Why is this question about Fatah even important? We’ve been hearing a lot in the news lately about Fatah and/or Mahmoud Abbas, including 1) the on-again/off-again unification of Fatah and Hamas, 2) the ongoing efforts at the United Nations to create a Palestinian State, and 3) recent announcements that the Palestinians intend to join the International Criminal Court (ICC).
Moderate or not, the influence of Fatah vis-à-vis Israel will be dramatic in 2015 and beyond. Clearly, this is important not only for the future stability of Israel, the “Two-State Solution” and the entire Middle East, but for American (and the West) as well.
More specifically, why is it so important for America and the West to understand the long- and short-term strategy and tactics of Fatah? Because on March 21, 2013, President Obama stated, “Of course, Israel cannot be expected to negotiate with anyone who is dedicated to its destruction. But while I know you have had differences with the [Fatah-controlled] Palestinian Authority, I believe that you do have a true partner in President Abbas.”
President Obama made a similar statement on March 17, 2014, when he said, “I have to commend President Abbas. He has been somebody who has consistently renounced violence, has consistently sought a diplomatic and peaceful solution that allows for two states, side by side, in peace and security; a state that allows for the dignity and sovereignty of the Palestinian people and a state that allows for Israelis to feel secure and at peace with their neighbors.”
So, for the next couple of years, at least, it appears that the U.S. is committed to a partnership with Fatah and/or Mahmoud Abbas, as they continue playing an integral role in the Israeli-Palestinian peace process and as they continue to exert influence on U.S. foreign policy and diplomatic activity in the Middle East region.
Looking a little further ahead, it appears that Fatah is adopting a new tactic, i.e., a calibrated effort to diminish the role America plays in the peace process, while pushing ahead with the “Statehood-Through-International-Recognition” approach. The fact that at least 135 countries now recognize the state of Palestine makes this a reasonable option for the Palestinians.
It is also important to consider that 2015 is being celebrated as Fatah’s 50th anniversary. If the first postings on the Fatah and/or PA official websites provide any indication, we will see a steady stream of violent anti-Israel propaganda in 2015 (see several examples below, under the heading “Examples of Fatah Posters”).
Why is 2015 being celebrated as Fatah’s 50th anniversary? As described in more detail just below, Fatah was actually founded sometime between 1957 and 1959, but on Jan. 1, 1965, Fatah carried out its first attack inside the borders of Israel. In a failed attempt to bomb the National Water Carrier near the Galilee city of Beit Shean, one Fatah member was killed and a second was arrested.
On the same day as the attack near Beit Shean, Fatah also announced the formation of a new military wing, called the Al-Asifah Forces (The Storm), in Military Communiqué No. 1. As will be seen below, the Al-Asifah Forces are still commemorated in the official Fatah symbol. There is also a group of Palestinian-only fighters operating today in Syria that is called the Liwa Al-Asifah (Storm Brigade).
It is also important to notice that the first Fatah attack inside Israel occurred more than two years before the 1967 Six-Day War, when Israel gained control of the West Bank for the first time in modern history.
Depending on which resource you use, Yasser Arafat founded Fatah sometime between 1957 and 1959 to help unite Palestinian Arabs in their efforts to create an independent State of Palestine. After Yasser Arafat founded the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) in 1964, Fatah remained the largest and best-organized organization within a growing coalition of Palestinian groups specifically designed for military and political insurgency.
During the 1960s and ’70s, Fatah played the most dominant role in efforts to violently liberate Palestine, while offering training to a wide spectrum of terrorist and insurgent groups, and carrying out numerous acts of terrorism in Europe and the Middle.
Although it ostensibly renounced terrorism in 1988 (and again in 1993, 2003 and 2007), Fatah remains the “co-parent” of a kaleidoscope of armed military and intelligence wings that have tentacles reaching into several Middle Eastern countries, and have carried out numerous terrorist attacks. The most important of these groups include 1) Al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigade, 2) Black September, 3) Fatah (aka Hawari or “Support”) Special Operations Group, 4) Force 17 and 5) Tanzim (“Organization”).
