In This Review

The Palestinian Hamas: Vision, Violence, and Coexistence
The Palestinian Hamas: Vision, Violence, and Coexistence
By Shaul Mishal and Abraham Sela
Columbia University Press, 2000, 244 pp

The Palestinian Hamas is generally identified with terrorism and jihad against Israel. In this view, Hamas must be at least neutralized if peace between Israel and the Palestinians is to be secured. Here Mishal and Sela offer a revisionist argument: Although Hamas openly rejects the negotiated settlement still proceeding between Israel and the Palestinian Authority in fits and starts, its actual strategy is more ambivalent. In response to the Palestinian Authority's preference for co-opting rather than crushing its opposition, Hamas feels constrained by the need to maintain Palestinian unity. It has decided not to decide between remaining on the sidelines as a hard-liner (now that the Palestine Liberation Organization has gone for half a loaf) or joining the game of Palestinian state-building. As two chapter titles put it, it is "Coexistence Within Conflict" and "Calculated Participation." Thus Hamas might eventually be brought along, in stages, to support the peace process. This conclusion may seem shockingly sanguine, but the authors remind the reader of the evolution of Israeli-Egyptian relations in the 1970s and Israeli-PLO relations in the 1990s, concluding that what once seemed improbable might become inevitable.