I recently had a conversation with a friend about the Jews in a major city in the southern USA. He told me that by and large what they got in Sunday school was the classic AIPAC-style narrative: “The Arabs won’t accept Israel and want to destroy it; Israel’s efforts to make peace fail because the only thing they understand is strength, and if you make concessions they’ll interpret it as weakness and press for more.” After a moment of silence in which, presumably, I was supposed to cluck at the hopeless backwardness of such a “narrative” (which as readers of this blog know I call the Honor-Shame Jihad Paradigm and consider fairly accurate), I asked, “So where do you find this narrative inaccurate.”
His response was so perfect that I wrote it down to use in my book.
The vast of majority everywhere want a roof over their heads, to sleep peacefully at night, enjoy their families, food in their bellies and to say good morning to their neighbors and spouses.
Now how was this a response to my question? It had nothing to do with real data from the Arab world, nothing from the various responses of Arab leaders to various concessions Israel has engaged in since 1993. It’s his liberal cognitive egocentrism, raised to the level of an axiom of human nature (confusing human and humane), and then applied as a negation of any evidence to the contrary. If all people are like this, then the Arabs can’t be like that narrative. QED. PCP. The whole world is like us.
I cited for him the comment of one of the Arab rioters in 1936 to the Peel Commission’s question about why he so hated the Jews, if the Zionists have made the land far more prosperous than it had been before they came:
“You say we are better off: you say my house has been enriched by the strangers who have entered it. But it is my house, and I did not invite the strangers in, or ask them to enrich it, and I do not care how poor it is if I am only master of it” (Weathered by Miracles, p. 207).
He responded: “Do you think they all think like that?”
Good question. I say yes, I sound like a bigot. If I say no, then where are we?
Do they all think that way? Or is this irredentism “merely” an expression of the male mafia, the alpha males who crave vengeance, the political/religious leadership, “the Arab street”? What about the “vast, silent majority.” I’m not sure. I think that many… most… maybe even the vast majority would accept my friend’s lovely depiction of a prosperous and peaceful life. (It is, after all, at the core of the messianic promise.)
I give this anecdote as a preface to the following post on Palestinian reaction to Netanyahu’s speech, because so much of the dynamics we disagreed upon show up in unvarnished form. Netanyahu clearly struck on honor-shame chord.
If it were a chess game, Netanyahu’s speech would be a “?!.” “?” because if the Palestinians had responded intelligently — even while retaining their desire to destroy Israel — they could have said, “Fine. Let’s get on with it.” Then, when they got their demilitarized state, they could go ahead and militarize and no one could stop them. It’s a “!” because, true to form, Palestinian “pride” trumps (what we define as rational) self-interest at every turn. As a result we have the spectacle of unvarnished zero-sum Arab irredentism in response to a speech that called for basic mutuality — two states for two religious communities. Short of everything, it’s Palestinian suffering.
Below are a series of responses from Palestinian leaders that display all the elements of an honor-shame culture under conditions of humiliation which needs to be fixed by shedding blood — at once childishly violent in rhetoric, and violently malevolent in intent.
There are two questions here: 1) Is this the real reaction, or posturing? Even as posturing, it’s significant. Why take these mad postures? As bargaining tools? Possibly.
2) Is the West listening and registering this? And if so, do they have the wisdom and foresight to tell the Palestinian leadership to grow up and, as Obama might put it: “join the 21st century.”
Palestinian Reactions to Netanyahu’s Speech ‘Akin to a Declaration of War’; ‘Netanyahu is a Liar and a Crook’; ‘The Speech is Worthless and Warrants a Determined Response’; ‘Not In a Thousand Years… Would [He] Find a Single Palestinian’ to Agree to His Conditions
Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu’s June 14, 2009 speech was met with hostility by all Palestinian factions. The Palestinians called Netanyahu “a liar and a crook,” stated that the only purpose of his “hollow” speech was to placate U.S. President Barack Obama, and claimed that he was effectively ruining the chances for peace. Senior Palestinian Authority officials called on theU.S. to force Israel to implement the two-state solution, and on the PA to toughen its positions. Hamas called on PA to stop security coordination and to reassess their position on negotiations with Israel.
Following are excerpts from reactions in the PA press to the speech:
PA: Netanyahu’s Speech Has Ruined the Chance for Peace
Palestinian Authority negotiations department head Saeb ‘Ariqat stated: “The peace process can be compared to a turtle, and now that Netanyahu has turned it over, it’s lying on its back. Not in a thousand years will Netanyahu find a single Palestinian who would agree to the conditions stipulated in his speech. The speech is a unilateral declaration ending the political negotiations on permanent status issues.” 
