In his stage show “Dress to Kill”, the inimitably funny Eddy Izzard shared his take on how the British Empire was built: “We stole countries with the cunning use of flags,” he joked. "Just sail around the world and stick a flag in”. This, it seems, is the Palestinian Authority’s new strategy for achieving unilateral recognition from the international community without itself having to recognize Israel. With terror not delivering the desired results, the PA is set on accumulating token victories. These include having student bodies at Western universities pass non-binding divestment resolutions, and pressuring city councils on remote fishing islands to announce non-binding boycotts of Osem pretzels. Next week, the PA is poised to score another gestural victory by raising the flag of Palestine on UN grounds in New York. The most significant consequence of this stunt will likely be a number of dead and injured residents in Nablus and Ramallah from falling bullets fired in celebration.
To an outside observer, it is difficult to understand why the Palestinians didn’t take ‘recognition’ when it was presented to them on a silver platter? If what they want is statehood and independence, why didn’t they accept statehood and independence on most of Mandate Palestine when they were offered it in 1937? And again in 1947? Why did they sit for 19 years on the same piece of territory they’re demanding now without so much as voicing the desire for statehood and independence? Why did they reject another internationally sponsored offer at Camp David in 2000. And in Taba in 2001? And 2008?
We all know the answer to these questions, even though some among us pretend not to. The Palestinian leadership doesn’t want to build another Arab state; it wants to destroy the only Jewish one.
Growing up as a child in Jordan to parents who were born in Mandate Palestine, I do not remember once hearing the desire for Palestinian statehood expressed among the many self-identifying Palestinians whom I knew. At school, in the neighborhood, in the mosques, and elsewhere, all discussion about Palestine focused on how to get rid of the Jews.
The Palestinians and their supporters have failed and will continue to fail at that goal, because it is as unachievable as it is immoral. Moreover, by pursuing it, they have failed to address a myriad of problems that continue to plague them.
They have failed to call attention to the misery of Arab natives of Lebanon, Syria, Saudi Arabia, and Egypt who are denied basic citizenship rights by their Arab “brethren" because their ancestors happened to be born in Mandate Palestine.
They have failed to call attention to the brutal rule of Hamas in Gaza, which uses the strip’s population to create real-life dioramas of death and wretchedness to feed the editorial biases of the news networks.
They have also failed to build the basic institutions of statehood, siphoning off an estimated $31 billion in foreign aid (15 times more per capita than Europe received under the Marshall Plan) to personal accounts of relatives, cronies, and the families of dead and captured terrorists.
The list of failures is long and painful to recount. However, the greatest failure, both collective and individual, remains the inability of the Palestinians to demand accountability from their leaders. The reason is that, for decades, these leaders have succeeded in making Jew-hatred the central value of Palestinian Arab culture. Like the Roman slaves who manned the walls against their Spartacist would-be liberators, the Palestinian Arabs have been thoroughly mobilized to destroy the very model of the society to which they aspire.
The upcoming banner-hoisting ceremony in New York affirms nothing if not the success of a political syndicate that has brought chaos and bloodshed to every place in which it was allowed to operate freely: to Jordan (1967-71) and to Lebanon (1968-82). Oslo brought this syndicate and its legacy to the Arabs in the West Bank and Gaza. The flag being raised at the UN next week celebrates the institutionalization of that legacy.