The Fatah fairy tale

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Fahmi Shabaneh is an odd candidate for dissident status. Shabaneh is a Jerusalemite who
joined the Palestinian Authority’s General Intelligence Service in 1994.


Working for PA head Mahmoud Abbas and GIS commander Tawfik Tirawi, Shabaneh was 
tasked with investigating Arab Jerusalemites suspected of selling land to Jews. Such sales
are a capital offense in the PA. Since 1994 scores of Arabs have been the victims of 
extrajudicial executions after having been fingered by the likes of Shabaneh.


A few years ago, Abbas and Tirawi gave Shabaneh a new assignment. They put him in
charge of a unit responsible for investigating corrupt activities carried out by PA officials.
They probably assumed a team player like Shabaneh understood what he was supposed
to do.


Just as Abbas’s predecessor, Yasser Arafat, reportedly had full dossiers on all of his
underlings and used damning information to keep them loyal to him, so Abbas probably
believed that Shabaneh’s information was his to use or ignore as he saw fit.


For a while, Abbas’s faith was well-placed. Shabaneh collected massive amounts of 
information on senior PA officials detailing their illegal activities. These activities included 
the theft of hundreds of millions of dollars in international aid; illegal seizure of land and 
homes; and monetary and sexual extortion of their fellow Palestinians.


Over time, Shabaneh became disillusioned with his boss. Abbas appointed him to his job 
around the time he was elected PA head in 2005. Abbas ran on an anti-corruption platform. 
Shabaneh’s information demonstrated that Abbas presided over a criminal syndicate 
posing as a government. And yet rather than arrest his corrupt, criminal associates, 
Abbas promoted them. 


Abbas continued promoting his corrupt colleagues even after Hamas’s 2006 electoral 
victory. That win owed to a significant degree to the widespread public revulsion with 
Fatah’s rampant corruption.


With Israel and the US lining up to support him after the Hamas victory, Abbas continued 
to turn a blind eye to his colleagues’ criminality. Protected by his new status as the irreplaceable moderate,” he allowed his advisers and colleagues to continue enriching themselves with the international donor funds that skyrocketed after Hamas’s victory.


Since 2006, despite the billions of dollars in international aid showered on Fatah, Hamas has 
consistently led Fatah in opinion polls. Rather than clean up their act, Abbas and his Fatah 
colleagues have sought to ingratiate themselves with their public by ratcheting up their 
incitement against Israel. And since Abbas has been deemed irreplaceable, the same West 
that turns a blind eye to his corruption, refuses to criticize his encouragement of terrorism. 
And this makes sense. How can the West question the only thing standing in the way of a 
Hamas takeover of Judea and Samaria?


Recently, Shabaneh decided he had had enough. The time had come to expose what he knows. 


But he ran into an unanticipated difficulty. No one wanted to know. As he put it, Arab and 
Western journalists wouldn’t touch his story for fear of being “punished” by the PA.


In his words, Western journalists “don’t want to hear negative things about Fatah and Abbas.”


Lacking other options, Shabaneh brought his information to The Jerusalem Post’s Khaled 
Abu Toameh.


On January 29, the Post published Abu Toameh’s interview with Shabaneh on our front page. 
Among other impressive scoops, Shabaneh related that Abbas’s associates purloined 
$3.2 million in cash that the US gave Abbas ahead of the 2006 elections. He told Abu Toameh how PA officials who were almost penniless in 1994 now have tens and even hundreds of millions of dollars in their private accounts. He related how he watched in horror as Abbas promoted the very officials he reported on. And he showed Abu Toameh a video 
of Abbas’s chief of staff Rafik Husseini naked in the bedroom of a Christian woman who sought employment with the PA.


If Shabaneh’s stories were about Israeli or Western officials, there is no doubt that they would 
have been picked up by every self-respecting news organization in the world. If he had been 
talking about Israelis, officials from Washington to Brussels to the UN would be loudly calling 
for official investigations. But since he was talking about the Palestinians, no one cared.


The State Department had nothing to say. The EU had nothing to say. The New York Times
acted as if his revelations were about nothing more than a sex scandal.


As for Abbas and his cronies, they were quick to blame the Jews. They accused Shabaneh 
– their trusted henchman when it came to land sales to Jews – of being an Israeli agent. And 
when Channel 10 announced it was broadcasting Husseini’s romp in the sack, Abbas demanded that Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu bar the broadcast, (apparently forgetting that unlike is PA-controlled media, Israel’s media organs are free).


