Hamas thus not letting their growing influence go to

            Hamas
has become so influential in Palestinian communities that even the PLO has realized
that it can no longer place itself as an opposing force against Hamas, which is
why they have become more collaborative with Hamas. As Hamas is evolving and
growing they are also becoming more mature, thus not letting their growing
influence go to their heads so-to-speak. For, “All indicators are that Hamas
will moderate as its power increases. Ever since the release of its charter,
Hamas has been moving closer to the mainstream PLO position at the political
level,” (p. 6, Hamas: In Theory and
Practice). But as the influence of Hamas continues to grow, so do the possibilities
of which are good and bad. Hamas’ influence could end up being detrimental to the
Palestinian progress toward liberation. Yet, on the other hand, it also has the
potential to be a viable political option for laying the foundation of a Palestinian
state that balances both politics and religion. The only thing that is for
certain in the future is that Hamas will end up as one of the two.

            The
effectiveness and popularity of Hamas has been on the rise since its creation
in 1987, primarily due to its ability to adapt. Although Hamas was built on the
unwillingness to compromise with Israel, as of late they are beginning to at
least express some contemplation of a possible two-state solution so that they
may be able to have more of a say in the fight for the liberation of Palestine.
The willingness of Hamas to adapt is allowing them to be more popular among
Palestinians, which is shown in Hamas’ ability to attain seats in the
Palestinian Authority’s Parliament. On January 25, 2006, Hamas’ candidates were
able to attain 74 seats in the Palestinian parliamentary election which only
has a total of 132 seats, thus beating out the Palestinian Liberation
Organization for the majority (Graham Usher, Hamas Risen). Hamas is effective in gaining popularity among
Palestinians, but this is a double-edged sword for Hamas’ end goal. For Israel
sees the popularity of Hamas in Palestine as a direct threat on Israel, because
Hamas’ ultimate goal is not just a two-state solution, but the decimation of
Israel 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 the
Palestinian Parliament creating a much harder path to liberation for Palestine.

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            The intifada continued until Israel and the
PLO came to a peace agreement in 1991, but tensions between Israel and
Palestinians are still high, and Hamas takes part in these tensions. Hamas’
ideology lies in the idea of jihad
and establishing an Islamic state which would be Palestine. In Article Nine of The Covenant of the Islamic Resistance
Movement (Hamas), the objectives of Hamas are stated, saying that “They are
the fighting against the false, defeating it and vanquishing it so that justice
could prevail, homelands be retrieved and from its mosques would the voice of
the mu’azen emerge declaring the establishment of the state of Islam, so that
people and things would return each to their right place and everywhere it can
reach and have influence therein,” (Article 9, The Covenant of the Islamic Resistance Movement). Israel and
Judaism is a focal point of that “false” which is stated in Article 9, and it
is this “false” that Hamas has dedicated itself to fighting. It is not
necessarily a matter of politics to Hamas, as it is more-so a matter of
religion. For, Hamas believes that Palestinian nationalism and Islam are
intertwined, in that any Palestinian nationalism where Islam is not the center,
cannot be true Palestinian nationalism. Hamas does not believe that Israel and
Palestine can coexist, for if Israel is given any part of the “homeland,” as
they call it, then the state of Palestine would have no validity because it
would be an attack on Islam itself. Hamas believes all peace talks with Israel
to be an utter waste of time and energy, for, according to them any compromise
with a Jewish state is ultimately an act of surrender. They emphasize this in
Articles 11 and 13 of their Covenant which
states, “The Islamic Resistance Movement believes that the land of Palestine is
an 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, should
not be given up,” (Article 11), and furthermore, “Initiatives, and so-called
peaceful solutions and international conferences, are in contradiction to the
principles of the Islamic Resistance Movement. Abusing any part of Palestine is
abuse directed against part of religion (Islam)… There is no solution for the
Palestinian question except through Jihad. Initiatives, proposals and
international conferences are all a waste of time and vain endeavors,” (Article
13, The Covenant of the Islamic
Resistance Movement). The very existence of the state of Israel itself is
an attack on Islam, and according to Hamas the only solution to this problem is
jihad, in which Muslims must take up
arms in resistance to Jewish invaders. This is the foundational ideology of
Hamas, not an ideology of compromise, but one which embraces jihad and the complete destruction of
Israel so that an independent Palestinian state may be established.

            Though
they chose to take up arms against Israel, many of the leaders in the Muslim
Brotherhood still believed that it was a risky move for the organization, for
they feared that if the uprising against the Israeli occupation were to fail,
then the Israeli government would come after the Muslim Brotherhood. Because of
this fear, the leaders of the Muslim Brotherhood chose to create a separate
organization 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 wanted
to bring demise to the organizations that helped lead it, then Israel would
possibly turn a blind eye to the Muslim Brotherhood. Another reason the Muslim
Brotherhood chose to create this separate organization was because they still
wanted their primary focus to be revitalizing Islam within Palestine, not
liberating it. This branch of the Muslim Brotherhood came to be known as the
Islamic Resistance Movement, or Hamas as it is more popularly referred to.
Hamas would be, and still is, the military branch of Muslim Brotherhood, and
its focus is on jihad and the
liberation of Palestine. The creation of Hamas helped gain the Muslim
Brotherhood 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-growing
pressure of taking part in the armed resistance against the Israeli occupation
that was put on the Muslim Brotherhood by the Palestinian populace, throughout
the 80’s the organization continued to resist taking part, until December 8, of
1987 when they no longer could. The eruption of the Palestinian uprising
against Israel, or intifada as it is
known, was so abrupt and spontaneous that it caught all the Palestinian social
movements by surprise. The outbreak of the intifada
revealed just how much the Palestinians had really cared about their state’s
liberation from Israel all along, and just how far the people were willing to
go to show it. Riots broke out amongst every community in the Gaza Strip and
West Bank, and more than ever before people were calling for an armed
resistance against Israel. With the abruptness of the intifada the Muslim Brotherhood had reached a precipice, in which
they could either remain passive about the liberation of Palestine, or they
could take up arms with the Palestinian nationalists in the fight against
Israel, the later of which was far more popular among Palestinians. The
combination of the immense pressure by Palestinians and the potential for
growth if they fought for Palestine’s liberation was too great for the Muslim
Brotherhood to ignore this time, so they finally chose to join the fight
against the Israeli occupation.

