With much scholarly attention devoted to Hamas, its smaller and even more aggressive partner, the Islamic Jihad Movement in Palestine (to use its full name, hereafter PIJ), has been largely ignored. Hatina (a lecturer in history at Tel Aviv University) makes up this deficiency with a finely-wrought account of PIJ's historical, political, and ideological evolution.

Hatina notes that the PLO's generally leftist outlook had for years squeezed out an Islamist orientation, but a combination of factors after 1967 – failure against Israel, resurgent Islam, spreading education among Palestinians – created an opening for PIJ. It has no known formal date of origin but emerged in about 1974 from a group of radical Palestinian students living in Cairo. Fathi Shiqaqi (1951-95) led them; others included Ramadan Shalah (PIJ's leader since 1995) and Sami al-‘Aryan. (Interestingly, both of the latter two taught at the University of South Florida in Tampa, and -‘Aryan still does.) The group began using violence against Israel in 1984 and stepped this up with the Intifada of 1987-92, which it claimed to have initiated; it still is actively engaged in terrorist activity, often of the suicide variety.

PIJ's ideological distinction is to portray Palestine as the key to the Muslim world and therefore contend that anti-Zionism is the key to Islam's success . Palestine "will determine whether [Islam] will be destroyed or will survive," wrote one leader. PIJ deems Jews the eternal enemy of Islam and excoriates any form of compromise with them (and so it dismisses Yasir Arafat as someone who, like other Arab rulers, "holds nothing in his hand but a pen to sign with"). In short, PIJ differs from Hamas over the intensity of its means (having taken up violence long before Hamas did, though they agree with each other on ends (namely the destruction of Israel) .