David Broder claims in Solidarity 3/115 that “Fatah is simply a bourgeois political party drenched in anti-semitism” and so, it seems, he is unable to distinguish Fatah, clearly and sharply, from Hamas.
Certainly Fatah and Hamas think there are big enough differences between them to fight a civil war.
But, perhaps, we should conclude that from our particular, working-class point of view there is little to choose between Fatah and Hamas?
Given Fatah supports Two States, and Hamas has a reactionary programme for the destruction of Israel, there is a big difference in policy between the groups. Fatah is from a more-or-less secular nationalist tradition (which should not be casually dismissed as simply ‘anti-semitic’) and is aligned with left nationalist groups in the PLO; Hamas is, as David notes, clerical fascist.
Formations such as Fatah may repress workers’ organisations, or may tolerate them; Hamas, given a free hand, would destroy us.
As a consequence of what they represent there are plenty of politically reasonable people in and around Fatah; not so with Hamas.
It is not a matter of joining Fatah, or voting for them. It is not a matter of “placing trust or faith in [Fatah] ... to fight for human liberation”. Which of us does that?
But we should recognise and state the differences. Under Fatah there is some freedom for a third camp to develop; under Hamas there is none.
David doesn’t like the choice, Fatah or Hamas. I don’t like it much myself. But during the fighting in Gaza that’s what it came down to.
David looks to forces that have rejected both Fatah and Hamas in the name of something better. Smallish trade union initiatives etc, do exist – that’s true and important. But in a fight between Hamas and Fatah what should such forces do? If they are able: help Fatah fight Hamas. In the first instance it is a matter of self-preservation.
Mark Osborn, Catford