SHABANEH’S ODYSSEY from PA regime loyalist to dissident is an interesting tale. But what is more noteworthy than his personal journey is the world’s indifference to his revelations.


Just as the mountains of evidence that Fatah officials – including Shabaneh’s boss Tirawi – have been actively involved in terrorist attacks against Israel have been systematically ignored by successive US administrations, Israeli governments and EU foreign policy chiefs, so no one wants to think about the fact that Fatah is a criminal syndicate. The implications are too 


Since at least 1994, successive US administrations goaded by the EU have made supporting 
Fatah and the PA the centerpiece of their Middle East policy. They want to receive proof that 
Fatah is a terrorist organization that operates like a criminal organization like they want 
– in the immortal words of former EU Middle East envoy Christopher Patten – “a hole in 
[their] head.”


As for the Western media, their lack of interest in Shabaneh’s revelations serves as a reminder of just how mendacious much of the reportage about the Palestinians and Israel is. For 16 years, the American and European media have turned blind eyes to Palestinian misbehavior while expansively reporting every allegation against Israel – no matter how flimsy or obviously false. When the history of the media’s coverage of the Middle East is written it will constitute one of the darkest chapters in Western media history.


But while the American and European allegiance to the fable of Fatah as the anchor of the 
two-state solution accounts for the indifference of both to Shabaneh’s disclosures, what 
accounts for the Netanyahu government’s behavior in this matter?


Shortly after the Post first published Shabaneh’s story, the PA issued an arrest warrant 
against him. He was charged among other things with “harming the national interests” of 
the Palestinians.


But Abbas’s henchmen couldn’t put t
heir hands on him.


Israel had already arrested him.


Shabaneh was booked for among other things, illegally working for the PA. It is indeed illegal for Israeli residents to work for the PA. But oddly, although Israeli authorities have known whom Shabaneh worked for since 1994, until his disclosures were made public, they never saw any pressing need to arrest or prosecute him.


Official Israel has nothing to say about Shabaneh’s information. Rather, in the wake of his 
disclosures, everyone from Netanyahu to Defense Minister Ehud Barak has continued to 
proclaim daily their dedication to reaching a peace accord with Abbas. This even as Abbas 
and his cronies accuse Israel of using the “traitorous” Shabaneh to pressure Abbas into 
negotiating with Israel.


There are two explanations for Israel’s behavior. First, there is the fact that the presence of 
Barak and his Labor Party in the government makes it impossible for Netanyahu and his 
Likud Party to abandon the failed two-state paradigm of dealing the PA. If Netanyahu and 
his colleagues were to point out that the PA is a kleptocracy and its senior officials enable 
terror and escalate incitement to deflect their public’s attention away from their criminality, 
(as well as because they want to destroy Israel), then Labor may bolt the coalition.


Beyond that, there is no doubt that an Israeli denunciation of Abbas and his mafia would 
enrage the US and EU. Apparently, Netanyahu – who to please President Barack Obama 
accepted the two-state paradigm in spite of the fact that he opposes it, and suspended Jewish construction in Judea and Samaria despite the fact that he knows doing this is wrong – is loathe to pick a fight by pointing out the obvious fact that the PA is a corrupt band of oppressive thieves.


Shabaneh argues that due to PA corruption, Hamas remains the preferred alternative for 
Palestinians in Judea and Samaria. In his view, the only reason Hamas has yet to take over 
Judea and Samaria is the IDF presence in the areas.


The strategic implications of his statement are clear. Far from being a bulwark against Hamas, Abbas empowers the Iranian-backed jihadist force. The only bulwark against Hamas is Israel.


WHAT THIS means is that Israel must end its support for Abbas. Every day he remains in power, Abbas perpetuates a myth of Palestinian moderation. As a supposed moderate, he claims that Israel should curtail its counterterror operations and let his own “moderate” forces take over.


To strengthen Abbas, the US pressures Israel to curtail its counterterror operations in Judea 
and Samaria. To please the US, Israel in turn cuts back its operations.


Abbas’s men fight Hamas, but they also terrorize journalists, merchants and plain civilians who fall in their path, and so strengthen Hamas. To ratchet up public support for Fatah, Abbas 
escalates PA incitement against Israel. This then encourages his own forces to attack Israelis — as happened last week when one of his security officers murdered IDF St.-Sgt. Maj. Ihab Khatib. And so it goes.


It is clear that Barak will threaten to bolt the coalition if Netanyahu decides to cut off Abbas. But if he left, where would he go? Barak has nowhere to go. He will not be reelected to lead his party. And if Labor leaves the coalition, Netanyahu would still be far from losing his majority in Knesset. 


