Though the two probably think they're scoring big gotcha points against Matt, what they're actually doing, of course, is accidentally or purposefully misreading his whittled down analysis of the American role in inflaming Hamas-Fatah hostilities. Either way, it's sort of an embarrassing way to participate in what should be honorable public discourse.
Matt said, "Fatah used to rule the roost on the Palestinian side of the Green Line. Then the US proclaimed that the Palestinian Authority needed to implement political reforms and hold elections. The Palestinians went to the polls and duly booted out the ruling party in favor of the main opposition party. At this point, the US government, apparently run by morons, realized that the main opposition to Fatah was . . . Hamas."
Now, Noah Pollak is trying to use that quote to imply that, because Matt supported the Palestinian elections, he must have somehow confused himself about the history and the legitimacy of that milestone. But, not surprisingly, that interpretation of things ignores the very next lines of Matt's post: "the implicit logic of the election scheme seemed to be an American belief that elections would bring a new quisling government to power in order to replace Fatah. Instead, of course, Hamas won. At which point the United States embarked upon a campaign of funneling all monies away from the Hamas-led Palestinian Authority government and directly into the hands of Fatah-run security services. Shockingly, this has tended to fuel rather than constrain intra-Palestinian fighting."
Perhaps I also have spent too much time at coffee shops and not enough time roughing it in the Middle East a la Peretz and Pollak, but I don't see how anyone could read this and think that Matt is criticizing the administration for supporting the elections. There were three ways America could have approached the Palestinian elections: 1). They could have opposed them altogether; 2). They could have supported them unreservedly; 3). They could have articulated support for the elections and then, when they found themselves displeased by the outcome, directly undermined the new leadership. They picked option three. Matt isn't criticizing the administration for supporting the election per se but for trying to sabotage the outcome of the election they'd once supported.
Remember this is not to say--and Matt has never said--that President Bush is the one and only reason Hamas and Fatah are fighting each other. It's to say that, because Bush and his team seemingly don't know anything, they have played a significant and identifiable role in fostering that violence. And, despite attempts by Marty Peretz and Noah Pollak to obfuscate that part of the dynamic, people should know this.