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February 2nd, 2009
12:50 PM ET

Hamas is a Mideast reality

Hamas leader Khaled Meshaal, right, greets Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad on Sunday.

Hamas leader Khaled Meshaal, right, greets Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad on Sunday.

Fawaz A. Gerges
The Los Angeles Times

Now that the guns have fallen silent and the dust is settling over Gaza, it is time to revisit the received wisdom in Israel, the United States and some European quarters that Hamas is a monolithic, Al Qaeda-like terrorist organization bent on Israel's destruction and that, therefore, Israel has no choice but to isolate Hamas and use overwhelming force to overcome it.

In fact, there is substantial evidence to the contrary. Far from a monolith, there are multiple clashing viewpoints and narratives within Hamas. Over the years, I have interviewed more than a dozen Hamas leaders inside and outside the Palestinian territories. Although, on the whole, Hamas' public rhetoric calls for the liberation of all historic Palestine, not only the territories occupied in 1967, a healthier debate occurs within.

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Filed under: Crisis in Gaza • Hamas • Israel • Palestine
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