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Reconciling Ideology and Pragmatics in Ham as Founding Charter

Reconciling Ideology and Pragmatics in Ham as Founding Charter

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A close reading of the charter of Hamas that suggested - before they were in power - that the document showed a tension between moral and religious ideology and political pragmatism.
A close reading of the charter of Hamas that suggested - before they were in power - that the document showed a tension between moral and religious ideology and political pragmatism.

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Published by: nathaniel_whittemore on Jun 17, 2011
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05/19/2012

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Harakat al-Muqawama al-Islamiyya
Reconciling Ideology and Pragmatics in theCharter of the Islamic Resistance Movement
Nathaniel Whittemore
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*Please note that, in the interest of space, in-text references refer toinformational sources by the number listed with the particular article in thebibliography.
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Introduction
It was a hot, listless day in 1989 in the neighborhood of Bayt Sahur,part of the occupied Palestinian territories. Dust hung in the air as hundredsof angry feet stamped frustration into a palpable storm on the narrow street.From the windows above, gawky onlookers cheered and screamed as thechildren, teenagers and younger, hurled stones at the small group of Israelisoldiers caught in the melee. Some yelled for blood; some crowed for death;all raged with the inescapability of their furious violent intoxication. Withinone shabby apartment, a middle-aged woman wrested herself away from herPyrrhic glee long enough to wonder aloud, “Am I losing my humanity?”
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Such were the conditions of the Palestinian territories during the first
intifada
, which began in December of 1987. Life was a blur of occupation,fear, struggle, economic hardship, God, forgotten promises, forsaken dreams,and a constant battle to avoid succumbing to hopelessness. It was into thisworld that Harakat al-Muqawama al-Islamiyya, the Islamic ResistanceMovement, was born. The movement began as a militant wing of the Muslim Brotherhoodand Hamas’ relationship with its parent would allow it to access an entirenetwork of social, organizational, and financial resources that it wouldotherwise have been without. Although the Brotherhood operated on aPalestinian and international plane, Hamas came about specifically inresponse to the crisis of the occupied West Bank and Gaza Strip.Hamas was a departure from other organizations in that it cultivatedthe depravity of the population for political and social mobilization. Itportrayed solutions in the terms of a militant religious ideology. In this way, itwas a reaction not only to Israeli presence, but to the failure of impotentsecular Palestinian leadership.Caught between dogmatic ideology and political reality, Hamas is amovement fraught with paradox. How can it contend that secular nationalismis entirely ineffectual yet at the same time insist that it is not trying to drive awedge in the Palestinian national leadership? How can base itself ondisparaging compromise in principle and an association of surrendering anypart of Palestine with heresy, yet at the same time, maneuver politically for
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Finkelstein, Article 17
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