The traditional view of Hamas is of thousands of supporters parading in the streets, waving green banners and toting guns.
For example, the Islamic movement celebrated the withdrawal of Israeli troops from Gaza and presented it as a military victory. During the campaign the marches were toned down a little. Hamas even brought in a spin doctor to help it improve its image. The result: Fewer guns, and less belligerent posturing. At the same time the party did not hesitate to defend its history of violence. Mariam Farhat lost one son as a suicide bomber, another in an Israeli raid.She stood as a Hamas candidate, and her campaign message could not have been clearer. “The issue of negotiation isn’t on Hamas’ agenda. We’re not willing to fail. For years the Palestinian Authority has been negotiating with the enemy and nothing has been accomplished,” she said. Charity and social work is the other side of Hamas, an aspect of the movement that is thought to have greatly contributed to its strong result. It is not yet clear whether this support for the poor and disadvantaged will have the same impact among international donors. Hamas spokesman Abu Zhuri says that on the one hand they will “maintain the agenda of resistance against the aggression and occupation, and on the other hand we’ll seek to make change and reform in the Palesinian area. We want to be open to the Arab and Islamic world and also to the international community.” Hamas has to face up to contradictions and challenges – how to preserve its new political dominance, while remaining true to its roots, and retaining contact with the bodies, many of them Western, that the Palestinians have to rely on for vital aid.