The Therapy Sessions
Sunday, January 09, 2005
The Palestinian elections
NPR is fixiated on what it thinks will be the earth shattering consequences of the elections today in the Palestinian Territories. I have my doubts, but I do think NPR might learn something (and teach its listeners something) if it focused on the reasons why those elections are occurring:
1. The passing of the profoundly evil Yasser Arafat, the Nobel"Peace" Prize winner whose death makes peace possible. (Unlikely, but possible.)
2. George Bush's dogged refusal - over the exasperated objections of all the Middle East sages throughout the world - to negotiate with a thuggish, dishonest government in the Palestinian Territories that was waging a war of intimidation against Israel. Indeed, Abbas was one of the only Palestinians who could be considered "moderate" enough to talk to the Bush Admistration ("moderate" in Palestine means that he still wants to seize Israel and slaughter its inhabitants, but he wants to get as far as he can using diplomacy).
3. The Israeli construction of a wall that prevents most terrorist attacks - Arafat's primary weapon. This wall has forced Palestinians to explore other avenues -like electing a "moderate" who can talk to America - if they wish their nationalist aspirations to be fulfilled.
The election of Abbas today vindicates Bush's vision (or if you prefer, the chimp's advisors' vision).
But that is not necessarily a reason for optimism.
We should remember that Hitler, Milosevic and even Arafat were all elected.
An election does not a democracy make. It is repeated elections - and an open exchange of political opinion - that characterize this thing we know as democratic governance.
And we should remember that there is no free press in the Palestinian territories: the government only allows the dissemination of stories and opinions that it considers favorable to itself.
One symptom of this is that there is no Palestianian peace movement, people in the PA actively working against their government's terrorist coddling policies. Israel's peace movement - as wrong as it is - is allowed to function because Israel is a free society. The Palestinians - like totalitarian societies everywhere - present one face to the world: one people, one message.
The problem in the territories is not just the Palestinian leadership. It is the Palestinians themselves: 70% of them want to see Israel's destruction. These Palestinians are dragging their country to war.
Of course, few actually want to grab a gun and invade Israel. They want the spoils without the sacrifice. Why risk your own life when you can get the retarded kid down the street to blow himself up on a bus filled with Israeli schoolchildren? Half the world can't even bring itself to condemn such an action, and everyone flinches from calling it what is - an act of war and a war crime.
Faced with such brutality and the world's indifference to it, Israel will cower in fear, giving them whatever they want.
Or so they thought.
Even though their media has not made it clear, this strategy was failing miserably even before the construction of the wall. It is the reason why Ariel Sharon -yesterday's washed up, hardline former general with a thuggish past - is today the twice-elected leader of Israel. The brutality of Palestian straegy has forced Israel to show some spine, and they have elected a leader who is prepared to go to war to keep them safe.
Now, the construction of the wall is depriving the Palestianians of the terrorist tool almost entirely (until they acquire new kinds of weaponry).
But it is sobering to hear Abbas' campaign speeches: he is quite adept in the subtle references to the "struggle" that Arafat found familiar, and he has been cozy with all of the same bloody characters from Hamas and Hizballah. He tells them that now is not the time for terrorist attacks - meaning that the time for attacks may yet come.
That is not moderation. That is a threat. (Imagine if Bush said "now is not the time for a nuclear attack on Iran.....")
But in the end it doesn't matter where Abbas' heart is. And I don't think he - or anyone else - has the ability to drag the Palestinians to real peace with Israel. Real peace, after all, would mean that the Palestinians prosecute the people who kill Israelis as if they had killed Palestinians.
Yet Abbas says he will never consider extraditing or prosecuting the men who brag of killing Jews in Israel (Israel prosecutes Jews who kill Palestinians, unless they have killed in self defense - which is usually the case).
This is how the US and Canada manage to coexist: we extradite people who have committed crimes in Canada; we don't harbor them. The Palestinians are a far way from that. And that level of people-to-people respect is an essential prerequisite for peace.
So NPR and Jimmy Carter can wax eloquently about a new dawning of peace in the Middle East.
I don't see it coming.
Elections are great, but they don't prevent war. A prerequisite for peace on the borders of nations is peace in the hearts of the peoples of both nations.
In denying Israel a right to exist and harboring the criminals who have murdered Jews in Israel, the Palestinians are showing the world the true feelings that reside inside their chests.