The Palestinian Fan Club
In movies involving fraternities, there is usually a hazing scene where pledges are repeatedly — and willingly — paddled from behind. Listening to people who routinely claim that Israel is solely responsible for the absence of peace and could solve the problem by being nice to the Palestinians reminds me of those pledges.
I am not referring in this article to blatant antisemites. I’m talking about the Tom Friedmans, Roger Cohens, and Peter Beinarts of the world, who proclaim their love for Israel while myopically casting blame for the conflict there solely on Israel. I am not sure if the blame-Israel-first crowd is terminally naïve, ignorant of history, oblivious — or all three.
When people talk, for example, about how the Palestinians are so committed to the land they claim as their own, you never hear them mention the fact that most gave up their land rather than fight for it in 1948. Apologists speciously claim that the Jews drove the Palestinians out and turned them into refugees; however, the handful of Palestinians who were expelled pales in comparison to the tens of thousands who left on their own accord, many believing that they would return after the Jews were driven into the sea.
We hear ad nauseum how the Palestinians are suffering under Israeli “occupation,” yet neither the Palestinians nor their supporters were concerned with the treatment of the Palestinians during the 19 years that Jordan occupied the West Bank and Egypt the Gaza Strip. The Palestinians did not fight for “their” land during those years; they also never demanded statehood. Instead, they engaged in terror in the hope of seizing the Jews’ land.
That period is not the only evidence that the Palestinians have no interest in independence, at least not if it involves co-existing with a Jewish state. In addition to the period from 1948-1967, the Palestinians have had no fewer than six opportunities for independence dating back to 1937, which they have rejected. As recently as 2006, they passed up the chance for independence in nearly the entire West Bank and Gaza Strip.
Then you have critics who will at least acknowledge that the Palestinians have contributed to their own plight, but say that this does not excuse the “crimes” of the Israelis. I think political scientist Norman Ornstein explained the phenomenon of trying to balance the behavior of Israelis and Palestinians when he said, “A balanced treatment of an unbalanced phenomenon distorts reality.”
Does anyone seriously believe, for example, that Hamas would abandon its religiously-inspired commitment to conduct a jihad to drive the Jews from the Middle East if Israel treated the group more nicely? Wasn’t it nice that Israel withdrew every Jew and soldier from Gaza? And what was the response? Hamas bombarded Israel with rockets. In doing so, they demonstrated that the idea that Israel could trade land for peace was a myth.
We also hear how Palestinian human rights are trampled by the Israelis, but it is not Israel that muzzles Palestinian journalists, locks up proponents of peace, looks the other way while women are murdered in “honor killings,” persecutes gays, and denies Palestinians the civil rights that many Americans take for granted. No, the Palestinian Authority and Hamas are solely responsible for those deprivations, and yet the Palestinians’ fan club doesn’t care.
While foreigners call for boycotts of Israel and condemn its treatment of Palestinians, the Arabs in the West Bank and inside Israel vote with their feet. More than 100,000 Palestinians are grateful to have the opportunity to work in Israel; thousands are also employed in the settlements derided by critics. These Palestinians care more about putting food on their families’ tables than ideology and the empty slogans of the BDS movement.
Palestinians with Israeli citizenship react with horror and disdain at any suggestion that they should move to a Palestinian state. Having experienced the freedom and benefits of living in a democracy, they have no desire to give that up to become subjects of the corrupt autocrats in Ramallah and Gaza. I wonder how many members of the Palestinian fan club would give up their lives to live under Palestinian rule.
According to these critics, Israel is expected to make unilateral concessions because it is the stronger party, while ignoring how the Palestinians have responded in the past to such steps. Before the Gaza nightmare, there was the murder of more than 1,000 Israelis by terrorists following Israel’s signing of the Oslo Accords and withdrawal from roughly 40 percent of the West Bank. Not to worry, though — if Israel just gives up more land, the terror will magically disappear.
Settlements are blamed for the absence of peace, ignoring the fact that their growth could have been halted at any time by the Palestinians agreeing to share the land. Detractors assert that land in the West Bank is Palestinian, and ignore the Jewish communities wiped out by the Arabs in Hebron in 1929 and Kfar Etzion in 1948, and the Jewish connection to the land dating back millennia.
Many two-state advocates believe the Palestinians are entitled to statehood simply because they demand it. They are willing to divide Jerusalem despite the fact that the Palestinians have no claim whatsoever to the city beyond their desire to make it an Arab capital for the first time in history.
Those same people have no problem calling for the removal of Jews from their homes, but would never countenance the ejection of Arabs from theirs. They would be outraged if Arabs were prevented from becoming citizens of Israel, but have no objection to the Palestinians declaring their intention to make their state Jew-free.
Despite all the absurd propaganda about Israel engaging in “ethnic cleansing,” the Palestinian population has grown exponentially. Is there any doubt, however, what the Palestinians and other Arabs would have done if they had won the wars they started?
The Palestinians and their supporters do not believe their actions should have any consequences. Israel was victorious in the 1967 war, but is expected to give up the territory it won defending itself. This is an incentive for perpetual conflict. If Israel gives up the West Bank, the Palestinians can always go to war to try to liberate all of “Palestine” — knowing if they lose, they can demand that Israel return any land it captures and rely on the international community and their coterie of apologists to back them.
Many of the Palestinians’ supporters are unwilling to acknowledge that radical Islamists will never accept a Jewish state on “Muslim land.” They simply turn a blind eye to the Hamas charter, Fatah’s calls for the liberation of Al-Aqsa, antisemitic sermons by imams, and suicide bombers who believe killing Jews offers a shortcut to paradise. The Palestinian fan club also has no problem with the pay-to-slay policy of the Palestinian Authority, or the glorification of murderers.
I, for one, have no intention of being paddled by these people anymore.
Mitchell Bard is Executive Director of AICE and Jewish Virtual Library.