June 9, 2009
Many Palestinians had thought that the Fatah convention in Bethlehem would revitalize the movement by delivering it from its current dishonorable subservience to Israel and putting it on the right track again, the track of authentic national struggle that would free the Palestinian people and their usurped homeland from cruel Zionist occupation and domination.
However, what we have been witnessing in the past few days instead is cacophony of raving and ranting that has miserably failed to tackle the real defining issues facing the Palestinian people and endangering its vital national interests.
Indeed, while the estimated 2,200 Fatah delegates were harrowing after hollow titles, they carefully sidestepped central issues such as the Right of Return, the inherently ignominious scandal of security coordination with Israel and the persistent Israeli blockade of the Gaza Strip as well as the criminal Israeli policy of barring building materials from reaching Gaza.
Fatah has also overlooked the scandalous show otherwise known as the "peace process," which has been used by Israel as a cover for continuing Jewish settlement expansion as well as the unrelenting obliteration of Jerusalem’s Arab Islamic identity.
To be sure, no one in his right mind had expected the Fatah conference would declare war on Israel. However, every Palestinian has an absolute right to expect Fatah delegates to prove themselves as being worthy of representing the Palestinian people they claim to be.
What is even more tragic is there is a widespread impression that Fatah delegates are putting their own parochial and partisan interests before the national burden.
Well, woe unto a nation split into groups, each group viewing itself as a nation.
Unfortunately, Fatah is not what it used to be. The erstwhile liberation movement is allowing itself to be thoroughly domesticated and de-revolutionized by its corrupt leadership while mendaciously claiming to be clinging to the path of resistance and armed struggle.
Well, this leadership has exhaustively tried the path of negotiations with Israel since 1993 but to no avail. In fact, the only outcome of nearly 15 years of marathon talks with Israel has assumed the form of more Jewish settlements in the West Bank and more theft of Arab land, so much that there is no real room left for the establishment of a true and viable Palestinian state.
Now this leadership, which continues to shamelessly function under the false rubric of patriotism, is promising more of the same, namely more fruitless talks with Israel, probably until nothing is left to bargain for. Unfortunately, this is their deformed understanding of pragmatism and realism.
The way the Bethlehem conference has related to the Right of Return is very worrying, to say the very least. Fatah officials, including Chairman Mahmoud Abbas, made vague, imprecise and general allusions to the right of return.
These allusions showed that Fatah might be using the most paramount Palestinian issue as a sort of bargaining chip to get Israel to agree to give the Palestinians a state, however devoid of substance that "state" might be.
Indeed, a careful reading into Abbas’s speech suggests that the PLO and Fatah leadership would be willing and ready to effectively compromise the ROR in return for a certain political compensation.
More to the point, Abbas’s boasting about the return of 300,000 Palestinians to the West Bank and Gaza Strip following the conclusion of the Oslo Accords shows a real tendency on his part to consider the "return of displaced Palestinians to the territories occupied by Israel in 1967" as a partial implementation of the ROR.
If true, this would amount to a definitive betrayal of the ROR cause and perfidious abandonment of millions of suffering refugees who have been dreaming to return to the homes, villages and towns from which they or their fathers and grandfathers were uprooted when the evil Zionist state was created more than 60 years ago.
We all know that Abbas is accustomed to talking about the ROR in dismissive and depreciative terms. This is what endears him to Israel and makes him earn the vacuous epithet of "moderate." We also know that had it not been for efforts by Hamas and other dignified Palestinian nationalists to assert the centrality of the ROR, Fatah, under its compromising leadership, would most probably have allowed the issue to slip into oblivion.
This shows that Fatah alone can’t be entrusted with the sacred right of the refugees to return to their homes. This was true during the Arafat era and it is even truer now with the appearance of a new generation of Fatah leaders who show more concern for smart cars and accumulation of wealth than for the suffering of the Palestinian people.
Another issue that the Fatah convention has nearly completely ignored is the disgraceful "security coordination" with Israel in the West Bank. This abominable security coordination is nothing short of treason.
The security coordination takes a variety of ugly forms and expressions, including a systematic persecution and hounding of Hamas sympathizers, closure of Islamic institutions, dismissal of Islamic civil servants from their jobs as well as exchange of data on potential resistance activists.
Last year, a high-ranking Palestinian security commander was quoted as telling a Zionist military commander that "We are allies, not enemies, we have a common enemy that is Hamas."
Unfortunately, this officer and his colleagues were never rebuked let alone punished for making these treacherous remarks. In fact, some of these so-called officers are taking part in the Bethlehem conference.
Needless to say, the close collaboration between the PA security agencies and Israel has had disastrous consequences on the cause of Palestinian national unity.
Since the mid 2007, it is believed that as many as 10,000 Islamic activists have been arrested in the West Bank, with many of them subjected to severe and life-threatening torture.
Indeed, at least eleven people, including religious leaders, teachers, and other professionals have died under torture at the hands of PA interrogators.
The latest victim is Kamal Abu T’iema, a school teacher and community leader at the Fawwar refugee camp near al-Khalil, who spent one forth of his life languishing in Israeli jails and dungeons.
Abu T’iema died last week, succumbing to a massive stroke he suffered a few weeks ago as a result of severe torture at the Hebron headquarters of a PA security agency. He never imagined in his wildest nightmares that he would die of torture at the hands of the very people who claim to be fighting for the freedom of Palestine.
Unfortunately, very few Fatah delegates in Bethlehem had the moral courage to call the spade a spade, especially when they saw the spade in the hands of people such as Muhammad Dahlan who readily and enthusiastically acted at the Bush administration’s beck and call in order to ignite civil war in Palestine in the service of Israeli goals and designs.
Fatah used to be a reputable house struggling for a worthy cause, the cause of an oppressed people resisting a Nazi-like aggressor seeking their demise and obliteration from the face of earth.
Now, it seems, Fatah has effectively morphed itself into a five-star hotel where former revolutionaries are striving to enjoy life, while watching with utter insensitivity the very country they seek to liberate being pulverized and arrogated by the Zionists and the very people they claim to represent being raped, savaged and tormented by Israel, the presumed partner for peace.
Well, Fatah as we have known it for decades seems to be dead. Maybe another Fatah, a cleaner and honorable movement will rise up in place of the dead one. This is inevitable because treachery doesn’t prosper in this land.