Our “Understanding Hamas” project gets off to great start

Helena CobbanBlog, Gaza, Hamas, Israel, JWE news, Peace resources

Last week, Just World Ed’s “Understanding Hamas & Why That Matters” project got off to a great start, with the presentation of the first our planned series of five weekly webinars and the launch of the project’s (still in-progress) Online Learning Hub. On the Learning Hub we’ll be presenting the multimedia records of all the webinars as they occur– video, audio, and transcripts– along a selection of learning resources that we and our Guest Experts have found helpful, participant bios, etc.


In our first webinar, JWE board member Rami G. Khouri and I hosted Dr. Paola Caridi, an Italian scholar and writer who worked as a Jerusalem-based journalist for the agency Lettera22, 2003-12. The second of her three published books was Hamas: From Resistance to Government, which appeared in Italian in 2009, and in English in 2012. (An updated English version was released last October 10.)

During the short introduction I gave to the webinar– and the project– I sprang three anonymous pop-quizzes on the attendees, so we could all get a rough idea of the level of knowledge they brought into the webinar. Around 50 of them were brave enough to take part, and here is a summary of how they responded. (Click on the last of these to see the working of the options):

Rami and Dr. Paola had a very rich conversation. Obviously, we hope you will go to the Online Learning Hub to either view it, listen to it, or read the transcript! And later, we’ll be exploring different ways to make a “greatest hits” digest of all of the project’s sessions.

At the end of the session, 37 of the attendees were kind enough to spend a few minutes filling out the Evaluation form/survey that we sent them. Big thanks to those friends!

These respondents were generally pretty enthusiastic about the webinar. Asked to rate its educational/informational value for them, here were their responses:


Asked what the main thing(s) were that they had learned from the session, we got these helpful replies, among many others, from the respondents:

  • “Important information about relationships inside the Palestinian liberation movement, especially the insight into relations between Hamas and the PLO.”
  • “More historical context of Hamas, but there’s a lot I still don’t understand. (I will look for answers online and hopefully come back with better questions for presenters. Fatah vs PA vs PLO, etc.)”
  • “Hamas as it is almost never told. It was told without ideological prejudices, with an historical approach.”
  • “The way Hamas made decisions between the different regional groups *including the prisoners*, and their relationship (or lack thereof) with the PLO… “
  • “The constituencies within Hamas was interesting. I’m about to read Dr Paola Caridi’s book and was impressed by her depth of knowledge. Questions by Rami Khouri were great.”
  • “The diversity of Hamas;  it underlined the reading and understanding I’ve gained from other sources about Hamas’ willingness to engage/negotiate.”

The second webinar session will be held tomorrow, May 9, starting at Noon ET. Our Guest Expert will be Dr. Khaled Hroub. Learn more about this fine scholar here. If you haven’t yet registered for this and the other remaining sessions in timely webinar series, you still can. Here‘s the link to do so.