor Hall, at Georgetown University in Washington, DC. (Photo: Jon Bilous / Shutterstock)

A research project at Georgetown University has a fact sheet that refers to Hamas as “a political and social organization.”

The Bridge Initiative, which describes itself on its website as “a multi-year research project on Islamophobia housed in Georgetown University,” published a fact sheet on Jan. 27 documenting the 2007 Holy Land Foundation trial, which resulted in leaders of the Holy Land Foundation for Relief and Development charity being convicted of providing material support to Hamas in 2009.

The fact sheet says that Hamas “was founded in Palestine in 1987 as a political and social organization, with an armed wing aimed at resisting the Israeli occupation of Palestine.” It acknowledges that the United States designated Hamas a terror organization in 1997, but then states that designating Hamas as a terror group “has been criticized by legal scholars as being politicized by the State Department, and as raising issues concerning due processequal protectionjudicial deference, the chilling of free speech, and having ‘disparate impact on the Arab Muslim community.’ ”

Jewish groups criticized the fact sheet’s description of Hamas.

“The description of Hamas in the Georgetown Bridge Initiative’s ‘factsheet’ is abhorrent,” StandWithUs Executive Director of Research & Strategy Max Samarov said in a statement to the Journal. “Hamas is a terrorist organization that is dedicated to the destruction of Israel, frequently attacks Israeli civilians, and brutally oppresses Palestinians in Gaza. Anyone who whitewashes their actions should be ashamed of themselves.”

Associate Dean and Director of Social Global Action Agenda at the Simon Wiesenthal Center Rabbi Abraham Cooper told the Journal in a phone interview that countries like Germany argue that Hezbollah’s political and military wings are separate; the fact sheet essentially makes a similar case for Hamas, Cooper argued.

“To try to extend that to [Hamas] is indefensible, but if it sticks, it’s a way of giving students on campus a talking point, even if it’s phony,” Cooper said.

He added: “It’s basically a code to bestow legitimacy upon an illegitimate group.”

The Bridge Initiative and Georgetown University did not respond to the Journal’s requests for comment.

The Bridge Initiative was launched in April 2015. Its director, Georgetown University professor John Esposito, signed a 2014 letter calling for a boycott of Israeli academic institutions.


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