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Sunday, March 28, 2010

The 'Palestinian' illusion

Jonathan Spyer gets it mostly right in Haaretz - my only bone of contention with him is that his view of Salam Fayyad is far too optimistic for my tastes. Spyer argues that the West is refusing to acknowledge the reality of a divided 'Palestinian people' between Hamas and Fatah. So it's just pretending that the 2006 election never happened. That leads to this:
The inability of even mainstream Fatah-style Palestinian nationalism to accept partition as the final outcome of the conflict has prevented its resolution twice - in 2000 and 2008. This type of nationalism understands the conflict as one that pits a colonial project against a native, authentic nationalism.

From such a perspective, partition of the land means admitting defeat. But Palestinian nationalism does not feel defeated. It is characterized, rather, by a deep strategic optimism. From its point of view, it is therefore not imperative to immediately conclude the struggle - but it is forbidden to end it. Hence the endless reasons why the partition deal somehow can never be inked.

The solution to this obstacle, the West has now decided, is that a new Palestinian leadership, unburdened by this outlook, must be created and defended. The manifestation of this approach is the meteoric career of Salam Fayyad, who was first imposed upon Palestinian politics as finance minister in 2002 by then-secretary of state Condoleezza Rice, and is today PA prime minister.

Fayyad is working closely with Western representatives to build up the institutions and the economic prosperity that are supposedly going to transform Palestinian political culture from the all-or-nothing logjam that has prevented conflict resolution until now, into something with which the world can do business.

The essential logic of this is the same wishful thinking that doomed the 1990s peace process: namely, the idea that institution-building and economic advancement will - and must - eventually have a transformative effect on political outlook. This idea, experience has shown, is fundamentally flawed.

Some liken Fayyad to Konrad Adenauer, the German chancellor who presided over the transformation of political culture and the emergence of democracy in his country after 1945. But Adenauer operated in an era in which the anti-modern, anti-Western element in German political culture had just experienced a final, crushing Gotterdammerung, and Germany was living under a massive and permanent occupation.

In the Palestinian territories, by contrast, the anti-Western and anti-modern element is flourishing, and has state backers in Iran and Syria. It would probably quickly consume Fayyad, were he to cease to be cradled in the arms of the West.

Like the pleasant, well-dressed leaders of the March 14 movement in Lebanon - who have now been devoured by Syria and Hezbollah - Fayyad and company are the product of Western wishful thinking. And like those of March 14, they will survive for precisely as long as the West is willing to underwrite them. And no longer.
That's all true and correct. But if the West thinks that Fayyad (pictured throwing Israeli products confiscated from Arab store owners into a fire) is on their side, that too is an illusion.

Read the whole thing.


At 6:35 PM, Blogger NormanF said...

Salam Fayyad is also a product of the "struggle" and the main reason Fatah leaders loathe him is he a relatively competent technocrat. He has no real support within Fatah and he would be gone if the PA's Western backers didn't insist he would be kept in office. The truth is there are no "moderate" Palestinians - if by that one means Palestinians ready to compromise and seek real peace with Israel. They are all hardline and devoted to holding out for as many years as possible to achieve their objective.

I pity the fools in Israel and in the West who don't understand them.

At 6:42 PM, Blogger nomatter said...

Our 'friends' who 'claim' support should expose the illusion not to us but those who appear to be deluded by it!

Full page adds showing Fayyad literally throwing flames into the fire is indisputable.

Having said that, we were off guard last time around blindly believing our good friend would save our necks. However our good friend was doing such a grand job whitewashing Fatah and Abbas while going back on promises to us while making statements about a contiguous, viable Pal state not resembling swiss cheese it is no wonder the powers that be now look to Fayyad as the moderate "wonder boy."

The Palestinian "illusion" was authored by many hands...For me, I will never forgive it seeing it followed one of the fiercest intifada's in recent history.


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