Monday, July 23, 2007

Fisking a New York Times Article

The original article can be found here.

Now for my Fisking...

Fatah Militants Lay Down Arms to Bolster Abbas

See, the goal is to bolster Abbas, not peace with Israel

NABLUS, West Bank, July 19 — Scores of West Bank Palestinian militants taken off Israel's wanted list as a gesture to President Mahmoud Abbas are handing in weapons and signing pledges to cease violence against Israel, saying they want to give Mr. Abbas a chance to consolidate his rule here.

The goal is again to have Abbas consolidate his rule, NOT PEACE.

Interviews and encounters with more than a dozen members of the gun-toting, notoriously unruly Al Aksa Martyrs Brigades, associated with Mr. Abbas's Fatah faction, indicate that at least in the West Bank they are taking an open-ended timeout.

Open-ended time out = hudna. They are not even pretending it is more.

"Everything must come to an end," said Mahdi Maraka, an Aksa Brigades leader from Al Ein refugee camp here in Nablus, a traditional hotbed of Fatah militancy in the northern West Bank. "There are two tracks, the political and the military. Now is the time for the political stage."

Note: he said "NOW is the time for the political." That necessarily implies that in the future it will be time for the military.)

Nasr Kharaz, 31, an armed militant and spokesman for the Brigades in the West Bank, said, "The military wing of Fatah has stopped armed resistance at this stage."

Note: he said "At this stage."

The Aksa Brigades, which first appeared in 2000, was one of the driving forces of the second Palestinian intifada. It was built by Fatah's grass-roots leadership with the backing of Yasir Arafat as a nationalist force to rival the Islamic militants of Hamas in the armed struggle against Israel.

At the height of the intifada, the brigades — thought to number in the hundreds — carried out scores of shooting attacks on Israeli civilian vehicles and moved on to suicide bombings inside Israel.

But in the occupied West Bank (RT: Note how casually the NYT throws in 'occupied West Bank'...priceless!) in recent years, they have mostly confined themselves to engaging Israeli soldiers who have come looking for them on their turf. (RT: This is a lie. An al aqsa fighter hit Eilat only a few months ago.) Associates of one of the Brigades' chief architects, the jailed but influential Marwan Barghouti, say even they support the amnesty. In Gaza, by contrast, a more aggressive spirit of armed resistance lives on. There, men affiliated with the Aksa Brigades are still firing rockets at Israel.

In the West Bank, Hamas has been adhering to a unilateral ceasefire for its own reasons, its militants underground. All the recent suicide bombings in Israel have been carried out by the extremist group Islamic Jihad.

NOTE: Hamas is the same as Fatah in the West Bank, and Fatah is the same as Hamas in Gaza)

For both Israel and the Aksa Brigades in the West Bank, the emerging cease-fire is an experiment. The disarmed gunmen say they know exactly where their weapons are and who is safeguarding them. (RT: That is rich!) And Israel could always draw up a new wanted list.

But some of the Aksa militants say that the seven years of this intifada have achieved nothing, (RT: Shocka, are they actually non-delusional???) and all of those interviewed said they want to give Mahmoud Abbas, the Palestinian president and leader of the embattled Fatah faction, a chance to negotiate an independent Palestinian state.

"We didn't want to be obstacles in the way of the national project," said Ibrahim Sahli, a senior Aksa commander for the northern West Bank better known by his nom de guerre, Abu Jabal, or father of the mountain.

The fatigue of war colors some of the men's conversations. Inside Preventive Security headquarters in Bethlehem, an Aksa member named Khalil Abayat, 45, grinned widely, his face deeply tanned. He said he was five years on the run, "moving from one mountain to another, one cave to another," (RT: I thought caves were like the Four Seasons to them?) sheltering in abandoned houses, with only fleeting visits home to his wife and 12 children.

His brother and cousin were killed by Israeli forces and two of his sons are in Israeli jails. Asked if he is retiring from the resistance, he said: "Enough. I'm exhausted. I just want to rest." (RT: Rest for now, anyway)

In another room in the Preventive Security compound in Bethlehem, Amjad Khalawi, 35, told how he had let his hair grow to his waist since, as he put it, he "disappeared" in 2002. "I didn't see anybody and nobody saw me," he said. He looks forward to marrying the fiancée he has seen only once in those five years.

But for others, the politics are dominant. They want to aid Fatah, which is closing ranks, in its fight against Hamas, which violently conquered Gaza in mid-June. (RT: Yup, the goal is to fight Hamas...for now.)

After the takeover, Mr. Maraka, Abu Jabal and their foot soldiers took revenge in Nablus, burning and looting dozens of offices and institutions affiliated with Hamas. A month ago, when Mr. Maraka, 30, was interviewed in downtown Nablus, where he appeared with an M-16 machine gun and some armed cohorts in ski masks, he said that the moment Mr. Abbas "provides us with security from the Israelis, we won't need these weapons."

