Mideast peace is achievable only if Palestinians shed victimhood, look to coexist with Israel
Imagine a world in which Palestinians and their supporters succeeded in establishing, for the first time, a country called Palestine.
Would it be an equal among nations, built upon a sustainable economy with a stable government and a civil society? To succeed, it would need to overcome generations of dependency on the United Nations under which they were used as pawns for other Muslims to pursue a Jew-free Islamic state.
Palestinians would also need to abandon their delusional fantasy of annihilating Israel, where Jews have lived continuously for 3,700 years.
In 1991, I visited the home of a Palestinian woman in Gaza who had just lost her son. She didn’t know I was Jewish. She offered me a cup of tea and launched into a recitation of her people’s mission to stay in Gaza until the Jews left Israel.
On her mantel was a photo of her son. She gave me a copy of the picture and told me that all the teenage boys had pictures ready for distribution upon their death. Their sole focus was on returning to a land that their ancestors had left in 1948. She was fully aware that Gaza was a dead end, yet she still chose to live a life of protest rather than one of betterment for the next generation.
More than three decades later, the mission is unchanged, and the venom directed at Israel has been passed to several subsequent generations of Palestinians. Rather than funneling their brainpower and international aid into becoming Singapore or the United Arab Emirates, Palestinians in Gaza remain in despair.
Perhaps it’s time for Palestinians to take a page from the Jews they hate so much and shed their victimhood and hopelessness.
Throughout history, people have relocated and created new lives in foreign lands.
The number of Jews who fled Arab lands greatly exceeds the number of Arabs who chose to leave Israel after the United Nations voted to establish a tiny Jewish state.
The last of my ancestors finally left Baghdad after calling it home for 2,600 years once the British installed King Faisal I as Iraq’s first king. They did not sacrifice their young to make a point or make themselves victims in the hopes that the world would pity and protect them. Instead, they emigrated to lands that were more tolerant, built fulfilling lives elsewhere, and made immeasurable contributions that are essential to modern life.
After the Oct. 7 massacre that shattered a one-sided cease-fire, Palestinians in Gaza and their Jew-obsessed supporters have doubled down on the failing strategy of seeking pity while calling for the destruction of Israel.
Rep. Rashida Tlaib, a Palestinian American, is the poster child for this effort. Rather than use her power and influence as a member of Congress to improve the lives of her people abroad, she sheds tears, excuses the genocidal mantra “from the river to the sea, Palestine will be free,” and plays the victim once her colleagues in Congress vote to censure her for vile comments.
The Michigan Democrat disingenuously claims that Palestinians in Gaza are seeking coexistence while ignoring Israeli Jews already coexisting with Israeli Arabs who want peace. Some 20% of Israeli citizens are Arabs who hold prominent positions in that country’s military, judiciary and government, as well as in the field of medicine.
In the immediate aftermath of Hamas’ satanic rampage, Palestinians and their supporters expended endless energy marching in the streets, chanting rhythmic absurdities and tearing down posters of kidnapped children. Those responsible for removing the posters, as well as the media that gave them cover, claimed that Israel lied and no civilians had been taken hostage, even as the International Red Cross escorted hostages across the Rafah crossing into Egypt.
Angry demonstrations continue to take place across the Western world, with intensified violent breakouts, university takeovers and hate-filled rhetoric. Swastikas, Stars of David and threats such as “Kill Jews” are spray-painted on Jewish establishments. Protesters march carrying Palestinian flags and wearing the kaffiyeh (the Arab headdress for men), banging down doors and vandalizing property with red and green paint.
The antisemitism that has erupted is stunning, but nowhere among these loud voices is a solution offered.
If people are sincere about helping Palestinians in Gaza, they will demand that neighboring Arabs aid them rather than abandon them. It is time to end destructive and pointless action and start building something positive and hopeful. Together, they could create a functioning government, encourage progress, and elevate a group of people who should truly experience the pleasures and responsibilities of self-government.
The world would embrace a Palestinian state that chooses to share its talents and live in peace with its neighbors — but only in peace.
• Denise Cohen is an attorney and the founder of Bridge Post Communications. She previously worked as a director for the American Conservative Union Foundation.