Thursday, November 29, 2012

Palestinian Resistance

The Palestinians have been rather slow to grasp how the world works these days. Partly this is due to the fact that it's convenient both for their leaders and Israel to nurture the myth that armed resistance is likely to aid their cause. Most of the problem is simply human nature, of course. If realistic goals are unachievable, then why not cling to the fantasy of throwing the Jews out by force?

They haven't yet grasped the lesson of Gandhi, or if they have, how to use it. Jeffrey Goldberg explains to them the tactic they need to adopt:

There is, however, a strategy the Palestinians could implement immediately that would help move them toward independence: They could give up their dream of independence.

It’s a very simple idea. When Abbas goes before the UN, he shouldn’t ask for recognition of an independent state. Instead, he should say the following: “Israel occupied the West Bank and Gaza 45 years ago, and shows no interest in letting go of the West Bank, in particular. We, the Palestinian people, recognize two things: The first is that we are not strong enough to push the Israelis out. Armed resistance is a path to nowhere. The second is that the occupation is permanent. The Israelis are here to stay. So we are giving up our demand for independence. Instead, we are simply asking for the vote. Israel rules our lives. We should be allowed to help pick Israel’s rulers.”

Reaction would be seismic and instantaneous. The demand for voting rights would resonate with people around the world, in particular with American Jews, who pride themselves on support for both Israel and for civil rights at home. Such a demand would also force Israel into an untenable position; if it accedes to such a demand, it would very quickly cease to be the world’s only Jewish-majority state, and instead become the world’s 23rd Arab-majority state. If it were to refuse this demand, Israel would very quickly be painted by former friends as an apartheid state.

Israel’s response, then, can be reasonably predicted: Israeli leaders eager to prevent their country from becoming a pariah would move to negotiate the independence, with security caveats, of a Palestinian state on the West Bank, and later in Gaza, as well. Israel would simply have no choice.

Goldberg is probably wrong about it working quickly, but quickly or slowly, I think its the only reasonable strategy.