Some of my longtime readers may have noticed that I haven’t written about the Israeli-Palestinian conflict in many moons. There’s a reason for that: actually, two reasons.
1) Israeli society has become so sick and perverted by authoritarianism and religious fanaticism that I was in danger of committing one of the worst sins a writer can be guilty of: repeating myself (and, subsequently, boring my readers). Worse still, I was boring myself: after all, what can one say about a country that bases its very existence on an ancient book supposedly divinely inspired, and justifies the systematic repression of the indigenous population by reference to the same? How many times can one condemn it?
2) The Palestinian “resistance” movement is infected with the same hateful poison as Israeli society. Last I checked, they had initiated a new “intifada”: the Knife Intifada. The idea was to have Palestinians stab as many Israeli civilians as possible. In short, as part of their public relations campaign to make the world more sympathetic to their cause, they launched what amounted to a horror movie – only this was real life. Dozens of Israelis were stabbed.
Although I’ve been sympathetic to the Palestinian case – after all, property rights are the key plank in the libertarian platform, and stealing Palestinian land has been the Israeli method from the very beginning – they lost me with the “Knife Intifada.” I mean, you can’t get much creepier than that.
And the violent imagery hasn’t ended: indeed, the Palestinians have escalated their campaign. The latest is publicizing “the slap” – a blow to an Israeli soldier delivered by Ahed Tamimi, a Palestinian teenager, in an incident widely viewed on Youtube and promoted by the Palestinian leadership as symbolic of their movement. Here is the video: you’ll note that AHED and another female Palestinian keep hitting the soldier, harassing and provoking him, until he lashes out. Then she slaps him across the face.
Everyone will have their own reaction to the video, but mine was simple repulsion. Yes, I know, you have to understand the context of Tamimi’s actions: her home had been invaded, and one of her relatives murdered. But that’s precisely the problem: the Palestinians make little attempt to show the context. They actually think their video, which has been widely distributed, is effective because it shows one of them – a mere girl — defiantly and proudly standing up to the Israelis. It makes them feel better, and yet to outsiders it is just another example of the Palestinians provoking the Israelis and glorying in violence for its own sake. At least, that’s what it looks like.
The latest eruption is the “March of Return,” which has resulted in the IDF shooting nearly 800 unarmed protesters who were demonstrating on Gazan territory and never set one foot into Israel proper. Many were critically wounded: 17 were killed. The IDF and Israel’s amen corner in America are trying to justify this atrocity by claiming it was a “terrorist” incident, initiated by Hamas, and that several Hamas fighters are among those killed or injured. But of course any resistance to Israeli tyranny is deemed “terrorist” activity: poor little Israel, they claim, is merely defending itself.
This video of a Palestinian attempting to run away from the border while he is shot in the back dramatizes the situation in the Holy Land this Easter Sunday (the day I’m writing this) far better than mere words can convey.
However, the Palestinians are far from blameless: the more enthusiastic young men rushed up to the border, throwing stones at the Israeli soldiers, and a few even tried to get over the many barriers. They clearly wanted and expected a violent reaction, and that is precisely what they got – although who would’ve thought the Israelis would start shooting unarmed civilians?
Well, I wouldn’t have thought that, no matter how low my opinion is of the Israeli military and that country’s political leaders, but surely the Palestinians – more experienced than I in this regard — had every reason to assume that innocents would be killed.
More importantly, I think, is the nature of the Palestinian protest itself: it is billed as a “March for Return.” What this means is that the Palestinians are reviving the most radical – and unrealistic – demand on their agenda: the alleged “right of return” of the Palestinians to their original villages. Most have not seen their old homes since 1948, or at least since the Six Day War in 1967.
This is akin to Native Americans in the US — who, like the Palestinians, have gotten a pretty raw deal — marching on Manhattan and demanding their “right of return.” At most they’d get an official apology from Mayor DeBlasio and a “Welcome to the Big Apple” t-shirt: in Israel the Palestinians will get less than nothing. They know this. The Israelis know this. The whole world knows it, but the Palestinians don’t care: they don’t want peace – they want victory.
President Trump vowed during the election campaign to find a solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, which, he averred, might be solved if only the right “deal” could be cooked up. He was sadly mistaken, and his actions in that theater have been so biased in favor of the Israelis that whatever credibility he had in the beginning on this issue – not much, to be sure – has been dissipated beyond redemption.
As far as the US is concerned, our policy should be nonintervention: aid to Israel, clearly an oppressor nation, must cease. What are we getting for aiding and abetting their systematic cruelty? How does our unconditional support serve American interests? The answer is: it doesn’t.
On the other hand, the self-righteousness and intransigence of the Palestinian “liberation” movement is, frankly, unworthy of support: the movement’s commitment to violent imagery, and violent tactics, is counterproductive and morally wrong. And there is no overlooking the strong Islamist influence. Neither the Palestine Liberation Organization, in the West Bank, nor Hamas, in Gaza, has produced a model for anything approaching a democratic Palestinian state. Both are horrific examples of thugocracy at its worst – and the Israelis, for all their pretensions to “democracy,” aren’t far behind.
I can well imagine a partisan of the Palestinian cause answering my critique of the violence-prone image they project: “Some of us tried the Gandhi route – and those people are dead.” I don’t doubt that they are. And I would be the last one to advise a person to lie down in front of a tank, at least if I wasn’t willing to do it myself. Yet is the alternative to that really the “Knife Intifada”?
There is, in reality, no “solution” to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. These interpenetrated peoples are locked in a hateful embrace, each so poisoned by the contact that they have lost sight of reason and the possibility of compromise. Not every problem has a solution – and what’s going on in the Holy Land is proof enough of that.
No wonder even The Donald shied away from trying to cut a “deal”!
The best policy, as far as this area of the world is concerned, is very simple: mind your own business – and stay out! A sign, made especially for US diplomats and politicians, should be placed at the entrance to the region: Abandon all hope, ye who enter here!
What we have here is perhaps the most bizarre phenomenon yet observed, yet more proof that we’ve entered Bizarro World, where up is down, black is white, and right is wrong. It looks to me like the Israelis and the Palestinians are engaged in a contest to see who projects the most indefensible image to the rest of the world. It’s a case of “May the worst man win!”
And that’s life in Bizarro World
NOTES IN THE MARGIN
You can check out my Twitter feed by going here. But please note that my tweets are sometimes deliberately provocative, often made in jest, and largely consist of me thinking out loud.
I’ve written a couple of books, which you might want to peruse. Here is the link for buying the second edition of my 1993 book, Reclaiming the American Right: The Lost Legacy of the Conservative Movement, with an Introduction by Prof. George W. Carey, a Foreword by Patrick J. Buchanan, and critical essays by Scott Richert and David Gordon (ISI Books, 2008).
You can buy An Enemy of the State: The Life of Murray N. Rothbard (Prometheus Books, 2000), my biography of the great libertarian thinker, here.