It would take the pen of Swift to evoke the nauseating scenes of hypocrisy, bad faith and self-delusion on the White House lawn on September 13, crammed as it was with people who for long years were complicit in the butchery and torture of Palestinians and the denial of their rights, now applauding the “symbolic handshake” that in fact ratified further abnegation of those same rights.
In the shadow of an American President with the poise and verbiage of the manager of a McDonald’s franchise, Arafat produced oratory so meager it made Rabin sound like Cicero. To think that long years of struggle and U.N. resolutions acknowledging Palestinian claims should end with this pathetic fellow shouting thank you to his suzerains.
Hillary’s comic-opera Rasputin, Michael Lerner, mustered on that same lawn, said later that “this Rosh Hashana, for the first time in Israel’s forty-six-year history, it will be possible to worship without feeling a conflict between moral sensitivity, on one hand, and loyalty to Israel and the Jewish people on the other.” Really? Thirteen thousand Palestinian political prisoners unmentioned, still in chains, land stolen, hundreds of thousands expelled and in exile, and a deal forged only because Rabin and Peres, confronted by a new generation of Palestinian leadership in the territories—not just Hamas—plucked Arafat and his P.L.O. from the grave and guided his hand through the articles of surrender, to which supposed advocates of Palestinian rights have been, both here and in Israel, a party.
Is it our role, as supporters of justice for Palestinians, to say that this is the best they can hope for? This sort of coercive harmony merely helps to mold the contours of surrender, as liberals have done so often in the past. Choctaw to Oklahoma? The best they can expect. By assisting in such Realpolitik one adds one’s mite to the treasury of the oppressors.
Study the exchanges between Rabin and Arafat, and it’s plain that Israel commits to nothing—not even an end to closure of the territories. Arafat gave up everything, including the right to resist.
Right now, Palestinians get the right to manage the world’s largest prison, the Gaza Strip, plus one cow town. It’s as though the Irish in 1921 got Tralee plus a few acres in West Cork, with the British holding the entire eastern half, Belfast, Dublin, Waterford, plus all the resources, with its army free to roam at will across the Irish enclaves, themselves fragmented by British highways and drained of water. There will be no Palestinian sovereignty and an economy completely subordinated to Israel’s. As the Israeli economy gets internationalized, companies will set up sweatshops in Gaza and the West Bank, and the Palestinians will furnish the $6-a-day labor. Members of the Palestine Liberation Army, imported from outside the territories, will do the policing, just as the sepoys did for the British in colonial India. Arafat or some successor could end up running, with Israeli and American backing, a mini-Haiti. The Hebrew-language newspaper Yediot Aharonot reported on September 2 that Israel’s security police are already “cooperating” with the P.L.O. to insure security against “extremists” in the Gaza Strip.
Palestinians Who Say No