Sunday, August 21, 2005

Rhetoric should match the conflict

Elie Wiesel writes that Palestinians should not celebrate the Israeli pullout from Gaza. Wiesel argues that a better approach would be "to silence their joy and their pride, rather than to organize military parades with masked fighters, machine guns in hand, shooting in the air as though celebrating a great battlefield victory."

Wiesel is right, but not for the reason he gives, which is that Palestinians should show respect for the suffering of the settlers who have lost their homes. I mean, respect never hurt anybody, but if it's not there, it's not there. The problem with Palestinians celebrating a victory, the reason these stories and images of celebration are unsettling even to many who favor the pullout, is that the Israeli-Palestinian conflict is not about "victory." The two groups both have been wronged, both seek out sympathy and support by reminding the world of how wronged they've been, and both receive sympathy and support from those who believe they're standing up for the underdog. If either an Israeli or Palestinian leader comes out and says, loudly, clearly, and in English, "I want victory for my side! We're gonna win this, and kick the other guys' asses!," then the international community will look at that side as greedy and as insincere in its claim to just want a little bit of land for its own state and peace in the region. The rhetoric of "winning" just makes no sense for this conflict, even if, every step of the way, there are winners and losers.


Anonymous said...

The Palestinian part of the bargain is to disarm and disable the terrorists, but Abbas has yet to make a move. So far, he has been striking deals with Hamas to not interfere with Israeli withdrawal. But negotiating with terrorists has only backed the Palestinian Authority into a corner.

Hamas, the most organized and most popular terrorist group, will hold the Palestinian Authority hostage on every decision. As Sami Abu Zouhri, a Hamas spokesman, clarified that “If the Palestinian Authority continues to manage the withdrawal alone, we will protest at all the mistakes it may make. In particular, if the land is stolen from the people, or devoted to private projects or given to people close to the Authority, then we will react.” Reaction means “resuming operations” (what the rest of us like to call terrorist attacks). The “mistakes” will be determined by Hamas.

If Abbas is planning a swift round up of all known terrorists, he is likely to lose all credibility with the Palestinians. This is because Abbas has been visibly aligning himself with the popular martyr theory. Last week, banners waved across Gaza proclaiming that “The blood of martyrs has led to liberation.” Then, Abbas attended Friday prayers at Caliph Mosque, where the imam announced, “Allah knows that when we offer up our children, it is much better than choosing the road of humiliation and negotiation.” Additionally, the PA’s official radio station - Ramallah Voice of Palestine - continues to broadcast messages that Israelis “want neither a solution nor peace.” These statements are synonymous with those of Hamas, and the Palestinians are listening.

Anonymous said...

Please. The Palestinian (Islamic)objective is to wipe Israel out. This is no secret. Yet the International orgainizations (EU/UN specifically)never seemed to think Arafat was too "greedy" to support.