After Israel killed a military commander of the Palestinian Islamic Jihad (PIJ) organization in Gaza, PIJ responded with (as of 18:00 Wednesday afternoon), 400 rockets aimed at Israeli civilians. This skirmish in the hundred year war against Jewish sovereignty in Eretz Yisrael will certainly not be the last. If you are wondering why they do this, knowing that the IDF will strike back painfully, destroying infrastructure and killing their people, and knowing that there is zero chance that it will cause the Jews to abandon their homeland, there is an answer. It is an answer that explains much in the history of the conflict, as well as many otherwise inexplicable events.
The answer is to be found in one of the first principles of Palestinism and its corollaries.
But first, what is Palestinism? It is the belief that the Palestinian Arabs were unfairly victimized, dispossessed, colonized, raped, punished, expelled, murdered, degraded, castrated, etc. by the Zionist Jews who created the State of Israel, which continues to do all these things to them. Palestinism holds that this is the single greatest injustice in the world today, and only the replacement of the world’s only Jewish state by an Arab state can rectify it.
I can’t prove it, but I’m sure that although most Palestinists would demand that Israel be replaced by a Palestinian state, if Israel were to disappear, the Palestinian Cause itself would fade away. That is, it is not actually about obtaining justice for this particular group of Arabs as much as it is about getting rid of the Jewish state.
Since it is impossible to establish the truth of Palestinism by historical analysis (because it is not true), it must be accepted on faith. It is therefore more like a religion than a hypothesis.
So what is the principle of Palestinism that causes them to fight pointless battles? I like to state it this way: for Palestinists, it is always preferable to hurt Jews than to help Arabs. Ironically, Jews are more important to them than Palestinians, in a negative way of course.
There is no end to examples. For example, economic resources in the hands of Hamas – even aid specifically intended to improve the conditions of life in Gaza – are always redirected toward offensive weapons to use against Israel. Instead of providing clean water, electricity, or waste treatment facilities, Hamas prefers to dig attack tunnels, manufacture rockets, and raise armies. Back in 2007, six people were killed when the bank of a lagoon full of human waste collapsed. But on the same day, Qassam rockets were fired at Israel.
Historically, the hurt/help principle explains why Palestinian Arab leaders did not accept any of the several offers of statehood they received, starting with the Peel Commission in 1937. It explains why the Arab states (more Palestinist than the Palestinians themselves) forced the 1948 refugees into camps and refused to allow any solution other than reentry into Israel, even for the great grandchildren of the original refugees. It explains why the PLO and the UN refused to allow refugees in Gaza to move into new neighborhoods built for them by Israel after 1967. It explains the persistence of UNRWA and the whole massive edifice of Palestinist institutions created by the UN. Of course, the ultimate expression of the principle is suicide terrorism, where the terrorist sacrifices him or herself in order to murder Jews.
One corollary is that any action or policy that hurts Jews is good, even if it will also hurt Arabs. So Palestinians cheered when Saddam’s scuds or Hezbollah’s rockets hit Israel, even though they could not be aimed precisely enough to kill only Jews.
Another corollary is that the more unhappy, angry, and unfree Palestinians are, the better it is, at least as long as the anger can be directed at the Jews and Israel.
As you have probably noticed, you don’t have to be a Palestinian or even an Arab to be a Palestinist. In fact, it’s better not to be, since then you don’t have to suffer the consequences yourself. You can call for a two-state or even one-state solution from your home in Berkeley or North Tel Aviv while enjoying the benefits of living in a free society, when – if you got your way – Palestinians would live under a corrupt, oppressive, dictatorship run by the PLO, Hamas, or some even worse regime. Ask the Arab citizens of Israel whether they prefer living as a minority in the Zionist entity that they constantly criticize for being “racist” or to join their relatives in the PA areas or Gaza Strip; the great majority are satisfied with their lives in Israel.
Nevertheless, Palestinism is the religion of the UN, the EU, the human rights establishment, most academics in the humanities and social sciences, Jeremy Corbyn and Bernie Sanders, and many of those who call themselves “progressives.”
Failure to understand the hurt/help principle has led to well-meaning attempts to end the conflict ending in massive debacles. The most egregious example is the Oslo accords, where there was an expectation that legitimization and massive amounts of aid would improve the economic condition of the Palestinians, and that they would then concentrate on building their own state instead of attacking ours. Of course, the opposite happened. To this day, there are proposals to end the simmering war with Gaza by improving the economy there, all of which ignore the fact that their economy is a disaster because they insist on keeping the war simmering (and sometimes, like today, boiling).
But it is a mistake that we keep making, over and over. Shimon Peres imagined a New Middle East, where economic cooperation overrode political conflict; but without ending Palestinism, economic improvements – if they are possible – simply translate into weapons for more conflict.
If the conflict will ever end – and it’s hard to be optimistic – Palestinism, with its phony history and promise of sweet revenge for the eternally aggrieved, will have to be discredited, and the mechanisms created to perpetuate it will have to be dismantled.
There is one bright spot: for the first time in decades, an American administration has taken steps to defund UNRWA, the UN machinery that nurtures Palestinism while stimulating the growth of the “refugee” population (its soldiers) geometrically. This structure, created by antisemitic European hypocrites and Israel’s Arab enemies, is astronomically expensive and only the participation of the US, the world’s largest economy, has made it possible.
It could be that Donald Trump’s greatest contribution to the survival of the State of Israel could be in killing UNRWA, something far more important in the long run than the location of the US Embassy.