In FrontPage this morning I discuss the two main fronts of the jihad against Israel:
George Wallace famously said long ago that there wasn’t a dime’s worth of difference between the Republican and Democratic parties, and that is even more true of Fatah and Hamas. Now that Hamas and Fatah have signed a reconciliation agreement, the entire State Department strategy for dealing with the Palestinians is in ruins — not that anyone has noticed.
For years, the Bush administration and then the Obama administration have worked from the premise that Fatah and its Palestinian Authority governments were the “moderates” that merited backing against the “extremists” of Hamas. It was a myopic, simplistic and naÃ¯ve analysis from the beginning, and now it has been definitively exposed as such.
In reality, both groups share the same Islamic outlook towards Israel that makes peaceful coexistence with the Jewish State impossible. Both believe that no state ruled by non-Muslims on what they consider Muslim land has any legitimacy; there are no theological differences between them, but only relatively minor differences of strategy and of strictness in their observance of Islamic law that mainly arise from Fatah’s origins in Sixties-era socialism as opposed to Hamas”s birth as an explicitly Islamic movement. Fatah is also more inclined to be patient, while Hamas tends to be significantly less so. Fatah is willing to make deals with the Infidels as stepping stones to greater progress toward the ultimate goal; Hamas tends to see such deals as trimming, and prefers not to compromise even temporarily.
Thus the Hamas Charter, which was promulgated in 1988, quotes Hassan al-Banna, founder of the Muslim Brotherhood, saying that “Israel will exist and will continue to exist until Islam will obliterate it, just as it obliterated others before it.” The PLO”s Palestine National Charter is twenty years older. It doesn’t mention Islam at all, but it nonetheless enunciates the same goal in different language: “The liberation of Palestine, from an Arab viewpoint, is a national (qawmi) duty and it attempts to repel the Zionist and imperialist aggression against the Arab homeland, and aims at the elimination of Zionism in Palestine.” This language was never revised even after the PLO recognized Israel in 1993.
The PLO Charter’s talk of “imperialist aggression” is redolent of the socialist milieu in which the PLO/Fatah was born. Over the years, however, this gave way to a steadily more Islamic perspective. Yasir Arafat began his career railing about imperialism and ended it calling for jihad. This trajectory reflected the resurgence of Islam as a political force; Saddam Hussein and other Arab leaders followed the same course over the same decades. Thus, while Hamas, which is an acronym for the Islamic Resistance Movement, was founded in the 1980s by Muslims who believed that the PLO was giving short shrift to the Islamic aspect of the Arab war against Israel, over the years, the distinctions between the two groups have become increasingly blurred….