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July 9, 2006
Understanding The Palestinian Death Wish

Barry Rubin attempts to explain to Westerners the reasons why our efforts to deal with the Palestinians on a rational basis have no hope of success. The West offers incentives that have no traction in the Palestinian culture, Rubin tells us, and until we learn that we will never discover that the Palestinians fight because they cannot accept reality:

The things many in the West think motivates Palestinians - getting a state, ending the occupation - are of no interest in their own right. Indeed, the only way to maintain the pretense is a combination of amnesia and abandoning of the kind of rational analysis used to view any other political situation in the world. ...

HERE ARE the basic points for understanding Palestinian politics:

  • There are hardly any moderate Palestinians in public life and even those few generally keep their mouths shut, or echo the militant majority. With few exceptions - countable on your fingers - a Palestinian moderate in practice can usually be defined as someone who apologizes for terrorism in good English. The mantra of "helping the moderates" cannot work under these conditions.

  • Fatah and PLO strategy rests on the belief that defeat is staved off as long as you keep fighting. Their only true victory is to continue the struggle. Of course, the cost of this is not only violence, suffering and disruption, but also a failure to achieve anything material.

    This is why the "cycle of violence" concept is useless. Palestinians don't attack Israel because Israel attacks them, but because that is their sole program.

  • This makes more sense when one reviews the long history of Western engagement in attempting to reach a two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. When Ehud Barak offered Yasser Arafat 95% of the territory he demanded for a Palestinian state, Western leaders thought that Bill Clinton achieved a major breakthrough. Clinton could not be faulted for thinking so; a string of American presidents had pressed Israel into returning the West Bank and Gaza in exchange for peace, and Clinton had finally succeeded in making it happen.

    Of course, Arafat turned it down. Why? Because the deal gave him what he demanded, but not what he wanted. His answer to the Israeli offer came in the form of two intifadas, while Europe continued to castigate the Israelis for their continuing oppression of the Palestinians who terrorized them.

    Last year, Ariel Sharon decided to give back Gaza unilaterally. The disengagement gave the Palestinians their own territory to govern, and it solved a tough military problem for the IDF in protecting the few thousand settlers among over a million Palestinians. One would have expected the Palestinians to celebrate and establish their own governance of the territory, especially since the Israelis gave back all of it. What happened? They complained that the Israelis left without negotiating for Gaza's return, and then paid them back by using Gaza as a launching pad for hundreds of rocket strikes. In the meantime, the Palestinians did nothing to maintain civil control of Gaza.

    They do not want peace. They want Israel. Nothing short of that will satisfy the Palestinians, and all of the talk in the world will do not one whit of good until they understand that we will not allow them to destroy Israel, and of course neither will the Israelis.

    This, as Rubin explains, is why the Palestinians do not care about economic development or rational self-government. Hamas, Fatah, and Islamic Jihad emulate the Middle Eastern kleptocracies to the extent that they continue to keep their people poor and radicalized, ready to martyr themselves rather than live peacefully in prosperity. The Palestinians themselves support these leaders because they give them what they want -- a purpose in life and especially in death: the destruction of Israel and death to the Jews.

    The West needs to shut down the negotiating process and allow Israel to defend itself. No one in the Palestinian political structure has any interest in peaceful co-existence with Israel. If they did suddenly endorse it, the Palestinians would realize how badly they have been led for decades and would probably rise up and kill them, and still would take another generation to figure out that their misery comes from their own bad decisions. Our interference in that process only delays the eventual epiphany.

    Sphere It Digg! View blog reactions
    Posted by Ed Morrissey at July 9, 2006 10:36 PM

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