CESNUR - center for studies on new religions


June 17-20, 2004 - Baylor University, Waco, Texas

An American Approach to Religious Nationalism in Israel/Palestine

by Robert O. Smith
A paper presented at CESNUR 2004 international conference, Baylor University, Waco (Texas), June 18-20, 2004. Preliminary version. Do not reproduce or quote without the consent of the author.

Although disputes between the State of Israel and various Palestinian groups are often quite secular in nature-involving issues such as water rights, border placements and the like-religious justifications can be found lurking under differing perspectives regarding a variety of contested matters. While not necessarily incendiary, a compelling theopolitical worldview informed by a mix of religious and political concern can result in the formation of extremist groups. Such extremist groups, both Jewish and Muslim, have dominated the recent history of conflict in Israel/Palestine,[1] with two, Gush Emunim (Bloc of the Faithful) and Hamas (Islamic Resistance Movement) emerging as most prominent.

Linked by their mutually exclusive expectations for the future of Israel/Palestine, these two groups exhibit similarities not often discussed in North American venues. In an effort to inform North American perspectives on the conflict, this paper will explore the contested development of Jewish and Islamic nationalism in Israel/Palestine through the specific cases of Gush Emunim and Hamas. Of particular political interest is how these worldviews engage in a theopolitical rejectionism that stymies all efforts toward achieving a pluralist coexistence of Palestinians and Israelis and how these perspectives shape American political discourse concerning the conflict.

The task here is not predictive but descriptive, aimed toward the possibility of expanding Americans’ own theopolitical horizons.[2] Not looking to discern what elements make for potential expressions of religious violence, my primary concern is to describe the content of nationalist claims made by these specifically religious groups. The work here is in conceptual continuity with Peter Berger’s developed analysis of religious resurgence in the post-secular world:

There are powerful revitalizations in all the other major religious communities-among Roman Catholics (especially in developing countries), Eastern Orthodox Christians (quite dramatically in Russia), Jews (in Israel and in the diaspora), Hindus and Buddhists. Put simply, most of the world is bubbling with religious passions. And where secular political and cultural elites have been established, they find themselves on the defensive against the resurgent religious movements-for example, in Turkey, in Israel and in India-and, last but not least, in the United States![3]

A definite modification of Berger’s earlier championing of the “secularization thesis,” a modification Berger has enumerated in a variety of places.[4] While a modification of “secularization,” Berger is not aligned with researchers in the sociology of religion who adopt a “Rational Choice”[5] approach to the field.

Rational Choice theorists are likely to understand a group’s use of violence, for instance as a means of increasing members’ costs for remaining in the group, thus creating greater levels of group cohesion and loyalty.[6] In thus emphasizing the ‘supply’ side of religious economy, Rational Choice theorists deemphasize consumer demand. However, in the case of Hamas at least, it has been noted that while “Hamas sees popular support as the oxygen that prolongs its life,”[7] “the unchanging character of the [Israeli] occupation … will give rise to successor movements if Hamas should cease to perform the function of resistance or cease to exist.”[8] Though recognizing the importance of religious faith, functionalist arguments are limited in their neglect of the religious content itself. This study thus looks at the theopolitical content of the religious nationalisms articulated by Gush Emunim and Hamas.

While both Gush Emunim and Hamas may be understood as sects, their fundamental retooling of some basic tenets of their originating faith traditions, paired with their shared characteristic of developing, syncretic theopolitical ideologies seems to take both of them beyond that category, Hamas more so than Gush Emunim. Neither group has broad real public support in their respective communities, though each has contributed significantly to each community’s nationalist self-understanding. In March of 2004, for instance, Hamas commanded the support of 20.3% of the Palestinian population in the Occupied Territories.[9] Wherever these groups fall along a roughly appropriated Troeltschian church-sect continuum, the nationalisms they present have come to dominate American perceptions of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and thus shape the prospects for a just peace through negotiated settlement. 

Gush Emunim & Hamas in Their Nationalist Contexts

Though relatively new religious movements, both Gush Emunim and Hamas are fixtures in discussions regarding the future of Israel/Palestine and its diverse communities. Both organizations are rightly seen as barriers to peace settlements negotiated by outside forces, including western governments, especially the United States. Their shared rejectionism can be understood as an outgrowth of a shared commitment to religious nationalism, a theopolitical perspective in which theological commitments are employed in the service of securing nationalist political aspirations.

While these two religious movements claim transcendent authority, any approach to their teachings and public actions must proceed from the understanding that they are, in fact, profoundly contextual and historically located. This section will present the ideological and historical foundations for Gush Emunim and Hamas, with special attention given to the growth of religious nationalism in their respective religious communities, Judaism and Islam, in the twentieth century.


Gush Emunim in its Zionist Context

Gush Emunim (translated variously as “Bloc of the Faithful” or “Believers’ Bloc”) was formally founded in 1974, though the roots of its beginning can be traced to the euphoria of Israeli society following the 1967 war. Just prior to Israel Independence Day in 1967, Rabbi Zvi Yehuda Kook’s address to his students “recalled the sins of the nation in abandoning Hebron and Bethlehem to Arab jurisdiction.” With Israel’s overwhelming military victory just a few weeks later, “his words appeared prophetic and nurtured an annexationist spirit with an emphasis on settlement not easily denied.”[10] While the National Religious Party (NRP) had long been securing religious concerns within Israel’s state government, it was forced to accommodate a growing youth movement by adopting its passions and policies of permanently claiming the land gained through the creation of “facts on the ground.”

The settler activists, recognizing their positive, trans-partisan appeal (apparent throughout the unsettling and demoralizing aftermath of the 1973 war and following elections) February 1974 detached themselves from the NRP and that party’s commitment to practical politics. For its first few years, Gush Emunim focused on public protests against specific foreign policy moves (especially the “shuttle diplomacy” of Henry Kissinger), projects to popularize the cultural importance and strategic necessity of territories occupied in 1967 (including marathons and candle-lighting ceremonies), and the establishment of settlements in the West Bank, including Qiryat Arba, adjacent to Hebron, and Elon Moreh, just east of Nablus.

Activated in the post-1967 era, the theopolitical foundations of Gush Emunim’s ideology were laid long before. The group’s leaders were schooled in Jerusalem’s Yeshiva Mercaz Harav, founded by Rabbi Abraham Itzhak Hacohen Kook (1866–1935), first Ashkenazi chief rabbi of Palestine under the British Mandate. Kook taught that Zionism-while understanding itself as a secular movement for Jewish nationalism-was in fact a holy sign of incipient messianic redemption. His political vision would be elaborated and operationalized by his son, Rabbi Zvi Yehuda Kook, mentor of Gush Emunim. The religious accommodation of Zionism taught by Kook the Elder was novel, especially given the controversy engendered by the movement among many religious Jews in the diaspora. In his time, these ideas helped build bridges between Orthodox and other Jewish communities.

