A Conversation with Nizar Rayyan

I’ve spoken to a handful of guerilla leaders, terrorist leaders, and members of terrorist organizations. The Atlantic’s Jeffrey Goldberg has spoken to more. He recalls one of those conversations with Nizar Rayyan, whom the Israelis just killed in Gaza, for a piece in the New York Times called “Why Israel Can’t Make Peace with Hamas”:http://www.nytimes.com/2009/01/14/opinion/14goldberg-1.html?_r=1&pagewanted=all.
It’s long for an opinion piece, and it’s pointless to summarize, so I’ll just give you the beginning:


In the summer of 2006, at a moment when Hezbollah rockets were falling virtually without pause on northern Israel, Nizar Rayyan, husband of four, father of 12, scholar of Islam and unblushing executioner, confessed to me one of his frustrations.
We were meeting in a concrete mosque in the Jabalya refugee camp in northern Gaza. Mr. Rayyan, who was a member of the Hamas ruling elite, and an important recruiter of suicide bombers until Israel killed him two weeks ago (along with several of his wives and children), arrived late to our meeting from parts unknown.
He was watchful for assassins even then, and when I asked him to describe his typical day, he suggested that I might be a spy for Fatah. Not the Mossad, mind you, not the C.I.A., but Fatah.
What a phantasmagorically strange conflict the Arab-Israeli war had become! Here was a Saudi-educated, anti-Shiite (but nevertheless Iranian-backed) Hamas theologian accusing a one-time Israeli Army prison official-turned-reporter of spying for Yasir Arafat’s Fatah, an organization that had once been the foremost innovator of anti-Israeli terrorism but was now, in Mr. Rayyan’s view, indefensibly, unforgivably moderate.
In the Palestinian civil war, Fatah, which today controls much of the West Bank and is engaged in intermittent negotiations with Israel, had become Mr. Rayyan’s direst enemy, a party of apostates and quislings. “First we must deal with the Muslims who speak of a peace process and then we will deal with you,” he declared.


Read the rest. “All of it”:http://www.nytimes.com/2009/01/14/opinion/14goldberg-1.html?_r=1&pagewanted=all.


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