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Thursday, April 07, 2011

Do we really need a 'Palestinian state'?

Before you rush to answer "yes" to the question posed by this post's title, please consider the following from Lori Lowenthal Marcus and Asaf Romirowsky.
In order to plan for a future, we have to believe that at the end of the day, most people want to live safe, productive lives. The ability to read what they want, say what they want, marry whom they want, and go where they want are nearly universal goals. And we all, fervently, want access to good medical care, cutting-edge technology, first class educational opportunities and a vibrant economy. The goal of a real peace process in the Middle East should be a viable model that ensures the greatest number of people -- of all religions and ethnicities -- have access to all these rights and services, while internalizing the importance of tolerance, pluralism and respect for the rule of law. That model may not comport with the creation of another Arab State, and it certainly does not with the creation of another terrorist state.

But before this new initiative is rejected as unfair to the Arab Palestinians, consider their history over the last half century, and what has occurred as their own leadership has fought over the new state construct. During this time, while the lives of many in the Palestinian Arab leadership have been immeasurably enriched, the only state given to the people over whom they rule is the state of suspended animation.

And yet, significantly, there was a time during which the lives of those people improved, and improved dramatically by every objective measure. Those improvements happened in spite of the Arabs' leadership, and it had nothing to do with the creation of an Arab Palestinian state. From the standpoint of hard economic numbers and demographic measurements of well-being, by far the very best, healthiest, most prosperous period in the lives of the Arab Palestinians was that period most bemoaned by their leaders: post-1967 through to the beginnings of the uprisings, in other words, during the "occupation," but before the "intifadas." This was a time of unprecedented, and never-since repeated, good fortune, as revealed by Efraim Karsh in an astounding 2002 article, "What Occupation?" Health for the Arabs located in the disputed territories improved dramatically during that time: mortality rates in the "West Bank" and Gaza fell by more than two-thirds, and life expectancy rose from 48 years to 72, while infant mortality rates fell from 60 per 1,000 live births to 15 per 1000. Their quality of living improved: in 1967 only 20% had electricity around the clock and only 16% had running water, but by 1986 those rates soared to 92.8% and 85%, respectively.

Indeed, an indispensable tool for success and self-sufficiency -- higher education -- was made available for the first time to the Arabs in the territories and Gaza post-1967. Before then, there was not a single institution of higher learning available to those Arabs; by the early 1990's there were seven. Illiteracy rates dropped below 15%, compared to nearly 70% in Morocco, more than 60% in Egypt and 44% in Syria.

Perhaps most startling: during the 1970's the "West Bank" and Gaza constituted the fourth fastest growing economy in the world! And the engine driving this quality of life explosion for the Arabs of the region was their interconnection with the modern, western, growth-oriented democratic neighbor, Israel.
Read the whole thing. I dare anyone to make the argument that the 'Palestinians' would be better off with a 'Palestinian state' under Abu Bluff and Salam Fayyad. And if you want to try to make that argument, please also explain why so many 'Palestinians' would rather live in Israel.



At 11:10 PM, Blogger NormanF said...

And why Jerusalem's Arabs are opposed to the redivision of the city.

Good luck with imposing that on them against their will.

At 4:08 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

But we are also told that the Palestinians share a culture whose central desire is to exterminate the Jewish state and that this desire is shared by the fifth-column of Israeli Arabs. The Palestinians either long for the days of milk and honey under the occupation or they don't. It's hard to reconcile a Palestinian community longing for the good old days before the first intifada on Mondays, Wednesdays, and Saturdays planning one, two, many Itmar massacres the rest of the week. Reoccupation of Yesha and Gaza is not on the cards and the former occupation authorities are now history even if a time machine would be preferable to a Fatah-Gaza confederacy. Whatever is behind doors number 2 and 3, the occupation door 67-mid 80's is closed.


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