Meanwhile, the Palestinian Authority (PA) was formally established on May 4, 1994, as a follow-up to the 1993 Oslo Accords. The original purpose of the PA was to govern the Gaza Strip, along with “Area A” and “Area B” of the West Bank. Although Mahmoud Abbas has served as the first-and-only president of the PA since 2005, the legitimacy of his position has been disputed since 2009, when his presidential mandate expired. In addition, Abbas had led Fatah since 2004 (we’ll discuss this in more detail in Part 2).
Meaning of the word ‘Fatah’
The formal name of the Fatah movement is Ḥarakat At-Taḥrir Al-Waṭani Al-Filasṭiniحركة التحرير الوطني الفلسطيني , meaning the “Palestinian National Liberation Movement.” As shown by the highlighted letters above, the name Fatah is derived from a reverse acronym. Perhaps the reverse acronym was used instead of the straight acronym, because “Hataf” means “Death” in Arabic.
The root verb for Fatah (ح ت ف) is found at least 40 times in the Quran and has a three-fold meaning, i.e., “to open,” “to conquer” and/or “victory.” As we shall see immediately below, each of these three meanings carries profound spiritual and historical significance in the Islamic world.
Chapter 1 of the Quran is known as the Surat Al-Fatihah (The Opening). Al-Fatihah is also known as Umm Al-Quran (The Mother of the Quran), and Umm Al-Kitab (The Mother of the Book), because it summarizes the entire substance of the Quran in just seven verses. Thus, it is obligatory for Muslims to recite Al-Fatihah in every prayer, and no prayer is considered valid without it. Also, Al-Fatihah divides mankind into three categories: 1) those who have been favored and follow the Straight Path, 2) those who have earned the Anger of Allah and 3) those who have been misguided.
According to the Tafsir (Commentary) on Al-Fatihah, those who follow the Straight Path will conquer the lands of the misguided (disbelievers) and make them into the lands of Islam. Such victories will provide clear and evident evidence that the “favored ones” really are following the Straight Path.
This, of course, is exactly why Fatah was founded in the first place, i.e., to help liberate (conquer) the land of Palestine. Furthermore, this fundamental concept (i.e., opening and/or conquering the world for Islam), is expressed clearly in Surat Al-Fatihah, and is implicitly understood by every Muslim in the world.
In other words, everyone in the Islamic world knows that, sooner or later, Fatah intends to turn the entire area west of the Jordan River into the land of Islam. As we will see below, this intention is vividly illustrated in the official symbol (icon) of Fatah, as well as in virtually every publication and poster Fatah and/or the PA has ever produced.
The word Fatah (and/or Fath), as in Fath Al-Sham (The Conquest of Greater Syria) is a potent reminder of the successful (unprecedented) expansion of Islam into new regions (both East and West) in the early centuries of Islamic history. The Fath Al-Sham, which is also known as the Battle of Yarmuk, followed the conquest of Damascus on Sept. 4, 635. This key battle with the East Roman (aka Byzantium) army, which took place from Aug. 15-20 of 636 (four years after the death of Muhammad in 632), was not only one of the most one-sided and decisive battles in military history, but was also the first victory in a subsequent 100-year wave of Islamic conquests.
Of course, this major historical event from the early “glory days” of Islam is the inspiration for the name chosen by the Islamic State of Iraq & the Levant (ISIL), aka Ad-Dawlah Al-Islamiyah Fil Iraq Wa Ash-Sham, or the Islamic State of Iraq & Al-Sham (ISIS). As stated above regarding Al-Fatihah, not only does everyone in the Islamic world understand the profound historical and spiritual significance of the Fath Al-Sham, but they also understand that the plainly stated goals of Fatah are exactly the same as the plainly stated goals of ISIS. Despite the fact that Fatah was founded sometime between 1957-1957 and ISIS emerged in 2014, the two organizations share an identical strategic goal – the final conquest of Israel. The differences between the groups are tactical in nature, but their strategy is the exactly same.
