Academic journal article The Middle East Journal

PALESTINE AND PALESTINIANS-Hamas and Civil Society in Gaza: Engaging the Islamist Social Sector

Academic journal article The Middle East Journal

PALESTINE AND PALESTINIANS-Hamas and Civil Society in Gaza: Engaging the Islamist Social Sector

Article excerpt

PALESTINE AND PALESTINIANS Hamas and Civil Society in Gaza: Engaging the Islamist Social Sector, by Sara Roy. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 2011. 319 pages. $35.

Sara Roy's recent work on Hamas, civil society, and the Islamist social service sector in Gaza is a very welcome addition to the scholarly literature on two levels. First, it offers a rich and nuanced view of how Palestinian Islamist social service organizations operate, and their relationships to Hamas - an area where far too many analysts have simply presumed or asserted functional connections with scarce empirical evidence. In this sense, it also provides a partial antidote to those accounts that view the issue almost entirely through the prism of "terrorist financing" or recruitment. Second, the book is also a welcome contribution to the broader literature on Islamist charities and social activism.

Roy's knowledge of Gaza is probably unparalleled among Western researchers, and it certainly shows in this study. In the first three chapters of the volume, she provides the necessary conceptual and theoretical context to her analysis, offering an overview of her analytical framework, a brief history of Hamas, and a discussion of Islamist conceptions of civil society. Thereafter, four more chapters and a postscript trace the evolution of Islamist social institutions in Gaza. This part of the book offers a thoughtful assessment of the activities of such groups, and explores their relationship to broader social and political dynamics. Roy's case studies highlight the diversity of the sector, from those Islamist social organizations with clear ideological perspectives that shape their day-to-day operations to others where charitable and social service goals figure far more prominently than doctrine. The relationship between these organizations and Hamas also differs widely. Roy's account highlights how both the sector and context have changed in recent years, tracing the impact of the second intifada, the 2006 Palestinian elections (and subsequent bifurcation of Palestinian politics), the effects of Hamas administration of Gaza, and the impact of Israeli military operations on the Strip. Overall, the book's findings echo some of the findings of Janine Clark's seminal work on Islamic charities, especially with regard to the diversity of groups and the frequent lack of religious or political mobilization as a key function of locally-based service-oriented organization. …

Search by... Author
Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed

Oops!

An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.