A brief discussion considering the development of Zionism will help situate the theopolitical perspective of Gush Emunim. From its inception, Zionism has been an embattled ideology only cautiously engaged, if not rejected outright, by Jews worldwide. A longing to return to the Land of Israel-the Passover Seder’s “Next year in Jerusalem!” is instructive-has long been a component of Jewish tradition. The political movement that would seek to make that dream a reality was first articulated by Theodor Herzl.

While working as a journalist in late nineteenth-century Paris, Herzl experienced a limit to the optimism he shared with most western European Jews regarding emancipation and their hope of seamless Jewish integration into European culture. Most specifically, the latent undercurrent of anti-Semitism uncovered by the Dreyfus Affair exposed the banner of “Liberty, Equality, Fraternity” as an egalitarian façade. Herzl concluded that Jews were destined to be distinct, a situation that would bring them nothing but suffering. Soon after his coverage of the Dreyfus Affair, Herzl produced his manifesto, The Jewish State (1896).[11] In this slim volume, Herzl laid out the practical steps for establishing a Jewish homeland, including a strategy for promoting among anti-Semites the concept of a Jewish state as the solution to anti-Semitism. In August of 1897, Herzl called the First Zionist Conference, attended by 250 delegates from 24 different nations, in Basel, Switzerland. Zionist Conferences continued to be held every year until the founding of the State of Israel in 1948.

Even at the first of the Zionist Conferences, Herzl’s secular brand of Zionism met with some resistance, most notably from Asher Ginsburg, also known as Ahad Ha’am (One of the People). Ginsburg advocated a “cultural Zionism” that centered on education and the revival of Hebrew, thus deemphasizing Herzl’s focus on colonizing to achieve a numerical majority. As the movement gained political and popular support, it was strained in various directions. Chaim Weizmann, who led the World Zionist Organization after Herzl’s death, oversaw various strains of the ideology, including the socialism of the kibbutzim and the militarism of Jabotinsky’s Revisionist movement. While the former provided the foundation for the Labor Party, the latter nurtured the terrorist/guerilla groups that opposed British Mandate rule in the 1940s and provided the foundations for both Israel’s military culture and the present-day Likud Party.

The events of 1948 and 1967 changed Israeli political life and its fundamental ideology in distinct and fundamental ways. With the founding of the State of Israel in 1948, the primary goal of Zionism had been achieved. The Jewish Agency refocused its efforts on attracting Jews from other parts of the world and “the self-sacrificing and pioneering spirit of Zionism, which had been a hallmark of the prestate period, waned as Israel moved from its charismatic beginnings toward the establishment of rational-bureaucratic processes.”[12] Ideology was soon replaced by a quest for normalization.

The conquest of land in the 1967 war-land Gush Emunim would later promote as culturally important and strategically necessary-also changed the ideological landscape of Zionism. While intentionally secular, the aspirations of Zionism are inherently religious, with the covenant of land being a central image of biblical Judaism. 1967 provided Jews worldwide with a sense of theological inevitability regarding the Jewish right to all of “Greater Israel.”

But there were other effects as well. As Schlomo Avineri, a former director of Israel’s Foreign Ministry, observed in 1970, “Since the Six Day War there has existed in Israel a far greater sensitivity than ever existed previously to the objective injustice that has been the lot of the Arabs of Palestine…. There is today greater understanding of the position of the other side than in any period prior to 1967.”[13] While this was perhaps a rare conclusion, Israelis were now intimately connected to their neighbors, the face that confronted them with the oppressive realities of displacement and, now, occupation.

The difficulties associated with the acquisition of this new/old land and its inhabitants, Palestinians, necessitated the development of new systems of legitimization, including the development of a religious symbol-structure for the legitimization of Zionism itself. Exploring the uneasiness that arose among many Israelis after the 1967 war regarding their right to Eretz Yisrael, Charles Liebman and Eliezer Don-Yehiya observed that “the absence of the religious belief left many Israelis, intellectuals in particular, without a firm basis for legitimizing the Jewish state. Statism, it turned out, was not self-legitimating, and Israelis were increasingly thrown back onto utilizing religious, or at least seemingly religious arguments.”[14] While continuing the legacy of rapprochement between the religious and secular components of Israeli society established by Kook the Elder, the mystical-messianic theopolitical ideology espoused by Gush Emunim is not plagued with ambiguity regarding the tangible vision of Zionism.


Hamas and Islamic Resurgence

As an evolutionary outgrowth of the Muslim Brotherhood within the Palestinian context, Hamas (the Arabic word “zeal,” and acronym for Harakat al muqawama al-Islamiyya, Islamic Resistance Movement) is at once intimately connected to but contextually distinct from the broad contours of Arab nationalism which took shape throughout the twentieth century. The group was formally founded in December of 1987, in tandem with the beginning of the first intifada (uprising, lit., “shaking off”). The creation of Hamas signaled a shift from efforts to achieve social change to efforts at active resistance, including armed resistance. As leaders of the Muslim Brotherhood in Palestine, the founders of Hamas-including Sheikh Ahmed Yassin, ‛Abdul ‘Aziz al-Rantisi, and Salah Shehadeh-had been engaged in efforts to foment various forms of unrest. The outbreak of the intifada, “presented the right moment to translate their new conviction into practice and to assign top priority to the confrontation with the Israeli occupation.”[15]

Hamas is the evolutionary successor to the Muslim Brotherhood in Palestine. With this pedigree, Hamas can be understood as emerging from a dominant strain of Islamic resurgence in the post-Ottoman period, a time of great cultural upheaval and conflict with western culture that still reverberates throughout the Islamic world. While some thinkers, including Sayyid Ahmed Khan, urged Muslims to adopt a western worldview, others, including Jamal al-Din al-Afghani, preached a strict resistance to what they perceived as an emerging western imperialism. In Egypt, Muhammad Abduh developed a call for return to Islamic roots, though without insisting that the resulting political order would necessitate the establishment of an Islamic state. The Islamic state would be the primary goal of the Muslim Brotherhood.

Formed in 1928 by Hasan al-Banna, a young Egyptian educator, the Muslim Brotherhood was first established as a Sunni Muslim cultural association. Conflicts with British occupying forces in 1936 led to the organization’s expansion and transformation into a political group that asserted the need for Arab unity and pan-Islamism. Uneasiness about Word War II was soon augmented with anger concerning the emerging situation in Palestine: “After 1946 the affair of Palestine would offer militant organizations the opportunity to make their vision of the Arab future clear. The Muslim Brethren could not afford taking a part in that enterprise.”[16] In 1948, the Muslim Brotherhood was blamed for the assassination of Egyptian Prime Minister Nuqrashi Pasha; in retaliation, the Egyptian Secret Service assassinated al-Banna, founder of the movement. The Brotherhood’s relationship with state power has been uneven. Bitterly opposed to the leadership of Gemal Abd al-Nasser and his commitment to secular socialism and Egyptian nationalism (both ideas antithetical to religious pan-Islamism), the Brotherhood in 1954 attempted to assassinate him in Alexandria. Nasser’s response was to outlaw the movement, with repression culminating in 1961 with the hanging of its third leader, Sayyid al-Qutb, the intellectual force behind refining the Brotherhood’s theopolitical perspective.

