If you lived in Palestine...
Maybe, just maybe, these are some of the reasons why we still don’t have a two-state solution.
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If you lived in Palestine, you’d get thrown off the top of a building for having dissimilar political beliefs.
True story: The internal fighting between Hamas and Fattah in 2006 became all-out civil war when militants started killing their rivals by throwing them off 15-story buildings and mutilating their bodies.1
“I think we are in Iraq, not in Gaza,” said Ammar, a 40-year-old father of six.
If you lived in Palestine, and you were part of the LGBTQ+ community, your pronouns would be was/were. In 2022, a gay Palestinian man was beheaded, and a few years earlier, Hamas carried out an execution of one of the group’s leading commanders, under allegations of gay sex.
If you lived in Palestine, “ethnic studies” would not include your and other ethnicities, but it would surely include blatant lies about all the people who supposedly wronged Palestinian parents and grandparents, in an concerted and relentless effort to turn you against all non-Palestinian ethnicities.
If you lived in Palestine, free speech would get you a jail sentence. Both the Palestinian Authority in Judea and Samaria (also known as the West Bank) and Hamas in Gaza regularly censor dissidents and peace activists. One Palestinian entrepreneur was arrested by the Palestinian Authority just because he advocated for more business-friendly conditions.
And Hamas has used an outpatient clinic at Al-Shifa Hospital, the largest hospital and military complex in Gaza, to interrogate, torture, and kill Palestinian dissidents in an operation known as “Strangling Necks.”
If you lived in Palestine, certain crimes will get you public capital punishment, such as by firing squads in front of hundreds of spectators, including children. Or by hanging at a Hamas police compound, in front of dozens of Hamas leaders and officials who are invited to watch.
If you lived in Palestine, you would be handed candy and other sweets on the streets by masked men, following a successful terrorist attack against the Palestinians’ “enemies.”
If you lived in Palestine, part of your taxes would go to Palestinian terrorists who receive salaries for sitting in one of Israel’s jails after they carry out terrorist attacks against Israelis. More of your taxes would go to the terrorist’s family, who also receive monthly stipends on the terrorist’s behalf.
If you lived in Palestine, you’d be forced by Hamas police to abide by strict policies at the beach. Men can’t sit shirtless, and groups of unmarried men and women aren’t allowed.
If you lived in Palestine, you can forget about freedom of religion. The purging of Gaza’s Christian community is part of a broader vanishing of Christians from the Middle East. And, in 2007, one year after Hamas was elected, the last Christian bookstore in central Gaza was firebombed twice.2
Its Christian owner, reportedly a deeply religious and kind man, was kidnapped, tortured, and murdered by extremists. He had received death threats from jihadists for years, but refused to close his shop.
If you lived in Palestine, your children might need help with their homework to do a math problem that says:
The number of martyrs in the First Intifada was 2,026 martyrs. And the number of martyrs in the Al-Aqsa Intifada was 5,050 martyrs. The number of martyrs in the two intifadas is how many martyrs?
Or a seventh-grade physics problem, based on Newton’s Second Law of Motion, which asks:
During the first Palestinian uprising, youths used slingshots to confront the soldiers of the Zionist occupation and defend themselves from treacherous bullets. What’s the relationship between the elongation of the slingshots, the rubber, and the tensile strength affecting it?
If you lived in Palestine, you might wonder why female lawyers must abide by a more conservative dress code, and there’s intense pressure on parents to dress their daughters more conservatively for school. Women are also banned from riding on motorbikes.
If you lived in Palestine, your child would be invited to “summer camps” where they teach kids how to fire automatic weapons and kidnap Israelis.
If you lived in Palestine, you’d notice that most women do not work. The Gaza Strip has one of the lowest percentages of women in the labor market, at less than 15-percent, perhaps because the Hamas Charter contends that the role of women in Islamic society is to be the “maker of men.”3
If you lived in Palestine, you’d regularly find “Protocols of the Elders of Zion,” Hitler’s “Mein Kampf” and other timeless hateful publications which have been translated into Arabic and updated with “new additions.”
If you lived in Palestine, you’d realize that there haven’t been any elections for more than a decade. Mahmoud Abbas of the Palestinian Authority is now in his 18th year of a four-year term, and Hamas hasn’t held elections since it earned governing power of Gaza in 2006.
If you lived in Palestine, you might wonder why some much of the foreign aid designated for everyday people doesn’t wind up in their hands. In one story, some 20,000 tons of cement, imported from Egypt for building Palestinian homes and buildings in Gaza, had been resold at huge profits to the Israelis for use in constructing separation barriers and settlements throughout the West Bank.4
Listen, I’m all for a two-state solution, but to seriously expect that the Palestinians are capable of creating and maintaining what we in the West would call a “decent and respectable” country is to pretend that the Palestinians’ 150-year history of terrorism, corruption, and perversion of Islam was all just fun and games.
