This question was posed by Ramzy Baroud of Al Jazeera who sought the opinions of ’14 independent Palestinian intellectuals from across Palestine and the diaspora’. As he said, although they subscribe to different ideological schools of thought and come from different generations and locations, they shared a lot of ideas.
They all want to change their corrupt, ageing leaders, unify under new unspecified leadership, recognise that the US is not an ally and stop taking their aid, and disown the two-state approach. Most want to beef up BDS, start the third intifada and increase armed resistance. All this is in the name of a new beginning, yet it sounds all too familiar.
They want a new future based on unity, credibility and competence but they have no ideas on how to achieve this. Their only unity is based on hating Israel, their credibility is linked to the efficacy of their violence and their competence is also about violence, boycott and sanctions.
Salman Abu Sitta, historian and president of the Palestine Land Society, says the major achievement of the past 70 years was to show that the Palestinians are not pitiful refugees who need food, shelter and work. And yet isn’t that just what UNWRA is all about? If the Palestinians don’t need it, why all the fuss about reducing its budget?
Is it possible that the reverse is true? That the achievements of the past 70 years have been to show that so long as you focus on attacking Jews, a great many countries will give you funds for food, shelter and work, thus maintaining your dependence?
He suggests that a newly elected Palestinian National Council could enable a young efficient, clean leadership to blossom. How is that going to happen when they been schooled in throwing rocks and hating Jews?
Ibrahim Sa’ad, writer and academic based in the UK, wants the Israelis to suffer the sour consequences of their actions if they refuse to adapt to the one-state solution. He thinks ‘sour consequences’ and a third intifada are a good fit, with building one democratic state with equal rights for all and guaranteeing the right of return for Palestinian refugees. Maybe he thinks it should be equal rights for everyone to have sour consequences?
Sam Bahour is Chairman of Americans for a Vibrant Palestinian Economy, based in Occupied Palestine, and his wonderfully titled organisation suggests that here at last is a practical person who is working to improve the lives and competencies of Palestinians. However, all he can do is to bad mouth Trump and the USA.
Of course, no one asked me what I would like to see as a future for the Palestinians. I’m only a Diaspora Jew who supports Israel and established an initiative called Pro Israel, Pro Palestinian, Pro Peace. We support co-existence, improving economic conditions for Palestinians and working towards a prosperous and peaceful future for Israel and the Palestinians. Setting an example for a conflicted world as to how win-win could work.
However, for these ideas to stand a chance they need support from both sides. There are plenty of Israelis who speak out for co-existence and Israeli charities which promote co-existence, but it doesn’t seem to be a word on the acceptable Palestinian activist lexicon. One day the Palestinians will need to wake up and smell the coffee and share it in peace with Israelis and with Zionists. Until then it seems they will focus on violence, dependency and hate leavened by corruption, division and illegitimate leaders.
So, it seems the answer to the question as to what is next for Palestine is easy. Same as before!