Islamic Politics in Palestine
by Beverly Milton-Edwards
London: Tauris Academic Studies, 1996. 256 pp. $59.50.
Reviewed by Scott Berrie
Middle East Quarterly
The rise of fundamentalist Islam in the West Bank and Gaza Strip makes for a fascinating history-disappointingly told in Islamic Politics in Palestine. While Milton-Edwards outlines the diversity of political Islam and details its most important events, her efforts are undermined by a lack of information, bias, and unsophisticated analysis.
She argues that fundamentalist Islam is an organic political force that arose among Palestinians due to Israeli occupation of the West Bank and Gaza Strip-and not as a result of a decline in Arab secularism or a religious resurgence. Worse, the author wastes great energy to prove that Hamas, Islamic Jihad, the Muslim Brotherhood and other fundamentalist groups are not terrorist organizations, a hopeless task given how they use political violence not just to harm Israelis but to capture the Palestinian imagination. For example, she defines the "logic of political violence" in such a way that the murder of Israeli bus passengers is described matter-of-factly while she describes the interrogation of the accused bombers as "savage torture."
Islamic Politics in Palestine might have turned out better had Milton-Edwards interviewed more Palestinians and Israeli policymakers, made fewer infuriating generalizations, and proposed sounder policy recommendations. As is, it represents a puerile first attempt at a book.
Related Topics: Palestinians, Radical Islam | September 1997 MEQ
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