Palestinian Arabs want a country of their own. They want to call it Palestine.
Many people find this offensive. Which is strange.
When the Palestinian Jews declared the independent Jewish state of Israel in 1948, with the backing of the majority of the world community, the intention of that same world community – including the fledgling state of Israel – was that local Palestinian Arabs would also declare their own independence in their own state – Palestine.
As history has made clear in the six and a half decades since 1948, the Palestinian Arabs did not so much want their own independent state as the destruction of the independent Jewish state.
And that aggressive, self-destructive attitude is what is preventing Palestinian Arab independence to this very day.
The Palestinian Arab leadership and its various backers over the decades have historically failed to factor one prime consideration into their deliberations: the Jewish state of Israel is here, and it is here to stay. The more pressure is applied to ignore this obvious truth, the more rock-steady the foundation on which Israel stands.
There is a good reason for this: over and above the obvious religious, historical and national foundations of the Jewish state of Israel in Israel, nobody likes a bully. The Palestinian Arabs and their various champions have historically bullied the rest of the world into supporting their cause, with the Palestinian Arabs themselves sitting idly by and picking up the cheques that the world community has been blackmailed into paying, month after month, year after year for 65 long years – and with no end in sight.
Palestinian Arab independence could happen today just as it was intended to happen back in 1948, Back then they firmly declined it in favour of launching their onslaught on the Jewish state and formalising the state of war that the Arab and Muslim worlds initiated with Israel – a state of war that today, 65 years later still embraces virtually every Arab state and most other Muslim states.
This state of war, or at best diplomatic, cultural, commercial and economic belligerence, has seen an existential gap open up and widen between Israel and the Arab world. While maintaining its pressure on the Jewish state, the Arab world has fallen dangerously behind in virtually every criterion by which modern society is judged: literacy, academia, culture, industry, democracy, welfare, health, human rights, women’s rights, freedom of worship, minority rights.
Israel, meantime, has surged ahead in all these areas and more.
Nowhere can this be seen more clearly than in the Palestinian Arab mindset. Mahmoud Abbas, the Palestinian Fatah leader in Ramallah, represents one of two major Palestinian national movements, each mutually exclusive to the other and each engaged in a life-and-death struggle with the other. Ismail Haniyeh, the Palestinian Hamas leader, represents the second major Palestinian national movement, and he reigns supreme in Gaza. Abbas declines to hold elections, while Haniyeh’s election victory was ensured by the gun.
Then there is Jordan, occupying the 80 percent of Mandate territory that was originally designated for Palestinian Arabs. More than 70 percent of the population of Jordan is Palestinian Arab. Jordan is the de facto Palestinian Arab state, Palestine One if you will, alongside Palestine Two in Gaza and Palestine Three in the Jewish provinces of Judea and Samaria, which the Palestinian Arabs want Israel to gift to them.
One part of the problem, however, is that unlike in civilised society when one asks politely for a gift, the Palestinian Arabs have instead decided that they are too proud to ask Jews for anything. They still envision their nascent state as stretching all the way between the Mediterranean Sea and the Jordan River, encompassing and wiping out the Jewish state in its entirety. They feel the route to statehood in any part of the territory is not by asking politely or negotiating, but through violence, bestiality, indoctrination, the targeting of young Jewish children in rock-throwing attacks, by raining down rockets on schools, by carrying out suicide bombings in restaurants and shopping malls.
Having said that, the heart of the problem is not actually the Palestinian Arabs.
By far the bigger responsibility lies with a world community that acquiesces to what in any other context would rightly be regarded as punishable behaviour.
The world community does not merely acquiesce to the constant hissy-fits of the Palestinian Arabs – it actually pays them to conduct themselves in this way. Via a variety of UN-financed organisations and myriad NGOs that are little more than government departments (predominantly EU) shielded by a cosmetic veneer of humanitarian concern, all operating an undercover foreign policy centring on a massive experiment in social engineering, with the Jewish state required to pay the price.
What all this outside interference does is to prolong the ongoing conflict, it does not help bring it to an end.
Because, fundamentally, there is a reason for the massive discrepancy between how the Jewish state has progressed, and how the Arab world in general, and the Palestinian Arabs in particular, have developed.
