Any reasonable chance of a “Palestinian state” died long before Yasser Arafat breathed his last in a Paris hospital. With a blaze of fresh publicity, the Palestinian Authority recently exhumed Arafat’s body from its crypt for “forensic tests” to prove the claim that he was poisoned by Israel. Just what these tests will prove is anyone’s guess. But natural causes from his numerous lingering illnesses from a dissipated life of excess are not leading contenders for the expected results. It is a prime example of what I have come to call Post-Palestinian Theater of the Absurd.
At the latest, the Post-Palestinian era began with Arafat’s death and the crowning of his bag man and crony, Mahmoud Abbas, as President of the Palestinian Authority. It’s hard to take Abbas seriously when his only talent seems to be refusing to come to the negotiating table, and saying “no” to every possible statehood plan offered him. Nevertheless, even though he lost control of half of his Palestinian state when Hamas took over Gaza in 2006, and his term of office ended in 2009, the world still acts like he is in control of the Palestinian state in waiting. In reality, he and his shrinking Fatah party are mostly huddled in Ramallah while Hamas and even more radical factions extend their terror cells into the so-called West Bank.
Oh, but he just got Palestine voted into the UN as a non-member state, 138 to 9 with 41 abstentions. Isn’t that a major step on the road to statehood? But, what is a non-member state at the UN? The only one most people can think of is the Vatican. The UN vote is just more post-Palestinian theater.
A real state takes care of its people: raises its own taxes, builds the needed infrastructure, encourages an economy, and had fairly well defined borders. The Palestinian Authority and the state it has declared has spent the past 18 years doing very few of these things. It has lived off unprecedented international gifts and loans, and built a police force to oppress its own people while offering little of substance. Pull the plug on the free money and what do you have left? Not much.
I Googled the terms “post Zionist” or “post Zionism” recently and got more than 50,000 hits. Trying the same search with the terms “post Palestinian” got a mere handful, and only eight mentions in the past year. The term postpalestinianism got none.
What is the point of my little online experiment? I would argue that the words that people use tend to shape their thinking. We live in a world that has gotten very used to the term post Zionist, but is just barely beginning to conceive of the concept of post Palestinian. It’s time to think a little faster, and a lot deeper, because we are already deep into the post-Palestinian era. However, most people seem to be clinging to the nostrum of a “two-state solution” and ignoring the evidence.
Let’s start with defining our terms. Consider the following definition from a 1,200 word article on the subject in the online encyclopedia Wikipedia:
Post-Zionism refers to the opinions of some Israelis, diaspora Jews and others, particularly in academia, that Zionism has fulfilled its ideological mission with the creation of the modern State of Israel in 1948, and that Zionist ideology should therefore be considered at an end.
A note carefully adds that neutrality of this article is disputed. Search Wikipedia for an entry for post Palestinian and there is none. Apparently all the free-wheeling intellects in the online world have not set down a definition of the term. So, let me try to define what I mean by post Palestinian.
Rather than an idea or ideology that has fulfilled its goals and is therefore no longer relevant, I would define post Palestinian as:
Post Palestinian: an idea that had failed to achieve any of its goals, and is increasingly irrelevant, if not downright detrimental, to the people it is supposed to represent.
Consider the first part of the definition, “an idea that has failed to achieve any of its goals.”
Now think over this while reading the following excerpts from Wikipedia about some basic “facts”:
• The Palestinian Liberation Organization is a political and paramilitary organization which was created in 1964. It is recognized as the “sole legitimate representative of the Palestinian people” by the United Nations and over 100 states with which it holds diplomatic relations, and has enjoyed observer status at the United Nations since 1974.
• The PLO was considered by the United States and Israel to be a terrorist organization until the Madrid Conference in 1991.
• The Palestinian Authority was formed in 1994, pursuant to the Oslo Accords between the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) and the government of Israel, as a five-year interim body, during which final status negotiations between the two parties were to take place. As of 2011, more than sixteen years following the formulation of the PA, a final status has yet to be reached.
• November 17, 1998, Israel’s 120 member parliament, the Knesset, approved the Wye River Memorandum by a vote of 75–19 agreeing to turn over approximately 97 percent of the so-called West Bank, Golan and Gaza areas to the PA
I could add that former prime minister Ehud Olmert offered a similar deal in 2006. It was rejected outright.
Has Palestinianism achieved any of its goals here? Not even close. In fact, the record of efforts to create a Muslim-ruled state in the Jewish homeland has consistently failed since the UN partition in 1948. Three major wars: 1956, 1967 and 1973, plus an un-ending terror war against the Jewish people have proved time and again that there is no partner for peace here.
What about the second part of my definition: “is increasingly irrelevant, if not downright detrimental, to the people it is supposed to represent.”
Consider this report released in November 2012 by the Jerusalem Institute for Justice
According to research conducted by the Jerusalem Institute of Justice, the Palestinians have received an estimated 25 times more aid, per capita, than European citizens under the Marshall Plan for the reconstruction and economic recovery of Europe following WWII (adjusted for currency inflation).
The Palestinian leadership, rather than improving the living conditions of their people with this funding, have instead violated their human rights through arbitrary detentions, torture and cruel punishment, restriction of freedom of the press, denial of religious and minority rights, and oppression of women and children. (http://jij.org.il/blog/?p=952)
Even the PA-loving US State Department in its 2012 annual report on human rights criticized Palestinian security forces for “abusing detainees and restricting civil liberties.” It noted widespread social discrimination and abuse against women, discrimination against persons with disabilities, and child labor remained serious problems.”
The great Soviet socialist experiment took over the vast Russian empire in 1918 and became the world’s second greatest superpower for almost half a century before crumbling into a cluster of states of the former Soviet Socialist Republic (FSSR). A few diehards may argue that communism is a viable system—and most of them are in Israel—but one of the greatest “isms” of the twentieth century is dead and buried.
I think it’s time to hold a wake for another entrenched “ism” whose time is long gone: “Palestinianism,” an idea that had failed to achieve any of its goals, and is increasingly irrelevant, if not downright detrimental, to the people it is supposed to represent. Maybe Yasser’s body will show up at the party.