The Pragmatic Dimension of the Palestinian Hamas: A Network Perspective

Shaul Mishal*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review


In the wake of the 11 September attack on the World Trade Center in New York and President Bush's "war on terrorism," it is important to try to understand the cultural, political, and social dimensions of such groups as the Palestinian Islamic Resistance Movement, Hamas. Within political and academic circles in the Western world it is common to portray Islamic movements in categorical terms and binary distinctions such as traditional versus modern, conservative versus revolutionary, and orthodox versus popular. The international dimension of the Islamic radical trend has had an important impact on Islamic movements, adding strength to the advocates of the binary perception. To a large extent, Hamas did not escape this perception, and has been described solely as a movement identified with Islamic fundamentalism and suicide bombings. However, a close scrutiny of Hamas's record will reveal that it is also an important social, political, and cultural force within Palestinian society and politics. As in the case of other Islamic movements, Hamas has moved away from dogmatic positions in a quest for innovative modes of conduct, ready to adjust to fluid conditions without losing sight of their ultimate objectives. This article follows the binary approach to Islamic and Arab politics and the growing discomfort with its epistemic assumptions, and will instead propose a noncategorical network perspective as a research strategy that may provide a better understanding of Hamas as dynamic and flexible phenomenon.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)569-589+ii-iii
JournalArmed Forces and Society
Issue number4
StatePublished - 2003


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