The headline on a New York Times story sounded innocent enough:
Palestinians Criticize Abbas for Public Fatah Feud at Delicate Time Diplomatically.
This is not an innocent story. It is a Times hasbara presentation that pretends to be “about” criticism by Palestinians of their president for starting a “feud” with Muhammad Dahlan.
Here are key paragraphs in the Times‘ story:
Some of Mr. Abbas’s current difficulties are of his own making. Palestinians say they are baffled by Mr. Abbas’s decision to open up another front within his own Fatah movement by beginning a nasty, public campaign against a onetime ally who Mr. Abbas now sees as a rival, Muhammad Dahlan, a former Gaza strongman and Fatah security chief.
In the two weeks since Mr. Abbas’s opening salvo against Mr. Dahlan, who is living abroad, the Arabic media has been filled with unproved accusations by Mr. Abbas about the long-ago killings of prominent Palestinians, and by both men about collaboration with Israel and financial corruption.
Mr. Abbas even implied that Mr. Dahlan might have had a hand in the mysterious death of Yasir Arafat, the father of the Palestinian cause, in 2004. For the most part, the two camps have not offered detailed responses to all the accusations.
It makes more sense, based on what is in the story, to conclude that the Times is informing its readers that when the peace talks fail, as they most certainly will, the blame will fall on the “inept” leadership of President Abbas.
The story further carries the hidden message that just maybe Israel, and the Times, want President Abbas replaced by Muhammed Dahlan.
They figure it is time for a leader friendly to the Israel/U.S. imperium to take command of the Palestinian Authority.
Abbas tried hard, but he just did not turn out to be the loyal strong man the imperium wanted.
Isabel Kershner, who wrote the Times story, describes Abbas’ political fight with Dahlan as a “feud” inside Fatah, a feud the Times would have its readers believe is unwise because it comes during a “delicate time” in the peace negotiations.
Kershner, painting Abbas with pejorative language, sees the “feud” as “a nasty, public campaign against a onetime ally who Mr. Abbas now sees as a rival”.
Abbas now sees Dahlan “as a rival”?
Dahlan has been a rival since at least 2003. The picture above was taken in 2003. It shows Abbas at left, Arafat, arm raised, in the middle, and Dahlan at right, greeting the public.
Who is Muhammed Dahlan?
In 2008, David Rose wrote an article in the April issue of Vanity Fair, entitled The Gaza Bombshell.
Vanity Fair described its story this way:
After failing to anticipate Hamas’s victory over Fatah in the 2006 Palestinian election, the White House cooked up yet another scandalously covert and self-defeating Middle East debacle: part Iran-contra, part Bay of Pigs. With confidential documents, corroborated by outraged former and current U.S. officials, the author reveals how President Bush, Condoleezza Rice, and Deputy National-Security Adviser Elliott Abrams backed an armed force under Fatah strongman Muhammad Dahlan, touching off a bloody civil war in Gaza and leaving Hamas stronger than ever.
The Guardian, commenting on the Vanity Fair article, highlighted Dahlan’s role:
The central figure in Washington’s plan was Mohammed Dahlan, who had been Yasser Arafat’s security chief in Gaza and who had established close ties with the CIA as early as the 1990s. The magazine cites three unidentified US officials quoting Bush as saying: “He’s our guy.”
The New York Times chose not to remind its readers that Dahlan is far more than an Abbas political rival. He is a former Fatah leader who was ousted from the party by Abbas.
In 2007, he was the U.S./Israel imperium’s chosen Fatah operative assigned to punish Hamas for winning a free and open democratic 2006 election, which Hamas won not just in Gaza, but throughout the Occupied Territories.
Ali Abunimah, writing in the Electronic Intifada in 2007, presented this disturbing Dahlan background, beginning with a quote from a letter that Dahlan wrote:
“Be certain that Yasser Arafat’s final days are numbered, but allow us to finish him off our way, not yours. And be sure as well that … the promises I made in front of President Bush, I will give my life to keep.”
“Those words were written by the Fatah warlord Mohammed Dahlan, whose US- and Israeli-backed forces were routed by Hamas in the Gaza Strip last month, in a 13 July 2003 letter to then Israeli defense minister Shaul Mofaz and published on Hamas’ website on 4 July this year.
Dahlan, who despite his failure to hold Gaza, remains a senior advisor to Palestinian Authority chairman Mahmoud Abbas, outlines his conspiracy to overthrow Arafat, destroy Palestinian institutions and replace them with a quisling leadership subservient to Israel.
Dahlan writes of his fear that Arafat would convene the Palestinian legislative council and ask it to withdraw confidence from then prime minister Mahmoud Abbas, who had been appointed earlier in 2003 at Bush’s insistence in order to curb Arafat’s influence.”
In 2014 the New York Times has this view of Dahlan: “Mr. Dahlan, 52, rose from humble beginnings in a Gaza refugee camp to become a powerful figure in the Palestinian Authority who earned the trust of Israel and the United States. Some saw him as a potential successor to Mr. Abbas”.
To President Bush, strongman Mohammed Dahlan is “our guy”.
It is with good reason that President Abbas is insisting that one of the conditions for the PA to remain in peace discussions after the late April deadline is the release of more senior Palestinian prisoners.
Among the prisoners he specifically names is Marwan Barghouti, (shown here in a 2002 court appearance) considered by many as President Abbas’ preferred successor.
The Times of Israel writes that in his recent visit with President Obama in Washington, President Abbas indicated that he is reluctant to continue talks with Israel. He did offer, however, conditions that could influence his decision:
Abbas said he would need to receive something from the Israelis if he were to agree [to extend the talks]: a settlement freeze, and a further prisoner release — beyond the fourth group of terror convicts scheduled to go free on March 29. (“Terror convicts” are not Abbas’ words; they belong to the Times of Israel.)
And not just any prisoners, but, according to the London Arabic newspaper al-Hayat, The Prisoner, Fatah Tanzim leader Marwan Barghouti. Arab and Palestinian sources confirmed the reports to The Times of Israel
The 2003 picture at the top, is by Jamal Aruri/Agence France-Presse. It appeared in the New York Times. The picture of Marwan Barghouti is from Flash 80. It appeared in The Times of Israel.