NYT perfumes Fatah's belligerent political convention

Leo Rennert
In its Aug. 11 edition, the New York Times runs an article by Jerusalem correspondent Isabel Kershner that falls far short of conveying the complete, hard-eged, anti-Israel, belligerent tone and positions of delegates at the "moderate" Fatah party convention in Bethlehem ("Fatah Turns to Nation Building, Though It Doesn't Discard the Rifle" page A8).

Kershner quotes high up in her story Israel's "hawkish" foreign minister, Avigdor Lieberman, as declaring that the Fatah convention, because of its "radical and uncompromising positions," effectively buried any possibility of a peace deal in the coming years.  She also reports that the Israeli government views the convention as an "almost unmitigated disaster."

But reading her article, one is left wondering why top Israeli officials would take such a dour view.  Evidently, they have a better grasp of what really took place at the convention that Kershner who either downplays or overlooks all those "radical and uncompromising" positions taken by Fatah at its Bethlehem conclave.

Let's start right at the top where the headline, referring to the convention's decision to retain terrorism as an option, sums it up euphemistically and ever so gently as an indication that Fatah "Doesn't Discard the Rifle."  Ditto in the lead paragraph where she mentions that the convention sent a message "both peaceful and militant." 

Nowhere does Kershner cut to the semantic chase and make clear that Fatah clings to terrorism -- the mass murder of innocent civilians -- as one strategy in what she delicately terms its "national liberation movement and its legitimate right of resistance in all its forms."

Lieberman, in her view, is "hawkish" but Fatah is cleansed of even any hint of terrorism -- past or future.  No mention that the convention endorsed Al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigades as the "military wing" of Fatah -- a clear indication that Fatah's chief, Mahmoud Abbas, has yet to dismantle his terrorist organization, as he is required to do under the U.S.-drafted "road map."  No mention that Al-Aqsa is credited with killing hundreds of innocent people and vies with Hamas as the Palestinians' top terrorist organization.  In fact, there's no whisper in this article that Fatah has a blood-soaked past  and is willing to spill lots more blood in pursuit of its political agenda.  It's not only keeping the rifle.  It's willing, able and ready to use it.

No mention, either, in terms of conveying the real sentiment among convention delegates, that Khaled Abu-Arba, who took part in the worst terrorist attack against Israel -- an attack that killed 37 civilians, including 12 children -- was introduced to the delegates as a great hero amid rapturous applause.  No mention that the leader of this attack, Dalal Mughrabi, was glorified as a great "martyr" -- with former Palestinian prime minister and chief peace negotiator Ahmed Qurei telling delegates that all delegates are "sisters of Dalal."

While Fatah, in Kershner's super-mild words, is "reluctant to fully abandon the gun," she notes that the convention endorsed negotiations for a two-state solution based on new terms -- that Israel first must cease all settlement construction, agree to a defined end result and a limited time frame.  She doesn't mention that the delegates also endorsed another condition -- the release by Israel of all convicted terrorists now serving jail terms.  In other words, Israel first must release all these killers, and then we'll negotiate.

And so we come to Kershner's treatment of the convention's position on Jerusalem, which the delegates want as a Palestinian capital. Treading softly again, Kershner said the convention "did not specify what land or parts of Jerusalem were to be liberated," but immediately reassures Times readers that delegates interpreted this plank as referring only to East Jerusalem.  Conveniently omitted from her article is any mention that lots of delegates made clear that "Jerusalem" as the would-be Palestinian capital in Fatah's platform means both East and West Jerusalem.

If truth be told, which is sadly lacking in this article, Times coverage consistently and persistently substitutes "East Jerusalem" when reporting what  Palestinians demand for their future capital, even when Palestinian leaders don't use the "East" qualifier.

Kershner acknowledges that the convention  also demanded a "right of return" for Palestinian refugees from the 1948 war and their descendants, but fails to point out that this is a non-starter for Israel and for any peace deal because it would give millions of Palestinians the right to flood into Israel and demographically destroy Israel as a Jewish state.  And, while the convention was at it, delegates rejected any possible prospect of recognizing Israel as a Jewish state.

While ignoring the convention's harsh stands against Israel, Kershner prefers to quote delegates as saying that the"militant overtones" (another Orwellian euphemism!) at the convention are quite "natural, reflecting respect for Fatah's revolutinary years."

As for the intra-party struggle between Fatah's old guard and younger activists, Kershner sympathizes with the latter, describing them as "reformist....new blood."  What she doesn't tell Times readers is that many of these younger leaders are even more hard-line and wedded to terrorism than Fatah's old corrupt leaders.  No mention that their hero and putative successor to Abbas is Marwan Barghouti, a quintuple terrorist plotter serving five life terms for five murderrous attacks on Israelis -- someone who boasts that he lit the fuse of the second intifada in 2000 with Arafat's blessing and insists on confronting Israel with similar tactics if all Palestinian demands are not met.

Kershner would rather divert her eyes from all these dark sides of the Fatah convention and nurture the illusion that this was a quasi-American-like convention with delegates, socializing, cutting political deals -- all with a "feeling of cheer" as they fill every hotel room in Bethlehem.

In that vein, she sums up the convention thusly -- and I' not making this up:

"It was as if Christmas had come early in Bethlehem."

