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Mordechai Kedar: The Failure of the Palestinian Venture

Palestinians praying on a street outside the Damascus Gate

Palestinians praying on a street outside the Damascus Gate
Photo Credit: Kobi Gideon/Flash90

3. The modern Arab state, since its inception, has failed and continues to fail in its main objective: to settle in the hearts of the citizens and to take the place of their traditional loyalty to the tribe, the ethnic group (e.g.: Kurdish, Turkmen, Arab), the religious community (e.g.: Muslim, Christian, Druze, Alawite) or the sect (e.g.: Sunni, Shi’a). A person will define himself as “Iraqi” or “Syrian” only if he is employed by the government or if he enjoys economic or political benefits from it. No person will volunteer for a state, dedicate his time, his wealth, and certainly not his life for a government, if he doesn’t feel that the governing system represents him. In the Palestinian case, this is evident in the absence of a volunteer army. All of the employees of the PA, especially those who serve in security apparatuses, are salaried, and serve the government only for what their salary is worth, and no more. They usually don’t do it because they see the PA as something that reflects their collective consciousness. Without the flow of funds, the PA would never be able to buy the services of its employees. It would collapse, and this leads to the clear conclusion that it is not considered a state of its citizens but rather an employer of salaried workers.

4. One of the results of the failure of the Palestinian venture is the split between Gaza and Ramallah. From a historical point of view, the bond between these two centers of Arab population is fairly weak, and is not aparticularly stronger than the bond between any other two centers of population in the Middle East. Between 1948 and 1967 the Gaza Strip was under Egyptian occupation, while the Old City of Jerusalem, Judea, and Samaria were under Jordanian occupation. These two states reacted with an iron fist to any attempt of the residents of the respective areas to liberate themselves from occupation. The idea of a “Palestinian State” that would unify the Gaza Strip with Judea and Samaria is new, and was born after 1967, spawn of the Israeli left and Arab deceit – which misled some naive Jews to believe that the Arabs would come to terms with a Jewish state within the cease-fire lines that divided the Land of Israel between the states of Israel, Jorda,n and Egypt until 1967, known as the “Green Line”.

5. The Palestinian Authority was originally defined as a political entity, a “state in progress”, for the Arabs who live in Judea, Samaria, and Gaza. But this geographical definition is a severe contradiction to the modern Arab narrative which claims that the concept of “Palestinians” includes, in addition to the Arabs of Judea, Samaria, and Gaza, all of the Arabs who live inside Israel as citizens of the Jewish state, immigrants and refugees who live in the scores of refugee camps and beyond in Jordan, Syria, Lebanon, and in many other states. The connection or bond has never been established between the PLO – the organization that established the PA – and the groups defined as “Palestinian” but live outside of Judea, Samaria, and Gaza, because the PLO claims (since its inception in 1964) that it is “the only legitimate representative of the Palestinian people.” What – if so – is the PLO doing for the “Palestinians” in Jordan, where they are a majority? Or in Syria? Or in Lebanon? What would be the meaning of the establishment of an Arab state in Judea, Samaria, and Gaza, for the “Palestinians” who live as citizens of other states? How would this state solve the problem of the “Palestinian” diaspora, those who do not belong to local tribes in other Arab countries?

6. Since a real answer was never given to this question, the PLO invented the standard, but impossible answer: “the right of return,” meaning a solution through a third party – Arab “Palestinians” who were born in Arab states and have lived in them for scores of years will move to Israel. This despite the fact that throughout history, there has never been a case where the establishment of a state was conditional on the transfer of millions of people who were born in a second state to a third state. What is implied by the “right of return” is that the PLO and the “state in progress” that it established shirk their responsibility to solve the problem of diaspora “Palestinians”. Thus, every time a potential solution between Israel and the PLO seemed to be on the horizon, Arafat, and later Abu Mazen, made an obligatory visit to the refugee camps in Lebanon and Syria, in order to ease tensions and proclaim to the people there that they have not been forgotten, that their problem has not been neglected by the PLO. But since no one really believes them, organizations that object to the political process between Israel and the PLO have developed in those camps, principally Hamas and the Fronts for Resistance.

About the Author: Dr. Mordechai Kedar (Ph.D. Bar-Ilan U.) Served for 25 years in IDF Military Intelligence specializing in Arab political discourse, Arab mass media, Islamic groups and the Syrian domestic arena. A lecturer in Arabic at Bar-Ilan U., he is also an expert on Israeli Arabs.


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4 Responses to “Mordechai Kedar: The Failure of the Palestinian Venture”

  1. Ed Adamek says:

    A very interesting and different perspective – well worth a read.

  2. This issue will be debated well after the "cows have come home". Until there is universal acceptance, in all of the Middle East (and this includes Israel), that irrespective of gender, ethnicity and religion we are all humans and should all be treated equally, the problems of the middle east will never be resolved. Borders applied by British colonialism should never be the scapegoat for what is happening. For example many years ago I was told by a Lebanese gentleman who defected to Saudia Arabia because of the discrimation against his religious beliefs, that he could not identify with either country because one was his ethnic place of birth who rejected him and the other was his religious home who rejected him because of his ethnicity. This was back in the 80's and he had felt comfortable in Australia because (at that time) he felt accepted here in spite of his ethnicity and religion.

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