Two weeks ago, recently resigned Palestinian cabinet minister Abdel Fattah Hamayel told the BBC that the Palestinian Authority shells out $50,000 a month to members of Fatah's Aksa Brigades terror cells. Hamayel said that Yasser Arafat is aware of these payments.
The BBC reporter then sat down with Ata Abu Rumaileh and Zakariah Zubaidi, the respective heads of Fatah's political and terrorist wings in Jenin. Together the men explained to the BBC reporter that "there is no difference between Fatah and the Aksa Martyrs' Brigades." The men also explained that Arafat commands both.
What we learn from this report is that, as is the case with Hamas and Hizbullah, there is absolutely no difference between the political and terrorist arms of Fatah. This is rife with implications regarding the Palestinian Authority because, as one Palestinian journalist explained to me this week, "There is one ruling party in Palestine – Fatah – headed by Arafat."
His statement is not hyperbolic. It is a simple fact. It was, after all, the Fatah Central Council, acting on Arafat's orders, that approved new PA Prime Minister Ahmed Qurei's cabinet. Almost every single member of that cabinet is a member of Fatah's political wing, which is inseparable from Fatah's terrorist wing. And we know that they are one and the same not because the IDF says so. We know this because Fatah leaders say so.
What does this mean? It means that when the US and the rest of the international community tell Israel to ease up on its counter-terror operations in order to shore up Ahmed Qurei's new cabinet, Israel is being told to strengthen a terrorist organization. Yet this report – the most stunning revelation in the mainstream Western media about the nature of the Palestinian terror war – made not one iota of difference to anyone. Why?
The simple answer is that in Israel, as in the rest of the Western world, we have been otherwise occupied. We have Yossi Beiin's Swiss-finanaced Geneva Accord and the Ayalon-Nusseibeh EU-financed understandings and the IAF reserve pilots' refusal to bomb terror targets and the former heads of the Shin Bet and the Road Map to consider. Our heads are full, our attention span is limited.
How can we pay attention to reality when we are inundated with fiction?
How can US Secretary of State Colin Powell attend to the fact that the PA is a terrorist organization when he is being bombarded by reports from his department that Israel isn't dismantling mobile homes with Jewish residents in Judea and Samaria? How can he notice that there are serious implications to the fact that Fatah and Fatah are both Fatah when he hears that Yossi Beilin has signed away Israeli sovereignty over the Temple Mount to Yasser Abed Rabbo?
How can Prime Minister Ariel Sharon be expected to contend with the fact that the PA is a terrorist organization when Bush, pushed by Powell, who is pumped by Beilin, who is funded by the EU, tells him to get moving on the "settlements" and stop building fences and start being a good neighbor to Fatah's newly appointed "prime minister?"
How can the Israeli public take notice of the fact that the PA is a terrorist organization when, in her Pravda-inspired TV show Fact, "journalist" Ilana Dayan shows us a film in which Beilin and his friends breathlessly argue with their Palestinian counterparts over who gets to control the parking lot outside of the Old City's Dung Gate? How are we to absorb the fact that Beilin and company get their money from the Swiss government and the EU, who jointly concocted this deliberate attempt to undermine the power of the democratically elected government of Israel?
How can anyone be expected to notice that when Sharon speaks with Qurei he speaks with Arafat, when four failed former heads of the Shin Bet scream at us in Yediot Aharonot's weekend edition that our army is immoral and that we are losing our souls by fighting terrorists?
If history repeats itself first as a tragedy and then as a farce, what happens on the third, fourth and fifth iterations?
We have been down this road before. For the past decade, we have been cajoled, browbeaten and deceived into believing that our enemies are really our friends.
After the PLO distinguished itself by siding with Saddam Hussein during the 1991 Gulf War, our "peace camp" embraced Arafat and his deputies as the only legitimate voice for the Palestinian people. After meeting illegally with these terrorists in Tunis, they rammed their agenda down our throats with the Oslo accords. Since then, in spite of overwhelming and continuous proof that the PA is devoted to the destruction of Israel, this camp and their fellow travelers in the Israeli media have disgraced themselves repeatedly by castigating their political opponents in Israel as "opponents of peace."
As a result of these efforts, we are faced with a situation where, after three years of war, we are still stuck with their paradigm of policy making. This paradigm holds that, in order to live in peace, we must forsake everything we hold precious and sacred.
Sharon is partially responsible here. Militarily, his tactics are all but indistinguishable from those of Ehud Barak. His diplomatic and information campaigns abroad and statements to the Israeli public have been marked by superficiality and intellectual confusion. He has squandered every opportunity to strengthen Israel's strategic alliance with the US, sufficing instead with public expressions of friendship by President Bush.
So yes, Sharon must be criticized for his failure to meet the challenge. Yet the fact remains that Beilin and his radical lefitst political allies Amram Mitzna and Avram Burg and Ami Ayalon and their media flacks have never ceased to undercut him. With money coming from overseas and their monopolistic control of the Israeli media, they have the wherewithal to campaign forever.
Even now, our military has the capacity, in spite of the naysayers, to defeat terrorism. What we lack is a political leadership with the moral courage to rally the people to victory. It will take courage to stand up to the entire world and say that Beilin's policy is not an option. It will take courage to tell the American administration that there is no point negotiating, much less making concessions or good will gestures, to anyone who represents the Palestinian Authority.
It will take courage to tell unpopular truths.
Sharon has been both lionized and demonized for his refusal to surrender to the Beilin logic. Now he must show that his reputation for courage is deserved.
Originally published in The Jerusalem Post.