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August 12, 2009

Fatah In the Headlines: "Unreformed" and "Hard-Line" or ... "A New Generation"

abu al aynain.jpg
Sultan Abu al Aynain

What a difference a headline makes. The Jerusalem Post titled its August 12 story about the conclusion of landmark Fatah meetings in Bethlehem : "New faces of an unreformed, hard-line Fatah" while the same day the New York Times, covering the same events, offered a cheery "Fatah Party Brings in a New Generation."

Like the headline, the Post story by correspondent Khaled abu Toameh presented a straightforward look at who is taking office in Fatah's Central Committee and what this signifies. He points out:

The assumption that Muhammad Dahlan, Jibril Rajoub, Marwan Barghoutii and Tawfik Tirawi are more moderate than old-timers like Ahmed Qurei, Nabil Sha'ath and Hani al-Hassan is completely mistaken. Fatah's strongman in Lebanon, Sultan Abu al Aynain (pictured above), who was also elected as member of the committee, is being described by some media outlets as one of Fatah's "fresh faces." But Fatah insiders say Abu al-Aynain is known as a "ruthless thug who does not hesitate to liquidate anyone who stands in his way."

No such straight talk in the Times. Like the headline, the story underneath tilted toward upbeat references to the new leaders being "pragmatic" and the "democratic process" boosting Fatah's "popularity." Various of the new leaders and participants were quoted with cheerful observations about an "honest competition" and an "energized" party. Though the reporter did note little significant change in Fatah policies was likely, the contrast to abu Toameh's candor about the important gathering presents one more case of the Times soft-pedalling the extent of Arab enmity directed against Israel.

Posted by AL at August 12, 2009 12:31 PM


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