Muslim Brotherhood activities in Palestinian areas were bifurcated between the West Bank and Gaza Strip. After 1950 and the annexation of the West Bank to Jordan and the transformation of the area’s Palestinians into Jordanian citizens (of a sort), the Brotherhood was able to accommodate itself to the comparatively hospitable political environment thus provided. The group became a socially active political party which did not engage in any substantial resistance to the Israeli presence, a stance for which the Brotherhood was criticized. In Gaza, however, the Muslim Brotherhood emerged as a dominant political movement that acted, often in concert with Communists and Ba’athists to actively resist Israeli military incursions. Nasser’s 1954 outlawing of the Brotherhood caused the movement to almost disappear in Palestine. After this period, the Brotherhood understood its role in Palestine as an advocate for reform. Another separate organization, Fateh (Palestine National Liberation Movement), was established to engage in military resistance.

Through the 1960s and 1970s, the mainstream of Palestinian Muslim Brotherhood members distanced themselves from Fateh to work toward the cultural formation of young Muslims who would lead the fight for liberation as a generation. While the Brotherhood focused on the need of all the world’s Muslims to fight for Palestinian liberation and thus on the foundation of a pan-Islamic identity, Fateh moved toward the now-dominant state structure and began militating for Palestinian statehood. This political stance was affirmed by Arab League and its 1974 Rabat Resolution designating the Palestinian Liberation Organization (PLO) as the sole, legitimate representative of the Palestinians. This relative absorbtion of Fateh into the dominant strain of state politics, when paired with the fragmentation experienced by the Muslim Brotherhood after the 1973 war and Kissinger’s shuttle diplomacy, effectively marginalized what was now seen as merely a cultural institution. As one Brotherhood leader remarked in the late 1980s, they “had fallen short in putting off jihad, which made it possible for secular, nationalist, and communist organizations to get ahead of it.”[17]

In addition to competition from secular/nationalist groups, Islamic Jihad (Saraya al-Jihad al-Islam) was by the early 1980s challenging the authority of the Muslim Brotherhood over expressly Islamic activists. The first Islamist movement in Palestine to engage in armed resistance to Israeli presence, Islamic Jihad was viewed by the Brotherhood as a direct threat to the purpose of its existence. In order to reform that purpose, a new line of thought was developed that proposed a synthesis to the previously separate commitments of social change and armed struggle. It was this synthesis, forged in the nascent stages of the Intifada and the conditions out of which it resulted-“the overwhelming suspicion and hatred towards the Israelis, the poor economic situation, the mass-based institutional and political life, as well as the strong cultural assertion predominant in Palestinian society under occupation”[18]-that opened the door to the founding of Hamas. Like Gush Emunim, Hamas operates with a religious symbol-structure compelling to its co-religionists, though this is not nearly so great a challenge in Palestinian Muslim culture as it is in Israeli Jewish culture.


The Theopolitical Use of Violence

Both groups here discussed have used violence to achieve their theopolitical goals: Gush Emunim in attempts to secure the land and its settlers on the land and in efforts to hasten their eschatological vision of messianic redemption, Hamas in efforts to remove the presence of Israel power from the land, often in attacks on civilians. In a macro-analysis, Gilles Kepel, understands the violence emanating from these resurgence groups and other like them as a response/reaction to the demands of modernity and modern political life, a finding supported by Berger’s shift in conceptualization.[19] Whatever the ultimate causes of why Hamas and Gush Emunim have chosen to utilize violence in their respective movements, the means they have chosen have been markedly different.

For the most part, the realized violence of Gush Emunim has been limited to vigilantism. Ian Lustick traces this violence to the integration of West Bank settlers into regular reserve units as a result of “the shocked reaction of many … to the Camp David accords and the implementation of the withdrawal from Yamit” in the Sinai Peninsula.[20] Beyond this vigilante violence, Gush Emunim members were involved in two major plots. When twenty-five Gush activists were arrested in April 1984 and charged with conspiracy to place bombs beneath five Arab buses, set to go off during rush hour, a plot was uncovered that minimized even that event. The ensuing trial established these Gush Emunim activists’ responsibility for the June 1980 car bomb attacks on two Jewish members and an attack on the Islamic College. Additionally, this group also contained many respected Gush Emunim activists who were charged and convicted with a plot, lasting between 1978 and 1982, to destroy the Dome of the Rock on the Temple Mount.

As Gershom Gorenberg discusses in The End of Days: Fundamentalism and the Struggle for the Temple Mount, if the plot had succeeded, it likely would have engulfed the region in an unprecedented level of violence in which the wrath of the entire Islamic world would have been directed at the State of Israel. The plot was devised as a means of preventing Israel’s withdrawal from the Sinai Peninsula. Gorenberg reports the reflections of Carmi Gillon, former chief of the Shin Bet: “Had they bombed the Dome, says Gillon, citing military intelligence evaluations, they might have created a causus belli uniting the entire Muslim world against Israel. The judges agreed; one wrote that destroying the Dome would have added a religious conflict with hundreds of millions of Muslims to the existing national conflict between Jews and Arabs, and ‘in the not-too-distant future, the risk of world conflagration.’”[21] The plot, while shocking, is not far from Gush Emunim’s long-stated goals. Many authors point to a cut-and-paste photograph common among settlers and their sympathizers depicting a rebuilt Temple surrounded by the empty space of a razed al-Aqsa mosque and Dome of the Rock.

