Cite: Matesan, Hamas and the Appeal of Opposition to the Peace Process

Matesan, Ioana Emy. “What Makes Negative Frames Resonant? Hamas and the Appeal of Opposition to the Peace Process.” Terrorism and Political Violence 24.5 (2012): 671-705.



Increasingly, scholars are applying Social Movement Theory to explore how radical Islamist groups strategically employ framing to legitimize the use of violence. What has not been explicitly examined, however, is under what conditions radical frames are more resonant with the public than more moderate alternatives. This article argues that the strength of a particular frame depends on the credibility of the competing claim-makers. Drawing on public opinion polls from the Palestinian Territories, the article shows that the resonance of Hamas’ frames vis-à-vis the peace process between 1993 and 2006 depended on the ability of the Palestinian leadership to maintain its legitimacy. Since the Gaza take-over and Hamas’ shift to a position of leadership rather than opposition party, the organization’s inability to deliver in the economic realm or to even feign any progress regarding the peace process damaged its credibility and reputation. Accordingly, its frames vis-à-vis the peace process also started losing their resonance with the public. An understanding of the dynamics of credibility can also help explain the continued moves towards national reconciliation between Hamas and Fatah.

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