Hamas and Civil Society in Gaza: Engaging the Islamist Social Sector (Princeton Studies in Muslim Politics)
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Many in the United States and Israel believe that Hamas is nothing but a terrorist organization, and that its social sector serves merely to recruit new supporters for its violent agenda. Based on Sara Roy's extensive fieldwork in the Gaza Strip and West Bank during the critical period of the Oslo peace process, Hamas and Civil Society in Gaza shows how the social service activities sponsored by the Islamist group emphasized not political violence but rather community development and civic restoration.
Roy demonstrates how Islamic social institutions in Gaza and the West Bank advocated a moderate approach to change that valued order and stability, not disorder and instability; were less dogmatically Islamic than is often assumed; and served people who had a range of political outlooks and no history of acting collectively in support of radical Islam. These institutions attempted to create civic communities, not religious congregations. They reflected a deep commitment to stimulate a social, cultural, and moral renewal of the Muslim community, one couched not only--or even primarily--in religious terms.
Vividly illustrating Hamas's unrecognized potential for moderation, accommodation, and change, Hamas and Civil Society in Gaza also traces critical developments in Hamas's social and political sectors through the Second Intifada to today, and offers an assessment of the current, more adverse situation in the occupied territories. The Oslo period held great promise that has since been squandered. This book argues for more enlightened policies by the United States and Israel, ones that reflect Hamas's proven record of nonviolent community building.
In a new afterword, Roy discusses how Hamas has been affected by changing regional dynamics and by recent economic and political events in Gaza, including failed attempts at reconciliation with Fatah.
Plan and UN Security Council Resolutions 242 and 338, declaring in effect its acceptance of a state in the West Bank and Gaza. Immediately following the PNC declaration, Arafat renounced terrorism, formally accepted 242 and 338, and recognized the state of Israel, thereby meeting the U.S. government’s precondition for meeting with the PLO (heretofore banned), which had wide popular support. People celebrated by dancing in the streets, defying curfew (and thereby risking their 28 CHAPTER 2
amend the existing electoral law, which was, in fact, later changed. The new law stated that in order to run for office, a party must recognize the PLO as the sole legitimate representative of the Palestinian people and also must recognize all previous treaties and agreements, including Oslo and its recognition of Israel. These changes, of course, made it difficult if not impossible for Hamas to win legislative elections.102 Although it is unclear whether Abbas had the constitutional authority to
relief assistance program. Vocational training courses were geared to providing women with income-generating skills and were largely focused on traditional, culturally acceptable areas: sewing and knitting. These activities were defined by popular, cultural norms, not by Hamas. A typical class had eight to ten women per class and would last six months. During their training, women would receive lectures on religion, particularly on how to run an Islamic home and the importance of religious
hundred girls aged eight to fifteen. Orphans were actively recruited for the camp and often accepted without charge. The staff was largely female. The camps offered sports, handicrafts, health awareness, English language, and computer skills. Computer training was especially popular. Field trips included a tour of Gaza—which, for some children, was their first excursion beyond their neighborhoods—and organized trips to parks and other municipal sites, which were facilitated by the Gaza
socioeconomic (religious and political) backgrounds from the very poor to the very wealthy; I found this was especially true for the Islamic educational sector. The clear majority of parents whom I interviewed over time made it clear that they did not send their children to Islamic schools because their families were devout (although they were traditional and CREATING A DESCRIPTIVE CONTEXT 133 conservative); they did so because the schools offered the best education available and taught