Throughout the 70’s, the
Muslim Brotherhood continued to not partake in armed resistance against Israel,
as did other Palestinian organizations, such as the Palestinian Resistance and
the Palestinian Liberation Organization, the latter of which was at the time
leading the fight for Palestinian liberation. This passivity, even though
effective in keeping the Muslim Brotherhood off of Israel’s radar, would remain
unpopular among Palestinians. There were members within the organization that
believed it was time for the Muslim Brotherhood to take part in the fight
against Israeli occupation, but the majority of the members still believed that
the taking part in the fight would not help their goal in revitalizing Islam
within Palestine. So, in 1980 some members of the Muslim Brotherhood separated
from the organization and established a new organization that would focus on
Palestine’s liberation called the Islamic Jihad Movement. Although this new
organization wouldn’t take the same passive nature as the Muslim Brotherhood
had, they would keep the importance of Islam in society in their ideology, and
used jihad, one of the 5 pillars of
Islam, 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 in
the Islamic community, for, the Islamic Jihad Movement states that “the
struggle against the unbelievers has two aspects, the ideological and the
physical. But the physical aspect is Jihad,” (p. 52, The Concept of Jihad and the Palestinian Islamic Movement: A Comparison
of Ideas and Techniques). At this time, the Muslim Brotherhood would not
see jihad as a literal war in which
one would have to take arms, but rather as a spiritual war of ideologies which
challenged the social norm. The Islamic Jihad Movement proved to be a foreshadow
of Hamas and its coming establishment in Palestine.

The Muslim Brotherhood
spread rapidly through the Arab world, and by 1945 it had its first branch
established in Palestine. By 1947, it was estimated that there was anywhere
from 12,000 to 20,000 members belonging to the organization in Palestine, and
this number would continue to grow. Although growth of the organization
continued, it began to slow down in 1948 with the creation of the state of
Israel. The creation of Israel was met with much outcry by Palestinians, for
the Palestinians basically lost their country to Israel. So, this political
event 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 the
years went on, and the Muslim Brotherhood’s growth became stalled, they began
to recognize that they needed to have a voice in the fight for Palestine’s
liberation if they wanted to stay influential in Palestinian society. So, by
the 1970’s the Muslim Brotherhood began entering the political debate of
Palestine’s liberation, but still keeping away from any use of militaristic
style force in its fight against Israel. This strategy proved useful for the
Muslim Brotherhood for by staying away from armed resistance, it gave them the
ability to expand with little Israeli interference.

Hamas’ story begins even
before its inception in the 1980’s, for it begins with the creation of the
Muslim Brotherhood Society in 1928, the organization of which would eventually
create Hamas. The Muslim Brotherhood was founded in Egypt by Hasan al-Banna,
and its purpose was to “revitalize the Islamic call” by stressing three main
elements: revival, organization, and upbringing. Al-Banna believed that the
Arab world had strayed too far away from Islam, and had been building their
societies on secular ideals rather than Islamic ideals. So, what revitalizing
the Islamic call meant to al-Banna and the Muslim Brotherhood was to “transform
society to approximate as closely as possible that established by the Prophet
Muhammad and his Companions. This would entail the establishment of an Islamic
state, with no distinction being made between religion and government, and with
the Quran and the sunna serving as
the basis for all aspects of life,” (p. 6, Hamas:
A Historical and Political Background). Although many Islamic organizations
desire the same transformation, there is a clear distinction between the Muslim
Brotherhood and an Islamic organization such as ISIS, for while organizations
like ISIS try to force change through militaristic actions, the Muslim
Brotherhood was very didn’t its process of changing society. The Muslim
Brotherhood believed that society must be changed through religious influence,
that is changing people’s mindset and beliefs with Islamic ideals rather than
through brute military force.

On December 8, 1987, in
the Gaza Strip a fatal motor accident occurred involving an Israeli truck and
vehicles carrying Palestinian workers. The accident left several Palestinians
dead, sparking a Palestinian uprising against the Israeli occupation in the
Gaza Strip and West Bank that would come to be known as the intifada. The social tremors of the intifada continue to this day with the
Palestinians’ ongoing fight against Israeli occupation, and one of the most
influential leaders in this fight is a militaristic organization known as
Hamas. Hamas was born out of the intifada
as a result of much needed guidance for Palestine’s fight for liberation, but
the creation of Hamas and what it stands for was just the unveiling of
something that had been boiling in the hearts and minds of Palestinians in the
Gaza Strip and West Bank for years.