Hamas vs. Fatah: The Struggle For Palestine

Overview

In June 2007 civil war broke out in the Gaza Strip between two rival Palestinian factions, Hamas and Fatah. Western peace efforts in the region always focused on reconciling two opposing fronts: Israel and Palestine. Now, this careful exploration of Middle East history over the last two decades reveals that the Palestinians have long been a house divided. What began as a political rivalry between Fatah’s Yasir Arafat and Hamas leader Sheikh Ahmed Yassin during the first intifada of 1987 evolved into a full-blown ...

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Hamas vs. Fatah: The Struggle For Palestine

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Overview

In June 2007 civil war broke out in the Gaza Strip between two rival Palestinian factions, Hamas and Fatah. Western peace efforts in the region always focused on reconciling two opposing fronts: Israel and Palestine. Now, this careful exploration of Middle East history over the last two decades reveals that the Palestinians have long been a house divided. What began as a political rivalry between Fatah’s Yasir Arafat and Hamas leader Sheikh Ahmed Yassin during the first intifada of 1987 evolved into a full-blown battle on the streets of Gaza between the forces of Arafat’s successor, Mahmoud Abbas, and Ismael Haniyeh, one of Yassin’s early protégés. Today, the battle continues between these two diametrically opposing forces over the role of Palestinian nationalism and Islamism in the West Bank and Gaza.

In this thought-provoking book, Jonathan Schanzer questions the notion of Palestinian political unity, explaining how internal rivalries and violence have ultimately stymied American efforts to promote Middle East peace, and even the Palestinian quest for a homeland.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
"Jonathan Schanzer has performed a very useful task in explaining [the] rifts in the uniform Palestinian identity. It stands to help us, as Americans, have a firmer understanding of the reality of the situation..." - Washington Times

 

"Jonathan Schanzer's account of the latent and then open civil war between the Palestinian Authority and the Fatah faction and Hamas is a long-overdue account of the importance of Palestinian politics on the politics of making peace." —Jerusalem Post

“To understand that these two drastically different Palestinian territories have little prospect of uniting in the future, there is no better book than that of Jonathan Schanzer, a recognized specialist on Islamic terrorism and Hamas.” -Libertad (Spain)

“[One] of the most important books published about the Hamas terrorist organization...” -David Frum, National Post (Canada)

Hamas vs. Fatah... seems tailor-made to address the big questions behind the headlines from Gaza.” -Mark Hemingway, National Review

"It's hard to think of a more important book at this very moment." -Dennis Prager 

"This well-argued account helps sort out the two groups' tangeld history of nationalism and terrorism, the latter of which Hamas refuses to give up." — Kirkus Reviews

 

"Schanzer investigates the conflict between rival Palestinian factions with nuance and detail as he exposes the long-broiling tensions and violent eruptions between Fatah and Hamas… Neophytes to the tangled world of Palestine's internal conflict will be treated to a serious, no-frills account; those readers more familiar with the issues will enjoy how Schanzer weaves a web of connectivity between the Palestinian conflict with Israel, the conflicts involving Lebanon, the rise of al-Qaeda and American complicity." — Publishers Weekly

 

"Invaluable. Jonathan Schanzer's book is dispassionate and rigorous, and offers a devastating portrait of a self-destructive political spiral." - John Podhoretz

 

"Jonathan Schanzer takes us beyond the glib media classifications of 'moderate' vs. 'radical' Palestinians and provides important new perspective on the complex forces that continue to menace Israel - and America."  —Michael Medved, Nationally syndicated radio talk show host, author of Right Turns

 

"Schanzer's incisive scholarship unfolds the story of contemporary Palestinian political fragmentation, between Hamas and Fatah, between Yassin and Arafat, and their successors. Can this house divided stand? Schanzer is to be commended for sharpening our awareness of the internal Palestinian schisms and their critical political implications." — Kenneth W. Stein, Professsor of  Contemporary Middle Eastern History and Political Science at Emory University, and author of The Land Question in Palestine,1917-1939

 

"The best scholars look at what everyone else looks at but see what others don't see. In "Hamas vs. Fatah: The Struggle for Palestine," Jonathan Schanzer joins the ranks of the most insightful observers the dynamics of the Arab-Israeli conflict by focusing his attention at "the struggle" that may have the greatest impact on the future disposition of the Palestinian independence movement

• the intra-Palestinian contest between rival factions Hamas and Fatah, not the clash between Palestinians and Israelis. His fresh, timely and accessible account of the internal battle to control Palestinian identity over the past two decades is a signal contribution. This is must reading for our current and would-be secretaries of state." — Robert Satloff, executive director, The Washington Institute for Near East Policy

 

"Hamas vs. Fatah explains in great detail the Arabic concept of Fitna, which means

internal Muslim conflict" and "is highly recommended for anyone who wants to try to understand the Middle East and especially the Palestinians." — Jewish Book Council

