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Wednesday, October 31, 2007

The (Other) Ten Commandments

I don't know how long the link will be up, so I thought it worthwhile to reprint part of Barry Rubin's cogent explanation as to why we (1) don't have peace with the Palestinians, (2) haven't had peace with the Palestinians, and (3) won't have peace with the Palestinians any time in the near future.

Don't get me wrong. I suspect the average adult Palestinian working guy or his wife, with children, would like to see an end to the Never Ending Conflict as much as Israelis would--but he and his wife don't live in a democracy. They live in a thugocracy run by rampant pan-Arab nationalists on one hand and by Islamist butchers on the other. They don't get to express a dissenting opinion, and based on the Palestinian texts, newscasts, sermons and websites I've seen translated, maybe they don't have a reason to dissent.....after all, the Germans really believed that Hitler was good for the country, provided jobs, built the autobahns and made the trains run on time, right? National pride trumped human decency there, too.

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The Region: Rules of the game, Palestinian-style

by Barry Rubin

Why (isn't there peace with the Palestinians)? Because of the rules of Palestinian politics. These tenets are fatal to the hope of getting a Palestinian state, of the Palestinian polity becoming more moderate, of ending terrorism, or stopping even officially sponsored PA incitement. Palestinians know these rules well; outsiders seem largely unaware of them. Exceptions can be found but few, and since these are considered shameful they go unpublicized and thus form no precedent for changing the rules, which are:

(1) Palestinians cannot stop other Palestinians from attacking Israel. To do so would be betraying the cause, becoming Israel's lackey.

(2) He who is most militant is always right. Extremism equals heroism. This is one reason why Fatah has such a difficult time competing with Hamas. It cannot denounce these rivals for being too intransigent. Suicide bombers along with those who manage them are role models, not misled individuals, much less evil ones.

(3) More violence is good and a "victory" if it inflicts casualties or damage on Israel. Other than ritual denunciations for the foreign media, these are matters for pride, with the implication being that they advance the cause rather than sabotage it.

(4) No Israeli government can do anything good. Olmert is no better than anyone else even as he offers to accept a Palestinian state, and is ready to give up east Jerusalem. Some Palestinian leaders can talk privately to Israeli counterparts about cooperation (and even their dream of peace) but don't tell this to their own people.

(5) Since Palestinians are the perpetual victim they are entitled to everything they want and never need to give anything in exchange for Israeli concessions. Thus, the preferred PA diplomatic option is that Israel withdraws from the West Bank and east Jerusalem, recognizes an independent Palestinian state, releases all Palestinian prisoners, and then talks can begin.

(6) No Palestinian should be imprisoned for attacks on Israel one minute longer than required by international public relations‚ needs. After all, if they are doing heroic deeds against an evil enemy - even by murdering civilians on purpose - why should they be punished?

(7) Fatah won't discipline or expel anyone for launching attacks.

(8) Wiping Israel off the map is morally correct. If anyone says anything different they will be scared or ashamed, justifying their lapse as a temporary tactical measure or way to fool enemies.

(9) The movement sets as top priority the so-called "right of return," the demand that all Palestinian refugees or their descendents must be allowed to live in Israel. It is better not to get a state than to give up this demand.

(10) It is more important to be steadfast and patient with a terrible status quo than to make big gains by ending the conflict forever. To do so would give up future Palestinians' chance to seek total victory. Their right to all of the land cannot be given away.

Palestinian leaders may sincerely voice their dismay with this problem privately but won't fight to smash them. If they ever really do change we'll know.

But until then, these are the reasons why the Palestinian side cannot - and will not - reach for peace or keep existing commitments very well. Even if a handful of top Palestinians want to reach agreement with Israel, they cannot - and even worse, dare not - violate these commandments.

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