In This Review

Hamas: Political Thought and Practice
Hamas: Political Thought and Practice
By Khaled Hroub
Institute for Palestine Studies, 2000, 329 pp.

Hamas came into existence in 1987 during the first Palestinian intifada, but its roots go back to the Muslim Brotherhood, created in Egypt in the 1920s and extending from there to Palestine and other Arab countries. Hamas appears differently here than in most Western accounts, which see it as a fanatic body that must be neutralized to realize Israeli-Palestinian peace. Drawing on the wealth of Hamas writings and interviews with Hamas representatives, Hroub depicts an ideology and modus operandi that are coherent and flexible. Hamas has managed to distance itself from the Palestine Liberation Organization and the Palestinian Authority while maintaining Palestinian unity. Not only is it prudent in its relations with the Arab states, but it reaches out to Palestinian Christians. Even the long-term goal of eliminating Israel is encased in a sophisticated concept accepting the possibility of a staged and peaceful transition. Hroub provides limited coverage of Hamas' organization, its members, and even the leadership -- but his in-depth and dispassionate presentation of Hamas doctrine as it has developed since the 1980s is masterful. A useful appendix offers translations of representative Hamas documents.