It’s to believe U.S. President Joe Biden who’s been trying to convince us that Hamas doesn’t represent the Palestinians, even though a 2022 survey by an esteemed Palestinian pollster found that 72-percent of all Palestinians support more armed resistance (i.e. terrorism) against Israel, while claiming that Hamas doesn’t exact enough terror against the Jewish state.5
Plus, it’s to ignore the fact that there are virtually no Arab countries which are pristinely “model governments” — and to think that a Palestinian state would be any different is nothing less of foolish.
One of the sad and unfortunate realities about the Palestinians is that they’ve been given bad advice by different Arab states and factions decade after decade. They were advised to boycott any collaboration with the United Nations Special Committee on Palestine during the deliberations that led to the UN Partition Plan for Palestine in 1947.
They were told by five Arab armies (Lebanon, Egypt, Syria, Iraq, and Transjordan) to flee their homes so that these countries could prance into the newly founded State of Israel in 1948 and defeat the Jews, adding that the Palestinians would be able to return after Israel’s defeat. Spoiler alert: Israel wasn’t defeated.
Even Jordan’s King Abdullah, writing in his memoirs, blamed Palestinian leaders for the refugee problem: “The tragedy of Palestinian Arabs was most of their leaders had paralyzed them with false and unsubstantiated promises that they were not alone; that 80 million Arabs and 400 million Muslims would instantly and miraculously come to their rescue.”
Palestinian Authority Prime Minister Mahmud Abbas said: “The Arab armies entered Palestine to protect the Palestinians from the Zionist tyranny, but instead, they abandoned them, forced them to emigrate and to leave their homeland, and threw them into prisons similar to the ghettos in which the Jews used to live.”
Yet many Palestinians won’t own up to these and other parts of their history — the parts that help us make perfect sense about why the Palestinians still don’t have their own state — just like the Germans didn’t want to own up to their costly mistakes leading up to, during, and in the aftermath of First World War. There’s a word for blaming Jews about problems that have nothing to do with them: antisemitism.
This is why, right now, against the backdrop of the Israel-Hamas war, you see people across the world who are not Palestinian, not Arab, and not Muslim marching alongside people who are Palestinian, Arab, or Muslim. They all have one thing in common: Jew hatred. There was even an exposé why neo-Nazi groups are popping up at pro-Palestinian rallies.
“It’s not because they care particularly about the situation in Gaza,” lawyer Karen Dunn wrote. “No, for these groups, the large-scale protests present a golden opportunity to mainstream the same antisemitic tropes they have been pushing for years and, if they get their way, create new opportunities for extremist violence.”6
Only antisemitism can bring together Arabs, Muslims, and white supremacists, right?
But the thing about antisemitism is that it’s not always what many of us think it is: Overt Nazis and Nazi-looking folks playing with swastikas and perfecting the “Heil Hitler” pose.
Antisemitism is highly nuanced, on a spectrum from apathetic and passive, to violent and lethal. There is also a political spectrum of antisemitism, known as “right-wing antisemitism” and “left-wing antisemitism.”
“Right-wing antisemitism” is much easier to spot. It’s all-things Nazis. “Left-wing antisemitism” is not so easy to notice, especially since liberals self-identify as anti-racist, making “left-wing antisemitism” sound like a contradiction in terms.
Indeed, it tends to be less explicitly hateful, dehumanizing, or violent — and more intellectualized and dressed up in modern-day academia with buzzwords like “liberation,” “resistance,” “settlers,” “occupation,” “displacement,” “apartheid” and “ethnic cleansing.”
But antisemitism on the Left has a long history, starting from the ambivalent stances among Enlightenment thinkers toward Jewish emancipation, and antisemitic sentiments expressed by some left-wing philosophers during the 19th century.
A more recent opening for antisemitism on the contemporary Left is simplistic interpretations of the concept “intersectionality” — a term which emphasizes that different forms of oppression and exclusion overlap and intersect with each other. Proponents of intersectionality have often sought to highlight “privilege” as the flip-side to oppression, drawing on concepts such as “white privilege” or “male privilege” to emphasize the interplay between identities and structural forms of inequality and subtle discrimination.
Since Ashkenazi Jews (those of European descent) are often perceived to be “white,” and by extension “powerful” and “privileged” from an intersectionality point of view, antisemitism is consequently seen as a lesser form of racism, or not racism at all. This line of thinking ultimate leads its adherents to believe that, in the struggle for equality, “Jews don’t count.”
