The Palestinian wonderland
Op-ed: Palestinian statehood bid based on irrational worldview, flawed interpretation of history
Asaf Romirowsky, September 16, 2011
Lewis Carroll’s Through the Looking-Glass and What Alice Found are a great way to understand the Palestinian narrative. Specifically, Carroll uses time and space as the plot device while drawing on chess imagery, mirror themes, opposites and time running backwards. As such, it provides the perfect “logic” to the irrational Palestinian worldview and interpretation of history as they attempt to achieve statehood through unilateral declaration of independence at the United Nations this month.
This is the same historical read that has convinced Palestinians that it is Israel and the West that created the Arab-Palestinian refugees, rather their own Arab leaders who did indeed put them in this state intentionally. Today, the perfidy of Palestinian society lies in its division, dysfunctionality, and complete denial of the reality it lives in.
The historical truth is that the notion of an independent, sovereign Palestinian state existing alongside Israel has never been part of the Palestinian worldview. The Palestinians have also always rejected the notion of a single bi-national state.
Palestinian society has never seen Jewish sovereignty or Israel’s existence as a “right.” The only right in the Palestinians’ narrative of the conflict is their own connection to the land. They do, however, see Israel as a temporary military fact. But believe there will come a day, the narrative goes, when they will be able to defeat the Israelis. Their recent appeal to the UN is a new and cynical turn that should not mask the history of rejectionism.
In November 1947, United Nations General Assembly Resolution 181 recommended the creation of separate Jewish and Arab states. Palestinian representatives and Arab states rejected this recommendation and consequently launched a war against the Jewish community. A close look at the General Assembly’s final tally in 1947 highlights this rejectionism when 33 countries voted for partition, 13 against and 10 abstained. The countries that rejected co-existence with the Jews and blocked Arab-Palestinian statehood overwhelmingly came from the Arab/Muslim world: Afghanistan, Egypt, Iran, Iraq, Lebanon, Pakistan, Saudi Arabia, Syria, Turkey and Yemen.
Talk is cheap
The reality is that a unilateral statehood bid is yet another Palestinian halo of “normalcy” that undermines every accepted model for peace even according to UN standards. Unilateralism was never accepted as the modus operandi, but rather, mutually agreed upon concessions by the parties as illustrated by UN Security Council resolutions 242, 338, the Oslo Accords and the Roadmap for Peace.
Talk is cheap. Land and lives are precious. If the Palestinians genuinely want to talk about statehood they need to come to terms with accepting and recognizing Israel and first get their own territories under control, stop firing rockets at Israeli towns, and start creating a decent civil society.
Pragmatically, the larger issue of Palestinian statehood raises a basic question – do Palestinians really want a state and are they prepared to take responsibility for their own people under such a rubric? In accordance with reality of Through the Looking-Glass, where time and space can be turned around, the answer would be yes, but at the expense of Israel’s creation to begin with.
Asaf Romirowsky is a Philadelphia-based Middle East analyst and an adjunct scholar at the Middle East Forum