Pity the Poor Palestinians

JOEL BAINERMAN

December 07, 1992|By JOEL BAINERMAN

Jerusalem. -- Whom do the Palestinians think they are kidding? Recent threats by them to boycott this week's round of Middle East peace talks didn't worry too many Israelis. Palestinian children are growing up in refugee camps. Palestinians, not Israelis, lack a state.

So why then do they dance in the streets to celebrate the fifth year of the failed intifada (failed because it didn't work; Israel still rules over them), and the fourth anniversary of the declaration of a Palestinian state that was never created? Israelis cannot help but be amazed watching a people that has little to celebrate, and few achievements, if any, to boast about.

From the very beginning of the intifada there wasn't a Palestinian leader or intellectual who didn't believe that within a short period of time Israel would leave the territories, due to either domestic or external pressure. As time went on and Israel stood its ground, the Palestinians became drunk with their own delusions, thinking their 14- and 15-year olds hurling rocks at Israeli soldiers would force Israel's hand. How long will it take them to figure out that this strategy doesn't work?

Probably the biggest mistake the Palestinians made was when they ordered policemen working for the civil administration to walk off their jobs. One of the first needs of an independent people is a police force that can keep law and order. During the Mandate in Palestine many Jews felt that Jews shouldn't be working for the British; yet there was the understanding that to build a state requires trained administrators.

Instead of ostracizing and killing these so-called ''collaborators,'' the Palestinians should have respected them. As a result, law and order no longer exists in the West Bank and Gaza; drug trafficking and theft are totally out of control.

The intifada was the latest in a series of delusions that the Palestinians have harbored since the late 1940s, when they believed that their Arab brethren would defeat Israel. During the Gulf War they believed Saddam Hussein would ''liberate Palestine'' for them.

Pity the poor Palestinians; they do know how unrealistic they are. They, not Israel, have been harmed most by the intifada. They, not Israel, are the ones who have everything to lose if the talks break off.

xTC We've heard the Palestinian demands, but have they ever thought about whether they even have the capability and human tools to absorb just the 500,000 refugees currently living in the West Bank and Gaza, let alone 2 million exiles? It took the Jews 20 to 30 years before they were in a position in 1950 to double their population. Yet the Palestinians have little or no direct experience in resettling refugees, nor any existing infrastructure to do so. Have they given any serious thought to this near-Herculean task?

Palestinian leaders still haven't yet separated their dreams from existing political realities. They (and Yasser Arafat in particular) have made more mistakes per capita than any other people in history, yet still the Palestinians don't realize that their leaders have failed them and keep them mired in poverty and in refugee camps. How long should their political ineptitude be excused before they are disqualified from having their own state?

Palestinian intellectuals love to say, ''You see, one day we will have our state. It must be. In may take 10 years, but it will come. We have waited 40 years, and we can wait another 40 years. One day the U.S. will force Israel to withdraw and the land will be ours. The Palestinians will create a democracy, and all the factions of the PLO will become political parties. We won't need borders or armies because we will have a real peace.''

One word best describes the Palestinian national mindset: unreality. Just about everything they say or dream is unrealistic or unlikely. It is dream-thinking. Modern Zionism's founder, Theodore Herzl, said: ''If you will it, then it is no dream.'' For the Palestinians, it is: ''If you dream it, it will be.''

Joel Bainerman is editor of Inside Israel, an investigative newsletter on Israeli affairs.

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