As for angering the White House, the fact of the matter is that by pointing out that Abbas is not a credible leader, Israel will make it more difficult for Obama and his advisers to coerce Israel into making further concessions that will only further empower Hamas. 


Shabaneh told the Post that he fully expects the PA to try to kill him. But in a way, the yawns that greeted his story are his best life insurance policy. Until the world stops believing that Fatah is indispensable, no one will listen to the Shabanehs of the world and so the PA has no reason to kill him. 


Just as the Post was the only media organ that would publish his story, so the Israeli government is the only government that can force the rest of the world to recognize that Abbas is not an ally. But to do that, the government itself must finally break with the fairy tale of Fatah moderation.


Originally published in The Jerusalem Post.
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  • Marc Handelsman, USA 02/19/2010 at 12:52

    Diplomatic, media, and criminal careers would be ruined, if the Fatah fairy tale ended. Prime Minister Netanyahu may believe he has “bigger fish to fry” with Iran than dealing with PLO murderers and crooks. It is exceedingly frustrating to watch the Fatah Mafia get away with murder and extortion. However, Fatah, Hamas, and Hizbullah are united with Iran on its plans to destroy Israel. So, Prime Minister Netanyahu and President Obama need to reevaluate diplomatic ties with the PLO. And it’s folly to pin Mid-East peace with resolving Arab-Israeli Conflict.

  • A. Green 02/19/2010 at 14:31

    Love your insights on the Middle East situation. Could Shabaneh have been arrested so that he could be protected from PA reprisals?

  • cares1996 02/19/2010 at 16:45

    Some choice of peacebrokers eh,the old terror group or the new one,I however think its actually a temporarily good situation,neither group has the least bit of credibility,therefore Israel can keep moving forward,amazing isn`t it,all the countries involved and nobody can get a credible peacebroker in the terrortories,guess it just wasn`t suppose to be,therefore Mrs.Glick where does plan BiBi stand,these clocks are doing a number on people over here,tell him Texas or Jerusalem,times very,very short,I`m about sure,a kind word would help.

  • David Custis Kimball 02/19/2010 at 21:45

    From “Bassam Tibi” by Bosch Fawstin
    “At its core, Islam is a religious mission to all humanity. Muslims are religiously obliged to disseminate the Islamic faith throughout the world. “We have sent you forth to all mankind” (Q. 34:28). If non-Muslims submit to conversion or subjugation, this call (da’wa) can be pursued peacefully. If they do not, Muslims are obliged to wage war against them. In Islam, peace requires that non-Muslims submit to the call of Islam, either by converting or by accepting the status of a religious minority (dhimmi) and paying the imposed poll tax, jizya. World peace, the final stage of the da’wa, is reached only with the conversion or submission of all mankind to Islam…Muslims believe that expansion through war is not aggression but a fulfillment of the Qur’anic command to spread Islam as a way of peace. The resort to force to disseminate Islam is not war (harb), a word that is used only to describe the use of force by non-Muslims. Islamic wars are not hurab (the plural of harb) but rather futuhat, acts of “opening” the world to Islam and expressing Islamic jihad. Relations between dar al-Islam, the home of peace, and dar al-harb, the world of unbelievers, nevertheless take place in a state of war, according to the Qur’an and to the authoritative commentaries of Islamic jurists. Unbelievers who stand in the way, creating obstacles for the da’wa, are blamed for this state of war, for the da’wa can be pursued peacefully if others submit to it.
    Islam is not anything to look up to, but unlike a Great White Shark or Tiger, you are only attacked when they are hungry, and you being smarter can avoid them by staying away from them. Islam in a smaller world, where their appetite and avoidance are not easy, and where they have the taste to seek you out, especially your weakest and most unsuspecting.
    Islam is like a disease; it must destroy you because you cannot live with it or rather Islam cannot tolerate you, your lack of subservience to them, who they pretend to call Allah, but is really the negative world spirit … who as they admit worships death and destruction, which they see in all of their criminality.
    It is only a beginning to deny them sustenance, money, power, respect. They will go back under the rocks they came from or see in lives of poverty the misery that they have caused and continue to cause. We must be relentless in our Righteousness to combat their hate and wrongfulness.
    Deny Islam a Religious cover to accumulate wealth, and deny any Islam country or person aid until they are able to accept comfort and the truth of their hate, which only can be shown in profound remorse.

