Robert Spencer is a scholar of Islamic history, theology, and law and the director of Jihad Watch. He is the author of ten books, eleven monographs, and hundreds of articles about jihad and Islamic terrorism, including the New York Times Bestsellers The Politically Incorrect Guide to Islam (and the Crusades) and The Truth About Muhammad. His latest book is The Complete Infidel’s Guide to the Koran (Regnery), and he is coauthor (with Pamela Geller) of The Post-American Presidency: The Obama Administration’s War on America (Simon and Schuster).
George Wallace famously said long ago that there wasn’t a dime’s worth of difference between the Republican and Democratic parties, and that is even more true of Fatah and Hamas. Now that Hamas and Fatah have signed a reconciliation agreement, the entire State Department strategy for dealing with the Palestinians is in ruins – not that anyone has noticed.
For years, the Bush administration and then the Obama administration have worked from the premise that Fatah and its Palestinian Authority governments were the "moderates" that merited backing against the "extremists" of Hamas. It was a myopic, simplistic and naïve analysis from the beginning, and now it has been definitively exposed as such.In reality, both groups share the same Islamic outlook towards Israel that makes peaceful coexistence with the Jewish State impossible. Both believe that no state ruled by non-Muslims on what they consider Muslim land has any legitimacy; there are no theological differences between them, but only relatively minor differences of strategy and of strictness in their observance of Islamic law that mainly arise from Fatah’s origins in Sixties-era socialism as opposed to Hamas’s birth as an explicitly Islamic movement. Fatah is also more inclined to be patient, while Hamas tends to be significantly less so. Fatah is willing to make deals with the Infidels as stepping stones to greater progress toward the ultimate goal; Hamas tends to see such deals as trimming, and prefers not to compromise even temporarily.
Thus the Hamas Charter, which was promulgated in 1988, quotes Hassan al-Banna, founder of the Muslim Brotherhood, saying that "Israel will exist and will continue to exist until Islam will obliterate it, just as it obliterated others before it." The PLO’s Palestine National Charter is twenty years older. It doesn’t mention Islam at all, but it nonetheless enunciates the same goal in different language: "The liberation of Palestine, from an Arab viewpoint, is a national (qawmi) duty and it attempts to repel the Zionist and imperialist aggression against the Arab homeland, and aims at the elimination of Zionism in Palestine." This language was never revised even after the PLO recognized Israel in 1993.
The PLO Charter’s talk of "imperialist aggression" is redolent of the socialist milieu in which the PLO/Fatah was born. Over the years, however, this gave way to a steadily more Islamic perspective. Yasir Arafat began his career railing about imperialism and ended it calling for jihad. This trajectory reflected the resurgence of Islam as a political force; Saddam Hussein and other Arab leaders followed the same course over the same decades. Thus, while Hamas, which is an acronym for the Islamic Resistance Movement, was founded in the 1980s by Muslims who believed that the PLO was giving short shrift to the Islamic aspect of the Arab war against Israel, over the years, the distinctions between the two groups have become increasingly blurred.
For example, according to Palestinian Media Watch, last November the official Palestinian Authority television network broadcast a song by a jihadist singer named Amar Hasan, including these lyrics that deftly blend the old Arab nationalism of the PLO with the new and prevailing jihadist sentiment:
My brother! The oppressors [Israelis] have gone too far.
Therefore Jihad is a right, and self-sacrifice is a right.
Shall we let them steal the Arab nature -the patriarchal glory and rule?And only through the sound of the swordThey respond, with voice or echo.Draw from the sheath your sword;And let it not return.My brother, my brother, Oh proud ArabToday is our moment, not tomorrow.My brother, the time of our nation’s sunrise has arrived,[the time] for you to repel those who are misledAnd bring renaissance to Islam.
This was by no means an isolated incident. In June 2010, the host of a children’s show on government-sanctioned Palestinian Authority television interviewed the four-year old son of a jihadist who was being held in an Israeli prison. The host asked the child: "The Jews are our enemies, right?" The boy agreed, of course.
In another notorious program, a mother cast the death of her son who had been killed in an Israeli defense action in terms of Islamic jihad theology: "We had always hoped for his [my son's] Martyrdom (Shahada), knowing he wanted to die as a Martyr (Shahid). Every time he went out, we would say to him, ‘May Allah be with you.’ We knew that he wanted to die as a Martyr. Praise to Allah, he sought Martyrdom, and he achieved it. My message to every mother is to sacrifice her child for Palestine."
Not to be outdone, Hamas TV in January 2010 demonized Israeli settlers by depicting one exulting: "the most delicious thing is to kill Palestinians and drink their blood." Fatah, meanwhile, tried to prove that it was just as bloodthirsty and murderous as Hamas, which used to celebrate its murders of Israeli civilians on its website as part of its "Glory Record" until it decided to try to win over international opinion by portraying itself as the beleaguered victim. In the summer of 2009, a Palestinian Authority television show featured a student who was aligned with Fatah taunting a Hamas-linked teacher for not killing enough Israelis: "Since Hamas seized power, we haven’t heard of any Martyrdom operation [suicide-bombing]." The student goes on to boast that "the first shot was fired by the PLO; the first Jihad was carried out by the PLO, with all the other factions – but Hamas always opposed."
A senior leader of "moderate" Fatah, Muhammad Dahlan, let the cat out of the bag in March 2009 when he declared: "They always say that the Fatah movement wants Hamas to recognize Israel. This is a gross deception. And I want to say for the thousandth time, in my own name and in the name of all of my fellow members of the Fatah movement: We do not demand that the Hamas movement recognize Israel. On the contrary, we demand of the Hamas movement not to recognize Israel, because the Fatah movement does not recognize Israel, even today. [...] Therefore, no one can compete with us. We of the Fatah do not recognize Israel; we recognized [corrects himself] recognize that which the PLO recognized, but that does not obligate us as a Palestinian resistance faction."
In other words, the PLO’s recognition of Israel was a sham to deceive the West; even Fatah, the largest faction of the PLO today, doesn’t consider itself obligated to abide by it, and thus it does not supersede the words of the Palestine National Charter that essentially call for the complete obliteration of Israel. This imperative has only been made clearer by the new alliance with Fatah and Hamas. They are coming together to wage their jihad against Israel more effectively.
[ From http://frontpagemag.com ]