Hamas On January 25, 2006, Hamas’ candidates were

            Hamashas become so influential in Palestinian communities that even the PLO has realizedthat it can no longer place itself as an opposing force against Hamas, which iswhy they have become more collaborative with Hamas. As Hamas is evolving andgrowing they are also becoming more mature, thus not letting their growinginfluence go to their heads so-to-speak. For, “All indicators are that Hamaswill moderate as its power increases.

Ever since the release of its charter,Hamas has been moving closer to the mainstream PLO position at the politicallevel,” (p. 6, Hamas: In Theory andPractice). But as the influence of Hamas continues to grow, so do the possibilitiesof which are good and bad. Hamas’ influence could end up being detrimental to thePalestinian progress toward liberation. Yet, on the other hand, it also has thepotential to be a viable political option for laying the foundation of a Palestinianstate that balances both politics and religion. The only thing that is forcertain in the future is that Hamas will end up as one of the two.             Theeffectiveness and popularity of Hamas has been on the rise since its creationin 1987, primarily due to its ability to adapt. Although Hamas was built on theunwillingness to compromise with Israel, as of late they are beginning to atleast express some contemplation of a possible two-state solution so that theymay be able to have more of a say in the fight for the liberation of Palestine.

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The willingness of Hamas to adapt is allowing them to be more popular amongPalestinians, which is shown in Hamas’ ability to attain seats in thePalestinian Authority’s Parliament. On January 25, 2006, Hamas’ candidates wereable to attain 74 seats in the Palestinian parliamentary election which onlyhas a total of 132 seats, thus beating out the Palestinian LiberationOrganization for the majority (Graham Usher, Hamas Risen). Hamas is effective in gaining popularity amongPalestinians, but this is a double-edged sword for Hamas’ end goal. For Israelsees the popularity of Hamas in Palestine as a direct threat on Israel, becauseHamas’ ultimate goal is not just a two-state solution, but the decimation ofIsrael and the creation of an Islamic-Palestine in its place. Because of Hamas’dominance, this strips away any trust that Israel might have had in thePalestinian Parliament creating a much harder path to liberation for Palestine.            The intifada continued until Israel and thePLO came to a peace agreement in 1991, but tensions between Israel andPalestinians are still high, and Hamas takes part in these tensions.

Hamas’ideology lies in the idea of jihadand establishing an Islamic state which would be Palestine. In Article Nine of The Covenant of the Islamic ResistanceMovement (Hamas), the objectives of Hamas are stated, saying that “They arethe fighting against the false, defeating it and vanquishing it so that justicecould prevail, homelands be retrieved and from its mosques would the voice ofthe mu’azen emerge declaring the establishment of the state of Islam, so thatpeople and things would return each to their right place and everywhere it canreach and have influence therein,” (Article 9, The Covenant of the Islamic Resistance Movement). Israel andJudaism is a focal point of that “false” which is stated in Article 9, and itis this “false” that Hamas has dedicated itself to fighting. It is notnecessarily a matter of politics to Hamas, as it is more-so a matter ofreligion. For, Hamas believes that Palestinian nationalism and Islam areintertwined, in that any Palestinian nationalism where Islam is not the center,cannot be true Palestinian nationalism. Hamas does not believe that Israel andPalestine can coexist, for if Israel is given any part of the “homeland,” asthey call it, then the state of Palestine would have no validity because itwould be an attack on Islam itself.

Hamas believes all peace talks with Israelto be an utter waste of time and energy, for, according to them any compromisewith a Jewish state is ultimately an act of surrender. They emphasize this inArticles 11 and 13 of their Covenant whichstates, “The Islamic Resistance Movement believes that the land of Palestine isan Islamic Waqf consecrated for future Moslem generations until Judgment Day.It, or any part of it, should not be squandered: it, or any part of it, shouldnot be given up,” (Article 11), and furthermore, “Initiatives, and so-calledpeaceful solutions and international conferences, are in contradiction to theprinciples of the Islamic Resistance Movement.

