Hamas: From Resistance to Government

Overview

When the radical Islamist group Hamas was elected to lead Palestine in 2006, the Western world was shocked. How had the majority of Palestinians come to support an extremist organization and how would the group’s new political power affect the larger Israel/Palestine conflict?

Italian journalist and historian Paola Caridi offers a clear-eyed account of how the conditions in this war-torn region led to the rise of Hamas and an unbiased look at the complex feelings that ...

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Hamas: From Resistance to Government

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Overview

When the radical Islamist group Hamas was elected to lead Palestine in 2006, the Western world was shocked. How had the majority of Palestinians come to support an extremist organization and how would the group’s new political power affect the larger Israel/Palestine conflict?

Italian journalist and historian Paola Caridi offers a clear-eyed account of how the conditions in this war-torn region led to the rise of Hamas and an unbiased look at the complex feelings that Palestinians have toward getting behind a government that supports violent resistance. By breaking from the sensationalist journalism surrounding the elections, Caridi is able to tell the story of a movement caught between the desire to resist its oppressor and the need to provide support for a refugee people. Caridi, informed by years of on-the-ground research and interviews with residents of Gaza and leaders of Hamas, covers the history of Gaza from its golden age as a port city to the formal birth and slow militarization of Hamas. This English-language translation brings the reader to present-day Palestine by offering a never-before-seen chapter on Operation Cast Lead, the shocking WikiLeaks disclosures, and the Cairo Revolution.

Hamas paints a picture, with intelligence, dexterity, and heart, of a people trapped in the most historic of political battles and reveals the strange complexities behind the controversy by explaining one of the key players in the search for peace and justice that runs through the central crisis of the Middle East today.

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
Beginning with a concise background of the history and politics of the region, Caridi—who has lived in the Middle East and Jerusalem since 2001—discusses the history of Hamas (founded in 1987), the proposed "two-state solution," and the enormous toll—both personal and political—of suicide attacks. Caridi also explores how Hamas won the election in 2006, why its victory "was annulled by the international community," and the generational changes since that have required the government to pay greater attention "to the reactions of the street," given the group's grassroots origins. Caridi zooms out to consider Palestine in the context of the global community, from its tempestuous relationship with Israel, to competing political factions, to its reputation in the eyes of other Arab nations and the U.S. Though the title may suggest the author believes the group has achieved legitimacy, Caridi never endorses the violence that has led many nations to label Hamas a terrorist organization; "Palestine is sabotaging its future and losing its best chance at statehood," she warns, because "both Hamas and Fatah have failed and continue to fail to solve the core issue of sharing power, institutions, and responsibility." With thorough endnotes, a detailed Dramatis Personae, and an updated chapter to address the political situation since the book's initial publication in Italian in 2009, Caridi's English-language debut is timely and informative. Maps. (Mar.)
From the Publisher
“In this capable, evenhanded work of research, proficiently translated from the Italian, journalist and historian Caridi carefully tracks the founding of Hamas from its offshoot of the Muslim Brotherhood to its West-defining period of terrorism to its eventual, effectual embrace of political representation since 2006...an intriguing study of Hamas’ tortuous movement from “pebbles to power…from terrorist attacks to ministries.”—Kirkus Reviews

"Caridi's English-language debut is timely and informative"
Publisher's Weekly

“Hamas is hardly an unfamiliar actor on the world stage. But much of the discussion about Hamas is more heated than enlightening.  Paola Caridi's book is thus a real treat: it starts not with the controversy but with the movement itself, working from the ground up. interviewing those inside and outside the movement, and poring through written sources. The book explores Hamas's origins, evolution, and choices.  Those who are already familiar with Hamas will find new information presented in a careful and judicious manner; those who know less about Hamas will find an accessible and rewarding account of the movement.”
—Nathan J. Brown, Professor of Political Science and International Affairs, George Washington University

“Paola Caridi, Italian journalist and historian, exploits her mastery of the pen and eye for historical detail to provide a rich, balanced view of the Palestinians’ leading Islamist organization—Hamas. Skillfully translated by Andrea Teti, Caridi’s book draws heavily upon extensive interviews with Palestinian elites and regular citizens to chart Hamas’s rise to popularity and power. A superb addition to the literature on the Palestinians.”
—Kirk J. Beattie, Simmons College, Boston

Kirkus Reviews
Historical survey rather than a polemical view of the problematic Islamist movement that has both sounded the Palestinians' needs and plagued Israel since the group's founding in 1987. In this capable, evenhanded work of research, proficiently translated from the Italian, journalist and historian Caridi carefully tracks the founding of Hamas from its offshoot of the Muslim Brotherhood to its West-defining period of terrorism to its eventual, effectual embrace of political representation since 2006. With the de facto protectorate of Egypt over the Palestinian territories after Israel's 1967 war, the Gaza Strip became the locus of the Islamic resistance movement that evolved from the Muslim Brotherhood, implementing social programs as well as political education in rebuilding the Palestinian identity. The First Intifada of 1987 ignited Hamas and prompted its fledgling leaders to the nettlesome Palestinian National Congress, calling for the elimination of Zionism, which has stuck in Israel's craw ever since, proving nothing but an embarrassment to the movement. Caridi claims that the Charter's "significance has in actual fact been overestimated," and more or less supplanted by more conciliatory language once Hamas acquiesced to participate in elections in 2006, yet the anti-Israel phrasing was never revoked. Women make up a good half of its membership, although polygamy is accepted and the wearing of the hijab expected; terrorism in the form of suicide bombing was activated in retaliation for Baruch Goldstein's shooting inside Hebron's Ibrahimi Mosque in 1994, killing 29 Muslims; and the movement has stubbornly opposed the Oslo peace negotiations. Hamas' relationship with Fatah (Yasser Arafat's political organization) has been prickly, and its 2006 election victory has brought it to power as well as to grief. Somewhat densely plotted, this is nonetheless an intriguing study of Hamas' tortuous movement from "pebbles to power…from terrorist attacks to ministries."
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781609803827
  • Publisher: Seven Stories Press
  • Publication date: 3/27/2012
  • Pages: 416
  • Product dimensions: 6.00 (w) x 9.00 (h) x 1.20 (d)

Meet the Author

Journalist and historian PAOLA CARIDI has lived in the Middle East and Jerusalem since 2001. She contributed to the founding of the press agency Lettera22 and has worked with L'Espresso, Sole 24 Ore, La Stampa, and FamigliaCristiana. Hamas: From Resistance To Government, her second book, was published in Italy in 2009 and in Palestine in March 2010. ANDREA TETI is a Lecturer in International Relations at the University of Aberdeen and Senior Fellow at the European Center for International Affairs. His research focuses on Middle Eastern politics, political theory, and the history of social science.
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Table of Contents

Maps 9

Acknowledgments 11

Translator's Note 13

Foreword Mahdi Abdul Hadi 15

Emotional Prologue 19

Chapter 1 Between Welfare and Resistance 29

Chapter 2 Snapshots from Hamas's World 71

Chapter 3 Consolidation 99

Chapter 4 From the "Underground" Sheikh to Human Bombs 131

Chapter 5 The March Watershed 161

Chapter 6 Abul Abed's Double-Breasted Suit 191

Chapter 7 Hamas Versus Fatah 227

Chapter 8 From Resistance to Government 265

Epilogue 323

Dramatis Personae 341

Notes 363

Index 389

About the Author and the Translator 415

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