Zaki Chehab’s new book, Inside Hamas: The Untold Story of the Militant Islamic Movement is well worth taking a look at. Chehab, a Palestinian refugee raised in a refugee camp in Lebanon, had unprecedented access to the highest levels of Hamas leadership, including Hamas spiritual leader Sheikh Yassin (who was assassinated in 2004). The book also highlights never-before-read files and letters from PLO leaders and bureaucrats. His book takes a controversial and challenging perspective - from his claims of Israeli encouragement and arms deals to the movement with the expressed intention of weakening Arafat’s rule to the supposed notion that Hamas was “surprised” or did not want to win the elections that brought them to majority rule within the Palestinian Authority in 2006.
Chehab provides a compelling history of this divided movement from inception to election. Policy-makers could do a lot worse than taking a few hours to read it. Chehab explains that Hamas, like most publicly elected parties, is political in nature and values power and respect above ideology. Understanding all the relevant actors better should help move the peace process forward. -MSA