Amid the international clamor against Israel for settlement over the 1967 border and other actions said to harm Palestinians, there is a contrary view of Palestinians harming themselves.
Or more accurately, various figures claiming to be Palestinian leaders harming the people, seemingly for the sake of Palestine.
It appeared most obviously in the use of civilians as military assets in Gaza. Included here were the service of schools and hospitals to store weapons, to shelter fighters, and as launching sites for missiles; pressures by Hamas on civilians not to leave the buildings targeted by the IDF after warnings by Israeli telephone calls and leaflets; and the gathering of civilians on the roofs of buildings that would be targeted by the IDF.
It appears also in Jerusalem, where the Arab one-third of the population could have a decisive voice in local politics if they voted. Israel allows them to vote in municipal elections, by virtue of being residents of the city, even if they do not hold Israeli citizenship. However, the Palestinian leadership exerts intense pressure against their participation, for the sake of avoiding concessions to the occupier. Likewise in the case of efforts by Jews to arrange meetings between the representatives of adjacent neighborhoods that are largely Jewish or Arab. Residents of Arab neighborhoods are reluctant to participate in joint ventures. And those who do so object to having their names recorded or their pictures taken along with Jews.
Yet another front appears in the West Bank, where Palestinian leaders tolerate the daily movement of Palestinians to Israel for the sake of employment, but do not cooperate with transportation or conditions on their side of the borders to facilitate the passage.
The persistent cry of "wolf" by Palestinians, led by Mahmoud Abbas, may sound the call for friendly masses to demonstrate and diplomats to express their concern, but it can't help but do what the mythic little boy did when he called for help time and again. Screaming bloody murder every time Israel adds to housing within Jerusalem or an individual demands the right to pray on the Temple Mount must tire individuals who are aware that Palestinians rejected of opportunities to compromise since the 1930s. If there are worthies who genuinely feel for the Palestinian cause, they haven't accomplished much since Lord Peel tried in 1937.
Yet another front appears within Israel among Arab citizens of Israel. The largely Arab parties that win places in the Knesset do not operate like pragmatic minority representatives in other democracies. Rather than cooperating with the major parties for the sake of their constituencies, they adhere to a strong nationalist line of criticism, in some cases venturing close to or over the line described as traitorous by aiding the enemy in a situation of conflict.
Arabs and Jewish activists are right in describing lower level of services provided to Arabs than to Jews in Jerusalem or elsewhere in Israel. Insofar as politics involves giving as well as taking, Israelis also have a point when they explain the lower level of services by virtue of Arabs refusing to vote in Jerusalem, to cooperate in other ways, or voting for parties in elections for the Knesset that are steadfast in objecting to virtually every element of Israeli policy.
Israeli policymakers recognize the benefits to be gained by providing a decent level of services to a resistant minority. One can quarrel about the extent of Israeli efforts, as well as the data relative to the living standards of Jews and Arabs in Jerusalem, throughout Israel, in Gaza and the West Bank, and in comparison to the residents of other countries throughout the Middle East.
One can also criticize the Arab posture of being steadfast in opposition to Israel, seemingly on the expectation that the misery of their people will produce an effective revolt against Israel, or persuade the international community to intervene in their behalf.
To date, that expectation has been a marked failure. Israel has shown the capacity to defend itself against Arab violence, and against Arab inspired international political campaigns.
We can summarize 75 years of Palestinian history with the epigram that those who demand everything get nothing.
This helps to explain the shortfalls in Palestinian expectations, as well as the differentials in living standards between Israel, the West Bank and Gaza, as well as between the Jews and Arabs of Jerusalem and elsewhere in Israel..
With only a bit of whimsy, it appears that what the Palestinians and Arabs do get is a result of Jewish good will, or what the Jews of Israel have decided--via their government--to provide in order to minimize unrest.
We should avoid predicting the future with fanciful claims of certainty. However, the signs are not altogether dismal. Individual Palestinians, Jerusalem Arabs, and Arab citizens of Israel seek to avail themselves of Israeli opportunities, despite pressures to resist. Arab families place their children in dual-language and dual-ethnic schools, or Hebrew language schools that are overwhelmingly Jewish. Arabs move into Jewish neighborhoods, and do not meet the resistance shown to Jews who move into Arab neighborhoods. Thousands of Palestinians from the West Bank work in Israel, or in Israeli industries located alongside West Bank settlements. Arab students in Israeli universities may affiliate with Arab student organizations and participate in demonstrations against Israeli student organizations, but many cross the lines to create positive relationships with fellow students or faculty members. Some speak of the "Israelization" of Arabs shown in patterns of dress, speech, and attitudes. It may be premature to become excited about such a phenomenon, which appears among some along along with a contrary movement among others toward greater religiosity.
As in everything else, the future will define itself. Some may aspire to influence, but most will do little more than observe and comment.