The violent means used by Hamas to resist the Israeli presence in Israel/Palestine and, more specifically, the Israeli occupation of the West Bank and Gaza, has been significantly less conflagratory than the grand vision of Gush Emunim. This is due, in part, to the relatively limited resources available to residents of the Occupied Palestinian Territories. Nonetheless, Hamas has been able to engage in many horrifying acts of violence, especially by means of suicide bombers. As a whole, this violence is not always supported by the Palestinian population, whose support for individual acts of violence is on a case-by-case basis. In October of 2003, for instance, polling showed that Palestinians can be persuaded, given hopeful prospects for peace, to support strong enforcement of measures to block military operations by Islamist groups.[22]

Khaled Hroub’s exhaustive analysis of Hamas includes an extensive section on the group’s commitments concerning the use of violence. In an effort to learn from the experiences of other Palestinian groups and avoid being branded a terrorist organization, Hamas early-on decided to confine itself to attacks only within the territories occupied after 1967, including East Jerusalem. Regarding attacks on civilians, Hroub reports that “Hamas was committed to attacking only ‘legitimate military targets,’ and in the early years up to 1994 it did not target civilians. The movement declared this commitment more than once and did not violate it except in the seventh year of its existence, and only after the Hebron massacre and in accordance with the principle of reciprocity.”[23] The integrity of this commitment to not target civilians has been discussed by Israeli analysts.[24] Settlers in the West Bank and Gaza, who as a group are often armed and have themselves engaged in various acts of violence are not considered civilians by Hamas. Hroub recognizes the irony of quoting Mahmoud Abbas (Abu Mazen)-the man who, in a U.S. effort to sideline Yasser Arafat, was identified as a “partner for peace” and briefly appointed in 2003 as Prime Minister of Palestine-to illustrate the reasoning behind Hamas’ shift to targeting civilians. Nonetheless, in 1983 Abu Mazen urged that all military operations “should target population centers to inflict the greatest magnitude of losses on the enemy by striking its most precious possession. This would erase what little sense of security remains from the hearts of settlers and plant doubts in their psyches about their future.”[25] The war may be one of attrition, but it will be personal.[26]

Both Gush Emunim and Hamas employ violence as a means to their envisioned ends. Still, this character of the violence they use is quite different. While Hamas uses small arms, short-range rockets and suicide bomb belts, Gush Emunim uses sophisticated, remote bombs and the military power of the Israeli Defense Forces (IDF). As former Israeli Defense Minister Moshe Dayan once stated of the importance of the settlements for continued Israeli policy, “Without them the IDF would be a foreign army ruling a foreign population.”[27] The comparison is one of personal violence opposed to systemic and military violence, especially if one is inclined to interpret the post-1967 occupation of the West Bank and Gaza as a form of violence in itself.


Ideological Contributions to Cultural Contexts

The political influence of any particular group is difficult, if not impossible, to accurately measure. Still, the defeat of repeated efforts to negotiate a “land-for-peace” settlement in Israel/Palestine can be attributed in part to the ideological contributions to their respective communities made by Gush Emunim and Hamas. Both organizations engage in political action, sometimes in the form of violence, from the foundation of theopolitical perspectives that contradict the assumed foundations of their respective communities. Indeed, casual outside observers can often miss the fact that these two groups present contested visions for their national communities, visions contested, that is, within their own communities themselves.

The contested nature of each group’s ideological claims brings challenges unique to their respective contexts. Gush Emunim is quite at odds with the socialist foundations of Zionist thought and the early practices of settlement in Palestine. Indeed, Zionism itself continues to be a contested category in Jewish thought and political life.[28] Gush Emunim’s explicitly religious vision for the Jewish state is vehemently opposed by a large portion of the Jewish community, often explicitly committed to its secularity. Likewise, the Islamist vision of Hamas is contested by many Palestinians. The PLO (and now the Palestinian Authority, PA) is a secular governmental bureaucracy, inclusive of all religious perspectives. Many high-profile leaders within the PLO/PA have been Christians, spokesperson Hanan Ashrawi being perhaps the most well-known. The Islamist vision of an Islamic state established in all of Palestine (or within borders negotiated with Israel) is of great concern to many Palestinian Christians, whether they have emigrated or are still living in the land, even if they are sympathetic with some aspects of the group’s activity and mission.

Both Gush Emunim and Hamas, in their dealings with state structures more interested in the self-protecting structures of normalization than in ideological fervor, are, by definition, extremist organizations. The resurgence of both political Islam and political Judaism has been generally resisted by both Palestinian and Israeli governments interested in a negotiated settlement, though persons in both governments have sought at various times to harness the cultural energy produced by resurgence movements. Most often, however, these groups are viewed as obstructionist. As Martin Gilbert writes regarding settler movements like Gush Emunim, “Rabin knew that if they were to succeed, if the conflict were to be theologized, there never would be peace. For, to theological conflict, there are no compromises, and therefore no solutions.”[29] Rabin’s resistance to religious pressure by pushing ahead with peacemaking negotiations is what drove a young law student to his own act of sacrifice in the Prime Minister.

Gush Emunim and Israeli Political Culture

Israeli culture did not react with protracted outrage to the dramatic conspiracy, nurtured by several Gush Emunim activists, to destroy the Dome of the Rock and perhaps confirm suspicions that Jerusalem will be epicenter of World War III. While Gush Emunim endured an internal theopolitical rupture once the plot was uncovered, official Israeli society did not overtly condemn the actions: “Once the initial shock had passed, the Israeli justice system dealt with the underground’s members as if their crime were a surfeit of patriotism; the subversiveness of their intent was ignored.”[30] Indeed, the planned violence was explained as an extension of the group’s earlier vigilante activities: “The activities of the underground were portrayed as an understandable and perhaps even necessary reaction to the failure of the authorities to provide for the personal security of Jewish settlers-particularly in regard to stone throwing against settler vehicles on the roads of the West Bank.”[31] The time served for being convicted of these crimes is telling: “Of the twenty-seven men convicted in 1984, twenty were free by September 1986, eight as a result of presidential pardons. In April 1987, President Herzog permitted most of the remaining prisoners to enjoy a holiday leave from jail and reduced the sentences of the three who had been given life terms to a maximum of 24 years, thereby making them eligible for parole.”[32]

While Gush Emunim is not now the most popular group in Israel, the effects of its foundational ideology can still be sensed in Israeli culture. As discussed above, though the State of Israel was from its inception intended to be secular-democratic state that guaranteed the rights of minorities,[33] the inherently religious character of Zionist aspirations always opened the door for some degree of Jewish nationalism, a door opened wider with the territorial conquests of 1967. Unlike other religiously Jewish organizations in Israel that exacerbated the secular/religious divide, Gush Emunim “made virtually no demands regarding personal religious belief or practice. To the Gush, the issue was the fulfillment of Israel’s national destiny and the security of its borders. Following the trail blazed by its spiritual mentors, any who subscribed to the cause were seen as fulfilling God’s plan. A willingness to sacrifice, to settle the land, and to support those who do so was all that was necessary.”[34] Schnall also identified Gush Emunim’s cultural influence in the institutionalization of Israel’s peace factions-embodied in groups like Peace Now and, tellingly, Gush Shalom-as well as the popularization of knitted kippot (Jewish skullcaps) as symbols of an unreservedly activist and nationalist spirit.

