The Palestinian Victimhood Narrative No Longer Sells
After decades of accepting the idea that Palestinians deserve American financial assistance without offering anything in return, President Trump has finally said, “Enough.” Fed up with their lies and obduracy, he decided the Palestinians are not entitled to US taxpayer dollars to pay terrorists, support phony refugees, and line the pockets of corrupt leaders who enrich themselves, their families, and their cronies.
Cutting aid to UNRWA was long overdue because UNRWA is a poster child for the fraudulence of Palestinian claims. UNRWA has invented five million refugees and created a welfare system to guarantee their perpetual misery. The refugee problem could have been solved decades ago, as UNRWA originally envisioned, if the leaders in Lebanon, Egypt, Jordan, and Syria gave the Palestinians citizenship, took them out of camps, and allowed them to assimilate into their societies, where they already shared a common language, religion, and culture.
And how can anyone justify the fact that Palestinian leaders keep their people confined to camps. After Israel evacuated Gaza, the Palestinians said that they would build housing for refugees on the rubble of the settlements, and received billions of dollars for the project. I don’t think a single house was built for a single refugee.
Where did the money go?
To Hamas, for building rockets and tunnels, and taking care of themselves at the expense of the people. Perhaps one day the refugees will grow tired of uselessly railing against Israel, and protest their jailors from Fatah and Hamas.
The Palestinians’ enablers immediately predicted the loss of US funding would create a humanitarian catastrophe in the territories. But where are the other 190 countries in the world that could fill the gap? Most of these countries declare their fealty to the Palestinian cause and vote for every UN resolution that feeds Palestinian fantasies. Of course, casting a vote is easy, because it costs them nothing. If they really cared, do you really believe a coalition of states, or the EU alone, could not replace the few hundred million dollars the United States was providing? The Arab oil producers could fund the Palestinian Authority’s annual budget out of a week’s oil revenues.
What if all the groups and individuals promoting the antisemitic boycott of Israel gave money to help the Palestinians rather than spending their money on convincing artists not to perform in Israel, pushing propaganda on college campuses, or interfering with employment opportunities for Palestinians who want to work for Israelis? I’m sure Roger Waters, Viggo Mortensen, Penelope Cruz, and the other thousand or so celebrity BDS advocates could come up with enough money to take care of the people they claim to care for so much.
Come to think of it, why haven’t the Palestinians, who love to copy the pro-Israel community’s ideas, sold Palestine Bonds. Israel raises more than $1 billion from donors in the US alone. Surely all the supporters of JVP and SJP, CAIR, and the other groups professing concern for the Palestinians would rush to their brokers to buy Palestine Bonds.
But the PA has no money to repay the bondholders. Maybe if tens of millions of dollars were not going to pay terrorists in Israeli jails and the families of martyrs they could have a bond campaign. But, if they did raise money from bonds, would the corrupt Palestinian leaders just embezzle it and continue to pay the terrorists?
People complaining about Trump have forgotten that the Palestinians conceded nothing to Obama. To the contrary, the Palestinians grew more obstinate in reaction to Obama’s sympathy for their cause. Mahmoud Abbas, who had been negotiating with Ehud Olmert before Obama took office, refused to negotiate with Benjamin Netanyahu for his entire term.
Obama followed the tired, cliched playbook that produced 70 years of failure in US diplomacy. Trump’s team is blowing up the entire Arabist approach. Unlike their predecessors, they understand the Palestinians’ negotiating strategy has been to secure Israeli compromises without making any of their own. They would then use the last Israeli position as the starting point for new talks, aimed at drawing further concessions from their interlocutors.
According to The New Yorker’s Adam Entous, Jared Kushner, Jason Greenblatt, and David Friedman compare the Palestinians’ decision to reject Israel’s previous offers to missing out on a chance to buy Google stock 20 years ago. Now it’s too late to get the old price, and they must pay a lot more in return.
Equally important, Trump has smashed the sacred cows of the peace process — Jerusalem and refugees. The Arabists believed that Israel needed to re-divide Jerusalem and predicted an apocalypse when Trump decided to take Jerusalem off the table by recognizing it as Israel’s capital. Once again, they were wrong. Trump’s move was critical to disabusing the Palestinians of their fantasies of solely claiming Jerusalem as their capital city.
The Arabists bought into the Palestinian narrative about five million refugees expelled in the Nakba, and expected Israel to accept at least a limited “right of return,” knowing that this was suicide for Israel as a Jewish state. Trump, however, refuses to accept the UNRWA definition of refugees and the administration is calculating a realistic figure for the actual number of refugees — probably more like 150-200,000 — that would be near the 100,000 number that Israel has long offered to accept on a humanitarian basis.
Israel will be expected to make concessions, including perhaps evacuating some settlements, but these will likely be consistent with past Israeli offers.
With the exception of the fanatics in Tehran who care about the Palestinians only to the extent that they can be used to advance Iranian interests and threaten Israel, most Arab and Muslim leaders have grown tired of the Palestinian issue. Arab leaders were said to fear the “Arab street” rising up against them if they dared abandon the Palestinian cause. It was always a myth. When the street did not react after the US recognized Jerusalem and moved its embassy, the lack of concern for the Palestinians became clearer than ever.
Trump’s peace plan is unlikely to succeed, but this has nothing to do with the elements of the plan and everything to do with Palestinian irredentism. From an ideological, Islamic, psychological, and political standpoint, the Palestinians have no desire for peace with Israel.
Ideologically, the Palestinians are led by the old guard that has never been psychologically capable of abandoning the idea of liberating all of “Palestine,” which means they are no more willing to give up Haifa than they are Jerusalem. From the Islamic standpoint, it is inconceivable that what the Palestinians consider Muslim land should be ruled by Jews or that dhimmis can rule over Muslims. Psychologically, the Palestinians feel aggrieved, consider the establishment of Israel the “original sin,” and need to feel their grievances (such as acknowledging the “right of return”) are addressed. Politically, surveys indicate the Palestinian public has little interest in peace without Israeli capitulation — and even if they felt differently, they have no say under their dictatorial leaders.
The Palestinians deserve better, but, as The Wall Street Journal editorialized, “If the Palestinians want to be treated with the respect of a peace partner, they have to first show a desire for peace.” And it really has to start with the Palestinian people, who are suffering and discontented with the denial of their civil and human rights by their leaders, but have vented that frustration on Israel. They will have to redirect their kites and rocks and bombs at the Muqata in Ramallah, and the headquarters of Hamas. They will have to demand control of their future and abandon the ideology, religious fanaticism, and politics of the past, and open themselves to new opportunities.