It's one thing to be optimistic. But when you replace optimism with fatalistic hope, it is irresponsible and even selfish.
How else do you describe the bizarre, although articulately expressed, assertions by Ali Abunimeh
, the presumed successor to the late great philosopher Edward Said, that Israel is "failing?" Published on Abunimeh's web site "The Electronic Intifada," where Abunimeh pines for the days when Palestinians were willing to sacrifice everything by using inadequate violence to respond to Israel's military violence, the column makes the seemingly bold claim that Israel is a "failed" state.
That kind of rebellious declaration, or rhetoric, does make the Palestinian sheep that follow him blindly cheer for optimism. But it isn't optimistic at all. In fact, attempts to rally the Palestinians with empty claims are undermining Palestinian ability to overcome the occupation.
The fact is if Israel is a "failed" state, then what is Palestine? What is the Palestinian achievement? What is the Palestinian strategy/ What is the means by which Palestinians might exploit this national failure by Israel?
The sad truth is that Palestinian extremists have been feeding false hope and useless rhetoric that instead of moving Palestinians to overcome the occupation have deluded them into believing that the continuation of the occupation is good because it will miraculously vanish because "Israel is a failed state."
Never mind that the movement Abunimeh cheers like a scene from the film "Lord of the Flies" amidst the bonfire of his vanities is an empty movement with only one goal: keep the conflict going because there might be some miracle. Because that is what Palestinian extremists need, a miracle. And they don't mind waiting through three more generations of Palestinian refugee destitution in the hopes it will arrive. Someday. Not now, of course. But someday, in the distant future.
People who are desperate and denied leadership will consume anything for hope. Alixirs. Promises of dreams that in reality are nightmares. False hope is always what false leaders offer to the hopeless. Because feeding hopelessness preserves the leaders of the "leaders."
They can't tell the people the sad and pathetic truth that after 62 years of fighting with false hope and lies and alixirs, the Palestinian people are no closer to statehood than they were in 1948. The rejectionists used to blame that failure on the late Palestinian President Yasir Arafat. Never mind that Arafat was the only Palestinian to achieve any significant objective, raising through revolution the Palestinian people out of the abyss of darkness and forcing the world to recognize that we in fact do exist. But that revolution in the hands of extremists and other false Palestinian prophets is non-existent. They wish for it, which is why Abunimeh's Electronic Intifada is an online altar to a power long lost.
There have been two Intifadas. The first was powerful and pushed Israel to the negotiating table that it falsely claimed it hoped to sit at with Palestinian peace partners. The sacrifices of the first Intifada, led by Palestinians at the grassroots level of the occupation, had a goal: to resist the oppressive Israeli military occupation and to push Israel to a solution to end the occupation and allow creation of a Palestinian State.
The second Intifada was started not by Palestinians but by Ariel Sharon, an Israeli terrorist in a three-piece suit who rose from the infamy of the Kafr Qassem massacre of Palestinian civilians in 1956 to become Israel's most vicious prime minister. It was hijacked from the hapless Palestinian people by the terrorism of Hamas, a religiously fanatic militant organization that Sharon and Israel helped midwife into being in the 1970s.
Abunimeh, who comes from the same corrupted Palestinian elite who destroyed Palestinian hopes and dreams in the pre-1948 years, pines for another Intifada, a violent and unnecessary option that would heap huge suffering upon a Palestinian people already max-ed out in suffering. The last thing the Palestinians need is another violent struggle against Israel. After two failed struggles and limited success from a revolution, Palestinians need leaders who can bring the conflict to an abrupt end and achieve at least some form of genuine statehood sovereignty. The only way to do that is to negotiate a real peace that establishes Palestine as a state in the last remaining land in the West Bank and Gaza Strip.
There is still hope for that two-state settlement, but that hope is exactly what pushes the rejectionists to mislead Palestinians into believing that somehow Israel, which has its military boot on the necks of Palestinian Nationalism, is in fact a "failure."
The only answer is peace. But that is why the rejectionists and their disciples continue to push for conflict. Their goal is the same goal that was sought by Hamas when Arafat and the late Yitzhak Rabin sought to negotiate a final peace agreement. Hamas and Abunimeh want the option of peace to be erased forever. If they can just get rid of the slim hope for peace through negotiations and compromise, then, maybe, Palestinians will stop trying to compromise and instead go all out in a new Intifada, one in which the leaders, sheltered in their luxurious homes in the decadence of the West that they so despise, can cheer on each and every Palestinian to martyrdom. Every Palestinian Martyr becomes another opportunity to push palestinians away from hope and in to the hands of all out conflict.
That reality is that while many in the world are outraged at Israel's military and violent excesses in the West Bank and the alleged war crimes in the Gaza Strip, Israel is far from failure. It is the Palestinian people who are moving closer and closer to failure, thanks to the rejectionists and their lack of leadership and their inspirationally misleading words to fight on. "Until every last Palestinian has sacrificed his or her life for the rejectionist cause."
But Abunimeh is just one person. A good person when he is not leading the Palestinian people, but one who is leading Palestinians to another decade of slaughter. The real problem is the extremism that his zealotry represents. The idea that destroying peace and igniting a new Intifada because "Israel is a failed state" is so appealing to the traumatized, hapless Palestinian masses (who have been embraced by conflict for so long they know no other means of life) they are willing to go that route and lose everything rather than salvage what they can.
Many often point to the Palestinian-Israeli conflict and observe that Palestinians mimic the Israelis in their actions. Yet Palestinians have not mimicked israel at all. Instead, they chose the fatalistic and the failed option almost every time. Israelis have always taken what they could, when they could, and how they could. In contrast, Palestinians, led by rejectionist leaders, have insisted that they must take "all or nothing."
It was the three famous "No's" in the 1960s. And those "No's" have turned into the foundation of Palestinian rejectionist policies. No normalization. No compromise. No peace. "All or nothing."
I will admit though that Abunimeh has a better chance of achieving the goal that is the destiny of his leadership: Palestinians, having demanded "all," will find themselves with "nothing."
You never know, though. There could be a miracle. Someday. Maybe. Possibly. Just say no to peace. Turn anger into hatred and hatred into violence.
Or, Palestinians can break the bonds of the extremist hallucinogens, open their eyes, see that their people are in such a state of despair that compromise is their only hope to begin to rebuild their devastated nation.
But few Palestinians have the courage to admit that they made a mistake, they were wrong and that the policies of violence and empty rhetoric are as much to blame for their plight as are the brutal policies of the Israeli occupier.
Israelis could not have wished for a better opponent, one that allows emotion to trump reason and good decisions to be erased by empty words of extremist and rejectionist rhetoric.
Tragedy in Wonderland.
-- Ray Hanania