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Thursday, November 22, 2012

Fatah is dying

In an earlier post, I noted the message to 'moderate' 'Palestinian' President Mahmoud Abbas Abu Mazen  that was contained in the 'cease fire' agreement between Israel and Hamas. Eugene Kontorovich has just started writing for the Volokh Conspiracy, a blog written by lawyers in which a couple of them (including Eugene) have an interest in Israel. In one of his first posts (in fact, it may even be his first), Eugene argues that Fatah is a fossil because its ideas are no longer popular in the Arab world.
The decline of Fatah is even more over-determined. Fatah is a secular Arab nationalist movement. Article 1 of the Fatah charter spoke only of pan-Arabism, not of Palestine. Thus it is part of an ideology that once reigned across the Arab world – from Libya to Syria. It was an exciting movement that inspired millions, and the Fatah leadership was just the local manifestation – with the same authoritarianism, cronyism and corruption that made the other regimes so unpopular.
Now, it is an anachronism, a throwback. With Assad crippled, Fatah remains the last Arab nationalist party standing – and ironically, this delicate fossil only survives in the museum protected by the IDF. Everyone wants to be on the winning team. Fatah’s team doesn’t exist anymore, and so it should not be surprising that is prestige and influence wanes. Israel can no more stop this than it can resurrect Nasser.
This is why Gulf sheiks started paying visits to Hamas before the current campaign began. And why Israel must consider the future of the West Bank not on the assumption that Fatah will be there forever.
Ideas matter, and they play out on a large scale through the Middle East – pan-Arabism, Nasserism, socialism, and now Islamism. Israel does not make the weather.
Read it all.

As much as I hate both the fact and the form of the Obama administration's courting of 'moderate Islam' (an oxymoron if I ever heard one), I think Eugene is correct that Islamism is replacing Pan-Arabism in the Arab world. That's not to say that Obama's openness to Islamism has not played a role in 'moderate Islam's rising popularity, but that at least the Obama administration claims to be thinking about how to prevent the most radical forms of Islam from taking hold.

Except that I'm not convinced there really is such a thing as 'moderate Islam.'

As best as I can tell, the only difference between radical and moderate Islam is that one wants to kill all the infidels now, while the other wants to infiltrate the infidel societies and kill them from within. Ironically, that's like my description of the difference between Hamas and Fatah - Hamas wants to kill us immediately while Fatah wants to kill us slowly, phase by phase.

The problem is that I don't see the Israeli government thinking about this a whole lot. If the government did think about it, it would acknowledge the fact that giving the secular Fatah a 'state' in Judea and Samaria would result in a radical Islamist state on the outskirts of Jerusalem and Tel Aviv in short order. It would also realize that our fight with radical Islam is a zero sum game and must be fought accordingly.

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