That reason is UN and in recent years EU interference. The more financial aid the UN and EU have poured into the Palestinian morass without insisting on any form of reciprocity, transparency, and democracy, the more bogged down the Palestinian Arabs have become in their self-inflicted and self-perceived victimhood. 850,000 Jews were expelled from Arab states following Israel’s independence, and by the end of the 1960s not a single Jew was living in refugee camps anywhere in Israel. The last of the temporary refugee housing was torn down in the early 1970s, replaced by proper homes. This in a country that had to start everything from scratch in 1948. Needless to say, all Jewish refugees were given Israeli citizenship following their arrival in the Jewish state.
Thanks to UN policy and funding, however – most notably via UNRWA – the exact opposite happened with the Palestinian Arab refugees created by the war that the Palestinian High Command and the neighbouring Arab states launched against Israel. The pan-Arab “war of annihilation” against the Jewish state produced about 650,000 Arab refugees. But unlike the Jewish refugees of the Arab ethnic cleansing, the Palestinian Arab refugees were denied citizenship in every Arab country apart from Jordan, which after all was the original Palestinian Arab state, and they were kept in abject poverty and squalor in refugee camps in the surrounding Arab states. A status that has plagued them to this very day. In the Lebanon, for instance, Palestinian Arabs may not hold certain jobs, and they may not own real estate. Such draconian measures recall the Nazi era in Germany a mere seven decades ago. The UN seems content to ignore blatant disrimination among its own member states.
There is a remedy for this disgraceful state of affairs. That remedy involves holding the Arab states accountable for the discriminatory practices they apply to Palestinian Arabs, and it involves making all future funding of the Palestinian Arabs conditional on the termination of their refugee status. As things stand today, Palestinian Arab refugee status is inherited from one generation to the other, which explains why the original 650,000 have now grown to (in their own estimates) 4 million. No other ethnic, national, religious or other group in the world is accorded this odd, illogical, immoral and illegal status of inherited refugee-hood. Once again, the Palestinian Arabs have been singled out for discriminatory practices – by themselves and by their Arab brethren. The world community apparently believes it is doing the Palestinian Arabs a favour by rendering them permanently unaccountable for their own future, but in actual fact the world community is only bolstering the Palestinian Arabs’ refusal to confront reality.
And the reality is that no amount of wishful thinking is going to wish Israel away – not even following the current US administration’s boost to Iranian hegemony and the incumbent US president’s remarkably aggressive policies vis-à-vis the Jewish state.
Unless the world community wishes to see a continuation of its increasingly scarce funds going down the Palestinian drain with nothing to show for it bar rockets, suicide attacks and an increasingly fanatical population, it is going to have to rethink its strategy and embrace the principle of reciprocity: UN and EU funding by all means, but every act of Palestinian Arab aggression, whether in the form of a rocket from Gaza or a street named in honour of a mass-murderer, will be met with a deduction in financial aid. Intransigence has to cost.
Because intransigence that shows itself in the form of increased Islamist fanaticism, as engendered both by Abbas’s Fatah and Haniyeh’s Hamas, impacts not only Israel. The number of European Islamists fighting in Syria, Afghanistan, Somalia bears witness to the globalisation of Islamist interests. The number of vicious Islamist attacks on the streets of London, Boston, Madrid, Bali, New York, Buenos Aires, New Delhi, Burgas, Stockholm, all clearly indicate the price that the West pays for encouraging fanaticism instead of demanding accountability and reciprocity for diplomatic support and funding.
The West deludes itself by talking about a “Palestinian-Israeli” conflict for which it has no responsibility and in which it claims it is only aiding the downtrodden victims of one party. When in reality it is not a Palestinian-Israeli but in fact a pan-Arab-Israeli conflict and, indeed, particularly fuelled by the mullahs in Tehran, a wider Islamist-Jewish conflict.
That conflict is exploding in places far geographically removed from Ramallah, Amman, Gaza City and Jerusalem. And it is doing so with increasingly frequency – and increasing ferocity.
It is time the UN and EU stopped investing hard-earned tax revenues in the wasteful Palestinian Arab addiction to violence, intransigence, corruption and fanaticism. And instead started demanding reciprocity, transparency and democracy. On pain of withheld financial aid.
In the name of peace.