The phrase 'peaceful Palestinian' is almost an oxymoronhopelessly naive view of the 'Palestinians' that has led to the disaster known as the 'Oslo process.'
I have no doubt that Palestinians, like Israelis, seek normalcy. Like us, they want a better future for themselves and their children. If they could speak freely I am sure they would say that they want the concrete and metal that went into the tunnels to go into schools and clinics instead.
Any observer can see this plainly in Israel’s relationship with the Palestinian Authority in the West Bank — a relationship which, while far from perfect, certainly reflects an aspiration toward normalcy at its most basic level: toward improvement, not destruction.
How can I be so sure? Well, I saw this thirst for normalcy with my own eyes just this summer in New England, while visiting the "Seeds for Peace" summer camp held annually in Maine.
There my wife, Ofra, and I met not only Israeli campers of all religions, we also chatted with Palestinians. My Arabic-speaking wife conversed with them in their mother tongue.
We didn't talk politics, of course, just about how wonderful it was to enjoy life itself. We spoke civilly, shook hands, smiled and even laughed with each other. Indeed, in this serene New England atmosphere we saw so clearly how good fences make good neighbors.Maybe it's something about the air in Maine. Jonathan Tobin, using a New York Times article by architecture critic Michael Kimmelman in which Kimmelman discusses the trials and tribulations of building a town square after 65 years in the Al-Fawwar 'Palestinian refugee camp' south of Hebron, sees things in a far different light.
While the Arab states colluded with Palestinian leaders to keep the refugees homeless in order that they may be preserved as props in an endless war against Israel, the residents of the camps have participated in this dispiriting and pointless charade. They have often resisted any improvements in their lot because to accept anything more than charity and subsistence—provided by UNRWA, the United Nations agency dedicated to keeping Palestinian refugees homeless—was a tacit acceptance that they weren’t going back to what is now Israel.
As Kimmelman tries to argue, the fact that the residents of the camps have accepted the building of squares or ball fields can be interpreted as a sign that their ideological quest is being set aside in order to deal with their current needs. But even in this slightly hopeful context, it is hard to ignore the intransigent nature of the culture of these camps that provides an obstacle to peace that seems impossible to overcome.
As a Palestinian architect told Kimmelman, the right of return is “an architectural question in one respect,” as it is a question of the redistribution of land and buildings. The quest to give these people better lives and a sense of dignity that has been denied them is one that deserves sympathy and support. But, unfortunately, even in the context of a discussion about improving the camps and recognizing that they are more than mere way stations on a path to Israel’s destruction, the rhetoric of even the most moderate voices in this piece took it as a given that “return” to Israel, i.e. the end of the Jewish state, was a given. Though an almost equal number of Jews were forced to flee from their homes in the Arab and Muslim world at the same time and made new lives in Israel and the West, the Palestinian Arabs seem to prefer ongoing misery to acceptance of the fact that they must move on.
What we must recognize here is that the pathology of hate is not merely about Palestinian violence but also the ingrained beliefs passed on from generation to generation that alone of all historical events of the last century, the creation of Israel must be reversed. Unlike the countless millions of other refugees from wars of aggression waged in their name, the descendants of the Palestinians who hoped to see the Jews prevented from having their state think they can continue to persist in this delusion and that world should support them in holding on to it.
Anyone who questions the power of this delusion should have taken note of the fact that Palestinian Authority leader Mahmoud Abbas specifically rejected an Egyptian offer to give hundreds of square miles in the Sinai adjacent to Gaza for the purpose of resettling the refugees. Abbas, the man acclaimed as a peace partner for Israel by the world, rejected the offer out of hand. The reason was that he knows the refugees and their supporters won’t listen to reason and start seeking solutions to their plight that don’t involve the eradication of Zionism. If it took decades for Palestinians to accept the need to build a square in their refugee camp, it’s easy to understand why they won’t give up their ideas about going “home” or thinking that they should be given, as some insist, a “choice” about dispossessing the Jews of Israel.
The fact that the Times and most of the rest of the international media ignored the story about Abbas’s rejection of Egypt’s offer says a lot about the way the world has accepted Palestinian assumptions. But while the media obsesses about Israelis building in lands that were theirs before 1948 and would remain in the Jewish state even in the event of a peace agreement, they treat the absurd Palestinian fantasies as reasonable. Far from merely an architectural question, the camps and what they represent are a permanent obstacle that must be removed if the Middle East is ever to know peace.And if that's how the 'Palestinians' in Al Fawwar - who would likely be residents of a 'Palestinian state' were one ever established - feel, imagine the chances that the stateless 'Palestinians' in 'refugee camps' in Lebanon, Syria, Jordan and Iraq will ever give up their 'right of return,' or that the governments of those countries might ever look them straight in the eye and tell them that 65 years of statelessness was all for nothing.
The longer this goes on, the less likely it is that there will ever be a 'peaceful solution.' And there is no end in sight. Yehuda Yaakov is a starry-eyed, naive fool.