[Marxism] Fatah supporters switching to Hamas

Louis Proyect lnp3 at panix.com
Fri Jan 9 07:43:31 MST 2009

The West Bank: We're all Hamas now - supporters of Fatah unite behind enemy

By Ben Lynfield in Ramallah
Friday, 9 January 2009

Even if Israel wins on the battlefield or in the diplomatic corridors it 
is already paying the price of its Gaza onslaught in intensified hatred 
in the hearts of its Palestinian neighbours in the West Bank. The 
campaign also appears to be increasing public scepticism about the 
Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas's chosen path of 
negotiations as the way to establish an independent state alongside Israel.

The diplomacy championed by Mr Abbas has for years been difficult to 
sell to Palestinians because it has brought little or no relief from 
occupation or improvement in their daily lives, only the expansion of 
Israeli settlements. This existing frustration –which helped Hamas 
defeat Mr Abbas's Fatah movement in the 2006 elections – is now combined 
with popular anger and dismay at the carnage among fellow Palestinians 
in Gaza.

Palestinian Authority security forces are keeping a tight lid on 
protests, preventing confrontations with Israeli troops and arresting 
anyone raising Hamas banners at rallies. But displays of identification 
with the beleaguered Gazans are everywhere. Nine-year-old 
green-kerchiefed girl Scouts, their foreheads marked with the word Gaza 
in red ink, were among those who marched through the main al-Manara 
square in a protest. They held up pictures of bandaged toddlers, and 
dozens of demonstrators chanted, "With blood and spirit, we will redeem 
you, O Gaza".

Leaders of Fatah, which lost control of Gaza to Hamas fighters in June 
2007, are torn between their own hopes that Hamas, which they view as a 
usurper and agent of the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt and Jordan, is 
defeated, and the people's anger over the Israeli campaign. There is a 
great deal at stake for them. "If Hamas is victorious and the Israelis 
raise the white flag there will be a problem in the West Bank, more 
people will support Hamas, and the Arab regimes will have problems too," 
said Ziad Abu Ein, the deputy minister of prisoner affairs and a veteran 
of 13 years in Israeli prisons.

Bassem Khoury, the president of the Palestinian Federation of 
Industries, launched the PA-supported National Palestinian Campaign to 
Relieve Gaza by holding up a picture from the al-Ayyam daily newspaper 
showing the head of a Palestinian girl buried in the rubble of an 
Israeli attack. "This is unbelievable," he said. "How will this help the 
Israelis? It only generates more recruits for Hamas."

Unlike the people, who seem less concerned as yet with apportioning 
Palestinian blame, some Fatah leaders couple calls for national unity 
with accusing Hamas of causing the suffering in Gaza. Tawfik al-Tirawi, 
an adviser to Mr Abbas and a former security chief, said: "The political 
leadership that miscalculated has brought catastrophe on itself and its 

Palestinians in the West Bank have their own long-standing grievances 
against Israel: the ongoing occupation, checkpoints Israel says are 
needed for security but that hamper their movement, often humiliate them 
and paralyse economic life, the expropriation of Palestinian land, and 
the threat of Israeli army incursion or arrest. The images from Gaza are 
being layered onto a collective memory of being expelled at Israel's 
creation in 1948.

A teacher in a PA school talked of the Israeli attack on a UN school in 
Gaza that killed at least 40 people and other killings of civilians. 
"The feeling is of severe anger," he said. "We are angry at the Jews and 
the hatred of them inside of us has increased. This is more than people 
can bear. We are mad at the Palestinian Authority and we are mad at the 
Arab regimes. When there is a call to convene an Arab meeting it looks 
like they are giving Israel a free hand to do whatever it wants"

Another PA employee, from the northern West Bank city of Nablus, said: 
"I want to educate my kids to hate Israel. If I can't do something maybe 
my kids can. I will educate them to fight the Israelis."

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