Kenneth Jacobson

The International Community’s Shameful Embrace of Palestinian Rejectionism

Abba Eban, Israel’s diplomat supreme, once famously said that the Palestinians “never miss an opportunity to miss an opportunity.” Back then he was talking about the Palestinian rejection of the UN partition plan in 1947, which, had they accepted, would have given them a state when there were no Palestinian refugees.

He could have also been talking about the post-War of Independence fought by Israel in which Arabs could have offered Israel a peace. Or about the opportunity following the Six-Days-War when there was the possibility of moving forward on a deal before there were any settlements in the territories. Or about Camp David in 2000, the Israeli withdrawal from Gaza in 2005, and the Annapolis conference in 2007, all of which offered the Palestinians the chance to move toward an independent state, only to see more Palestinian rejectionism.

The ideology of Palestinian rejectionism, which has only disdain for Israel and the Jewish people, is at the root of this extremism.

But what is so stark and continues to be true today following October 7 is not only that the ideology is still alive, but also that the international community has failed even to try to and separate the Palestinians from a worldview that has been so destructive to them. This reality is one of the great moral and practical failures of our time, having a terrible impact both on Israel and on the Palestinians themselves.

Whatever one’s view of Israel’s treatment of the Palestinians, it is self-evident that the fantasies of Palestinian triumphs over Israel have, at least until October 7, hurt the Palestinians themselves more than harming Israel.

And this ideology has been reinforced in a multitude of ways by the international community.

The latest version of this surrounds all the anti-Israel activity and statements after the massacre. It is not only that rationalizations of the deliberate murder of civilians, illustrated by leading figures like UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres and former President Barack Obama, are despicable. It also further reinforces for the Palestinians the conviction that they don’t have to change their behavior because they have world support.

Similarly, the worldwide demonstrations with their messages of “resistance by any means necessary” or “from the river to the sea” are, of course, grossly immoral in justifying the killing of Jews and espousing the destruction of the Jewish state. But again, on a practical level, not only is this generating anti-Israel and anti-Jewish hostility, it is reinforcing once again that the Palestinians need change nothing in their behavior.

And similarly, when the UN Human Rights Council passes resolution after resolution only condemning Israel, the Palestinian status quo is assured.

In sum, the international community has been complicit in the plight of the Palestinians. How ironic that is, because they claim their intention is to support the Palestinians in the face of Israeli oppression. But by misdiagnosing the problem, putting all the blame on Israel, they play into Palestinian fantasies about destroying the Jewish state. In the process, they help to leave the Palestinians exactly where they have been for decades, and open a path for new atrocities against Israelis.

Real friends of the Palestinians and real humanitarians would make clear that there will be no international support until they change their ways. Furthermore, their fantasies about eliminating Israel will no longer be legitimized both because they violate basic international law and because they stand in the way of any hope for progress toward a normal life for both Israelis and Palestinians.

If the international community truly wanted to bring change, it would insist in calling out all forms of Palestinian hatred, whether reflected in terrorism against Israel, rejection of any steps toward acceptance of the Jewish state or in the education of their youth to hate Israel and Jews.

Instead, we find ourselves in a deteriorating situation in which the most barbaric attack in the long history of this conflict has taken place, and still international leaders convey to Hamas and intransigent Palestinians that they will have support.

A responsible international community at this time should be empathizing with Israel and using the terrible events of October 7 to finally to bring sanity and responsibility to Palestinian leadership.

About the Author
Kenneth Jacobson is Deputy National Director of the Anti-Defamation League.
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