This is an eloquent expression of the arrogance of prime divider elites. They will speak for their people without the slightest hesitation. Essentially, ‘Ariqat [also known as Erakat], the main expounder of the Jenin Massacre in 2002, is condemning his people to decades if not generations of suffering, but he not only doesn’t care, he makes no room for the slightest dissent. No proud Palestinian would stand for this (and I guess, by implication, no one shameful enough to accept the deal, is a Palestinian). So Erakat’s implicit answer to my friend’s query is: “Yes! Every Palestinian thinks this way.” (NB: Erakat’s considered a moderate, not a racist who demeans Palestinians by thinking they’re all war- and hate-mongers.)
Nabil Abu Rudeina, spokesman for the Palestinian Authority president, stated: “The speech has destroyed all peace initiatives and [chances for] a solution.” He called on the U.S. administration to fulfill its responsibility in this respect, and added that “Netanyahu’s failure to recognize the Arab Jerusalem as the capital of a Palestinian state and his attempt to impose a solution to the Palestinian problem outside Israel will not lead to a just and comprehensive peace, as prescribed by the U.N. resolutions.”
Remember that “justice” and “peace” mean something else in the honor-shame world of “solidarity with us, and enmity with them.” There are no mutualities here: justice is when I take vengeance; injustice is when you manage to humiliate me without vengeance. Peace is when I run things, war is when you are not dependent on me.
PLO Executive Committee Secretary Yasser ‘Abd Rabbo stated: “Netanyahu’s speech was hollow, and it ruined the chances to advance toward a balanced settlement. The speech is worthless and warrants a determined response. Netanyahu is a liar and a crook; he is looking for ploys to disrupt the peace endeavor.” 
Note that Rabbo is also an alleged moderate, one of the main players in the post-Intifada Geneva Initiative. But he’s also the Minister of Information, and hence responsible for the daily fare of hate-mongering and genocidal incitement that constitutes the main offerings of Palestinian media.
Some PA officials appealed to the U.S. to put pressure on Israel. Thus, Palestinian Ambassador to Egypt Nabil ‘Amro stated: “Netanyahu’s speech is nothing but a hoax [to deceive] America; it does not constitute a positive step towards peace. Netanyahu’s speech is not an initiative, but a poor show presenting a political stance adopted for no other reason than to appease Obama.” ‘Amro called on Obama to force Netanyahu to accept the peace process and the American position on the two state solution. 
Mind you, Palestinians would never do such a thing as to put out a hoax to deceive America, to pretend to want peace in order to appease Western pressure.
The editor of the PA daily Al-Hayat Al-Jadida, Hafez Al-Barghuthi, wrote: “Binyamin Netanyahu said nothing new in his speech; rather, he reiterated [his] pre-election positions, and spat in the face of all those who counted on Obama’s magic wand to swallow the serpents of the settlements and to make Netanyahu change his skin and recognize the two-state [solution]… The Palestinian side is not ready to form a state, no matter how small, since Obama has not demanded that the Palestinians unite their ranks and eliminate the rift between Fatah and Hamas…” 
This is bizarre, especially the final remarks, which suggest that Obama needs to make the Palestinians swallow some serpents. Would like more of this speech translated.
If Israel Does Not Grant the Palestinian Refugees the Right of Return, PA Will Sign Only a Hudna Truce
Senior Fatah official Bilal Al-Hassan contended that the Palestinians must set forth the following demands: full Israeli withdrawal from the territories occupied in 1967; the dismantling of all settlements, including construction in East Jerusalem; the establishment of a fully sovereign Palestinian state; rejection of the idea of exchanging territories; the payment of damages to West Bank and Gaza residents for all the destruction caused by the occupation; and a solution to the right of return problem based on U.N. Resolution No. 194. In addition, should Israel not agree to the return of the Palestinian refugees, only a hudna/truce and an agreement on reversing the consequences of 1967 war will be signed – but not a Palestinian-Israeli peace agreement. 
Now one could argue that this is just bargaining. Bibi says, “50 shekels,” and Bilal says “50 shekels for this? You must be mad!”
But it could be something far more dangerous, namely the “Phased Plan” for the destruction of Israel. Only when we have the return of the refugee to the constrained borders of 1949, including withdrawal from all of Jerusalem, will we agree to what we know you won’t agree to. And if you don’t take in millions of refugees, then we’re only going to give you a cease-fire (Hudna is not a truce, it’s a period of non-violence while the Arab side prepares for the next round of violence under more favorable circumstances).
Talal ‘Ukal, Palestinian political analyst and columnist for the PA daily Al-Ayyam, stated that in his view, the Palestinians should intensify pressure on Israel by accusing it of war crimes as well as assign greater importance to Europe’s attempts to establish an international front opposing settlements. He said that they must demand not only a stop to the building of settlements, but that they be considered an aggressive, illegitimate, and illegal element. ‘Ukal also called for the elimination of the rift between the Palestinians. 
