The situation has escalated again in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Hamas members have launched rockets from Gaza into Israel and Israel has retaliated, giving us another example of what happens when you play the victim instead of taking responsibility for your situation. In addition to failing to remedy the situation, your false victimhood creates real victims.
In the last century of relations between Israel and Palestine, no one is entirely blameless. The creation of the state of Israel out of a piece of the former Ottoman Empire (there were no states then; no Jordan, no Syria, no Iraq, no Lebanon) was a highly contentious event in which most actors behaved as anyone would in the same situation and neither completely morally. Since then, the outlook of Palestinians, whether in what are now Israeli borders or in adjoining countries, has largely devolved into crying oppression against the freest state in the region.
Between the end of the First World War and the end of the Second, Israelis and Palestinians played geopolitics in an attempt to maneuver into the best position they could in the Levant. Israel was more successful, not so much because Great Britain, the major imperial power in the region, liked Jews and hated Arabs – Britain was interested in both sides doing well, so long as the leaders were friendly – but because Israel was better at playing the game. Still neither side got everything they wanted.
Israel was no more responsible for blocking the creation of a Palestinian state than was the country of Jordan, who seized control of the West Bank after engaging in battle with Israel along with other Arab nations in the region in 1948.
King Abdullah would have been happy to include Palestinians to his economy, as they were wealthier and better educated than Jordanians and were therefore expected to aid the future development of the region.
Jordan lost that territory twenty years later after the leaders in Syria and Egypt convinced King Hussein to enter an ill-advised war with Israel that lasted only six days. Syria and Egypt found it convenient to demagogue the issue of Palestinian nationhood and the countries used the excuse of Israeli retaliation to attacks by Palestinian terror groups based in the West Bank to initiate the hostilities.
The war and the corresponding seizure of the West Bank by Israel during the war resulted in hundreds of thousands of refugees, including over 300,000 to Jordan. No territory was gained, no state was created, no wealth produced. Just massive hurt too numerous Palestinians – victims of the stupid actions of those supposedly trying to help them.
King Hussein tried to incorporate them into Jordanian government by slowly extended democracy to them. Sadly, this only resulted in elected Palestinians trying to steer the moderate Jordan toward a more radical policy. They even passed a vote of no confidence in the prime minister – the first in Jordanian history.
The terror attacks didn’t stop. Now based in Jordanian territory, they crossed into the West Bank. As the Jordanian government was now reluctant to cross Israel, these groups now considered Jordan not to be “down for the struggle,” so to speak. They began to attack Jordanian targets and even took partial control of the capital city of Amman.
“They violated our hospitality,” Jordanian Prime Minister Wasfi al-Tal, was quoted as saying in the New York Times in 1971. The Jordanian military clamped down terrorism in 1970 and 1971, driving the perpetrators into Syria and Lebanon. (They caused no small trouble for Lebanon over the following two decades.) Later attempts to extend democracy to Palestinians in Jordan did not satisfy, as the Second Intifada showed.
Which brings us to today. The story hasn’t changed. From Gaza, Hamas has launched rockets into Israel, despite the fact that they are almost entirely ineffective. (One even struck Israel infrastructure that provided power to 70,000 Gazans.)
Following a ceasefire proposed by Egypt, which Israel accepted, Hamas launched another 76 rockets, before Israel finally retaliated. As usual, they told Palestinians in Gaza not to seek shelter after Israel had warned them of retaliation. Rather than use their resources to empower their people, they have created human shields – blaming instead of taking responsibility. In an effort to provide proof of victimhood, they have created victims of their own idiotic and immoral actions.
This is just a part of the larger problem with the Palestinian statehood movement. Hamas provides no freedom of speech, press, religion or assembly.
On the contrary, they kill dissenters. One of their primary goals is the annihilation of another state.
No group of people deserves to have the world carve out their own state on the basis of their very existence. Hamas’ behavior indicates that they as an organization are in no position to be the basis of a government in the modern world. Perhaps there are Palestinians who are ready to take responsibility to create a peaceful and prosperous country, with a corresponding liberal (in the classic sense) state.
So long as Hamas continues to use Palestinians as human shields instead – until they beat the useless missiles into plowshares – they will continue to be a victim of their own poor decisions. The Palestinians are the only ones who can make their situation in the world better. The sooner that point is recognized – and the sooner the Western media ceases to enable Hamas by providing them cover – the better for everyone in the region. If you’re looking for a path to peace, there it is.