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A Democratically-Elected Hamas is Still a Terrorist Organization

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In 2006, amidst growing resentment toward the Palestine Liberation Organization, Hamas won political power in a democratic election. The group, named a terrorist organization by both the United States and European Union, retains its charter calling for violence against Israel, yet provides critical social services to its constituents. Is a democratically elected Hamas still a terrorist organization, or should nations around the world recognize Hamas as a legitimate governing body?  

The Debaters

For the motion

Daniel Ayalon

Israel's Ambassador to the United States

Since 2002, Daniel has worked extensively with the US administration and Congress in advancing economic, political and diplomatic relations. He has... Read More

Steven A. Cook

Douglas Dillon Fellow at the Council on Foreign Relations

Steven is an expert on Arab politics and US Middle East policy, Cook directed the Council's Independent Task Force on reform in the Arab World. He... Read More

John O'Sullivan

Senior Fellow at the Hudson Institute

John is a political journalist who has edited publications from The National Review to the London Times. He is currently writing a book on Reagan... Read More

Against the motion

Stanley L. Cohen

American lawyer

Stanley is probably best known for his defense of Mousa Abu Marzook the head of the political wing of Hamas, whose extradition from the United States... Read More

Mohammad-Mahmoud Ould Mohamedou

Associate Director of the Harvard Program on Humanitarian Policy and Conflict Research

Previously, Mohammad-Mahmoud served as Director of Research at the International Council on Human Rights in Geneva, where he helped found and direct... Read More

Mark Perry

Former Journalist, Current Author and Co-Director of the UK/DC-based Conflicts Forum

Through Conflicts Forum, Perry has been engaged in a series of exchanges with Hamas over the past two years. He has worked with Arafat's Fatah wing... Read More

Where Do You Stand?

For The Motion
  • Unless Hamas renounces its charter, which calls for violence against Israel, it remains a terrorist organization.
  • Giving Hamas political status legitimizes its history of violence as acts of state rather than acts of terror.
  • Recognized political parties cannot claim a militant wing independent of the state, as Hamas does.
  • Hamas’ election reflects the corruption and failures of the Palestine Liberation Organization, not the widespread support of the Palestinian people.    
Against The Motion
  • Hamas won political power through a free and fair democratic election, making it the legitimate leadership of the Palestinian people.
  • Hamas provides critical social services and, like any governing body, has the right to defend its constituency from external threats.
  • Many renowned political leaders, including Nelson Mandela and Malcolm X, employed violence to achieve their goals; delegitimizing the governing agency of Hamas because of past violence is inconsistent with global practice and history.
  • Hamas is a national liberation movement that sought democratic political power, not a terrorist organization.

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