Of half-baked Fatah=Hamas theories
When an article starts off in this manner, its a sign you should either stop reading or double check the byline to ensure you haven’t mistakenly begun reading a Tom Friedman article. Unfortunately, this cannot be credited to Friedman – it was written by David Schenker for Foreign Policy.
In October 1999, while researching a book on Palestinian politics, I had coffee with then Palestinian Minister of Labor Rafik Natsheh on the patio of the InterContinental Hotel in Amman, Jordan. A member of the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO)’s Fatah Central Committee, Natsheh was a consummate political insider, but he was also a courageous and outspoken critic of Palestinian President Yasir Arafat’s authoritarian tendencies at a time when deference to Arafat and support for violent resistance constituted the rough center of Palestinian politics. During our meeting, Natsheh struck me as soft-spoken, thoughtful, and politically “moderate.”
There have to be better places in Amman to discuss Palestinian politics, least of all the InterContinental that doesn’t serve exemplary coffee to start off with. But this seems to be a perfect setting for such research as I pointed out recently in a blogpost about foreign press reporting on Pakistan. Notice how the author has combined that with his description of Rafik Natsheh? Wouldn’t have had quite the same ring if they’d been having this discussion in Jabal Nathif.
But on it goes – a skewed analysis of Fatah that is trying to prove that the party has begun mirroring Hamas by rejecting Oslo (newsflash: the rejection happened over a decade ago) and how all Palestinian ‘moderates’ are now turning into ‘extremists’ because they’ve begun to reiterate their belief in armed resistance. This, to the author, is Fatah’s new weakness and one that President Obama needs to look at. Of all the problems Fatah has – that really has to be the lowest on the rung, but that’s a discussion for another day at the InterContinental.