Tuesday, March 14, 2006

Fatah and Hamas: What Gets Lost in Translation

According to Yahoo, the US is standing firm on its decision to isolate Hamas:
Washington plans to curtail contacts with President Mahmoud Abbas's Fatah faction and other parties if they join a Palestinian government led by the militant group Hamas, Western diplomatic sources said on Monday.
If only.

For instance, lets take some excerpts from the article and try to translate it to see what is really being said.
Fatah has so far said it has no intention of joining the new government, which the law states must be formed by the end of the month, unless Hamas, whose charter calls for Israel's destruction, changes its political program. [emphasis added]
Translation: Don't rock the boat! Fatah wishes Hamas would just hush up about wanting to destroy Israel. After all, Fatah wants the exact same thing. Just take a look at their website, where according to the Fateh Constitution in Chapter I, its goals include:
Article (12) Complete liberation of Palestine, and eradication of Zionist economic, political, military and cultural existence.

Article (13) Establishing an independent democratic state with complete sovereignty on all Palestinian lands, and Jerusalem is its capital city, and protecting the citizens' legal and equal rights without any racial or religious discrimination.
Now if only Hamas wouldn't be so loud about it, the US and Europe would be demanding that Israel support the new Hamas government as well.

Let's try another one:
Diplomatic sources said U.S. restrictions on contacts and assistance to Hamas would apply to members of Fatah and other parties if they joined a government under the militant group.
Translation: the US will not penalize Fatah for associating with a terrorist organization unless they make it really, really, REALLY obvious.

The Al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigade is listed on the Current List of Designated Foreign Terrorist Organizations (Only cached copy available. Also see this list of Foreign Terrorist Organizations hat tip: TT)

Wikipedia has a piece on the relationship between Al-Aqsa and Fatah and notes that:

o In 1993 the BBC revealed that payments to Al-Aksa came from the PA

o In June 2004 then Palestinian Prime Minister Ahmed Qurei openly stated:
"We have clearly declared that the Aksa Martyrs Brigades are part of Fatah. We are committed to them and Fatah bears full responsibility for the group."
o In July 2004, Ahmed Qurei, Prime Minister of the Palestinian Authority stated:
"The Al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigades, military wing of the Fatah movement will not be dissolved and Fatah will never relinquish its military wing."
Has Fatah ever disavowed the Al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigade? But as long as they don't make a big deal of it...

Here are some easy ones:
If Fatah joins as an organization, it would fall into the same category," said a diplomatic source involved in U.S. deliberations. "Of course, if Hamas and other government members accept the Quartet principles, that changes the situation."
Translation: Just say you accept the Roadmap and we can continue with business as usual.
Israel says that peace talks, stalled for almost a year by violence, cannot resume unless Abbas dismantles militant groups and that it will not negotiate with a government led by Hamas or any group bent on destroying the Jewish state.
Translation: Israel insists on Abbas following the Roadmap--or at least says it does.

For extra credit, can you translate this one?:
Bringing Fatah, which is committed to seeking a negotiated peace with Israel, into the new government could help Hamas avoid political turmoil at home and undercut U.S. and Israeli efforts to isolate the group internationally.[emphasis added]
Actually, that is a trick question. Don't confuse translation with a complete fabrication.

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