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Monday, January 07, 2013

'Palestinian nationalism'

David Frum perfectly describes what's wrong with 'Palestinian nationalism.' And he totally misses the "why."
Palestinian nationalism often seems a mirror-image of the Zionist project, but with this one crucial difference: Over the half century before the foundation of the State of Israel, the Zionist movement pre-built the institutions of a state. The Zionist movement built not only a proto-government and the elements of an army, but charitable institutions, educational institutions, even artistic institutions. The Jewish state, when it came, was voted by the UN. But it was in no sense a gift from anybody, let alone an international organization.
When it came, that state did not have the boundaries its most ardent supporters would have wished. Much of the Jewish homeland lay outside the Jewish state, and remains outside that state to this day. But the practice of realism defined the founding generation of the state fully as much as the ideal of self-reliance. They accepted less than they dreamed of in order to achieve at least something of what they aspired to.
Fast forward to our present time. One of the two dominant parties within the Palestinian Authority (“State of Palestine”) still professes its ambition to destroy and replace Israel. The other tallies foreign aid as the largest item in its budget. Both realism and self-reliance are totally lacking.
The reason the 'Palestinians' of 2013 behave so differently than the Jews of 1947 is that even the 'Palestinians' understand (although most would never admit it) that there is really no such thing as 'Palestinian nationalism.' 'Palestinian nationalism' is a fiction that was made up by the Arab world to justify holding thousands of people hostage as 'refugees,' to maintain the demand to reclaim 'Muslim land' and to have an excuse to continue, after 65 years, to refuse to accept the existence of a Jewish state.

There is not even any such thing as a 'Palestinian people' any more than there is such a thing as a Jordanian or a Syrian. They are all Arab tribes, they are all related to each other by blood, and their first loyalty is to their clans and not to their nations. Nowhere in the Arab world - and particularly not among the 'Palestinians' - is there a sense of nationalistic pride like there is in the United States or Canada or even France or England. There is no such thing as a distinct 'Palestinian' people just like there is no such thing as a distinct 'Jordanian' people (70% of 'Jordan' is really 'Palestinians' and the ruling class comes from other Bedouin tribes and from the Hashemite family).

The 'Palestinians' are not preparing for a state because they have no desire to run schools, collect garbage, and provide water and electricity to their 'people.' The only reason - the ONLY reason - they demand a 'Palestinian' state is that they want to replace the State of Israel. That's the real goal and it's the only goal that matters to them.

Once one recognizes that reality, the arguments in favor of a 'Palestinian state' melt into the background. As well they should.

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