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The Palestinian Hamas Paperback – May 15, 2000

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 272 pages
  • Publisher: Columbia University Press (May 15, 2000)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0231116756
  • ISBN-13: 978-0231116756
  • Product Dimensions: 1 x 6.2 x 9.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 13.4 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (5 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #3,376,040 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews


"This work makes a significant and long overdue contribution to scholarship on Hamas and Islamist groups in general...Mishal and Sela have made here an excellent contribution to the field with a thoughtful, analytical, and well-documented case study which goes far in revealing a realist, 'de-demonized' Hamas." -- Middle East Journal

"The book The Palestinian Hamas... is required reading for anyone who wishes to understand Hamas." -- Mitchell Plitnick, Jewish Voice for Peace


"Two Israeli scholars weigh in with a provocative argument that runs counter to much of the false received wisdom on the subject.... A convincing intervention in the public debate regarding Hamas -- a debate that is mainly dominated by the group's demonization." -- Rashid Khalidi, author of Palestinian Identity

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

14 of 18 people found the following review helpful By Brendan Russell on February 18, 2002
Format: Paperback
As Hamas has grown in influence within Palestinian society and has taken the lead in the organised physical resistance to the Israeli occupation, any book that is able to provide an objective analysis of the movement, its goals and tactics is to be much welcomed.
What emerges from this account is a fascinating picture of a complex organisation, which continues to operate in a much more adaptive and pragmatic manner than might be expected by those who see Hamas only as it commonly portrayed in the Western media - hardline, fundamentalist, uncompromising.
The reality is far more complex, as Mishal and Sela show. The details concerning Hamas's internal agonising over whether to participate in the Palestinian elections is an enthralling and detailed example of the different forces at play within Hamas and the sometimes conflicting agendas of the various parts of its leadership.
They also make clear that Hamas is primarily about nationalism and resistance to occupation, rather than a part of some global Islamic movement. Its struggle is strictly defined with the borders of Palestine and has no interest in wider Islamic issues.

What a pity therefore that such an interesting subject and one that the authors clearly know well, should be marred by such stilted and jargon ridden prose. The book clearly suffers from having been written buy two authors with quite different styles. The first and last thirds are fairly painful to read, while the middle section flows reasonably well and carries the reader along. One or both authors has something of an obsession with the use of the word "normative" and sprinkles it liberally throughout. Towards the end of the book I counted six successive paragraphs each of which contained the word, which shows both poor style and bad editing.
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8 of 11 people found the following review helpful By E. Capurro on February 2, 2002
Format: Paperback
For those who have some knowledge of the background of the conflict in the Middle East - this is an excellent read. It is essentially a book which is aimed more at the Middle Eastern Studies student. However, if like me, you are someone who is not one of the latter but who wants to know more - then read some basic background information first and then head into this book. I found it an accessable read and very interesting. Whilst at times I found it a little confusing with its references to peace agreements and events - that was down to my lack of background reading rather than the book itself. Having now read several books on the conflict I will certainly go back to this book to make the most of the information and conclusions it holds.
It achieves what it sets out to do - and that is to reflect the true nature of Hamas - not just as an organization with a reputation for violence, but as an organization which has serious social, educational and religios concerns within Palestinian society. It shows the way in which the organization has adapted to the political changes and certainly gave me much to think about.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Valerie J. Saturen VINE VOICE on October 9, 2007
Format: Paperback
This book is full of detailed analysis, though things have changed immensely since it was written (2000), so you are best served by reading its more recent edition. It makes important points, debunking the popular view of Hamas as a rigid organization--while rigid in its views, the organization has had to rely upon adaptability and compromise with the PLO (and hence, indirectly, with Israel) while under PLO leadership. While under PLO domination, Hamas (for the most part) painstakingly avoided confrontation with other Palestinian factions, a principle so important it is decreed at length in the Hamas charter and was constantly reiterated in the faction's propaganda. It is interesting how quickly this fundamental precept has been gruesomely abandoned following Hamas' rise to power. The book also addresses the rift between the organization's "inside" and "outside" leadership, the latter tending to be more radical because it doesn't face the daily realities of occupation. Finally, it emphasizes the fact that Hamas owes most of its popularity to its vast charity work rather than its ideology. One of the most interesting parts is the book's inclusion of the full text Hamas charter, which is striking in its blatant anti-Semitism, extolling the virtues of killing "Jews" (as opposed to just "Zionists") and making frequent reference to wild conspiracy theories and the Protocols of the Elders of Zion. While well-researched, the book is written in a dry, academic style, so I would recommend it for people who already have an academic background in the subject rather than those looking for a basic introduction.
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4 of 7 people found the following review helpful By The Jigga Man on February 9, 2004
Format: Paperback
Though this is possibly one of the best written works on HAMAS in existence, it certainly is biased with respect to the authors' ideology. Often, it seems as if the authors are attempting to question the credibility of the movement and its leaders while taking shots at them. If you "read between the lines" then you will gain some insight into the precarious situation that the Palestinian Authority faces and why civil war will erupt if the PA takes action against militant organizations such as HAMAS. The complex interplay between politics and religion is also covered in depth, and the flexibility of the HAMAS movement is astounding, especially how the group was able to survive after the Oslo Accords. While the length of this book is somewhat short, it is comprehensive and is good research material if you wish to gain an understanding of a complex situation.
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