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Friday, June 27, 2008

The enemy of my enemy is still my enemy

A small but illuminating brouhaha erupted over the past two days.

Fatah's Al Aqsa Brigades claimed responsibility for yesterday's rocket attack, but then another statement was released denying those claims and saying that the person who made them, Abu Qusay, were wrong and he was banned from the Brigades.

Then this morning the Brigades reclaimed responsibility and denied the denial.

Beyond the amusement at watching bumbling terrorists try to figure out how to best manage their PR, some of Al-Aqsa's statements are worth examining. Al Aqsa has been criticizing Hamas for the truce, saying that it should have included the West Bank (an indeed they claimed that their rocket attacks have been in retaliation for Israeli raids in the WB.) Even so, in response to an appeal by Mahmoud Abbas, Al Aqsa now say they will respect the "calm."

Fatah and Hamas can't stand each other. This does not in any way imply that one of them hates Israel any less. When it is convenient, Fatah will take an even harder line than Hamas against Israel, even though Western journalists are loathe to mention it. Similarly, any conciliatory gestures towards Israel are also based on convenience, nothing else. And when that "peaceful" Holocaust-denying Fatah leader wants to exercise authority over this "rogue" organization, he can - which means that when they do terror attacks, they have his tacit agreement.

It is a major mistake to think that one of these competing organizations is any more peaceful than the other. One could credibly argue that Hamas' current "calm," as flawed as it is, is more effective than anything Fatah ever accomplished since 2000. The fact that Fatah and Hamas compete with each other has essentially no bearing on whether one or the other is more pro-Israel - that term is completely foreign to both organizations, and both still share the goal of eradicating Israel even if their tactics differ.