Still in with the old

Barry Rubin has read the new Fatah charter. The document was originally linked to at the Secrecy news blog. Secrecy News observes:

But what is perhaps most significant is what is not in the document.  The original Fatah charter (or constitution) from the 1960s embraced “the world-wide struggle against Zionism,” denied Jewish historical or religious ties to the land, and called for the “eradication of Zionist economic, political, military and cultural existence.”  None of that language is carried over into the new charter, which manages not to mention Israel, Zionism, or Jews at all.

But as Barry Rubin points that’s not necessarily so significant.

Now here’s an important lesson for you. When a radical group is portrayed as moderate based on some position it supposedly has taken or some statement made there has to be a catch somewhere. Here’s the tip-off in this case, a single sentence in the new charter:

“This internal charter has been adopted within the framework of adherence to the provisions of the Basic Charter.”

In other words, every detail of the original charter still holds; nothing is repealed, no error admitted, no explicit change of course accepted.

There is a good reason that there’s no discussion of Israel, Zionism or Jews in this new charter, as it appears to be a guide, in excruciating detail, how to join and remain a member in good standing of Fatah and its various committees and sub-groups. It is not a document that explicitly expresses a political view, though as Barry Rubin writes, one may be inferred.

What is intriguing, however, is that there is a detailed discussion of transgressions of Fatah rules and punishments for doing so. Clearly, if members do anything the leaders don’t like they are going to face severe penalties. Thus it is significant that no Fatah member has been ever disciplined for committing acts of terrorism against Israeli civilians or for making the most extremist statements. Indeed, it isn’t even clear that Fatah has the determination or ability to punish members for collaborating with Hamas against their own leaders.

This document in no way shows any moderation on the part of Fatah and there’s plenty of evidence the other way including last summer’s Fatah elections and Mahmoud Abbas’s anniversary celebration.

BTW, look at the different ways Arab News and the JTA report on this document.

First Arab News.

At its first congress in 20 years, Fatah stressed its commitment to a negotiated peace with Israel. But delegates stopped short of renouncing violence.

“Fatah stresses its commitment to the pursuit of a comprehensive peace but reiterates the Palestinian people’s right to resistance to occupation in all its forms in line with international law,” the new charter said.

Now the JTA.

U.S. Jewish groups, spurred by the Zionist Organization of America, have long called for Fatah, the party of the more moderate leadership of the Palestinian Authority, to renounce the negationist language of earlier charters. The calls have been repeated in a number of congressional resolutions in recent years.

Such language is absent from the new charter, although it maintains a militant tone in its preamble,which says, “You must know that our enemy is strong and the battle is ferocious and long.”

There is no renunciation of the earlier language, and the preamble says the new charter “has been adopted within the framework of adherence to the provisions” of the 1989 charter.

Nonetheless, missing entirely from the charter is the reported language of the 1966 version that called for Israel’s destruction and in the 1989 version that implied Israel’s replacement, albeit through peaceful means.

JTA, then subscribes to all the incorrect conventional wisdom about Fatah and even ascribes to it a change in ideology that has never occurred. Arab News may originate in the sands of Saudi Arabia, but it is the reporter for the JTA who has his head in the sands.

UPDATE: Barry Rubin piles on the JTA.

Crossposted on Soccer Dad.

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I'm a government bureaucrat with delusions of literacy.
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One Response to Still in with the old

  1. Michael Lonie says:

    It’s generous of you to say that the JTA reporter had his head in the sands, rather than somewhere else.

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