Tuesday, June 26, 2007

Who Killed Palestine? And is it Really Dead?


Bret Stephens, a member of the Wall Street Journal Editorial Board, and a former editor-in-chief of the Jerusalem Post, asks and answers the question "Who Killed Palestine?" in today's WSJ.com Opinion Journal. He concludes that the leadership of the Palestinian Arabs, especially the late unlamented Yassir Arafat, may his name be erased, never made a serious attempt at state building, despite unprecedented international good will and largesse. Instead, "Palestine" remained a dream state, and the dream is now dead. The coup d'grace, ironically, was the Gaza pullout, which left the Palestinian Arabs with no one to blame but themselves for their disastrous civil administration of unoccupied Gaza. "Nothing has so completely soured the world on the idea of a Palestinian state as the experience of it." Stephens concludes:

"Palestine," as we know it today, will revert to what it was--shadowland between Israel and its neighbors--and Palestinians, as we know them today, will revert to who they were: Arabs.
Whether there might have been a better outcome is anyone's guess. But the dream that was Palestine is finally dead.
Unfortunately, Mr. Stephens underestimates Israel's critics. Already the "talking points" on the pro-Palestinian left are circulating widely, in columns and interviews, where apologists for Hamas insist that Israel has turned Gaza into "the world's largest prison" for 1.5 million people. Somehow these critics miss the fact that Gaza has a southern border with Egypt, with crossings through which trade may flow and people may come and go. If the Israelis are a tad reluctant to open border crossings to potential suicide bombers, how does that make Gaza a prison?

Jimmy Carter has said that the refusal of the U.S. and Israel to accept and deal with the elected Hamas government is "a crime." Apparently Israel is required to continue negotiations with a government that has as its stated purpose the conquest and destruction of Israel. Presumably the issue to be negotiated is the time and manner of Israel's demise.

Well, given the shameful past performance of Israel's government, perhaps that is not too much for Carter and his ilk to expect. Israel already is the only nation in history to supply water and electricity to a neighboring people expresssly bent on its destruction. This was necessary because the Palestinian Authority, whether led by Fatah or Hamas, never found enough cash to spare from weapons purchases, outfitting militias and stuffing Swiss bank accounts to build a power plant or water treatment facility.

Israel is also the only nation in history to tolerate daily rocket attacks from across its border. Were Israel to respond with the necessary military force to stop the attacks, the world would react predictably to condemn Israeli war crimes.

The Palestinian dream truly became a nightmare. Stephens concludes that the dream is finally dead. But one can't be too sure that, like Freddy in the Nightmare on Elm Street series, the dead in this nightmare wouldn't come back to kill again.

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