So Long as Palestinians Are Treated as Exceptional, They Will Never Be Able to Overcome Their Woes

July 22 2021

In the Middle East and across the globe, there are numerous stateless nations, refugee problems, and longstanding struggles over territory, yet the Israel-Palestinian conflict is treated as if it is fundamentally unlike all others, and has been treated thus from its inception. Hussein Aboubakr examines this strange situation:

Very few, if any, causes and ideas can gain the support . . . of so many disparate ideologies the way the Palestinian cause does. From the ideological projects of Islamism, jihadism, and Arab nationalism to Third World liberation ideologies, feminism, and wokeism, the Palestinian cause serves as a rallying call to disharmonious groups. Palestinian “refugees” are considered a unique breed of displaced humans, utterly different from the tens of millions who were displaced since World War II. The recent wave of protests against the oppressive rule of the Palestinian Authority proved to be [of little] interest to the Western supporters of the [Palestinian] cause, many of whom hold up the slain Saudi journalist Khashoggi as a Christlike figure.

The magical exceptionalism of the Palestinians turns appalling acts of violence . . . from terrorism into resistance. It turns common real-estate disputes into a struggle of justice, Islam, Arabness, feminism, wokeism, socialism, etc. It turns the cowardice of Islamist terrorists into heroic self-sacrifice. . . . And finally, it turns the nauseating toxic anti-Semitism, which is now proliferating the world over, into a banner of self-righteousness and equity.

The reason the star of the Palestinian cause is dimming among Arab nations, while ironically getting brighter in the West, is [that] we don’t see the Palestinians as exceptional anymore. . . . Ultimately, the biggest losers of Palestinian exceptionalism are none but Palestinians who seek a better future for their people.

Read more at Hussein Aboubakr

More about: Anti-Semitism, Israeli-Palestinian Conflict, Palestinian refugees

How Israel Can Break the Cycle of Wars in Gaza

Last month saw yet another round of fighting between the Jewish state and Gaza-based terrorist groups. This time, it was Palestinian Islamic Jihad (PIJ) that began the conflict; in other cases, it was Hamas, which rules the territory. Such outbreaks have been numerous in the years since 2009, and although the details have varied somewhat, Israel has not yet found a way to stop them, or to save the residents of the southwestern part of the country from the constant threat of rocket fire. Yossi Kuperwasser argues that a combination of military, economic, and diplomatic pressure might present an alternative solution:

In Gaza, Jerusalem plays a key role in developing the rules that determine what the parties can and cannot do. Such rules are designed to give the Israelis the ability to deter attacks, defend territory, maintain intelligence dominance, and win decisively. These rules assure Hamas that its rule over Gaza will not be challenged and that, in between the rounds of escalation, it will be allowed to continue its military buildup, as the Israelis seldom strike first, and the government’s responses to Hamas’s limited attacks are always measured and proportionate.

The flaws in such an approach are clear: it grants Hamas the ability to develop its offensive capabilities, increase its political power, and condemn Israelis—especially those living within range of the Gaza Strip—to persistent threats from Hamas terrorists.

A far more effective [goal] would be to rid Israel of Hamas’s threat by disarming it, prohibiting its rearmament, and demonstrating conclusively that threatening Israel is indisputably against its interests. Achieving this goal will not be easy, but with proper preparation, it may be feasible at the appropriate time.

Revisiting the rule according to which Jerusalem remains tacitly committed to not ending Hamas rule in Gaza is key for changing the dynamics of this conflict. So long as Hamas knows that the Israelis will not attempt to uproot it from Gaza, it can continue arming itself and conducting periodic attacks knowing the price it will pay may be heavy—especially if Jerusalem changes the other rules mentioned—but not existential.

Read more at Middle East Quarterly

More about: Gaza Strip, Hamas, Israeli Security, Palestinian Islamic Jihad