Friday, March 31, 2006

Kramer cautions against embrace of Hamas

I found a good piece by Martin Kramer on Hamas. I have to admit that I was quite taken by the pronouncements of certain scholars, including my boss at the Chaim Herzog Center, Dr. Yoram Meital, about the inevitable transformation of Hamas into a local version of the Turkish Islamist parties. Kramer makes a good, realistic argument that this scenario of Hamas becoming a pragmatic movement likely to reconcile itself to Israel's existence, is very unlikely. We really have to take all its occasional conciliatory rhetoric with a grain of salt. The article, by the way, appeared in the Lebanese English-language Daily Star.

In his piece, "Only targeted sanctions might moderate Hamas" (March 29, 2006), Kramer points out that unlike other Islamist movements who have embraced more pragmatic stances (such as the Turkish welfare party), Hamas has no experience being a political opposition. They basically came into power without making any compromises. Hamas also retains its militia and was never really cracked down upon and suppressed in the way that the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt or the Turkish Islamists were.

1 comment:

Amos said...

I read Kramer's article but I am not sure that I agree with his assessment. I really think that we don't know what is going to happen. I was a bit turned off by statements such as the following: "History shows that Islamist movements change only when confronted with strong counter-forces." The truth is that we don't have enough history for it to show anything. Until now, at least domestically, especially in Gaza, it seems to me that Hamas is moving very cautiously and that it is getting used to making compromises with other Palestinians at least. For the first time, they've been forced to act a little more like a state (see the current hoopla around the Popular Resistance Committee). They are aware of having some kind of responsibility to the Palestinian people. All this might not be so great for Israel - Hamas might continue to pursue its maximalist ideology - but I think it's actually having very positive effects on the Palestinian domestic scene. Stability is a precondition for civil society to emerge, and it looks there was at least some of that.