As Gush Emunim remains true to Kook the Elder and his vision of a religious Zionism not exclusive of secular and political elements of Zionist/Israeli society, it has found willing allies in the established mainstream political parties, including the National Religious Party but also Labor and, especially, Likud. Palestinian scholar Nur Masalha has noted that though the character of Zionism itself has always been a matter of dispute, territorial expansion is at the heart of both Labor Zionism and Revisionist Zionism. Unfettered by either its identification as a political party or, therefore, the concerns of practical politics, “Gush Emunim, unlike Labour Zionism that tried in vain to reconcile settler colonialism with socialist norms, makes no pretence of being democratic; it covets the Arab land without the people and its vision is not remote from Jabotinsky’s maximalist legacy, which remained the Likud government’s inspirational guide until May 1999.”[35] While Prime Minister Ariel Sharon has made moves toward limited withdrawals from the Occupied Palestinian Territories, every step of the way has been met with stiff opposition from various elements within Israeli society. Although a majority of citizens support such a move, the undertow of religious Zionism nurtured by Gush Shalom drags such plans far into the future. As Zeev Sternhell has concluded, “peace,” whether between competing strains of Israeli nationalism or between Israelis and Palestinians, “is a mortal danger to the Zionism of blood and soil, a Zionism that cannot imagine willingly returning even one inch of the sacred territory of the land of Israel.”[36


Hamas and the Islamic World/-view

Dr. Abdul ‘Aziz al-Rantisi, one of the founders of Hamas once concisely expressed the support his organization expected to receive from the entirety of the Islamic world: “Hamas has the widest popular base in the world because Hamas’ actions resonate with Muslims from South Africa to India, Pakistan and China; and from Latin America to the United States and to Europe; all Muslims support what Hamas is doing.”[37] Given the conflicts with statism experienced by Hamas throughout its nascent existence, Rantisi’s optimism is a bit surprising and seems a bit overwrought. Still, as an Islamist movement on the frontlines of confronting what many Muslims worldwide consider a partnership of western and Zionist aggression, Hamas does enjoy considerable, if muted, support from a variety of Muslim quarters.

Strident and bloody as it has been, Hamas’ resistance to Israeli power in Israel/Palestine has been nuanced, both political and theologically. While, for instance, Article 13 of the Hamas Charter states clearly that negotiated settlements are “contrary to the ideology of the Islamic Resistance Movement, because giving up any part of Palestine is like giving up part of religion,”[38] Hamas has constructively acknowledged and participated in internal Palestinian debates regarding peace talks.[39] That Hamas has been less vocal about goals to liberate Israel/Palestine “from the Mediterranean to the Jordan” may reflect leaders’ desires not to be arrested on mere charges of incitement. Hamas’ latest steps toward participating in the possibility of a negotiated settlement came with the PA’s attempt to implement its side of the U.S. “Roadmap for Peace” in April 2003.[40] Abu Mazen, then Palestinian Prime Minister, engaged in intensive efforts to broker a traditional Arabic cease-fire agreement (hudna) with Palestinian organizations accused by the US and Israel of engaging in acts of terror, including Hamas.[41] The hudna was finally brokered but held for only two out of three agreed months. Abu Mazen resigned his position on 6 September 2003.

The “Declaration of Principles” known as the Oslo Accords, secretly negotiated between the State of Israel and the PLO and announced in 1993, dramatically strengthened the legitimacy of the PLO as a negotiating partner in the region and, conversely, diminished the political status of Hamas and other resistance groups. The Accords, including the official, mutual recognition of the State of Israel and the PLO, were firmly rejected by Hamas. Andrea Nüsse, in her analysis of Hamas’ ideology, has concluded that its opposition to the accords was not the result of mere Islamist rejectionism. In fact, Hamas had good company in its critique of the accords:

Edward Said characterised [sic] the Declaration of Principles as ‘consolidating Israeli occupation with Palestinian acquiescence’-almost literally the concern voiced by Ḥamās-speaker Abu Marzuq. Said demanded that the DOP should be modified on questions like Jerusalem, the settlements, the right of return and reparations. Thus the Islamists’ concern with economic consequences of the DOP gave the lie to those critics who pretended that the Islamists were simply backward-minded and propagating utopian ideas. They were analysing [sic] the document realistically and objecting to it on political and economic terms-defending, in fact, a mainstream position within the camp of critics of the accords.[42]

Hamas was unique in the content of its criticisms, however, when it articulated a suspicion based on Israel’s ultimate religious allegiances, as evidenced by Israel’s unwillingness to discuss the matter of Jerusalem.

For its Islamist character and intimate connection with twentieth century traditions of Islamic resurgence, Nüsse notes that Hamas has been agile in appropriating outside sources into its theopolitical vision. In identifying the land of Israel/Palestine as a waqf, a cede of land entrusted to Muslims until the Day of Judgment, and augmenting this claim by stating that “The nationalism of the Islamic Resistance Movement is part of its religion,”[43] Hamas engaged in innovative theological reasoning. The geographic assertion of Palestine as sacred land is foreign to Islam, since, besides the cities of Mecca and Medina in the Arabian peninsula, no topos has any more priority than another in traditional Islamic teaching.

According to Nüsse, the “very surprising assertions” of Hamas’ highly developed religious nationalism “lack all historical continuity with Islamic thought.”[44] The source of this nationalist thought, then, must be determined. For this, Nüsse follows P.J. Vatikiotis and Hillel Frisch in concluding that Hamas’ nationalism is appropriated directly from a most surprising source: Zionism. The latter argues that Hamas’ “nationalization of universal religious doctrine” is a “case of religious emulation.”[45] The transformation from an ideological group affinity to a territorial one-the shift from pan-Islamism to territorial nationalism-has thus been completed in Hamas.

Hamas’ interaction with outside interlocutors is apparent as well in the justifications it offers for its public activities, including the use of violence. “Fully aware of the importance of the Western media,” states Nüsse, Hamas has to “‘sell’ and defend their action in terms acceptable to the Western public,” while also speaking in Arab-Muslim terms. This is especially true in the Islamist use of the term jihād, with all its negative and positive connotations, depending on the community by which it is heard. Especially regarding its use of violence in its resistance, Hamas has sought to justify to western media the rationale behind targeting civilians. Drawing parallels to Churchill’s bombing of Dresden and other forms of unconventional warfare against a superior army, Hamas has learned the language of collateral damage. Despite these efforts at explanation, however, “the rationale for Hamas’s military operations remained ambiguous to the international new media, which persisted in depicting Hamas as a terrorist and unrealistic organization.”[46]

Though Hamas knows the importance of international media sympathy, in the end “Hamas only trusts the help of God and its own force because nobody defends the al-Aqsa mosque and the Muslim community.”[47] Apart from the appeal to God, this theopolitical reasoning is strikingly similar to the pragmatic approach to community protection proposed by Jewish Holocaust theologian Richard Rubenstein, for whom the great political (and conversely theopolitical) lesson of the Holocaust was that “To the extent that men have rights, they have them only as members of the polis, the political community,” and that “people who are rendered permanently superfluous are eventually condemned to segregated precincts of the living dead or are exterminated outright.”[48] The call for jihad issued by Hamas to all Muslims, but especially all Palestinians, can be approached in this light and thus can be understood as a call to a mobilizing form of democratic responsibility, the foundation of liberalism: “In the call for Jihād, the emphasis is shifted from the community to the individual. Appeals are directed to the consciousness of the individual believer-according to the central place the individual occupies in modern contemporary societies and politics.”[49]

Unlike Gush Emunim, which modifies a strain of nationalism already long present in the community (Zionism), the religious nationalism on which the theopolitical foundation of Hamas is based is new category. While both groups assert contested theopolitical visions, Gush Emunim’s has found easier reception within its respective community. Certainly, however, both groups have succeeded in sufficiently theologizing the conflict to an extent that, as Rabin foresaw, makes reconciliation close to impossible.