Hamas: Demand to Recognize a Jewish State – A Racist Position
Hamas issued an announcement, stating: “Netanyahu is offering the Palestinians a state without identity, sovereignty, army, or weapons; without Jerusalem or the right of return. And at the same time, it insists on leaving the settlements in place. He is offering an economic peace in return for normalization and recognition of the Zionist entity. Netanyahu tried to use some misleading expressions [to describe] his quest for peace and his racist position – especially [regarding his demand] that the Palestinians recognize the Palestinian land as a Jewish country, as well as his dismissal of the right of return and the Palestinians’ right to Jerusalem. These positions reveal the falsehood of his peace advocacy. The declarations and positions expressed in this speech have increased the hatred and enmity towards this enemy.
“Netanyahu’s racist speech is a message to all those betting on a settlement to immediately stop longing for this mirage. Hamas is calling on the Arab countries to stop marketing normalization or negotiation plans vis-à-vis the occupation. Hamas’s announcement has also called on the PA to stop providing the [Zionist] entity with free security services, as well as to reassess its position and to again embrace Palestinian unity, in light of Netanyahu’s clear declaration that he would not give the PA anything of substance. Hamas elaborated that [Netanyahu’s] statements would only make the Palestinian people more steadfast on its position, Jerusalem, the right of return, and the refusal to recognize this racist occupation.” 
Senior Hamas Official: Netanyahu’s Speech Proves that Resistance Is the Only Way to Attain Rights
Hamas official Dr. Ahmad Bahr, who is acting speaker of the Palestinian Legislative Council, stated: “[Netanyahu’s] racist speech rests on denying the [existence of] the Palestinian people and on disregarding their suffering, and [affirms] that a racist entity [exists] on Palestinian soil. It is an arrogant Zionist speech, rife with threats and condescension towards the Palestinians as well as towards the Arab and Muslim peoples.
“This speech by the criminal Netanyahu showed that some are [still] enticed by his imaginary peace and by his failing plans, while others still harbor hopes of pleasing the Zionists and the Americans. This speech proves that resistance is the only way for the Palestinian people to attain its legitimate rights – and mainly the right to liberate its country, to establish an independent state with Jerusalem as its eternal capital, and to bring a million Palestinians back home, whence they were expelled by Zionist terrorist gangs.” 
Notice the ease with which they throw around the word “racist” — as if Arab culture were not. Only the exceptional stupidity of Western progressives in accepting these grotesquely hypocritical accusations can account for its frequency. If every time an Arab spokesperson called Israel racist, they were asked about their own racism, they’d stop bring it up fairly quickly much less resort to it the way a teenage street gangbanger might call someone he doesn’t like a m-fg a-hole.
Islamic Jihad: The Arab Initiative Must Be Revoked
The Islamic Jihad spokesman stated: “Netanyahu’s speech was deceptive through and through – it clearly disregarded the rights of the Palestinians.
Nice touch. It decieved other fools, but we see right through it — it’s about depriving us of our rights [to wipe out the “Jewish state.”
Netanyahu’s speech has proven that the wave of extremism has engulfed the state of the Zionist entity, and that therefore it is impossible to achieve a peace agreement with this state. The Arab League must declare the Arab peace initiative revoked, and stop betting on a settlement, because Netanyahu’s speech was an answer to this initiative…
“The Palestinians must unite their ranks, as should the Arabs and the Muslims, in order to stand up to radicalization that has taken hold of Israel on all levels.
“It is impossible to come to terms with the occupation, even of one inch of the Palestinian soil. The conflict will continue until the occupation of Palestine ends.” 
Pop quiz: What’s the borders of the “Palestine” referred to in the above quotation?
PFLP: Netanyahu’s Speech “Akin To a Declaration of War”
The Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine called Netanyahu’s speech “akin to a declaration of war and an insult to the international community…” It was further stated: “The peace that Netanyahu offered to the Palestinians and the Arabs is a peace of serfdom, with the Palestinian state as an Israeli reservation, and the PA a civilian administration of its residents, who would be dependent on the occupation’s munificence, and on its security and economic sovereignty… Netanyahu’s call for security, economic activity, meetings with Arab leaders, and negotiations with the Palestinians – while Israel continues acting against the Palestinians – is a mockery of the Arab leaders and the Arab peace initiative.”
The PFLP also called on the Arab League to reassess the feasibility of peace and negotiations. 
I am currently reading about the excellent and depressing research of David Collier into the Palestinian Solidarity Commission, England’s largest and most “prestigious” “pro-Palestinian” group with Read More »