It’s an axiom of PCP (especially the second variety, the Post-colonial paradigm) that occupation is inevitably and inherently evil and oppressive and humiliating, and that “resisting occupation” is the right of anyone under occupation. Indeed, occupation is so evil that any form of resistance — including suicide terrorism — is legitimate. That such an attitude is ludicrous when one considers the difference between say, the Allied occupation of Germany, and the Nazi occupation of Europe. It’s part of the moral miscalculations of the “progressive left” to identify the Israeli occupation with the Nazi one, rather than with the Allied one.
Part of what makes that identification so grotesque is that in the case of the Nazis, because they systematically used collective punishment — hundreds of civilians randomly rounded up and shot in retaliation for one Nazi soldier killed — resistance was not only difficult, but endangered the very civilians the resisters presumably sought to free. And even in those dire conditions, the resisters never engaged in attacking German civilians. In the case of the Israelis, where “collective punishment” consists of blowing up the houses of terrorists after removing the inhabitants, the “cost” of resistance is low, extremely low given the nature of the provocation.
The only way this fearful asymmetry gets “balanced” is by a chattering class of talking heads — media and academia — who constantly hammer away at the unbearable oppressiveness of the Israeli occupation. The following article offers some food for thought on the topic.
Some Palestinians prefer life in Israel
In East Jerusalem, residents say they would fight a handover to Abbas regime
October 16, 2007 at 4:52 AM EDT
JERUSALEM — After 40 years of living under Israeli occupation, two stints in Israeli prisons and a military checkpoint on the same road as his odds-and-ends shop, one would think Nabil Gheit would be happy to hear an Israeli prime minister contemplate handing over parts of East Jerusalem to Palestinian control.
But the mayor of Ras Hamis, a Palestinian neighbourhood on the eastern fringe of this divided city, says that he can’t think of a worse fate for him and his constituents than being handed over to the weak and ineffective Palestinian Authority right now.
“If there was a referendum here, no one would vote to join the Palestinian Authority,” Mr. Gheit said, smoking a water pipe as he whiled away the afternoon watching Lebanese music videos. “We will not accept it. There would be another intifada [uprising] to defend ourselves from the PA.”
There is something just a bit grotesque about using the term intifada here. At the same time as the first intifada broke out in Israel, it also broke out in Egypt. It didn’t last two days because the Egyptians — with no media coverage to worry about — machine-gunned the protesters. So all this talk of intifada is really just that, talk. Civilian protesters only stand a chance against Israel, because no matter how feckless, weak and ineffective the PA may be, they can still pick on the unarmed.
In comments that are likely to stir fierce debate on both sides, Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert suggested yesterday that Israel could relinquish several Arab areas on the periphery of East Jerusalem. The idea is likely to please very few, since many Israelis consider Jerusalem indivisible, while few Palestinians would accept a peace deal that didn’t include sovereignty over the al-Aqsa mosque compound, the third-holiest site in Islam.
Those who live in the neighbourhoods Mr. Olmert spoke of handing over are nonetheless worried that Palestinian president Mahmoud Abbas, who is seen as weak and desperate for an achievement after losing control of the Gaza Strip to the Islamist Hamas movement, will accept the offer. They dislike the idea of their neighbourhoods, which are generally more prosperous than other parts of the West Bank, being absorbed into the chaotic Palestinian territories.
“But,” the progressives will complain, “man does not live by bread alone. What about pride and self-determination? Just because the Arabs under Israeli rule are more prosperous than Arabs under Arab rule is no excuse for occupation!”
Mr. Gheit, with two posters of “the martyr Saddam Hussein” hanging over his cash register, can hardly be called an admirer of the Jewish state. But he says that an already difficult life would get worse if those living in Ras Hamis and the adjoining Shuafat refugee camp were suddenly no longer able to work in Israel, or use its publicly funded health system.
Sure. Let him have a picture of Ariel Sharon over his cash register in a PA-run state.
The 53-year-old said he’d be happy to one day live in a properly independent Palestinian state, but not one that looks anything like the corruption-racked and violence-prone areas that are split between the warring Hamas and Fatah factions. “I don’t believe in these factions. I only believe in putting bread on the table for my children. I fight only for them. At least in Israel, there’s law.”
Eloquently put, although excuse me if I don’t really believe you, Mr. Gheit. You don’t have pictures of Saddam Hussein up because you just want bread on the table for your children. You also want to have pride, and Saddam, for reasons that have a great deal to do with the pathologies of Palestinian culture, is a source of pride for you. The real tragedy here is that it’s precisely strongmen like Saddam Hussein who embody exactly why not just the current PA, but any PA one can imagine in the near to middle future, will not offer you either the rule of law or any real prosperity. Like so many Arabs who tell our gullible journalists they want democracy, Mr. Gheit wants it without having a clue as to what it takes.
Mr. Gheit said that over the past five years, some 5,000 people have moved into Ras Hamis from other parts of the West Bank, concerned that they would lose their Israeli identification cards if they didn’t live within the city limits. There would be a mass exodus into other parts of the city, or other towns in Israel, if it looked likely that Ras Hamis and Shuafat, home to a combined 50,000 people, were about to be declared no longer part of Jerusalem, he said.
People who “vote with their feet” offer real hard data on their feelings, not the blather they serve up to gullible reporters. It really costs to vote with one’s feet, to leave a home, almost always at great financial loss, to sever community ties. And in the Palestinian world, where thugs are ready to execute collaborators, at great risk to one’s family’s safety. Black hearts and red spades, anyone?