In its Aug. 11 edition, the New York Times runs an article by Jerusalem correspondent Isabel Kershner that falls far short of conveying the complete, hard-eged, anti-Israel, belligerent tone and positions of delegates at the "moderate" Fatah party convention in Bethlehem ("Fatah Turns to Nation Building, Though It Doesn't Discard the Rifle" page A8).

Kershner quotes high up in her story Israel's "hawkish" foreign minister, Avigdor Lieberman, as declaring that the Fatah convention, because of its "radical and uncompromising positions," effectively buried any possibility of a peace deal in the coming years.  She also reports that the Israeli government views the convention as an "almost unmitigated disaster."

But reading her article, one is left wondering why top Israeli officials would take such a dour view.  Evidently, they have a better grasp of what really took place at the convention that Kershner who either downplays or overlooks all those "radical and uncompromising" positions taken by Fatah at its Bethlehem conclave.

Let's start right at the top where the headline, referring to the convention's decision to retain terrorism as an option, sums it up euphemistically and ever so gently as an indication that Fatah "Doesn't Discard the Rifle."  Ditto in the lead paragraph where she mentions that the convention sent a message "both peaceful and militant." 

Nowhere does Kershner cut to the semantic chase and make clear that Fatah clings to terrorism -- the mass murder of innocent civilians -- as one strategy in what she delicately terms its "national liberation movement and its legitimate right of resistance in all its forms."

Lieberman, in her view, is "hawkish" but Fatah is cleansed of even any hint of terrorism -- past or future.  No mention that the convention endorsed Al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigades as the "military wing" of Fatah -- a clear indication that Fatah's chief, Mahmoud Abbas, has yet to dismantle his terrorist organization, as he is required to do under the U.S.-drafted "road map."  No mention that Al-Aqsa is credited with killing hundreds of innocent people and vies with Hamas as the Palestinians' top terrorist organization.  In fact, there's no whisper in this article that Fatah has a blood-soaked past  and is willing to spill lots more blood in pursuit of its political agenda.  It's not only keeping the rifle.  It's willing, able and ready to use it.

No mention, either, in terms of conveying the real sentiment among convention delegates, that Khaled Abu-Arba, who took part in the worst terrorist attack against Israel -- an attack that killed 37 civilians, including 12 children -- was introduced to the delegates as a great hero amid rapturous applause.  No mention that the leader of this attack, Dalal Mughrabi, was glorified as a great "martyr" -- with former Palestinian prime minister and chief peace negotiator Ahmed Qurei telling delegates that all delegates are "sisters of Dalal."

While Fatah, in Kershner's super-mild words, is "reluctant to fully abandon the gun," she notes that the convention endorsed negotiations for a two-state solution based on new terms -- that Israel first must cease all settlement construction, agree to a defined end result and a limited time frame.  She doesn't mention that the delegates also endorsed another condition -- the release by Israel of all convicted terrorists now serving jail terms.  In other words, Israel first must release all these killers, and then we'll negotiate.

And so we come to Kershner's treatment of the convention's position on Jerusalem, which the delegates want as a Palestinian capital. Treading softly again, Kershner said the convention "did not specify what land or parts of Jerusalem were to be liberated," but immediately reassures Times readers that delegates interpreted this plank as referring only to East Jerusalem.  Conveniently omitted from her article is any mention that lots of delegates made clear that "Jerusalem" as the would-be Palestinian capital in Fatah's platform means both East and West Jerusalem.

If truth be told, which is sadly lacking in this article, Times coverage consistently and persistently substitutes "East Jerusalem" when reporting what  Palestinians demand for their future capital, even when Palestinian leaders don't use the "East" qualifier.

Kershner acknowledges that the convention  also demanded a "right of return" for Palestinian refugees from the 1948 war and their descendants, but fails to point out that this is a non-starter for Israel and for any peace deal because it would give millions of Palestinians the right to flood into Israel and demographically destroy Israel as a Jewish state.  And, while the convention was at it, delegates rejected any possible prospect of recognizing Israel as a Jewish state.

While ignoring the convention's harsh stands against Israel, Kershner prefers to quote delegates as saying that the"militant overtones" (another Orwellian euphemism!) at the convention are quite "natural, reflecting respect for Fatah's revolutinary years."

As for the intra-party struggle between Fatah's old guard and younger activists, Kershner sympathizes with the latter, describing them as "reformist....new blood."  What she doesn't tell Times readers is that many of these younger leaders are even more hard-line and wedded to terrorism than Fatah's old corrupt leaders.  No mention that their hero and putative successor to Abbas is Marwan Barghouti, a quintuple terrorist plotter serving five life terms for five murderrous attacks on Israelis -- someone who boasts that he lit the fuse of the second intifada in 2000 with Arafat's blessing and insists on confronting Israel with similar tactics if all Palestinian demands are not met.

Kershner would rather divert her eyes from all these dark sides of the Fatah convention and nurture the illusion that this was a quasi-American-like convention with delegates, socializing, cutting political deals -- all with a "feeling of cheer" as they fill every hotel room in Bethlehem.

In that vein, she sums up the convention thusly -- and I' not making this up:

"It was as if Christmas had come early in Bethlehem."