  • Steve 02/20/2010 at 9:39

    Netanyahu should hire Shabaneh to investigate Saudi purchases of land in the Galilee, Israeli Arab forcing of Jews out of their neighbourhoods, and Israeli Arab non-payment of rent to Jewish landlords, but of course that’s never going to happen.

  • Walter 02/20/2010 at 10:48

    A lesson in the machinations of international politics,
    Learning how to come to an ‘accommodation’ with demons.
    “Israel had already arrested him.
    Shabaneh was booked for among other things, illegally working for the PA. It is indeed illegal for Israeli residents to work for the PA. But oddly, although Israeli authorities have known whom Shabaneh worked for since 1994, until his disclosures were made public, they never saw any pressing need to arrest or prosecute him.
    Official Israel has nothing to say about Shabaneh’s information. Rather, in the wake of his disclosures, everyone from Netanyahu to Defense Minister Ehud Barak has continued to proclaim daily their dedication to reaching a peace accord with Abbas. This even as Abbas and his cronies accuse Israel of using the “traitorous” Shabaneh to pressure Abbas into negotiating with Israel.”
    ‘And ye shall be holy unto me: for I the LORD am holy, and have severed you from other people, that ye should be mine.’
    In what way are the people of Israel, and her political leaders, holy?
    In what way have the people of Israel, and her leaders separated themselves, from the corrupt practices, of the men of other nations?
    When will you learn to be true to yourself Israel, and to at last take hold of, and grasp, your birthright?
    Jeremiah 4:1
    If thou wilt return, O Israel, saith the LORD, return unto me: and if thou wilt put away thine abominations out of my sight, then shalt thou not remove.
    22 For my people is foolish, they have not known me; they are sottish children, and they have none understanding: they are wise to do evil, but to do good they have no knowledge.

  • Ron Grandinetti 02/20/2010 at 15:22

    Caroline it is very evident anti-Semitism is alive and well in the world, including the U.S. government, I am ashamed.
    The PA, Hamas, Hezbollah are all peas in a pod, thieves, criminals, gangsters and terrorist all scumbags wrapped up in one.
    Caroline I hate to beat a dead horse and you are no doubt tired of me saying it.
    Israel is in need of a super PR program in the U.S. and the world.
    Why, well just as you report how very little coverage if any on the activities of these scumbags.
    Yet the slightest incident involving Israel the world is on top of it, thanks to the liberal left wing secular news media.
    A majority of Americans and Europeans alike are clueless unless they are tuned in and most aren’t.
    The reason the truth most be told and reported on a consistent basis.
    Again sadly enough most American Jews are both blind and deaf or they really have disconnected themselves from Israel. Sad but true.
    Every American Jew needs to take a hard look at themselves and ask, am I doing the best I can to support Israel, the land G-d provided His people.
    If I am not, is it because I am ashamed to be known as a Jew and prefer to part of the liberal establishment and look the other way.
    Well take a moment and look around and you will notice a majority of American non-Jews supporting Israel, because we believe Israel is our trusted friend and ally, a lone democracy in the ME. We likewise believe Jews have a G-d given rights to the Holy Land and they want nothing more than to live in peace.
    If you don’t agree, please change your name and don’t leave anything around that would indicate you were Jewish.
    Sound harsh, ask 6,000,000 Jews what harsh is. Better still don’t they suffered enough.

  • beniyyar 02/24/2010 at 2:35

    The last thing any government, Israeli, Palestinian, European, or American wants is for the Israeli Palestinian “peace process” charade to actually achieve something.
    By now anyone with a couple of brain cells to rub together realizes that the one agreement that the peace process achieved so far was much much worse than the problems it was supposed to solve and of course I am referring to the star crossed Oslo Accords. The Olso Accords, far from achieving any peace whatsoever, forced Israel into a shooting war lasting almost 8 years, and now, the present cold war of the past five years.
    For us Israelis, for the Palestinians, for the Middle East, indeed, for the entire international community, it is far better that the Israeli and Palestinian sides never meet again and if we do, to immediately break up the meeting over some imagined slight or trivial misunderstanding.
    This is because if a settlement was somehow reached, and this is really far fetched I know, but supposing one was, in a very short order Hamas would be the governing body in the areas presently held by Abbas’s PLO, it would cancel the signed agreement and declare war on Israel, and Israel would be forced to quickly reestablish formal Israeli military control over those areas, which is a long way of simply saying Israel would have to go to war, destroy Hamas, and reoccupy the areas.
    This is exactly what the Oslo Accords wrought, and would be the predictable and certain outcome of any “peace agreement” Israel might obtain from the PLO.


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