American Approaches

If theologizing the conflict in Israel/Palestine contributes to its intractability, a seemingly incontrovertible fact to which Rabin gave witness and for which he was martyred-the major force capable of brokering a just peace in the region, the United States, would hope, it seems, to minimize such rejectionist forces. However, U.S. policy can be interpreted from many perspectives as actively perpetuating the zero-sum radicalization of parties to the conflict.

One factor in this approach is the theopolitical commitments that inform not only radical groups in the region like Hamas and Gush Emunim, but the ‘secular’ governments of the State of Israel and the PA as well as the foreign policy stance of the U.S. toward the Middle East. Since 1948, but especially since 1967, U.S. foreign policy toward Israel/Palestine has consistently demonstrated a proclivity for Israeli goals and purposes. Nimrod Novik, who served as foreign policy adviser to Shimon Peres, observed in 1986 that

A most important instrument in American Jewish efforts to secure U.S. support for Israel has been the promotion of the idea of the two-dimensional link between the U.S. and Israel: first, the cultural-ideological-moral affinity; second, Israel’s potential and actual contribution to American interests.[50]

Rosemary and Herman Ruether point out that this affinity has been evidenced for quite some time, though its strategic implementation is a more recent development.[51] The latest manifestation of this affinity and its effects on U.S. foreign policy is in the American theopolitical phenomenon of Christian Zionism.

Novik’s proposed policy of asserting both a cultural-ideological-moral affinity and strategic benefit mirrors the goals of Gush Emunim, though the extremist organization’s purpose was to convince Israelis, not Americans. The effect, however, is the same. Israel’s hold on the West Bank and Gaza has been galvanized. While settler activists are still staunchly opposed to ceding any control of any land to Palestinians, Israel’s effective control of the areas will not be affected by any pullouts proposed by the Israeli government. Though it has a stated policy of not supporting Israeli activities in the Occupied Palestinian Territories, the billions of dollars provided to Israel each year in the form of grants and loan guarantees is fungible. As Moshe Dayan observed, the settlers provide the impetus for IDF presence in the territories; the IDF, on the other hand, provides the systemic and military power necessary for the settlers to stay.

Former CIA analyst Kathleen Christison has observed that a fundamental component of U.S. policy in Israel/Palestine is the presumption of Palestinian immorality, a presumption that has encouraged policymakers and others to approach the matter as “a zero-sum equation in which support for Israel precluded support for any aspect of the Palestinian position.”[52] This presumption of immorality and its concurrent support for Israeli positions was evidenced in the assassinations (Israel refers to them as targeted killings) of Sheikh Ahmed Yassin, ‛Abdul ‘Aziz al-Rantisi, two founders and successive leaders of Hamas, in March and April of 2004.

In the hours following Israel’s assassination of Yassin, television news talk shows were peppered with doubts as to whether or not Yassin should be referred to as a spiritual or religious leader since the group he headed was, apparently, a terrorist organization. During his show the next day, Fox News anchor Brit Hume questioned the leader’s theological validity: I mean you even hear him described in some quarters as a spiritual leader. Although he is obviously not a cleric-or was not obviously a cleric of any kind.”[53] The Bush administration’s initial response to the attack was for Condoleezza Rice, national security advisor, to point out Yassin’s involvement in terrorist actions and that it was “very important that everyone step back and try now to be calm in the region.” Only later that afternoon did the administration, through State Department spokesman Richard Boucher, state that it was “deeply troubled by this morning’s events in Gaza.”[54] Two days later, the U.S. vetoed a U.N. Security Council resolution condemning the assassination because “it is silent about the terrorist atrocities committed by Hamas.”[55] U.S. criticism of Israel’s attack on Rantisi was equally muted. Clearly, Hamas was understood to be far outside the pale of religiosity; Gush Emunim, by contrast, does not suffer from this same sort of marginal status.

While it is too much to say that the United States has made a choice for Gush Emunim, it is no stretch to say that that the United States has a made a choice against Hamas. The same month as Israel’s assassination of Hamas leader Rantisi, President Bush hosted Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon and endorsed Sharon’s plan for disengagement from Gaza as “courageous,” saying that “realities on the ground,” make it unrealistic to expect that Israel will withdraw from all territories occupied in the 1967 war. While this is not the total victory hoped for by Gush Emunim, the elements of their theopolitically informed plan are working. The choice has been made. But why?

The question is important because the groups and their respective theopolitical perspectives and strategic policies are so similar. Avigdor Eskin, who invoked a mystical curse/prayer 31 days before the assassination of Yitzhak Rabin, said lately, “Here in Israel, we don’t like to say this very loudly, but the radical right Jewish groups have a lot in common with Hamas.”[56] Recently, scholars have been interested in investigating the perspectives articulated by Christian Zionists and their constituency, perspectives closely tied to the territorial maximalism of Gush Emunim and related groups, including the mainstream Israeli political parties of Labor and Likud that now inform U.S. foreign policy toward Israel/Palestine.[57] But the issue seems to be deeper than the last 30 years of domestic theopolitical resurgence and foreign policy contours in the last four presidential administrations.

The answer may lie in the centuries of hostility nurtured by western culture toward the Islamic world. As Rollin Armour has pointed out along with so many others, ours is indeed a troubled history. Indeed, rhetorical and military conflict, often involving religious polemic, has long been a hallmark of western relations with Islam.[58] This history can feed (sometimes rightly) into the U.S. assessment of threats posed by Islamic groups. But lest this awareness of a history of conflict thrust us into a pragmatic response based on the heuristic of a “clash of [western and Islamic] civilizations,” we should note that the western, Christian relationship with Jews and Judaism is equally (if not more so) troubled, with far more atrocious results. Why is it that U.S. power, when directed toward Israel/Palestine, has been wedded so thoroughly to the aspirations of Jewish nationalism and so thoroughly against parallel (and in some ways derivative) Palestinian efforts?

