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Research Report

Hamas and its Positions Towards Israel: Understanding the Islamic Resistance Organization through the concept of framing

Floor Janssen
Copyright Date: Jan. 1, 2009
Published by: Clingendael Institute
Pages: 103

Table of Contents

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  1. (pp. [i]-[ii])
  2. (pp. [iii]-[iv])
  3. (pp. 1-12)

    The literature on radical Islamic organizations with roots in the Middle East is abundant. Anyone who seeks to increase his or her knowledge about this subject has a plethora of research to choose from. In fact, one can continue reading for days, if not months, as it is safe to say that the existing body of literature covers almost every aspect of various Middle Eastern Islamic activist movements and the actors involved.

    The same holds true for the Palestinian Islamic Resistance Organization Hamas¹, which was founded in the late 1980s as an offshoot of Egypt’s Muslim Brotherhood. The movement emerged...

  4. (pp. 13-34)

    In order to assess effectively any developments in Hamas’s stance towards Israel, in this chapter we first present a brief historic outline of Hamas since its establishment. Our aim here is to provide an insight into the political context in which Hamas was established, and to clarify Hamas’s role as a social and political actor in the Palestinian political arena throughout time. In order to do so, the sections cover the main historic events in which Hamas played a pivotal role. As such, this outline will provide a launch pad for the research further on in this paper.

    The first...

  5. (pp. 35-60)

    Having provided a historical outline of and an insight into the debate about Hamas among scholars in the previous chapter, we will now take a close look at some of the most significant Hamas documents to date. Although Hamas has in fact been quite productive in its publishing of statements and communiqués throughout the years107, due to the limitations of this study it is impossible to include every official document that Hamas has ever issued. Therefore, we have made an effort to include the best-known official Hamas documents, as well as documents that most clearly reflect Hamas’s vision and ideology...

  6. (pp. 61-68)

    In the previous chapter we have studied the ways in which Hamas has framed its message about Israel to its public in some of its most significant official documents. In this chapter, we aim to assess whether these positions and views have developed during the twenty years since the movement’s inception. Further, we will mirror any ideological developments on Hamas’s part against important political events in Palestine. We will then explain why we can find certain developments in Hamas’s ideology. In order to explain any developments, we will again make use of the SMT concept of framing, including the predominant...

  7. (pp. 69-90)

    In the previous chapter we have analyzed the content of some of Hamas’s most significant official documents and communiqués and assessed any developments in the movement’s positions towards Israel. In this chapter, we will complete our research by thoroughly analyzing media statements by two of Hamas’s most central figures.

    We already briefly touched upon the existence of a lively political debate within Hamas’s leadership. Despite this tradition, Hamas members stand united behind any of the movement’s official documents and policies. As such, to this very day Hamas has not witnessed any radical splits resulting from internal conflicts. However, it is...

  8. (pp. 91-94)

    The purpose of this study was to deliver a valuable contribution to the ongoing debate about Hamas’s flexibility and pragmatism, and the movement’s ability to adapt its fundamentalist ideology to the political reality. This study contends that throughout time, Hamas as an organization has removed itself from its initial radical profile. Concentrating solely on Hamas’s views on the state of Israel, we showed that Hamas has innovated ways to balance everyday effectiveness against remaining faithful to its ideology. Analyzing some of Hamas’s most significant official documents of the past twenty years, as well as statements by its leaders in the...

  9. (pp. 95-99)