Rasheed A. Shaheen
The Devils of Fatah and the Angels of Hamas
by Rashid A. Shahin
It seems that Palestinian leaders are determined to go ahead with the tug-of-war process which broke out, right after the legislative elections that brought Hamas to power, and impeached the Fatah movement from what they believed to be their historical heritage, which they wouldn’t surrender to anybody.
The problem didn’t lie, as many believed, in the inability of Fatah to accept defeat in elections. The Hamas movement played a major, if not to say, the main role in the deterioration of the situation in the Palestinian arena that has led to the current impasse.
While Fatah had gradually built their control of the Palestinian leadership, in every perspective, as a result of the long term of domination in the Palestinian arena without a serious rival, Hamas was determined to play the same role that Fatah had played, yet from the outset.
Hamas wanted to perform single-handedly, and that is their unalienable right. However what wasn’t their right was to practice undesirable, and unjustifiable tactics, including declaring creeds, without sticking to them. Despite their frequent discourse over the will to compose a unity government through dialogue with the other factions, they ended up, at the decisive moments, willing to play the game alone.
Through their 9 months in power, although in reality they practiced no powers, Hamas wanted to eliminate the history of struggle for all other factions, and consequently for the whole Palestinian people. They saw the break of that struggle to be only registered from the moment when Hamas was set. They don’t recognize the PLO, for example. Regardless of one’s reservations against the PLO, and the fact that it became inefficient, and that its Executive Committee members represent, in some cases, only a few dozen people who are attached to them by personal interest, nobody wants to eliminate that organization, which, as a symbol, has represented the Palestinian people over decades.
Furthermore, that political symbol had its accomplishments, which nobody dares to deny. The least to be said in this regard, is that the PLO could preserve the Palestinian cause as a political national cause, rather than a humanitarian cause, which magnetized charity, sympathy and humanitarian food and clothing support for displaced Palestinians.
The Hamas movement, which had raised very good-sounding declarations about fighting corruption and reform, wasn’t the same Hamas which ascended to power, but the allegation that they didn’t want sovereignty and hated authority hasn’t been proved in reality. On the other hand, the allegation that Fatah was singularly responsible for the whole crisis, with the truth and precision it has, is not absolutely true and precise either. In fact, Fatah is part of the crisis, but not all of it.
The advocating by Hamas of mottos they couldn’t adhere to, as well as their attempts to load the Palestinian people with more than their capacity, participated in the culmination of the problem; when thousands of public sector employees asked for their salaries, which are a legitimate right, they were accused of treason. That was perceived by the average Palestinians as an oppressive and undemocratic approach by the leaders of Hamas.
The inclination by this Palestinian government to accuse a wide sector of the Palestinian people of treason for participating in rallies, demonstrations and strikes in protest, calling for their salaries to be paid, can only mean that this government does not wish to tolerate the other point of view, or the so-called "opposition".
In addition, hiding behind mottos of steadfastness and resistance, through "pressing the wound"; "tightening one’s belt" and eating mallow, thyme and arum will not provide one tablet of medicine, nor can it buy milk for a hungry Palestinian child.
The failure to reach a solution to the current problem and the disagreement over the "unity" government could not be blamed on Fatah alone. We can’t deal with the Fatah leaders, despite their reprehensible points and shortcomings we attribute to them, as "devils", as much as we abstain from dealing with the Hamas gentlemen as "angels", who descended from heavens and who enjoy absolute purity. They can not be seen as the heirs of God on Earth.
It is in the same vein that we put the blame on the Fatah "devils" that we burden the same blame onto the shoulders of the Hamas "angels" for this delay and stalling of the unity government, regardless of its name, whether it be called a "technocrat government", or "professional" or "unity" or "emergency" or "relief". The Palestinian people don’t have to take what Hamas says as the absolute truth, especially if we recall the black day when 19 Palestinians fell during a Hamas show in Gaza. At that time, they swore that the massacre resulted from an Israeli rocket, an allegation which hadn’t stood long, when it was revealed that somebody else, or, for the sake of accuracy, something else.
The siege on the Palestinian people, we agree, is a conspiracy between the Americans, the Israelis, and many of the Arab regimes, with the added possibility of Palestinian hands also been involved in that siege. This siege adds to the suffering and complicates the problem even more. What is the way out? Should the Palestinians become groups of gangs and burglars? Don’t the gentlemen of Hamas agree to the proverb, "hunger is atheist"? Don’t they think that this hunger paves the way to several Palestinians to fall victims of Israeli intelligence? Don’t they think hunger could drag many into inappropriate and dirty approaches to earn their living?
The gentlemen in Hamas should tell the Palestinians what to do, and the gentlemen in Fatah have to say, once and for all, what they are up to. This endless cycle of exchanging accusations is useless. The issue must be tackled with a higher spirit of responsibility, since nobody any more buys the allegation that disagreement between the two movements is over principles. Everybody now knows that the major disagreement derives from personal interests, away from the claimed "unchangeable principles".