Much ink has been spilled over the last several weeks over questions about the Muslim Brotherhood. How powerful is it? How extreme is it? How dangerous is the group? Are they sponsors of terrorism?
No doubt now that Mubarak has relinquished power these questions will continue to be debated. And let’s be clear, these are vitally important questions for Egypt, for the U.S. for Israel and for the entire Middle East.
But, the things being asked about Egypt’s Muslim Brotherhood must be asked about Fatah as well. They should have been asked a long time ago.
Fatah is the largest component of the PLO. It was led by Yasser Arafat until his death in 2004. It won 62% of the votes in the 2005 Palestinian National Authority elections. It has socialist orientation and has Observer Party status in the Socialist International. Fatah is the Palestinian entity that the U.S. State Department groomed for leadership of the Arabs in Judea and Samaria (the West Bank) beginning in 1988 when Arafat supposedly renounced terrorism.
We are expected to believe that Fatah is different. We are told to believe that the PLO has changed. There are just a few problems with that — the big one being that they really have not changed.
The Palestine National Covenant continues to call for the destruction of Israel and Zionism.
Perhaps there are authentic Palestinian moderates somewhere out there, but they have yet to show themselves.
When Mubarak’s predecessor Sadat forged ahead and negotiated with Israel, the Fatah struggled to find a way to stop the negotiations.
They chose violence. Violence against non-military Israeli targets and violence and Egyptian government targets.
Fatah sent a unit of its terrorists into the heart of Israel. On a quiet coastal road north of Tel Aviv they hijacked a bus full of civilians. On that terrible day of violence and terror 38 were murdered. Thirteen were children; 77 were injured. The first victim was an American citizen named Gail Rubin.
Dalal Mughrabi, the female leader of the terrorists, shot Rubin in the head at point blank range with an AK-47. Rubin was a nature photographer from New York and she was taking pictures on the beach when the PLO found her. She was 39 years old.
Mughrabi did not survive the attack.
That was March 11, 1978. It was the deadliest attack against civilians in Israel’s history up to that time. More deadly than the 1972 attack on Israeli athletes during the Munich Olympics and more devastating than the massacre of the children at Ma’alot.
In the intervening decades, the attack was seldom mentioned in the world media.
But Fatah never forgot it. They never forgot their hero Dalal. They turned her into a martyr.
In 2010 the Palestinian Authority government named a town square in El Bireh after this murderer. In Jericho a summer program for students was named for her. Just last week the U.N. was exposed for supporting Fatah’s efforts to honor Mughrabi.
But no matter what Fatah does Israel and the U.S. seek to keep them at the center of Arab-Israeli politics.
Of course Fatah is very different than Hamas. Their worldviews are poles apart.
But that does not mean they don’t share many common goals. And the destruction of Israel is the most important one of those goals. The Muslim Brotherhood shares that goal as well.
The Muslim Brotherhood supported the growth of the PLO. They were behind the assassination of Sadat. They have played a role in the fall of Mubarak.
The Muslim Brotherhood may yet decide to imitate Fatah and take on the tokens of moderation. If they do the denizens of Foggy Bottom will no doubt believe them.
This State Department game (that too many successive Israel governments have participated in) of pretending that Fatah will ever be a peace partner must end. Fatah remains what it has always been, a violent criminal organization with a Nazi-like hatred for Jews at its core.
The United States undertook a policy of de-Nazification in Europe after World War II to insure that its victory would not be in vain. It is a policy that worked spectacularly well. It is past time for the de-Fatahification work to begin.