The discourse and practice of ‘heroic resistance’ in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict: the case of Hamas

Rashmi Singh

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle


This work focuses on Hamas’s use of religion and ideology to legitimize its use of political violence within the context of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. In particular, I focus upon how Hamas, like other groups before it, has appropriated and (re)interpreted a core component of Palestinian national identity, i.e. the culturally entrenched and socially resonant norm of Palestinian heroic warfare that manifests itself as active and passive heroic resistance under conditions of occupation. This has effectively enabled the group to establish political legitimacy, garner civilian support and justify its use of political violence. This work also underscores the interplay between the active and passive faces of heroic resistance by illustrating how Palestinian active (i.e. armed) resistance is founded upon the elements of sumud (steadfastness) and sabr (patience), which are in fact the key signifiers of passive Palestinian identity and resistance. Hence, passive and active signifiers of resistance are located as an enduring feature of the Palestinian national struggle, used and re-used in the politico-ideological tracks of successive political organizations. However, Hamas’s particular practice and discourse of territorial struggle has not only propelled and reinterpreted this norm but in doing so, has blurred traditional boundaries between civilians and combatants while also continuing to foster the notion of ‘heroic warfare’ in Palestinian society.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)529-545
JournalPolitics, Religion & Ideology
Issue number4
Early online date31 Oct 2012
Publication statusPublished - Dec 2012


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