The Future Geopolitical Legitimacy of Islamism: The Case of Hamas
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The January 2006 democratic election of the Islamist organization Hamas to the Palestinian parliament took many, above all most Palestinians and Israelis, by surprise. Though this election was not a result of U.S. involvement, at the outset, American hopes of democratizing the Middle East seemed to be unfolding. Nevertheless, as a result of the widely held view that Hamas has refused to recognize Israel, reject violence and respect past agreements, western governments initiated an international economic and diplomatic boycott of the Palestinian Authority and people. The sanctions have aggravated an already distressed socioeconomic condition in the Occupied Territories. A critical dynamic behind the current predicament, which the Palestinians and the peace process now face, stems from the American and western categorization of Hamas as a terrorist organization. Especially in the context of the Global War on Terror, this unyielding stigmatization of Hamas disqualifies their conspicuous strides of pragmatic political practice and deradicalization. In this essay, I examine and synthesize the topics of western disdain for and the growing material appeal of Islamism. My ultimate aim is to criticize the notion of a monolithic nemesis of Islamism by distinguishing between the global jihad of maximalist groups such as al-Qa’ida and the nationalist jihad of territorially defined groups such as Hamas.