In This Review

Islam and Salvation in Palestine: The Islamic Jihad Movement
Islam and Salvation in Palestine: The Islamic Jihad Movement
By Meir Hatina
Syracuse University Press, 2001, 180 pp.

Hatina offers a measured, dispassionate account of the Palestinian extremist group Islamic Jihad, which emerged in the 1980s and claims to have started the first intifada in 1987. Tiny by comparison with Hamas, it is even more radical. Islamic Jihad's "internal charter" (translated selections of which are found in a useful appendix) views Palestine as sacred, and armed struggle as the only means to liberate it. The struggle is directed against "the triple heresy and oppression of the West, the Arab regimes, and Israel."

It lauds martyrdom (and thus suicide bombings) and rejects any negotiation or truce with the enemy. Islamic Jihad has consistently embraced Iran's hard-liners and has received support from Tehran. The ideology of Islamic Jihad and the challenges that it poses to both the Palestine Liberation Organization (and the Palestinian Authority) and Hamas are well presented. One might have included some indication of Islamic Jihad's numerical strength, but the only numbers offered are for student elections at the Islamic University in Gaza -- which give Islamic Jihad 4-10 percent, compared to 60 percent for Hamas.