Join The Conversation With Mishpacha's Weekly Newsletter

The Rose Report: The Curse of Mohammed Dahlan

Binyamin Rose

If Israeli politics borders on the inexplicable, Palestinian politics is downright irrational

Wednesday, October 18, 2017

 Mishpacha image


B efore getting too high or too low about the new power-sharing agreement between Hamas and the Palestinian Authority, consider the following.

In 1996, Hamas and the PA were locked in a power struggle over Gaza. Mohammed Dahlan, then commander of the PA’s infamous Preventive Security Service, arrested Hamas co-founder Mahmoud al-Zahar, humiliating him by cutting off his beard.

In 2008, al-Zahar suffered a seemingly harsher blow, when the Israel Air Force killed his son during an air raid in Operation Cast Lead.

But it wasn’t a harsher blow in his eyes.

Dr. Ronni Shaked, a former Israeli intelligence officer and current Palestinian affairs expert at Hebrew University’s Truman Research Institute, told the foreign press in Jerusalem of a conversation he had with al-Zahar shortly after his son’s death. “He told me: ‘The saddest moment in my life wasn’t when the Israelis killed my son. The saddest moment in my life was when Dahlan cut my beard.’ ”

If Israeli politics borders on the inexplicable, Palestinian politics is downright irrational.

Dahlan was deposed from the PA and went into a self-imposed exile in Abu Dhabi for six years to avoid being jailed on corruption charges. From that perch, he became a fundraiser for the organization he once loathed, recently giving Hamas over $5 million to help 100 Gazan families rebuild homes damaged by Israeli air raids.

At the end of July, al-Zahar and Dahlan met again, this time on a video link, as Dahlan spelled out his vision for the Hamas-PA reconciliation that culminated in the accord signed last week in Cairo. Bloomberg News reported that al-Zahar “mumbled praise for the new understandings” while Dahlan told Bloomberg by e-mail: “We hope that we will manage to forget the past and start over. Hatred and differences should not last forever.”


It’s too early to tell where Dahlan will land in the new PA-Hamas hierarchy, but if history is any guide, the fellow connected to money usually lands a plum position. Dahlan is no sweetheart. He has obliquely referred to terror attacks on Israel as “honorable operations,” and shortly before he fled to Abu Dhabi, he invoked the “al-Aqsa mosque is in danger” canard, threatening a Palestinian ambush against Israel in response.

Yet the West, along with the Israeli left, has regularly allowed itself to be deceived by Dahlan, just as they once convinced themselves that Bashar al-Assad was a mild-mannered, Western-trained ophthalmologist. President George W. Bush supported Dahlan’s 2007 coup against Hamas, after the terror group beat the PA in the democratic elections Bush had so avidly sought. Israeli prime ministers, including Yitzhak Rabin and Ehud Olmert, armed PA militias under leaders like Dahlan, operating from the erroneous assumption they would use the weapons to thwart “honorable operations” against Israel.

Ramzy Baroud, an Arab journalist, had Dahlan pegged in an op-ed he wrote for Al Jazeera entitled “The Curse of Mohammed Dahlan,” calling Dahlan a “self-obsessive warlord.”

The biggest curse, at least from Baroud’s perspective, is that infighting between the PA and Hamas could result in an overall weakening of the Palestinian position, to the point where the leadership would forgo the “right of return” for an old plan that gives the Palestinians a state in Gaza and parts of the Sinai desert.

Could their curse end up being Israel’s blessing? (Excerpted from Mishpacha, Issue 681)

Related Stories

Washington Wrap: Give It Teeth, or Give It the Boot

Omri Nahmias

In another move that strengthened the bonds between Washington and Jerusalem, the administration las...

Inside Israel: Should the IDF Cash In?

Tzippy Yarom

Many of Israel’s high-tech billionaires and multimillionaires owe their success to their IDF trainin...

Global View: A New Israel in the Middle East?

Gershon Burstyn

The Iraqi Kurds are part of a 30-million-plus Kurdish population spread over the heart of the Middle...

Share this page with a friend. Fill in the information below, and we'll email your friend a link to this page on your behalf.

Your name
Your email address
You friend's name
Your friend's email address
Please type the characters you see in the image into the box provided.

What’s in a Name?
Shoshana Friedman “What does Writer X have to say this week?”
Atonement — Fake and Real
Yonoson Rosenblum White confessionals and faux rituals
Four Walls Coming Full Circle
Eytan Kobre All the while, there’s been a relationship in the offing...
And Yet We Smile
Yisroel Besser We are the nation that toils to be happy at all costs
Out of This World
Rabbi Henoch Plotnick Dirshu Hashem b’himatzo — we are in Hashem’s company now...
Steven and Jonathan Litton
Rachel Bachrach The co-owners of Litton Sukkah, based in Lawrence, NY
Tali Messing
Moe Mernick Tali Messing, engineering manager at Facebook Tel Aviv
Sick Note
Jacob L. Freedman “Of course, Dr. Freedman. Machul, machul, machul”
Avoiding Health Columns Can Be Good for You
Rabbi Emanuel Feldman Only one reliable guide for good health: our Torah
Endnote: Side Notes
Riki Goldstein Most Jewish music industry entertainers have side profes...
Me, Myself, and Why
Faigy Peritzman Where there’s no heart and no love, there’s no point
Can’t Do It Without You
Sarah Chana Radcliffe When you step up to the plate, you build your home team
Eternal Joy
Mrs. Elana Moskowitz The joy of Succos is the fruit of spiritual victory
The Appraiser: Part III
D. Himy, M.S. CCC-SLP and Zivia Reischer Make sure your child knows his strengths
Hidden Special Needs
Rena Shechter You won’t see his special needs, but don’t deny them
Dear Wealthy Friend
Anonymous There’s no need for guilt. I am truly happy for you