 

"The Palestinian world is not united. Jonathan Schanzer’s new book, Hamas vs. Fatah, proves this beyond any reasonable doubt...[It] is highly recommended for anyone who wants to try to understand the Middle East and especially the Palestinians."—Jewish Book World

 

"This book provides a comprehensive overview of this deep, hidden, bitter, and often lethal conflict within Palestinian society."  —Asian Affairs

Publishers Weekly

Schanzer, director of policy at the Jewish Policy Center and counterterrorism analyst for the Office of Intelligence and Analysis at the U.S. Department of Treasury, investigates the conflict between rival Palestinian factions with nuance and detail as he exposes the long-broiling tensions and violent eruptions between Fatah and Hamas-even as "the two sides attempted to pretend that the Palestinians were still united under one flag." The author posits that "only by rejecting the platforms of both parties will the Palestinian people begin to break the self-destructive cycle" and provides a concise historical survey from the founding of the Muslim Brotherhood-the template for many Islamist groups-in 1928 to the recent conflict in Lebanon and a thorough comparison of Fatah's and Hamas's leadership. Neophytes to the tangled world of Palestine's internal conflict will be treated to a serious, no-frills account; those readers more familiar with the issues will enjoy how Schanzer weaves a web of connectivity between the Palestinian conflict with Israel, the conflicts involving Lebanon, the rise of al-Qaeda and American complicity. (Nov.)

Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
Kirkus Reviews

As much as any opposition from what is supposed to be a shared enemy, a gang war strangles Palestinian aspirations for an independent state.

So writes former U.S. Treasury Department counterterrorism specialist Schanzer (Al-Qaeda's Armies: Middle East Affiliate Groups & The Next Generation of Terror, 2004), asserting that "the factional fighting between Hamas and Fatah has overshadowed the very voice of the Palestinian people." Fatah, the armed vanguard of the Palestine Liberation Organization, dates to the 1950s and was strongly identified with former leader Yasir Arafat, so much so that when Arafat died the organization fell into instant disarray. Its chief political rival since the late '80s has been Hamas, an Islamist group that, Schanzer writes, has strong ties to both Saudi Arabia and al-Qaeda ("the jihadist ideologies of the two groups, founded within a year of one another, have the same roots"). Fatah was not shy of violence, though its chief means were at least paramilitary. Hamas has favored raining shells and bullets on Israeli civilians and made a specialty of the car bombs, suicide bombs and IEDs that have become common in the Middle East. With the one controlling Gaza and the other the West Bank, no Palestinian unity has been possible since Arafat's death. Schanzer suggests that the United States and Israel have been largely correct in not negotiating directly with Hamas—though that position has become less tenable with the "surprising electoral victory" of Hamas in February 2006, when it took control of the Palestinian Authority. In the aftermath, sanctions against the PA have been fruitless, since Iran, by the author's reckoning, has provided at least $120 millionin aid in the meantime. Schanzer might have done more to address the suggestion, advanced in other scholarly sources, that Hamas was encouraged early on by the Israeli state precisely as a foil for Fatah, which would seem a divide-and-conquer ploy that backfired. Nonetheless, this well-argued account helps sort out the two groups' tangled history of nationalism and terrorism, the latter of which Hamas refuses to give up.

Recommended for students of current events in the Middle East.

Agent: Maryann Karinch/The Rudy Agency

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780230609051
  • Publisher: St. Martin's Press
  • Publication date: 11/11/2008
  • Pages: 256
  • Sales rank: 955,254
  • Product dimensions: 6.10 (w) x 9.40 (h) x 1.00 (d)

Meet the Author

Jonathan Schanzer is the director of policy at the Jewish Policy Center.  He has served as counterterrorism analyst for the Office of Intelligence and Analysis at the U.S. Department of Treasury and as a research fellow at Washington Institute for Near East Policy, where he authored the book Al Qaeda’s Armies: Middle East Affiliate Groups and the Next Generation of Terror. He has appeared on Fox News, CNN, and Al-Jazeera. He lives in Washington, D.C.

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Table of Contents

 

Foreword by D.Pipes

Introduction: Islamism vs. Palestinian Nationalism

The Roots of Hamas and Fatah

Hamas, Fatah, and the First Intifada

Hamas Under Fire

Hamas, Fatah and the Oslo Years

History Repeats: The 2000 Intifada

Fitna

Hamas Digs In

Prelude to War

Hamas Conquers Gaza

Fatah's West Bank

The Threat of al-Qaeda in Gaza

The Gaza-West Bank Split

Annapolis and the Hope for Peace

The Effect of Sanctions

The Winds of War

The Prospects for Change from Within

Conclusion: Between Fitna and Fulfillment

Acknowledgements

About the Author

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