In his 2019 book, “Strange Hate: Antisemitism, Racism and the Limits of Diversity,” Keith Kahn-Harris made the case that part of the controversies around “left-wing antisemitism” are caused by selective or conditional forms of antiracism (as well as selective opposition to antisemitism).
Instead of opposing antisemitism in principle, Jews are separated into Jews who, from a left-wing perspective, are “good” and hence worthy of solidarity, and “bad” Jews whose concerns about antisemitism can be dismissed as cynical or politically motivated. Opposition to antisemitism thus becomes conditional and ends up being merely a defense of Jews perceived to be “progressive.”
Palestinian, Arab, and Muslim Jew-hating propaganda does a “good job” of hitting that sweet spot between left-wing and right-wing antisemitism, and it’s one of the reasons why many Israelis do not realistically see a world in which the Palestinians and Israelis can live in peace, side by side.
These Israelis tend to be “Jewish first” and “Israeli second” — yes, that’s a thing in Israel — which makes them more sensitive to antisemitism, and I don’t blame them. Living next to people who have been indoctrinating their kids from very young ages with virulent antisemitic propaganda is a legitimate and massive problem.
Only when the Palestinians own up to their profound Jewish hate, and substantially course-correct, do I think we will be able to get to a place where a place called Palestine, governed by Palestinians, will exist. A place where having dissimilar political beliefs doesn’t get you thrown off the top of a building, and where Palestinian terrorists are not rewarded with government money for carrying out terrorist attacks against Israelis.
Don’t get me wrong, there is plenty of Palestinian hate and Palestinian provocation on the Israeli side as well. I’m not naive to it. The difference is that we don’t formally install hatred and prejudice into the Israeli school curriculum and other social institutions, and our government doesn’t incentivize Israeli citizens to commit acts of terror against Palestinians. Kind of a big difference, don’t you think?
Still, one could reasonably make the argument that policies of the Likud party, chaired by Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu by, were suspect in dealing with Hamas over the years. This is highlighted by the purposeful strengthening of Hamas by Israel, via turning a blind eye to foreign payments made to Hamas, with the goal of weakening Hamas’ adversary, Fattah, which runs the Palestinian Authority in Judea and Samaria (also known as the West Bank).
The strategy here, which Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has said in party meetings, was to weaken the prospect of a united Palestinian government that could lay the framework for a Palestinian state.
While it’s true that this policy blew up in Netanyahu’s face on October 7th, it’s also true that the only people who control what both Hamas and Fattah (the Palestinian Authority) do with the billions of dollars they’ve received over the years are the Palestinians themselves.
Instead of investing in critical infrastructure, in civilian development, in tourism — you know, in places that seem pretty obvious to you and I — they invested in propagating intense antisemitism amongst their civilians and grotesque terrorism against Israelis, while engaging in years of nepotism and kleptocracy.
That is not an Israel problem; it’s a Palestinian problem, and it’s a problem that goes as far back as the 1850s, Arab attacks against Jews in Ottoman-era Palestine, which predates the creation of the State of Israel by nearly 100 years. Hence why it’s intellectually dishonest to justify Palestinian antisemitism with the “Israeli occupation” or Palestinian “liberation.”
With or without a state, a great many of Palestinians are dangerously antisemitic, and I’m not exactly sure how we, in Israel, can casually overlook this reality (especially after October 7th).
Plus, I’m pretty sure that the Jews didn’t emerge nearly extinct from the Holocaust just so we could build a state in our indigenous homeland — adjacent to a significant group of people whose extreme antisemitism is in some ways worse than that of the Nazis.
And maybe, just maybe, that’s the reason (or at least one of the major reasons) why we still don’t have a two-state solution.
“Gaza fighting descends into new brutality.” Reuters. June 12, 2007. https://www.reuters.com/article/us-palestinians-gaza-scene-idUSL1264188820070612.
“In Hamas-Run Gaza, the Last Arab Christians Are Hanging On.” Foreign Policy. https://foreignpolicy.com/2021/10/03/vanishing-arab-christians-gaza-hamas-di-giovanni-book.
“The reasons why Gaza’s population is so young.” NewScientist. https://www.newscientist.com/article/dn25993-the-reasons-why-gazas-population-is-so-young.
“Chronic Kleptocracy: Corruption Within the Palestinian Political Establishment.” Council on Foreign Relations. https://cdn.cfr.org/sites/default/files/pdf/2012/07/Abrams.HFACTestimony_07092012.pdf.
“Why the Body Cams?” Clarity with Michael Oren. Substack.
“Why neo-Nazi groups are popping up at pro-Palestinian rallies.” MSNBC. https://www.msnbc.com/opinion/msnbc-opinion/nazis-palestinian-rallies-antisemitism-rcna124300.