Last Sunday, with Israel seeking ways to bolster Mr. Abbas as a brake on Hamas, Israeli and Palestinian security officials announced that they had agreed on a list of 178 Aksa Brigades members to be offered immunity for past deeds; Mr. Maraka, Abu Jabal and most of their cell members were on it. Security officials would not say what any of the individuals on the list were wanted for, beyond saying that they had all been involved in "security-related activity against Israel."

Now we get to the truth. These men did not unilaterally approach Israel. Rather, Israel approached them, saying they will not go after these fights in exchange for a hudna, in their hopes to fight Hamas. Because the goal of Abbas AT PRESENT is to consolidate power against Hamas, this was agreed upon. In exchange, Israel does not go after the hardcore thugs. Handing in weapons is a joke, as one of them admit that he knows where his weapons stash is, but is not going to it now, because he is 'tired' and seeks to take a nap.

The gunmen signed a pledge (RT: Palestinian pledges have aaaaaaaalways been adhered to!) to give up all anti-Israeli activity, handed in their weapons and agreed to remain inside local Palestinian Authority Intelligence or Preventive Security compounds for a week and in their home cities for the next three months. (RT: Wow, they will be homebound for a week! That really shows 'em, huh?) They say they are now relying on Mr. Abbas and the authority for protection from Hamas.

If Israel is satisfied that the former fighters are committed to their pledge, they will be able to leave their fugitive lives behind and become salaried employees of the official security services from which most of them originally sprung. (RT: Oh right, and then when they go back to killing Jews, it will be an international incident if Israel dare attack these storied 'politicians.')

The deal has proved so popular that there is already talk of another list, and Aksa militants seem ready to line up for it. "I don't know anyone who doesn't want to be on it," Mr. Maraka said, speaking in a second interview on Thursday in his temporary billet: a former prison cell now equipped with a TV set, a fridge and a whirring fan, at the authority's intelligence headquarters in Nablus. Abu Jabal, a portly figure, speaking under a vine outside his home in Al Ein, said he was on a brief "vacation" from the Preventive Security headquarters in the city, where he was spending the week.

Both men were relaxed and joking, the weapons that had so long defined them conspicuously absent.

Ahmed Balboul, reputedly one of the most wanted men in Bethlehem, was not on the first list, but hopes to be on the next. Meeting openly in Manger Square, he came unarmed. "I could hand over five rifles for the cameras and buy another 10," he said. "Our intentions are more important than the rifles, and our intentions are turned toward negotiation." (RT: Wow! I had no idea it was so easy to get guns in the West Bank?! Who would have thunk it?)

Naturally, there is deep skepticism about how long any lull in the violence can last. (RT: A lull only means less attempts and/or successes at Jew killing than usual, not the lack of such activities.)

"In Palestinian history there are no beginnings and no ends," said Mahdi Abdul Hadi, director of Passia, a Palestinian research institute. "There are unfolding chapters, like waves in the sea." The Aksa men are swimming with the tide, he said, "but they don't know where it will take them." (RT: Again, honesty! Wow!)

Like the some other groups in the first intifada — the Black Panthers and the Fatah Hawks — and Fatah's military wing, Al Asifa (The Storm) before them, Al Aksa Brigades may yet reappear, or be reincarnated under different name. (RT: Nooooo, you don't say???)

Much will now depend on Israel's willingness to adhere to the cease-fire with Fatah and engage in a serious peace effort toward the establishment of a Palestinian state, many Palestinians say. (RT: That is right, if anything happens, it will be on Israel's head! When in doubt, know that the Zionazis are to blame!)

"Deactivating terrorists is a step," said Miri Eisin, spokeswoman for Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert. "Let's see if it works, and if it does, we can move forward."

Whatever happens, said Qadura Fares, a Fatah politician in Ramallah and an associate of the jailed Mr. Barghouti, "there will never be a vacuum."

"It will be filled," he said, "with either dialogue and peace, or another round of confrontation."

Mr. Maraka, for one, is making sure that the next generation is prepared to continue the struggle if need be. At the intelligence headquarters in Nablus, he proudly showed video clips on his cellphone of his sons, ages 10 and 8, firing an Israeli Galil assault rifle and an M-16 on a barren mountainside. (RT: Such great parenting. I am at a loss over why he is not featured in 'Parenting Today.' He is just a paragon of good fatherly love. Please note that he is teaching Jew killing to his little kids using Israeli and American-made weapons, and earlielr pledged to not be violent. So touching.)

I hope you all enjoyed that good Fisking. The New York Times made it seem as if somehow Fatah is this peaceful and moderate organization... you look a little closer and realize how far from the truth that is.


Michael said...

RT, that was an excellent read.

Red Tulips said...


Glad you enjoyed! I made it after my dad claimed this article was 'proof' that Fatah now is committed to 'peace.'

Michael said...

Sounds like your dad and my mom (she believe wholeheartedly in Al Gore's "carbon credit purchases") should get together. Apparently, they're neighbors in La-La Land...