Historically, the most obvious historical event for both sides of this conflict-Israelis and Palestinians-is the war of 1967. A watershed moment for Israel and a reinvigorating time for Zionism itself, 1967 is more central to the current conflict, perhaps, than even the founding of the State of Israel in 1948.[59] While 1967 was a watershed moment for Israelis, Palestinians and world Jewry, it was also redemptive for those who perpetrated and/or tolerated the Holocaust of European Jewry. As Le Monde editorialized in the days following the conquest:

In the past few days Europe has in a sense rid itself of the guilt it incurred in the drama of the Second World War and, before that, in the persecutions which, from the Russian pogroms to the Dreyfus Affair, accompanied the birth of Zionism. In the continent of Europe the Jews were at last avenged-but alas, on the backs of Arabs-for the tragic and stupid accusations: ‘they went like sheep to the slaughter.[60]


Though U.S. funding had been going to Israel in the years just prior to 1967, that event can be seen as marking the beginning of unmitigated European/North American support for the state and its expansionist ambitions. Both Labor and Likud have adopted a ‘Greater Israel’ stance toward (at least) the West Bank. North American evangelical Christians, the major constituency for Christian Zionists, are generally in favor of this policy. Settler activities and violence are not publicized or covered in the media, except for mentions of their valiant resistance to possible demands that they give up the land they occupy. “Settler Judaism” can now be considered a denomination of Judaism worldwide.[61] Nimrod Novik’s vision of a “cultural-ideological-moral affinity” is in full effect.

No such affinity exists between Palestinians and North Americans, save a few voices of solidarity from Native Americans. Instead, Americans are locked into what Christison described as a “zero-sum game” in which any statement that is not pro-Israel is considered anti-Israel and, increasingly, anti-Semitic. This climate of theopolitical hegemony has led western observers to place the extremism and violence of groups like Gush Emunim in its ideological and nationalist context, while the extremism and violence of Hamas is presumed to be its modus operandi, the sine qua non of its existence.

Scholars range in their estimation of the extent to which religion (in general) constitutes a fundamental factor of inter-group conflict. Some argue that religious difference is often used to conceal other sources of discord while others assert that religion can inform not only the rhetoric but also the reality of political conflict.[62] Research of the past 30 years into extremist religious groups, combined under the umbrella term “fundamentalisms,” has recently developed into a new field of foreign policy and international relations studies dedicated to considering the possibilities for religions to contribute to global governance and the mitigation of conflict.[63] The possibility of just global governance is muted as long as in the case of Israel/Palestine chooses-through a theopolitically rational choice informed by its history of conflict with both Islam and Judaism-to side with power alone.

[1] Naming the land sitting at the heart of the conflict discussed here is itself a political act. In this paper, “Israel/Palestine” will refer to the general geographic area while “State of Israel” and “Occupied Palestinian Territories” will generally demarcate the pre-1967 border areas.

[2] I use ‘horizon’ in the sense discussed by Hans-Georg Gadamer, Truth and Method, 2nd rev. ed., trans. revised by Joel Weinsheimer and Donald G. Marshall (New York: Continuum, 2002).

[3] Peter L. Berger, “Reflections on the Sociology of Religion Today: The 2000 Paul Hanly Furfey Lecture,” Sociology of Religion 62/4 (2001), 445.

[4] For an extended approach to this thesis, see Peter L. Berger, The Desecularization of the World: Resurgent Religion and World Politics (Washington, D.C.: Ethics and Public Policy Center, 1999). For the shift in Berger’s thought, see Peter L. Berger, “From Secularity to World Religions: How My Mind Has Changed,” Christian Century, 16 January 1980, 41–45. Berger’s most influential book written around his earlier position is Peter L. Berger, The Sacred Canopy: Elements of a Sociological Theory of Religion (Garden City, NY: Doubleday, 1967).

[5] Primary practitioners include Rodney Stark and Roger Finke. See Lawrence A. Young, ed., Rational Choice Theory and Religion: Summary and Assessment (New York: Routledge, 1997).

[6] This perspective is articulated within relatively new studies in the economics of religion, especially through the pioneering work of Laurence Iannaccone. A specific study of these groups has been conducted by Eli Berman, “Hamas, Taliban and the Jewish Underground: An Economist’s View of Radical Religious Militias, National Bureau of Economic Research, NBER Working Papers (Sept. 2003). See also Eli Berman and David D. Laitin, “Rational Martyrs vs. Hard Targets: Evidence on the Tactical Use of Suicide Attacks,” in Eva Myersson Milgrom, ed., Suicide Bombing from an Interdisciplinary Perspective (Princeton: Princeton University Press, forthcoming). While RC theory takes these movements seriously as religious movements, it does not adequately take into account the internal consistency leading to the choice for violence. Substituting the bureaucratic goal of self-preservation for the stated goal of the group, i.e., the end of Israeli power over the region of Israel/Palestine or ushering in the messianic age, it ultimately fails to take the movement seriously on its own terms. It takes them seriously according to its understanding of religious groups, but not as theopolitical movements.

[7] Hroub, 250.

[8] Ibid., 5.

[9] Palestine Center for Policy and Survey Research, “Poll # 11, 14–17 March 2004,” 17. Available online at www.pcpsr.org.

[10] David J. Schnall, “Religion and Political Dissent in Israel: The Case of Gush Emunim,” in Religious Resurgence: Contemporary Cases in Islam, Christianity, and Judaism, ed. Richard T. Antoun and Mary Elaine Hegland (Syracuse: Syracuse University Press, 1987), 170.

[11] Theodor Herzl, The Jewish State , trans. Sylvie d’Avigdor (New York : Dover Publications, 1988). This edition is a reprint of an edition produced by the American Zionist Emergency Council (New York, 1946) to commemorate the fiftieth anniversary of Der Judenstaat.

[12] Schnall, 181.

[13] Quoted in Charles S. Liebman and Eliezer Don-Yehiya, Civil Religion in Israel: Traditional Judaism and Political Culture in the Jewish State (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1983), 128.

[14] Charles S. Liebman and Eliezer Don-Yehiya, Civil Religion in Israel: Traditional Judaism and Political Culture in the Jewish State (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1983), 129. The section in which this passage is found is titled “The Legitimacy Crisis and the Growing Importance of Traditional Jewish Symbols.”

[15] Khaled Hroub, Hamas: Political Thought and Practice (Washington, D.C.: Institute for Palestine Studies, 2000), 39.

[16] Habib Boularès, Islam: The Fear and the Hope, trans. Lewis B. Ware (London: Zed, 1990), 14.

[17] Quoted in Hroub, 31.

[18] Andrea Nüsse, Muslim Palestine: The Ideology of Hamas (Amsterdam: Harwood, 1998), 22.

[19] See especially, Gilles Kepel, The Revenge of God: The Resurgence of Islam, Christianity and Judaism in the Modern World, trans. Alan Braley (University Park, PA: University of Pennsylvania, 1994.

[20] Ian Lustick, For the Land and the Lord: Jewish Fundamentalism in Israel (New York: Council on Foreign Relations, 1988), 66.

