Say Not Fatah

Palestinians are the freest people on Earth. They proved it again this June, when they broke open the infamous torture chambers of Dahlan and released the prisoners; when they sent the CIA-trained thugs packing back to their Jewish masters. I feel proud of their unique victory: Americans can’t get rid of Guantanamo and their plentiful other jails with millions of prisoners (more than in Uncle Joe’s Gulag); Brits can’t dismantle their surveillance cameras; Saudis can’t throw away their CIA-bound rulers. Not many people succeeded in removing the machine of fear and oppression, in smashing these Gestapo-clones of security police mushrooming around the globe. In future Palestine, the fall of the Gaza Preventive Security Prison will be celebrated like the French celebrate the Fall of Bastille.

This is the people’s victory over oppression. Moreover, this is victory of law against lawlessness, for Palestine had and still has its legitimate government, while the rogue security apparatus tried to place itself above the law. A true people’s victory, for it succeeded without vengeance and unnecessary bloodshed. Israeli media got a lot of mileage out of the 60 security men who asked for Israeli protection, but actually even out of this (tiny by any measure) amount more than half asked to return to Gaza. They knew there would be no revenge, no head-hunting, no Night of the Long Knives, no Moscow trials for the fighters of Fatah: the people won, there is no civil war, no major bloodshed; the security thugs lost, and now they have a chance to try to become men again.

Magnanimity, largesse, fraternal feelings were the hallmarks of this people’s revolution. Trying to saw discord as they always do, the mainstream media presented this glorious revolution as a victory of Hamas over Fatah. This is an exaggeration. The people of Gaza fought against Dahlan Gangs, against lawless criminals who tried to establish their rule of force and violence over the Strip. Tolkien readers may think of the Battle of Bywater, where free hobbits smashed and expelled the thugs of Sharkey from the Shire. These gangs were leftovers from a sinister previous rule; they were placed in charge by the Israeli Saruman, and their defeat was just a question of time. But Dahlan is not Fatah; nor is Mahmud Abbas, crowned by the US and Israel as the king of the Ramallah Bantustan. Real Fatah is Marwan Barghouti still caged in the Jewish Gulag, and other wonderful men and good fighters who carried the name of Palestine from the battle of Karame to the Intifada. They are true Fatah, and their place is preserved for them in the Hall of Glory of the Palestinian Revolution.

I know Fatah fighters; I’ve met them in their villages in the hills of Palestine, taking a short rest after many years of exile and jail. Great people, who were as upset by Abu Mazen’s shameful submission to the Israeli-American diktat as anybody. The Gaza people’s victory may mobilize them into a proper house cleaning, into returning to their own revolutionary traditions. Dahlan and Rajoub, these security thugs and their political allies Abu Mazen and Saeb Erekat stole, nay, they privatized the name of Fatah, just as KGB bosses privatized communism and the Judaeo-Mammonite elites privatized the free enterprise of America’s founding fathers. Let no Fatah fighter feel upset by Dahlan’s defeat. Moreover, they can follow the lead and get rid of the werewolves who abused the name of Fatah in the service of Shin Bet.

Jonathan Steele correctly reminded us that “arming insurgents against elected governments has a long US pedigree, and it is no accident that Elliott Abrams, the deputy national security adviser and apparent architect of the anti-Hamas subversion, was a key player in Ronald Reagan’s supply of weapons to the Contras who fought Nicaragua’s elected government in the 1980s.” But those Contras, ubiquitously present at every revolution, the Chouans of the Vendée, the Contras of French revolution, the Cossacks of Don, the Contras of the Russian revolution, Savimbi’s Unita, the Contras of the Angolan revolution, did have some truth on their side, and expressed some legitimate interests. That is why we approve and support the merciful character of the Hamas revolution: Hamas’ readiness to work together with healthier elements of Fatah for the Palestinian cause.

However, some lessons can and should be learned: Fatah leadership succumbed to the Israeli-American temptation because of its faulty ideology. Nationalism, this weapon of mass disintegration, was brought eastwards by the Western colonizers in order to divide and conquer. Until the 19th century, the East knew nothing of nationalism, for it was then united by faith and governed by their traditional rulers, the successors of Constantine the Great and Suleiman the Magnificent. T.E. Lawrence delivered the bacilli of nationalism to Hejaz in his Intelligence Service-packed saddle bag, and undermined this Eastern unity. He promised Arabs independence from the “hateful Ottomans”, but nothing good came out of their betrayal: British, American and later Zionist colonizers shared the spoils, while the natives became even more oppressed.

Nationalism is necessarily a particularist, “do it alone” sort of ideology. In Palestine, Egypt, Syria this was compensated for by a universalist socialism, but with the evaporation of this socialist element, Fatah remained with its faulty nationalism, doomed to failure. “They are nationalists like us”, say the Zionists from Sharon to Avnery about Fatah. “They will be happy with a flag, an anthem, a Swiss bank account — like us. They will be content with a Bantustan or two”.

But Palestinians are not likely to betray Palestine for the illusion of independence. All Palestinians, that is, all dwellers of Palestine, native and immigrant, need all of it, not just two percent of Gaza and ten percent of a Ramallah enclave, but all 100%. We may have all of it together, not by dividing, but by sharing. Islam is a universal faith, like Christianity, and the its religious foundations are better suited for our universal state than yesterday’s nationalism, Arab or Zionist. A similar process is taking place in Turkey, where Kemalist nationalism has become an American ally propped up by soldiers’ bayonets, while the Islamic party is the choice of people.

People of the East believe in God; that is why Ex Oriente Lux. They also know from their experience that godless ones have nor scruples neither compassion, while we need compassionate leaders. Disregard the scarecrow of “Islamofascism” or “Islamic danger”. This is myth, created by Podhoretz and his ilk, an invented threat like Yellow Peril, Panslavism, Communism. We are not afraid of followers of Islam, because we live with them all our life.

The nation-building process in Palestine is far from over. A new paradigm should be found to unite its tribes and groups into one society, dismantling the Palestinian National Authority – and the Jewish state, as correctly stated by Avrum Burg. Separation and the drive for independence of this or any other part of Palestine turned out to be a bankrupt strategy. Palestine can’t be divided. Friends of Palestine and friends of Israel must work together to unify, not to separate.

Israel Shamir

Israel Shamir is a critically acclaimed and respected Russian Israeli writer. He has written extensively and translated Joyce and Homer into Russian. He lives in Jaffa, is a Christian, and an outspoken critic of Israel and Zionism.