Abusing any part of Palestine isabuse directed against part of religion (Islam)… There is no solution for thePalestinian question except through Jihad. Initiatives, proposals andinternational conferences are all a waste of time and vain endeavors,” (Article13, The Covenant of the IslamicResistance Movement). The very existence of the state of Israel itself isan attack on Islam, and according to Hamas the only solution to this problem isjihad, in which Muslims must take uparms in resistance to Jewish invaders. This is the foundational ideology ofHamas, not an ideology of compromise, but one which embraces jihad and the complete destruction ofIsrael so that an independent Palestinian state may be established.             Thoughthey chose to take up arms against Israel, many of the leaders in the MuslimBrotherhood still believed that it was a risky move for the organization, forthey feared that if the uprising against the Israeli occupation were to fail,then the Israeli government would come after the Muslim Brotherhood. Because ofthis fear, the leaders of the Muslim Brotherhood chose to create a separateorganization that would be considered a branch of the Muslim Brotherhood,rather than the Muslim Brotherhood itself.

That way, if the intifada failed and the Israeli’s wantedto bring demise to the organizations that helped lead it, then Israel wouldpossibly turn a blind eye to the Muslim Brotherhood. Another reason the MuslimBrotherhood chose to create this separate organization was because they stillwanted their primary focus to be revitalizing Islam within Palestine, notliberating it. This branch of the Muslim Brotherhood came to be known as theIslamic Resistance Movement, or Hamas as it is more popularly referred to.

Hamas would be, and still is, the military branch of Muslim Brotherhood, andits focus is on jihad and theliberation of Palestine. The creation of Hamas helped gain the MuslimBrotherhood immense popularity among Palestinians, as it was created to do,even challenging the secular nationalist Palestinian Liberation Organization(PLO) in popularity. Even with the ever-growingpressure of taking part in the armed resistance against the Israeli occupationthat was put on the Muslim Brotherhood by the Palestinian populace, throughoutthe 80’s the organization continued to resist taking part, until December 8, of1987 when they no longer could.

The eruption of the Palestinian uprisingagainst Israel, or intifada as it isknown, was so abrupt and spontaneous that it caught all the Palestinian socialmovements by surprise. The outbreak of the intifadarevealed just how much the Palestinians had really cared about their state’sliberation from Israel all along, and just how far the people were willing togo to show it. Riots broke out amongst every community in the Gaza Strip andWest Bank, and more than ever before people were calling for an armedresistance against Israel. With the abruptness of the intifada the Muslim Brotherhood had reached a precipice, in whichthey could either remain passive about the liberation of Palestine, or theycould take up arms with the Palestinian nationalists in the fight againstIsrael, the later of which was far more popular among Palestinians.

Thecombination of the immense pressure by Palestinians and the potential forgrowth if they fought for Palestine’s liberation was too great for the MuslimBrotherhood to ignore this time, so they finally chose to join the fightagainst the Israeli occupation. Throughout the 70’s, theMuslim Brotherhood continued to not partake in armed resistance against Israel,as did other Palestinian organizations, such as the Palestinian Resistance andthe Palestinian Liberation Organization, the latter of which was at the timeleading the fight for Palestinian liberation. This passivity, even thougheffective in keeping the Muslim Brotherhood off of Israel’s radar, would remainunpopular among Palestinians. There were members within the organization thatbelieved it was time for the Muslim Brotherhood to take part in the fightagainst Israeli occupation, but the majority of the members still believed thatthe taking part in the fight would not help their goal in revitalizing Islamwithin Palestine. So, in 1980 some members of the Muslim Brotherhood separatedfrom the organization and established a new organization that would focus onPalestine’s liberation called the Islamic Jihad Movement. Although this neworganization wouldn’t take the same passive nature as the Muslim Brotherhoodhad, they would keep the importance of Islam in society in their ideology, andused jihad, one of the 5 pillars ofIslam, as their foundation for opposing Israeli occupation. Jihad, in its most basic description, is considered to be a “holy war”against any and all ideologies or religions that are not consistent with Islam.This is a very generalized definition of jihad,and the term “holy war” has taken different meanings between some Muslims inthe Islamic community, for, the Islamic Jihad Movement states that “thestruggle against the unbelievers has two aspects, the ideological and thephysical.

