May 10, 2006.
The perception of Palestinians as victims has become the most powerful
marketing tool Palestinians have and no one uses it more effectively.
Time after time we have seen Palestinian figureheads like Michael Terazi
and Hanan Ashrawi plead the Palestinian cause and point to the Israeli
“occupation” as the root cause of all Palestinian problems.
Conversely, for years, Israel preferred to deal with the war on the ground and
put the war of ideas with the media on hold. This has come back to haunt
Israelis in almost every news outlet.
It has also sowed disaffection among the Israeli electorate. Israeli Prime
Minister Ehud Olmert’s recent electoral victory highlights the apathy that exists
within the Israeli population towards the new guard of political leaders. Another
factor that was quite evident is the fact that the security threats that Israel
faces were put on ‘hold’ in these past elections.
This has not diminished the threat of Palestinian terrorism. As the recent
bombing in Tel Aviv proves, the intifada is still alive and well.
Another unchanging reality is the Palestinians’ insistence that Israel is
always to blame. In the Palestinian psyche, Israel is Goliath and the Palestinians
Following the Tel Aviv attack, for instance, we saw the classic
Palestinian media maneuver, perfected by the late Yasir Arafat, of condemning
Israel for the crimes of Palestinian terrorists. (Mahmoud Abbas was the notable
exception: He condemned the attacks, characterized them as ’terrorist’ actions
and observed, correctly, that no good would come of them.)
Simultaneously, the Palestinian psychology of ‘occupation’ continues, as we
witnessed after Israel implemented its disengagement plan from Gaza.
It was remarkable to see official Palestinian spokesmen make the
argument that Gaza disengagement changed very little and that, as far as they
are concerned, Gaza remains ‘occupied’ territory.
Mahmoud Abbas stated clearly on July 7, 2005, that “the legal status of
the areas slated for evacuation has not changed.”
And now, following the Tel-Aviv bombing, Sheikh Mohammad Abu Tir, a Hamas
member of parliament, was quoted saying, “Israel and the occupation are
responsible. Before the attack, less than two days before, Israel killed 18
Furthermore, organizations like the United Nations Relief and Works Agency
(UNRWA) advocate the perception that, regardless of the reality, the
Palestinians are occupied for life.
The UNRWA has a financial interest in perpetuating this fiction. As long
as the Palestinians are refugees, the UNRWA is in business. The reason is that
the UNRWA’s success is measured not by results but by the contributions it
receives, and here the agency is doing well for itself. The Bush administration
has agreed to contribute $51 million to the agency’s emergency appeal this
year, more than double the $20 million it contributed last year. Overall, the U.S.
donation to UNRWA amounts to over $100 million annually.
The monies themselves illustrate how the United States is perpetuating a state
of utter dependency in which the Palestinian upper class fobs off all economic
responsibilities onto the international community.
If one looks at Palestinian society as a whole, more than anything it is
lacking social mobility. There are two social classes in Palestinian society: a
small affluent class and the poor, who comprise the majority of the population.
However, poverty in Gaza is ghastly not because of the so-called
occupation. Rather, it is a self-inflicted state of affairs created by Palestinian
leaders who are supposed to govern and better the lives of Palestinians but
instead prosper at their expense. The fact is that Arafat’s corruption and the
al-Aqsa intifada have only succeeded in damaging Palestinian society rather
than furthering its desires.
As long as Palestinians cling to the false notion of being ‘occupied’ with Israel
in the role of the ‘oppressor’, they will not assume responsibility for
In Palestinian society, socio-economic conditions are not the root cause
of homicide bombing, since it is the more educated who are sacrificing their
lives in Allah’s name.
And Arab terrorism did not begin with the so-called occupation after the
Six Day War; it started as early as 1929 when Jews were massacred in
Hebron. Despite this history, in Palestinian nomenclature, the ‘occupation’
remains the root cause of all problems, from social and economic woes to
The twisted psychology that Palestinians use to further their sense of
victimization has successfully co-opted the feelings of the international
community, to the detriment of both.
It was former Israeli Prime Minister Golda Meir who said that “as long as
the Arabs hate the Jews more than they love their own children, there will
never be peace in the Middle East.”
The continued incitement of terrorism suggests that that time has not yet
arrived. For this, and for much of their suffering, the Palestinians have only
themselves to blame.