Report

Before Israel's Invasion, Hamas Popularity Was Waning Among Its Neighbors -- Even in Gaza Itself

  • January 08, 2009
  • By Richard Wike

In the Middle East and elsewhere, Muslim reaction to the Israeli offensive in the Hamas-controlled Gaza Strip has been swift and angry, with protests in Amman, Beirut, Istanbul, Tehran, Jakarta, and several other capitals. Palestinians in East Jerusalem and in the West Bank, where Hamas rival Fatah dominates, have also demonstrated against Israel, some carrying the green flag of Hamas into the streets. However, before the current conflict in Gaza, Hamas hardly enjoyed universal popularity among Muslims, and among some key Arab publics, its support had been waning.

The 2008 Pew Global Attitudes survey found significant opposition to the organization in several predominantly Muslim countries, not to mention considerable opposition to suicide bombing -- a frequent tactic of Hamas in the past -- as well as deep reservations about one of Hamas' chief sponsors, Iran. Still, given the striking antipathy toward Israel throughout much of the Arab and Muslim worlds, if Hamas survives reasonably intact and comes to be viewed as the Palestinians' primary defender against the Jewish state, its popularity may rise.

Read the full commentary Before Israel's Invasion, Hamas Popularity Was Waning Among Its Neighbors -- Even in Gaza Itself on the Pew Research Center's Web site.