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Hamas and Civil Society in Gaza:
Engaging the Islamist Social Sector
Sara Roy
With a new afterword by the author

Winner of the 2012 Academic Palestine Book Award, Middle East Monitor
Winner of the 2012 British-Kuwait Friendship Society Book Prize in Middle Eastern Studies
One of Choice's Top 25 Titles for 2012

Paperback | 2013 | $24.95 / £16.95 | ISBN: 9780691159676
384 pp. | 6 x 9 | 2 maps.
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eBook | ISBN: 9781400848942 |
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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.

Sara Roy is senior research scholar at the Center for Middle Eastern Studies at Harvard University. Her books include Failing Peace: Gaza and the Palestinian-Israeli Conflict and The Gaza Strip: The Political Economy of De-development.

Review:

"Ms. Roy strives not to speak for Palestinians, but to let their voices reverberate. . . . [Hamas and Civil Society is] rigorous and precise. . . . [T]his is an important book, which challenges lazy views about the Palestinians and highlights how they go about securing basic services."--Economist

"Resolutely unbiased, Roy sets the tone of the book from the very beginning. She has always made it a priority to live among Palestinians and even 'walk in their shoes.' This empathy, present throughout the book, helps the author go beyond the usual stereotypes and falsities so often portrayed in the foreign press. . . . Hamas and Civil Society in Gaza shows the Palestinian Islamist movement in a new light. The author analyzes a complex subject with a sound judgment and a remarkable, unbiased approach. By recognizing Hamas' potential for moderation, adaptation and change, Roy uncovers the wall of lies and deceit built around the Islamist movement as well as the need for just, non-discriminatory and fair-minded policies."--Arab News

"This is an outstanding study of social institutions mainly in Gaza but sometimes in the West Bank, particularly those connected to Hamas. . . . Anyone looking for an in-depth study of the history, ideology, and activities of Hamas will find Roy's book indispensable, as will those concerned with broader topics such as civil society in relation to Islam and Islamist movements."--Choice

"Roy combines scholarly rigor and moral clarity to examine and challenge 'the conventional frame that defines Hamas only as a terrorist organization'. . . . Defining Zionism as a racist settler-colonial ideology, and the Israeli state as a supremacist ethnic Jewish state, is not about sloganeering, and for that purpose the book is an essential contribution."--Nubar Hovsepian, Journal of Palestine Studies

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      File created: 11/10/2014

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