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Hamas between Violence and Pragmatism

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Master's thesis

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Far from being solely a terrorist organization, Hamas is a heterogeneous movement that uses both violence and political participation to achieve its main objective, which is to stay in power and preserve its identity. Two opinions about Hamas are prevalent. According to the first opinion, Hamas is a radical, terrorist organization. The policy implication of this opinion is simple Hamas cannot be reformed and will continue to use violence until it is neutralized. According to the second opinion, Hamas is a social movement that does not necessarily need to use violence. This school of thought sees Hamas as a movement that can learn to refrain from violence. The policy implication of this opinion is that Hamas participation in politics will help it transition into a nonviolent organization. Both perspectives emphasize only a particular part of Hamas, either its use of violence or its political development. But Hamas must be analyzed and understood by the complexity of its organization and the interdependency of its actions to internal and external influences. Therefore, it is important to pose the following questions 1 What are the domestic, international, and internal organizational factors that shape Hamas behavior and lead to either pragmatic nonviolent action or the use of violence and 2 Is Hamas ideological movement driven by absolute religious principles that cannot be compromised, or is it a pragmatic organization capable of justifying compromise even on a seemingly immutable doctrine This thesis asserts a middle position Hamas decision to act depends on two factors, its internal situation and the political and situational circumstances on the ground in Palestine. The middle position implies that the situation on the ground can be influenced in a way that gives Hamas little or no incentive to use violence.

Subject Categories:

  • Government and Political Science
  • Sociology and Law
  • Humanities and History
  • Unconventional Warfare

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