It is no secret to those with their eyes open that even the so-called “moderate” Palestinians belonging to Mahmoud Abbas’ Fatah movement are neck-deep in the blood of Israeli Jews and see violence as a useful and legitimate tool in obtaining its goals. For those still on the fence on this issue, Fatah commanders themselves are now admitting that their group employs a strategy of sowing with the gun and reaping with politics.
Earlier this summer, Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert decided to grant amnesty to 178 Fatah terrorists as a gesture of goodwill toward Abbas and in an effort to bolster his fragile regime, which had recently suffered a stunning military defeat at the hand of Hamas in Gaza.
Israeli and foreign media outlets portrayed the Fatah members participating in the move as almost repenting of their past violence and converting to the path of dialogue. The truth, however, is that these groups – even the “moderate” Fatah and their supporters among the general public – believe terrorist violence against Israeli Jews is a necessary component of their overall negotiation strategy.
The Bethlehem-based Ma’an news agency recently interviewed Abu Jabal, a local field commander of Fatah’s Al Aqsa Brigades “military wing” in the Samarian town of Nablus (biblical Shechem). Abu Jabal, who was among those granted amnesty, had this to say of the relationship between Palestinian violence and negotiations:
We have a saying in Fatah: With the gun we plant and with the politics we harvest.
A colleague, Abu Skandar, jumped in on the interview to point out that the Fatah men did not intend to abide by the documents they signed renouncing the use of violence against Israelis forever.
We want to give politicians an opportunity, [but] we have not absolutely abandoned fighting.
Abu Jabal also stressed that he and his men did not agree to the amnesty deal because they suddenly feel remorse for attacking Jewish men, women and children, but rather because doing so presently serves Palestinian interests:
We agreed to this because it benefits the Palestinian people.
This is “moderate” Islam, this is the behavior of the most moderate Palestinians. It is a mistake to see news reports of “moderate” Palestinian leaders and assume that their moderation and behavior mirrors that of moderate folks in the West.
Our leaders in the West, however, are going to great lengths to ignore that discrepancy. They are putting their own short-term political interests first by pretending that people like Abbas and Abu Jabal hold views equal to our own when it comes to terrorist activity. These leaders refuse to acknowledge Arab admissions of remaining committed to terrorist violence because doing so would pull the rug out from under their own political agendas.
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