Chapter 48 of the Quran is called Surat Al-Fath (The Victory) and details a series of events that led to the Treaty of Hudaybiyah. One of the central themes of Surat Al-Fath, which is one of the most explicitly “Jihadic” chapters in the Quran, is that Muslims will first conquer the entire known world (the Middle East) and then will ultimately conquer the entire world.
According to the Tafsir, many people converted to Islam during the two-year period after the Treaty was signed. This greatly increased the size and strength of the Muslim community, which allowed them to conquer Mecca and abrogate the Treaty. This precedent (i.e., abrogation of a treaty for the sake of a military victory) was cited by Yasser Arafat as justification for signing the Oslo Accords with Israel.
As stated in the earlier sections on Al-Fatihah and Fatḥ al-Sham, everyone in the Islamic world understands the profound historical and spiritual significance of Surat Al-Fath. The decision to name a Palestinian organization for the globally recognized aspirations expressed in the word Fatah was neither passive, random nor arbitrary – it was unmistakably deliberate and intentional. We also need to understand that these long-held aspirations are inspired and explicitly endorsed by the Quran.
Examination of the official Fatah symbol
Now we’ll come to the heart of the matter – a detailed analysis of the Fatah symbol. Again, the purpose of this evaluation is to help determine whether Fatah is really moderate (or not).
Note: The official slogan of Fatah, which is Ya Jabal Ma Yhezak Reeh (The Mountain Cannot be Shaken by the Wind), is not included on the official Fatah symbol.
- The large black word across the middle of the symbol says Fatah.
- The red words across the top of the symbol say Al-Asifah (The Storm), discussed above.
- The borders of the intended State of Palestine are shown in green. As mentioned earlier, the Fatah symbol shows the entire area of modern Israel, as well as Gaza and the West Bank, as part of the final State of Palestine. Since this symbol was designed well before the 1967 Six-Day War, it becomes obvious that Fatah has never given any serious consideration to the concept of a “Two-State Solution.”
- Two flags of the intended State of Palestine.
- Two hands grasping two assault rifles.
- A hand grenade (nothing shouts “Moderate!” like a hand grenade).
- The single Arabic word under the grenade also says Fatah.
- The words in the black band at the bottom of the symbol say Ḥarakat At-Taḥrir Al-Waṭani Al-Filasṭini (Palestinian National Liberation Movement); in the literal translation, the word order is exactly opposite.
- The three words at the bottom of the flag say Thawrah Hatteh Al-Naser (Revolution Until Victory)
Examples of Fatah posters
Before concluding Part 1, I’d like to present a series of official Fatah posters published over the last 40 years that illustrate a point I made earlier, i.e., that Fatah’s intention has never changed and has always been to eliminate Israel from the Middle East.
Virtually every publication or poster Fatah and/or the PA has ever produced reinforces this original founding intention. Three of the four posters below also feature the exact same three-word slogan found at the bottom of the official Fatah symbol, which is Thawrah Hatteh Al-Naser (Revolution Until Victory).
Since the day it was founded, Fatah has maintained a singular focus on its original purpose – to eliminate the State of Israel from the Middle East. Despite repeated public declarations that it has renounced violence, Fatah has continued promoting the complete destruction of Israel. From the time it was established in the 1950s by Yasser Arafat until the present time, Fatah has consistently pursued a campaign of explicit, malevolent and vindictive incitement and violence.
EDITORS NOTE: This column originally appeared on World Net Daily. This is the first of a two-part article to examine whether Fatah, which controls the Palestinian Authority, is really as moderate is we have been led to believe. Part 1 is a straightforward analysis of Fatah’s own official symbols to determine whether Fatah is really moderate (or not). Part 2 will be a chronological review and analysis of recent statements and actions of Mahmoud Abbas and/or the current Fatah leadership to help further answer the question “Is Fatah is really moderate?”