[21] Gershom Gorenberg, End of Days: Fundamentalism and the Struggle for the Temple Mount (New York: Free Press, 2000), 136.

[22] Palestine Center for Policy and Survey Research, “Poll # 9, 7–14 October 2003.” Available online at www.pcpsr.org.

[23] Hroub, 245–46. The “Hebron massacre” refers to American-born Kiryat Arba resident Baruch Goldstein’s slaughter of 29 Palestinians as they knelt in prayer at the Mosque of the Tomb of Abraham in Hebron, during the month of Ramadan.

[24] See Ehud Sprinzak, “How Israel Misjudges Hamas and Its Terrorism,” Washington Post, 19 October 1997.

[25] Mahmoud Abbas, Istithmar al-fawaz [Utilizing the victory] (Kuwait: Union of Palestinian Writers and Journalists, 1983), quote in Hroub, 248.

[26] Clearly, suicide terrorism is an expression of this personal approach to military resistance though, strikingly, neither Hroub nor Nüsse discuss the issue in their analyses of Hamas.

[27] Quoted in Stephen Zunes, Tinderbox: US Foreign Policy and the Roots of Terrorism (Monroe, ME: Common Courage, 2003), 129.

[28] Tom Segev, Elvis in Jerusalem: Post-Zionism and the Americanization of Israel, trans. Haim Watzman (New York: Metropolitan Books, 2002).

[29] Martin Gilbert, Israel: A History (New York: Doubleday, 1998), 566, quoted in Colin Chapman, Whose Promised Land? The Continuing Crisis over Israel and Palestine (Grand Rapids: Baker, 2002), 241.

[30] Gorenberg, 137.

[31] Lustick, 70.

[32] Ibid., 11–12.

[33] See especially the “Status Quo Agreement” (June 1947).

[34] Schall, 182.

[35] Nur Masalha, Imperial Israel and the Palestinians: The Politics of Expansion (London: Pluto Press, 2000), 18–19. May 1999 marks the election of Ehud Barak as Prime Minister to replace Benjamin Netanyahu and his stance of territorial maximalism. In this study, Masalha envisioned a new direction for Likud that has been confirmed with Prime Minister Ariel Sharon’s rhetoric of disengagement.

[36] Zeev Sternhell, The Founding Myths of Israel: Nationalism, Socialism, and the Making of the Jewish State, trans. David Maisel (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1998), 343.

[37] Quoted in Hroub, 3.

[38] “The Charter of Allah: The Platform of the Islamic Resistance Movement (HAMAS), included as an appendix in Hroub, 274.

[39] Hroub documents various instances of conciliatory though demanding statements by Hamas leaders on the possibility of an “interim solution” (73–86).

[40] The full name of the peace plan was “A Performance-Based Roadmap to a Permanent Two-State Solution to the Israeli-Palestinian Conflict.”

[41] The concept of hudna was understandably foreign to many non-Arab observers. For a detailed discussion (independent of this particular political situation) of concepts such as hudna and sulha in Arab approaches to conflict resolution, see George E. Irani and Nathan C. Funk, “Rituals of Reconciliation: Arab-Islamic Perspectives,” Arab Studies Quarterly 20:4 (Fall 1998):53–73.

[42] Nüsse, 147.

[43] “Hamas Platform,” in Hroub, 274.

[44] Nüsse, 49.

[45] See P.J. Vatikiotis, Islam and the State (New York: Methuen, 1987), esp. p. 53, and Hillel Frisch, “The Case of Religious Emulation: The Nationalization of Universal Religious Doctrine in the Palestinian Fundamentalist Movement,” Middle East Focus 12/3 (Fall 1990): 18–25.

[46] Hroub, 249.

[47] Nüsse, 59.

[48] Richard L. Rubenstein, The Cunning of History: The Holocaust and the American Future (New York: HarperCollins, 1978), 89, 96.

[49] Nüsse, 176. The theocratic vision of Gush Emunim is much more explicit than that of Hamas. See the comments of Moshe Ben-Yosef in Lustick, 122–23.

[50] Nimrod Novik, The United States and Israel: Domestic Determinants of a Changing US Commitment (Boulder, CO: Westview, 1986), 71.

[51] Rosemary Radford Ruether and Herman J. Ruether, The Wrath of Jonah: The Crisis of Religious Nationalism in the Israeli-Palestinian Conflict, 2nd ed. (Minneapolis: Fortress, 2002), 80–1.

[52] Kathleen Christison, Perceptions of Palestine: Their Influence on US Middle East Policy (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1999), 92–93.

[53] Special Report with Brit Hume, “Israel Assassinates Hamas’ Ringleader Ahmed Yassin,” Fox News Network (23 March 2004).

[54] Steven R. Weisman, “A Day When the White House Reversed Stand on the Killing,” New York Times, 23 March 2004.

[55] Warren Hoge, “U.S. Vetoes U.N. Resolution Condemning Israel for Hamas Killing,” New York Times, 26 March 2004.

[56] Quoted in Isabel Hilton, “Everybody Hates Somebody Somewhere,” review of Terror in the Name of God: Why Religious Militants Kill, by Jessica Stern (New York: Ecco, 2003), New York Times, 16 November 2003.

[57] See Kathleen Christison, “George W. Bush and the Palestinian-Israeli Conflict,” Journal of Palestine Studies 33/2 (Winter 2004): 36–50, and Robert O. Smith, “Between Restoration & Liberation: Theopolitical Contributions & Responses to U.S. Foreign Policy in Israel/Palestine,” Journal of Church & State (forthcoming).

[58] See Rollin Armour, Sr., Islam, Christianity, and the West: A Troubled History (Maryknoll: Orbis, 2002), and R.W. Southern, Western Views of Islam in the Middle Ages (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press,1962).

[59] A different opinion on this matter is raised by Tanya Reinhart, Israel/Palestine: Ending the War of 1948 (New York: Seven Stories, 2002).

[60] P. Vidal-Naquet, Le Monde (Paris), 11–12 June 1967, quoted in David Hirst, The Gun and the Olive Branch: The Roots of Violence in the Middle East, 3rd ed. (New York: Thunder’s Mouth, 2003), 345.

[61] See Marc Ellis, Toward A Jewish Theology of Liberation: The Challenge of the 21st Century (Waco, Tex.: Baylor University Press, forthcoming).

[62] For examples of these different approaches and their practical outcomes, see David R. Smock, ed., Interfaith Dialogue and Peacebuilding (Washington, D.C.: United States Institute of Peace, 2002).

[63] A key figure in this development has been R. Scott Appleby. See his The Ambivalence of the Sacred: Religion, Violence, and Reconciliation (Lanham, Maryland: Rowman & Littlefield, 2000). See also Richard Falk, Religion and Human Global Governance (New York: Palgrave, 2001).

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