But the physical aspect is Jihad,” (p. 52, The Concept of Jihad and the Palestinian Islamic Movement: A Comparisonof Ideas and Techniques). At this time, the Muslim Brotherhood would notsee jihad as a literal war in whichone would have to take arms, but rather as a spiritual war of ideologies whichchallenged the social norm. The Islamic Jihad Movement proved to be a foreshadowof Hamas and its coming establishment in Palestine.

The Muslim Brotherhoodspread rapidly through the Arab world, and by 1945 it had its first branchestablished in Palestine. By 1947, it was estimated that there was anywherefrom 12,000 to 20,000 members belonging to the organization in Palestine, andthis number would continue to grow. Although growth of the organizationcontinued, it began to slow down in 1948 with the creation of the state ofIsrael.

The creation of Israel was met with much outcry by Palestinians, forthe Palestinians basically lost their country to Israel. So, this politicalevent created a much greater focus on Palestinian nationalism and politics,both of which the Muslim Brotherhood did not necessarily concern itself with,for its primary focus was on the revitalization of Islam in society. But as theyears went on, and the Muslim Brotherhood’s growth became stalled, they beganto recognize that they needed to have a voice in the fight for Palestine’sliberation if they wanted to stay influential in Palestinian society.

So, bythe 1970’s the Muslim Brotherhood began entering the political debate ofPalestine’s liberation, but still keeping away from any use of militaristicstyle force in its fight against Israel. This strategy proved useful for theMuslim Brotherhood for by staying away from armed resistance, it gave them theability to expand with little Israeli interference.Hamas’ story begins evenbefore its inception in the 1980’s, for it begins with the creation of theMuslim Brotherhood Society in 1928, the organization of which would eventuallycreate Hamas. The Muslim Brotherhood was founded in Egypt by Hasan al-Banna,and its purpose was to “revitalize the Islamic call” by stressing three mainelements: revival, organization, and upbringing. Al-Banna believed that theArab world had strayed too far away from Islam, and had been building theirsocieties on secular ideals rather than Islamic ideals. So, what revitalizingthe Islamic call meant to al-Banna and the Muslim Brotherhood was to “transformsociety to approximate as closely as possible that established by the ProphetMuhammad and his Companions. This would entail the establishment of an Islamicstate, with no distinction being made between religion and government, and withthe Quran and the sunna serving asthe basis for all aspects of life,” (p. 6, Hamas:A Historical and Political Background).

Although many Islamic organizationsdesire the same transformation, there is a clear distinction between the MuslimBrotherhood and an Islamic organization such as ISIS, for while organizationslike ISIS try to force change through militaristic actions, the MuslimBrotherhood was very didn’t its process of changing society. The MuslimBrotherhood believed that society must be changed through religious influence,that is changing people’s mindset and beliefs with Islamic ideals rather thanthrough brute military force. On December 8, 1987, inthe Gaza Strip a fatal motor accident occurred involving an Israeli truck andvehicles carrying Palestinian workers.

The accident left several Palestiniansdead, sparking a Palestinian uprising against the Israeli occupation in theGaza Strip and West Bank that would come to be known as the intifada. The social tremors of the intifada continue to this day with thePalestinians’ ongoing fight against Israeli occupation, and one of the mostinfluential leaders in this fight is a militaristic organization known asHamas. Hamas was born out of the intifadaas a result of much needed guidance for Palestine’s fight for liberation, butthe creation of Hamas and what it stands for was just the unveiling ofsomething that had been boiling in the hearts and minds of Palestinians in theGaza Strip and West Bank for years.


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