"Well his fear for his life was certainly vindicated. Those of the Palestinians who are reasonable like this need to be doing everything in their power to isolate and marginalize the extremists."
See, this is what I find so depressing. I *wish* they could do so... but it's impossible. It's impossible because increasingly the extremists and those quietly supporting them ARE the majority.
I WANT to see the Palestinians the way that many of my fellows on the left do. But having looked at the state of things a little closer... the situation is bleak as hell.
The most popular political force in Palestine is Hamas. A movement so extreme that they're willing to fairly consistently do things that basically do nothing but put the Palestinians in harms' way, for minimal real gain. Their idea of the future is essentially maximum bloodshed until all the Israelis leave Palestine* (not gonna happen) or the Palestinians somehow gain such a military advantage that they manage to "drive the Israelis/Jews into the sea" (genocide; also not gonna happen because such a reversal of power is realistically impossible from what we can see).
* (note: they think of Palestine as not just the West Bank, Gaza and East Jerusalem... they want ALL of the old Mandate area, meaning also all of Israel)
Hamas' program, once you get past the occasional tactical phrasing and verbal obfuscation, boils down to endless suicidal rage... and they're dragging the Palestinian people along with it. Worse, too many Palestinians only see heroic resistance in that, and actually love Hamas for it.
But wait, it gets worse.
Hamas, for all their bloodlust and islamism, aren't even the worst. The Palestinian Islamic Jihad is not an insignificant group, and they amazingly make even Hamas look moderate by comparison. Furthermore, Islamic State is attempting to gain a foothold in Gaza. Fortunately, Hamas are keeping them in check, but there's no telling that ISIS won't manage to slip through in time.
Of course, there's an alternative, right? Fatah and the rest of the PLO.
Except they really aren't. There's a reason why their popularity among the Palestinians is fairly weak and constantly on the decline. Take your pick - massive corruption and private appropriation of foreign aid; turning the Palestinian Authority into a brutish dictatorship; being ineffective in dealing with Israel or its settlement expansion, either diplomatically or in a militant manner; collaborating with the Israelis in matters of security... the list goes on.
I would add that Fatah is a "moderate option" only - only - when viewed in comparison to Hamas and the other more militant movements. Mahmoud Abbas is really only moderate when addressing a Western audience; when speaking to fellow Palestinians in Arabic, the rhetoric gets significantly more violent.
When a terrorist dies following an attack on Israelis - even civilians - it's not unusual for the "moderate" Palestinian Authority to give their families pensions and to name a street or school after them. To many Palestinians, they are heroes.
In European terms, Fatah - I repeat, the most moderate Palestinian political option - would be so extremely ultra-right that they'd almost make Jobbik look like kindly flower-children. Hamas would simply be way off any political scale.
I don't know what Abbas and the PLO want privately. It's possible that, rather than a matter of personal conviction, this is all just pandering to the extremists in order to stay in power.
But consider what that means. The Palestinian political scene is so radicalized that senseless murdering of civilians is typically publically lauded (though Fatah does occasionally consider some attacks to be excessive and condemns them; Hamas however doesn't even have such minimal standards, and basically cheers any attack, no matter how bloody and whom it targets). Rockets launched from Gaza are considered praiseworthy by many, even though the only targets they might possibly hit are almost certainly civilians, and they are almost guaranteed to draw Israeli counter-fire and Palestinian casualties.
And then we get to the outside world, where the main activist force on behalf of the Palestinians is the BDS movement (Boycott, Divestment, Sanctions), along with related organizations (like Students for Justice in Palestine); they are so obsessed with charging at anything even remotely related to Israel that they often hardly seem to care about what is happening to actual Palestinians.
Now, don't get me wrong - I think Israel's share of blame for this whole situation is pretty damn huge. I didn't address that because the topic here was the Palestinian situation specifically. So... I hope you won't bite my head off, folks. :)
It's not my intention to bash the Palestinians or to whitewash the Israelis. Rather, I wanted to draw attention to something I think many people overlook or don't think through.
And sorry if this post is too long. It sort of poured out of me. I don't think I said my thoughts on this issue so thoroughly, so I guess it's been on my mind.
Anyway, to sum up... I'm worried.
I'm worried because the world (and especially the international left, to my dismay) doesn't seem to realize just how dire the radicalization of the Palestinian public has become.
I'm worried because everyone seems to be simply focused on either just pressuring Israel to give the Palestinians independence and leave the West Bank on short notice, or (in the case of states) outright throwing large amounts of cash at the Palestinian Authority and hoping it gets distributed fairly - or both of those things. Few people actually stop to think: what sort of state will Palestine be, once independence is a reality and the fanfare dies down? Now is the time to act, to build the state's framework and to pressure for change in society and people's minds. Otherwise, it will become another country in the long line of failed states.
Independence and Israeli withdrawal is not a panacea. It alone won't solve much. One need only look at what happened after the Israeli disengagement from Gaza in 2005 as a warning of what might happen if the process is not managed carefully.
Israeli society is deteriorating, at least in its willingness to compromise, withdraw and so on. Racism is on the rise. The right wing is stronger than ever, and only getting stronger. It might already be so far gone that it won't accept a workable solution towards peace.
Most people here on FSTDT who know a little about the state of affairs there do see these problems, I think.
But Palestinian society is much sicker yet. I would go so far as to say that the situation is catastrophic. The amount and ubiquitousness of hate and frustration is so high that just obtaining Israeli concessions and withdrawals is not nearly enough. I think something new in the field of ideas needs to break through.
Hamas thrives in this poisonous atmosphere and purposely feeds it.
Fatah and the PLO are either unable or unwilling to meaningfully work to change this state of affairs.
The Palestinian people need and deserve a better vision for the future than just de facto endless violence, death and their glorification. Something better than just more 'martyrs'.
How to get there - now that is the question.
Yikes, this took a while! I hope what I said makes sense. And, err, please don't hate me? :blush: