The tidy Western view of Palestinian politics coming down to Islamists versus secularists faces yet another reality check. Both Hamas and the supposedly secular Fatah are engaging in a new propaganda war, each portraying itself as the defender of the faith, while accusing the other party of defiling Islam, according to a recent report from the Palestinian Media Watch.
While the competing videos represent just a recent snapshot of the bitter struggle between Hamas and Fatah for Palestinian hearts and minds, it is indicative of the increasingly Islamic tenor of the culture that each group is attempting to stake out the Islamic high ground.
Though some are quick to blame Hamas for this state of affairs, it is Fatah, at the original direction of famed secularist Yasser Arafat, who is most responsible for Islamicizing Palestinian society.
After showing the destruction of a Gaza mosque caused by Hamas gunmen, the Fatah video has a close-up of a desecrated Qur’an with a grenade and bullet shells on top, and asks the question, “Whose grenades are these?”
Fatah’s video even goes so far as to say that the Islamic Jihad terrorists killed in the attack were “martyred” by Hamas—terminology typically used to describe a Muslim who is killed by an enemy of Islam.
The video was released around the same time as an Hamas production that portrayed Fatah as rats removing women’s head coverings and literally burning Qur’ans. Rather than using actual footage, though, the Hamas video is entirely animated. The surprisingly professional cartoon features a hero, representing Hamas, that bears striking resemblance to Simba, the title character in Disney’s The Lion King.
After the Fatah rats dance in their money and fire rockets at mosques, the Hamas lion defeats the rats, then stands on a hilltop looking off into the distance, with a Palestinian flag flying nearby.
This latest tussle demonstrates that Hamas has improved impressively upon the tactics long utilized by Fatah.
Upon taking the reins of Palestinian society following the 1993 Oslo Accords, Arafat implemented an aggressive platform of Islamic indoctrination, beefing up Islamic education in the schools and giving new prominence on television and elsewhere to fire-breathing imams, including many who called for Islam to topple the West.
Tapping into the ascending worldwide Islamist political movement, Arafat used his newfound power to create a new generation of terrorists superior to the old-school PLO thugs in one key respect: These post-Oslo brainwashed Palestinian kids were not only not afraid of death, but they actually wanted to die.
But Arafat couldn’t merely indoctrinate the children. Sane parents would never allow their children to blow themselves up, so Arafat carefully cultivated a cult of martyrdom that permeated Palestinian society. Much attention in the West has been paid to the hero worship of successful suicide bombers, but almost as important was the glorification of their parents.
Of particular symbolic significance has been Mariam Farahat, better known as Umm Nidal, or Mother of the Struggle, who bursts with pride that three of her six children died as Islamic terrorists. Though embraced and praised over the years by Fatah, she is now a Hamas member of the Palestinian legislature.
The Islamization spawned by Fatah has now taken on a life of its own.
Anecdotal evidence coming out of Gaza—where Western journalists are no longer stationed—is that the area is in many ways starting to resemble fundamentalist Islamic police states Saudi Arabia and Iran. More and more men reportedly are sporting religious beards, and few women are venturing outside without a veil. Hamas thugs are also out roaming the streets scouring for un-Islamic activities, even recently breaking up weddings of Fatah members and accusing the celebrants of being “Jews,” according to PA-TV reports translated by Palestinian Media Watch.
This increasing radicalization could have implications beyond Gaza’s borders. Last March, Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas warned that al Qaeda had infiltrated Gaza, and at least one prominent Arab newspaper echoed that claim.
The Egyptian government maintains that the attack on the Red Sea resort of Dahab in April 2006 was perpetrated by operatives who received weapons and explosives training in Gaza. The terrorists who struck Dahab belonged to Musab al-Zarqawi’s al-Tawhid wal-Jihad, which was later renamed al Qaeda in Mesopotamia.
While there is not strong evidence of ongoing coordinated operations between Hamas and al Qaeda, the two groups share similar theologies, worldviews, and burning hatred for the United States. Dore Gold’s latest book, The Fight for Jerusalem, explores this budding alliance. The photo appendix also provides evidence, including a poster distributed by Hamas operatives with the images of both Hamas founder Sheikh Ahmed Yassin and Osama bin Laden. Then there’s bin Laden loyalist Sheikh Abd al-Majid al-Zindani speaking at a March 2006 Hamas fundraiser in Yemen.
The billions of dollars in U.S. aid lavished on the Palestinians should have built support for the United States, but in fact, the reverse has happened. Why? Because Arafat and his Fatah party enjoyed full U.S. support as they radicalized the Palestinians.
Many argue that while severely flawed, Fatah is the only viable option. But every day Fatah is in power—in the West Bank, at least—Islamic indoctrination of Palestinians continues. This means that every day, the “secular” Fatah is leading Palestinians further and further away from acceptance of living side-by-side with a Jewish state of Israel.
Consider the following excerpt, taken from a textbook used at Fatah-run schools (translation provided by Palestinian Media Watch):
“The Ribat for Allah is one of the actions related to Jihad …The persistence of Palestine’s people on their land in these days, and their persistence against the damage and the aggression they endure – is one of the greatest of the Ribat [defending the border areas of Islam], and they are worthy of a great reward from Allah.…
“The reason for this preference is that the momentous battles in Islamic history took place on its land [Al-Shaam – includes Israel] and, its residents are found in a constant struggle with their enemies, and they are found in Ribat until Resurrection. The history testifies that: The battle of Al-Yarmuk decided the struggle with the Byzantines, and the battle of Hattin decided the struggle with the Crusaders, and the battle of Ein Jalut decided the struggle with the Mongols.” [Islamic Education, grade 12, p. 86-87]
Thus the madness continues, as U.S.-backed Fatah leaders frantically attempt to keep pace with the deeply Islamic society they helped create.
Joel Mowbray, who got his start with Townhall.com, is an award-winning investigative journalist, nationally-syndicated columnist and author of Dangerous Diplomacy: How the State Department Threatens America's Security.
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