(First written on October 21, 2000. Still true today.)
To even the blind and deaf it should be summarily obvious that either Arafat has no control over his citizens or he sponsors their frenetic violence in the streets. That Arafat has little control should be no surprise since no Palestinian has ever acknowledged him as their supreme leader. He was chosen to be the up front mouth by factions within the Palestinian movement only because he prevailed as such early on. But just the up front mouth, and nothing more. No Palestinian will acknowdedge him as their incontestable leader for real.
They have no leader. And they have no point. Or do they?
The concept of a Palestinian state did not recur until the Six Day War of 1967 which was clearly an Israeli victory. Most “Palestinians” were then citizens of Jordan, some three quarters of a million of them having been run out of Palestine by the Jews years earlier. Palestinians, whoever they were or are, living in Jordan, as they were, were saying, “Screw this. Israel got their own country and we want one too. Screw Jordan and Israel!”
So who the hell are these “Palestinians”? For that matter, who the hell are “the Israelis”?
Both the Jews and the Palestinians shared some land a long time ago. There were no “nations” then on this land though the Palestinians of the Islamic persuasion consisted of 95% of the population. The religion of the few Jews who were there was generously tolerated.
The deal is, the Jews gained the sympathy of the entire world as a result of the Nazi attempt to exterminate the lot of them. This sympathy, empathy perhaps, translated eventually into: “OK, take this spot of land and call it yours. It’s never been anything but untitled land before now and now the whole world wants it to be your land.”
Cool. The Jews settled in, what was left of them, named this real estate “Israel”, and the rest of the folks who used to live there a couple thousand years earlier, dispossessed as they were, got jealous as they slowly realized what had happened. Big time jealous.
This jealousy is festering now, yet again, and it is bloody. One thing the “Palestinians” should acknowledge is that no one has ever attempted to exterminate the lot of them. In this sense they are at the disadvantage of the Jews who maintain historical empathy. With this empathy the Jews successfully cut out and now maintain a lock on the geographical boundaries the victors of World War II penciled in for them.
What has really happened is that of the two peoples who once occupied this land only one has been given status. Only one has been gifted a country. The others have no status and nothing was penciled in for them. Because there was no Nazi attempt to obliterate the Arabs who also occupied this land but who also failed to leave it and permeate Europe as did the Jews there is no sympathy, no empathy, and no country.
Of course, that is the problem.
It is very unfortunate. And, needless to say, it is unfair.
A couple of generations after the war that carved that land some now say, “Wait a minute. No one ever asked me or my father or my grandfather. You carve out a nation for Jews and, what the hell, we are now excluded from the land that was once all ours? I don’t think so. We are slow, but we will not be dispossessed.”
“We will not be dispossessed!” These words, not necessarily spoken so clearly by the protagonists of the time, now compose the fuel behind the emotional “Palestinian” impatience with the birth, or rebirth, of their own country. They are pissed and they want a country now. They also do not want to be excluded in any way from the city things, the religious things, that they helped create but were slow in reclaiming.
Before this land was arbitrarily carved into geographical specifics by those who won the War, they were there. The Palastinians were there and they had been there for a few thousand years.
Sure, Jews were there too. They were all there, and they were all Palestinians.
Think about it.