Why I Am Less Than Enthusiastic About The Palestinian “Cause”
Over the weekend I had the great misfortune of getting into an exchange with several pro-Palestinian advocates on Twitter. The cause of their outrage was a tweet of mine to the effect that it was disgusting that the IOC lets the “fake country of Palestine” compete while refusing to honor the victims of the Palestine Liberation Organization attack on Israeli athletes at the 1972 Munich games.
As with most Twitter spats, it quickly degenerated into name calling and taunts. The issues are complex and important and deserve a more thoughtful exploration than Twitter allows for. So the following is simply my thoughts on the Palestinians and why I (and I think many Americans) are hostile to their cause. This is not meant as a complete examination of a very old and complex matter (which is far beyond my competency in any event) but simply an explanation of my thoughts on the matter.
First, the reality is that at the moment there is no nation of “Palestine”. This is simply a fact that the fervent wishes of many can not change.
Second, my problem with letting “Palestine” compete is not simply a case of collective guilt or punishment, it’s that the Palestinian Authority, is the direct successor to the organization that committed an attack not just on Israel but on the Olympics themselves.
Another direct connection between the attack of 72 and today is the current head of the PA, Mahmoud Abbas. He was involved in the funding of the attack and praised the man who masterminded it. That the people who chose him as their leader should be allowed to compete in the Olympics is a disgrace.
As was pointed out many early leaders of Israel were members of Jewish independence movements that engaged in armed attacks. Again, I am not going to get into the whose hands are clean and whose aren’t argument but for the purpose of this discussion (“Palestine” and the Olympics) I will simply note, no current or former leader of Israel, nor the state of Israel itself has ever been involved in a military attack on the Olympics. The Palestinians simply can not say that.
To the broader question as to why I have very little sympathy with or for the Palestinian cause I lay the blame at the feet of the Palestinians themselves. This is a sentiment most Americans seem to share.
Why the disparity? For me and I think many others, it’s simply the nature of Palestinian society that we find abhorrent. Now, are there decent Palestinians who want nothing more than to have a country of their own that lives in peace and prosperity? I’m sure there are. The issue however is the majority who don’t (at least as expressed through their elective support for the likes of Abbas and the Hamas led “government” in (the non-occupied) Gaza Strip.
Again, Palestinian defenders will no doubt say that they have a lack of choices. Be that as it may, that’s not our problem or fault (or Israel’s). These are the people they have selected to represent them and they are being judged accordingly. If you want the world to have greater respect for you, get your own house in order.
That brings me to another issue…the culture of violence. Palestinians will say they are fighting an occupation but that does not excuse despicable attacks on civilians nor explain the high esteem in which blood thirsty monsters are celebrated.
The other night on Twitter I pointed one of my Palestinian interlocutors to the horrific image of Azia Salha gleefully showing off his bloody hands after ripping apart Israelis.
Television showed one of the attackers run to the second floor window and make a victory sign and then return to the fray. In the background, several men were seen pounding on something or someone on the floor. The crowd erupted into cheers. The attackers tossed one of the men out of the window, another out the door. One of the soldiers was seen dangling upside down, apparently attached to a rope. The crowd stood below, waving fists and cheering.
The body was dropped into the compound, where the mob stamped on the corpse and beat it with the broken bars of a window grille. The Israelis said the third soldier was dead.
My new Twitter friend replied with a link to Timothy McVeigh’s Wikipedia page. I suppose the point was every society has monsters. This is true. The difference? McVeigh is a figure of evil in the eyes of the vast majority of Americans. In fact, he was arrested, tried and executed for his crimes against the people of the United States by their government.
Salha? He was among over 1,000 various thugs, murderers and terrorists the Palestinians demanded Israel release in exchange for a single captured soldier.
Palestinians have also named squares after terrorists who have killed Americans and glorified many other killers. Their education system simply refuses to acknowledge the existence of Israel. Why is it that it’s impossible for Jews to live in Palestinian controlled areas but Palestinians can and do live in Israel?
I could go on and on with examples like this. No doubt supporters of the Palestinian cause would cite what they say are Israeli atrocities and defend their actions as a part of the war they are involved in. They are welcome to do that but they should not be surprised when most Americans reject their excuses.
This is not simply an image problem, it’s a substance problem. You can learn a lot about a society by what it values and honors.
The major problem I have with people who want to promote the Palestinian cause is what exactly have they done beyond a decades long campaign of violence and incitement to bring their state into existence? What hard choices have they demanded their leaders make? What compromises have they put on the table that even remotely approach what Benjamin Natenyahu offered at Wye River or Ehud Barack agreed to at Sharm El-Sheik, Camp David and Taba? Why would they expect any sympathy when their reaction to unprecedented Israeli offer after offer is a Second Intifada
Palestinians have chosen time and time again a maximalist strategy that looks like a one state (Palestine) solution. They are simply reaping the results of those choices.
At the height of the American colonies rejection of the British Crown, we laid out our complaints with the British but also the vision and values our nation would stand for. In word and in deeds we have been living by them (albeit unevenly at times) ever since.
What would a nation called”Palestine” look like? What would its founding and guiding principles be? What contribution would it make to the world? So far the well earned image of the Palestinian people as a whole (again, allowing for the realty of individual differences) is one of destroyers and killers. I’d like to think that’s not all an independent state of Palestine (if it ever exists) will be but in the absence of such words and deeds, what principle beyond an opposition to Israel am I and others supposed to embrace?
Palestinians will conduct their “resistance” how they wish but unless or until they offer a positive vision of what their nation will look like, don’t be surprised when others look at how you conduct yourselves now and say, “no thanks”.