Hamas in Politics: Democracy, Religion, Violence

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Overview


In January 2006, Hamas, an organisation classified by Western governments as terrorist, was democratically elected to govern the Palestinian territories. The inherent contradictions in this situation have left many analysts at a loss. Hamas uses terror tactics against Israel, yet runs on a law and order ticket in Palestinian elections; it pursues an Islamic state, yet holds internal elections; it campaigns for shar'iah law, yet its leaders are predominantly secular professionals; it calls for the destruction of Israel, yet has reluctantly agreed to honour previous peace agreements.

In Hamas in Politics, Jeroen Gunning challenges the assumption that religion, violence and democracy are inherently incompatible and shows how many of these apparent contradictions flow from the interaction between Hamas' ideology, its local constituency and the nature of politics in Israel/Palestine. Drawing on interviews with members of Hamas and its critics, and a decade of close observation of the group, he offers a penetrating analysis of Hamas' own understanding of its ideology and in particular the tension between its dual commitment to 'God' and 'the people'. The book explores what Hamas' political practice says about its attitude towards democracy, religion and violence, providing a unique examination of the movement's internal organisation, how its leaders are selected and how decisions are made.

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Editorial Reviews

Times Literary Supplement - David Gallagher

This thoughtful and necessary book deserves a wide readership.

Journal of Palestine Studies - Ghada Al-Madbouh

Scholars and Students... are encouraged to read this book.

Jan Selby

An ambitious and impressive piece of work. The interviews and Jeroen Gunning's interpretations will make a valuable contribution to scholarship on Islamist movements, terrorism, and Hamas.

Times Literary Supplement
This thoughtful and necessary book deserves a wide readership.

— David Gallagher

New York Review of Books

an exemplary political primer on the Islamist party's evolution, structure, and thought.

Journal of Palestine Studies
Scholars and Students... are encouraged to read this book.

— Ghada Al-Madbouh

From the Publisher

"An exemplary political primer on the Islamist party's evolution, structure and thought."--New York Review of Books

"This thoughtful book deserves a wide readership."--Times Literary Supplement

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780231700450
  • Publisher: Columbia University Press
  • Publication date: 1/13/2010
  • Series: Columbia/Hurst Series
  • Edition description: New Edition
  • Pages: 320
  • Product dimensions: 5.50 (w) x 8.40 (h) x 0.70 (d)

Meet the Author

Jeroen Gunning is Reader in Middle East Politics at the University of Durham.

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Table of Contents

Contents:1. On Studying Hamas 2. Origins, Evolution, and Changing Political Opportunity Structure 3. Towards an Islamic State 4. Authority within Hamas 5. Hamas and Electoral Politics 6. Hamas and the Peace Process 7. Hamas and Democratization

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