Palestine chair 521.
(photo credit: Reuters)
It may be the 11th hour and at this point it may seem like water under the
bridge, but the question still needs to be asked: Do the Palestinians deserve a
state of their own? Even if the world at large has made up its mind, even if the
United Nations vote is a fait accompli, we Israelis – upon whom this decision
will impact mightily – have a right to broach the subject and weigh in with our
own opinion. We need not – perhaps we dare not – give that little shrug of the
shoulder which our toddlers so often do, and remain silent and
In my estimation, there are three primary considerations
Will this state be free and viable?
Pundits like to refer to the
Palestinians as “the Jews of the Arab world,” but cute slogans aside, there
isn’t a whole lot of similarity between us.
The Jewish people faced
staggering challenges in the early years of building this country. Our ranks had
been decimated by the Holocaust, we were surrounded by hostile neighbors, and
oddsmakers gave us little if any chance of carving out a new republic in the
arid sands of the Middle East.
Yet we refused to be deterred by the
prophets of doom. We put our nose to the proverbial grindstone, worked our
collective backsides off and slowly but surely made our little piece of the
desert bloom. We worked the fields while guarding against Arab marauders,
cleared the swamps and reclaimed the land by working 12-hour days in intolerable
conditions. We welcomed millions of our brethren into our midst, willing to
share what little we had with them. We were happy to have help from abroad, when
it was offered, but we pretty much did it all by ourselves. In a land virtually
devoid of natural resources – save the Dead Sea – we combined ingenuity,
creativity and resolve to create a world-class economy and elevated quality of
In the process, we fashioned a vibrant and vocal – some would say
too vocal – democracy, where squabbles were settled civilly and elections held
peacefully. Freedoms were safeguarded and the rule of law enforced.
“Palestine” claim the same? Will this new nation stand on its own two feet and
do what it takes to support itself? Having taken tens of billions of dollars
over the years from well-meaning donors, can the Palestinians learn to be
self-sufficient, or are they entrenched in a welfare state, where someone else
is always expected to pay the bills? And will they use the massive amounts of
money thrown at them wisely? In the course of the last six decades, they have
built no new hospitals or medical centers, no great universities, no respectable
housing projects to relocate their poor who suffer in squalid refugee camps.
Instead, after all their hierarchies of henchmen stole their share, the bulk of
what was left was used for weapons and training for war.
As for basic
freedoms and human rights, there is no indication that “Palestine” will be any
less of a repressive, sadistic police state than Iran. Hamas – the full and
legal partner of the Palestinian Authority in this gambit – has already shown
the world its disdain for democracy and all that it implies. Whether by
executing supposed “collaborators” without trial or by banning free press, free
assembly, free elections and free speech, Hamas has essentially restricted all
basic human freedoms.
The PA, while presenting a somewhat more modern
face, is hardly more tolerant or enlightened. “Honor killings” – the murder of
women who express too much independence – go largely unpunished; the press is
strictly controlled so that any negative comments vis-àvis the ruling powers are
deemed “harmful to the state” and severely punished; and suicide bombers and
terrorists are still glorified and exalted. PA President Mahmoud Abbas’s
declaration that the new state will be Judenrein certainly does not inspire
Freedom and democracy will come to Palestine when someone can
stand in the public square and proclaim, “I love Israel!” without being stoned
to death.Will the state respect its neighbors and international law?
While “Palestine” will have limited access to advanced weaponry – at least in
the initial stages – what will its posture be toward its neighbors, specifically
Israel and Jordan? Will it promote good relations and reliable security for all
the countries around it, especially the bordering Jewish State? Or will it
follow the example of its partner Hamas and use its newfound territory to create
more terror bases to bomb those around them? Will it be willing – or able – to
wage civil war against Hamas when that terrorist entity seeks to take over the
West Bank, as it did Gaza? The signs so far are not encouraging. The
Palestinians have worked overtime trying to defame and dismiss Israel at every
opportunity, instituting anti-Israel boycotts around the world and blaming us
for all their ills and woes. Even while our own president was appealing to
international donors to support the fledgling Palestinian economy, our neighbors
were fomenting the harassment of Israel on university campuses and pressuring
other countries to limit or dissolve their ties with us.
respecting international and bilateral agreements, a prerequisite for joining
the community of nations, the Palestinian track record is dismal. Just last
week, the PA condemned the United Nations-backed Palmer Report, which affirmed
Israel’s right to maintain the blockade of Gaza, calling it “illegal and
Indeed, the very act of seeking statehood at the UN is a direct
violation of the Oslo accords, which explicitly prohibit such unilateral
If they blithely ignore these agreements, what will they do
about future agreements with us? Does this new state have a vision for the
Of course, the Palestinians seek to legitimize a homeland for their
people, in much the same way Israel considers this land the natural home of the
Jewish people. (Not to compare the two, of course; Israel is our ancestral home,
the seat of our language, culture and history dating back 3000 years, while any
longtime Palestinian connection to the land is an audacious fabrication of
fact.) But beyond being a homeland, what aspirations do the Palestinians have
for their state? We see this land not only as an integral part of our
peoplehood, but also as a proving ground for promoting the vision of a just and
moral society, spreading the truth and wisdom of God’s Torah and the words of
our ancient prophets, ushering in a model society that is not only a home for
its inhabitants, but a beacon to the nations. While we may often fall short of
these noble ideals, at least we have a utopia to strive for.
What is the
Palestinian utopia? What does it seek to add to the betterment of the planet?
Does it aspire to promote peace and good will, create a better life for its
citizens and lessen strife and suffering? Or does it see statehood as Step 1 in
an ongoing land-grab, claiming more and more holy soil for Islam? If its reason
for living includes our dying, then why should we contribute to our own
execution? If the answer to the above questions forms the proverbial “Three
Noes,” then we had better stand strong against the coming tsunami. The recent
events in Egypt and Turkey should be a clear warning to every Israeli who loves
this country about the danger of wishful thinking. We have more than enough
threats from the countries that already surround us; why create yet another that
is bent on our destruction?
The writer is director of the Jewish Outreach Center
of Ra'anana; firstname.lastname@example.org