1959 Yasser Arafat, Fatah


Yasser Arafat, Fatah

The magazine was to be called Our Palestine: The Call to Life. It was Arafat himself who provided most if not all of the money to make it possible. ‘I was financing it because, let me say, my circumstances were convenient,’ he said. Of the remaining four members of the first Fatah cell Arafat was, in fact, the only one who had the opportunity to make money. Kuwait was about to experience a sensational development explosion. There were fortunes to be made. From the moment of his arrival Arafat had set himself up as a construction and contracting engineer, working first for the P.W.B. (Public Works Department). In the period from 1957 to 1964 he did make a great deal of money; and as Khalad Hassan has said, there is no doubt that the future leader of the P.L.O. could have become a millionaire several times over if he had stayed in Kuwait as a businessman. ‘But I was not interested in the money for myself,’ Arafat said. ‘I knew I would have to finance our activities until we had established our organization.’

It was shortly before the publication of the first edition of Our Palestine in 1959 that Arafat, Wazir and their associates chose the name Al-Fatah. Said Abu Jihad: ‘It came about in this way. We said we were a movement ― not a group, not a front and not an organization. But a movement for what? A movement for national liberation. Therefore we fixed our name. We were the movement for the national liberation of Palestine ― Harakat Al-Tahrir Al-Watani Al-Filastini.’ Fatah came from reversing the initial letters.

Abu Jihad punctuated his story with chuckles and laughter. ‘Many of the editorials were written under the signature of Fatah. Sometimes it was the name in full. Sometimes it was F.T.H. And everybody was asking the same question. “Who is this Mr. Fatah?” they were saying!’

Arafat himself put the first monthly edition of the magazine to bed.

The content of Our Palestine was crude propaganda. When it spoke about the future it was totally uncompromising. Right was defined as ‘everything that hastens the disappearance of Israel’ Good was ‘that which leads to the collapse of the usurper state’. And peace was ‘vengeance against the butchers of Deir Yassin and the criminals of Qibya’

Source: Hart, Alan. Arafat, Terrorist or Peacemaker? (p. 127 – 128)

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