Wednesday, April 10, 2013

A Response to "Do the Palestinians want a state?"

Empress Trudy

The question is not 'do they?' but who 'they' is. They are the dictators, tribal chieftains, mafia thugs, criminals and Nazis we in the west have anointed 'their' leaders. What an ordinary Arab, if you could find one, and that's debatable, thinks wants needs or says, is utterly unimportant. Many would want a country, many would not, many wouldn't care either way and another factions' answer is always some ululating and waving a gun over their head. But in any case, whatever the survey says, no one cares. No one in a position to exert force toward any solution at all.

And herein lies the fundamental problem. If you have a society where no one matters let alone has a say then what kind of 'state' do you wind up with? And let's set aside the notion of participatory democratic process and use 'have a say' in the sense that whatever the mob or some group wants will in some way be heard, somehow if even informally. There could be mass protests for example.

In nearly every case across the Maghreb or Mizrahi where an authoritarian or worse state comes apart by war, civil war, mass demonstrations, fatigue, economic failure or old age the larger polity if you can call it that rapidly descends into an anarchic free for all unless and until another dictator arises out of those ashes to rule. And so on. The reasons for this are manifold: ethnic and tribal and sectarian rivalries, outside support of one group versus another, a mad scramble for money and resources, and importantly a lack of civic life with which to base anything. A king or emir or military dictator or sheik doesn't put the civic institutions in place for a reason. In fact Gaddafy purposefully omitted any sort of organized government at all. There were no domestic functions one would normally associate with a state. So you're left with generation after generation of people who neither have the inclination for self rule nor the tools to do it. 

We in the west have become accustomed to African failure for most of the same reasons here. The colonial powers weren’t interested in self determination and when they left in the 1950’s-70’s there was very little in place to provide a stable base. Some places were better off than others, like Ghana, Kenya, Tanzania but most of them were hopeless and have been hopeless. Central Francophone Africa is a disaster where millions have perished. Equatorial West Africa was torn apart by wars all through the 1960’s and then again the 1990s, even Cote d’Ivoire which was a fairly stable country until then.  South Western Africa – Angola, and the Namib were in a 20 year civil war that involved the US, the CCCP, Cuba, Portugal and South Africa.  South Eastern Africa, Mozambique’s ‘revolution’ claimed somewhere from 1 to 5 million lives. We tend to focus on Rhodesia and South Africa as the poster children of inhumane states while neglecting the fact that everyone else was putting up genocide-level numbers.

After two generations of that we in the west seem to accept it or least acknowledge that something is horribly wrong.  But when it comes to the Arab states, we forget all that and claim that all we need do is cart out all the old ladies with their purple fingers and magic will occur.  And even were we to totally ignore the tragedy of Africa we also ignore the recent history in those very same Arab states. 150,000 killed in Islamist fighting in Algeria the mid 1990’s. Thousands upon thousands killed in Chad vs Libya (including chemical weapons), Egypt vs Yemen (including chemical weapons), Somalia, The genocide of Sudan, the Yemen civil wars and uprisings (so far claiming about 100,000 dead or missing and the dispossession of a half million people), the Hama uprising in Syria, claiming 30-40,000 people, the seemingly endless wars of Lebanon, the Black September war in Jordan in 1970 and of course Iraq vs Iran, Iraq vs Kuwait, Irag vs the Kurds (more chemical weapons). And with all of that we’re shocked, shocked I tell you, they can’t get their act together. Every single time our mandarins proclaim it a one-off event, an anomaly.

It’s not an anomaly, it’s their normal. It’s how power transfers in the Arab world. Not with ballots or speeches but with rioting, anarchy, mass murder, genocide and WMD’s. That’s their process, that’s how it’s designed to work. And what does it transfer to? Another dysfunctional kleptocracy holding desperately onto power through force, the secret police, the “Republican Guards”, torture, and the standard tools of Autocratic Brutality. Punctuated briefly by street riots, famines and desultory failure.

So, do Palestinians want a state? With Abbas saying l'état, c'est moi even if he doesn’t believe it’s true. With Hamas adopting the motto that Richelieu had cast into every one of Louis’ cannons: Ultima Ratio Regnum (the final argument of kings). It is not entirely germane what ordinary Palestinians want or how they think they could obtain even if there was a way to do that. Which there isn’t.


  1. Great post Trudy. I was looking around at The Times of Israel and found this article by an Iranian. I think he is on your wavelength.

    "Intellectuals as well as secular and religious scholars of the Muslim world need to understand that without resolving the core principle of tolerance for the “other” – starting with Israel – they cannot reach genuine democracy and peace. We must search within ourselves for the roots of our problems. The age-old problems of inequity and discrimination, violence, disrespect for human rights, misogyny and anti-woman behaviors, intolerance and racial hatred, sectarianism, corruption, fundamentalism and extremism are deeply rooted in our sociopolitical structure. Our region has faced these problems since long before the establishment of the Jewish state in 1948 and they have nothing to do with the Israel of today....."

  2. Interesting, Trudy.

    You possibly could give Greenfield a run for his money if you put your heart and mind into it.

    I think what strikes me most, tho, is that we both end up at the same place, i.e., there will be no diplomatic solution.

    So if a diplomatic solution is not possible, then just what are the options.

    What I say is that, despite Gaza, Israel needs to unilaterally declare its final borders.

    Do you agree?

    1. I've said that before, but the political risks inside Israel of not including 100% of the Jews in Yesha are enormous. Plus as a logistical measure, now do you do that since it would certainly be a retreat under fire. Sure, we say what is a good solution or an adequate solution but in practice it's people's lives. And again, w/o being too cynical, Israeli leaders too don't have to pay 100% attention to what Israeli citizens say or want either. Their job is to manage the state not the hurt feelings of everyone in it. So where we are today is a kind of "Balance of Apprehension". Israelis are willing to tolerate a given water level of atrocities, threats and violence today and the Arabs are willing to absorb a given level of counter terrorism in kind. Neither seems to have the political will to move off that stalemate. Perhaps we need to examine why that is. What is served by both sides in doing that? A bit of 'devil you know', no doubt but also a degrees of organizational paralysis where their political systems can't adapt and don't want to adapt to any other way. People who shoot rockets want to shoot a lot of rockets, people in charge of the counter terrorism budget of YAMAM don't want to see it given away in a 'peace dividend' either. So there's going to be a fair degree of parochialism bolstering that stalemate.

      I would take the approach that since there's not any seriously viable political or diplomatic solution and by the way THERE NEVER WAS even when the Mandate was carved up - - no one was asking the Jews what they wanted or what the Arabs could accept - they just did it and waited for the shooting..... that the best possible outcome is to snatch as much of Yesha as they can reasonably defend and hold long term, throw up the barricades bid the Arabs fare thee well. In other words, partial annexation. Whatever's left the Arabs can call their state.

      Because another aspect of this that I didn't touch on is the reality that the Arabs don't want a state for a very very simple reason. The 'refugees'. On THE day a Palestinian state is declared, every single Arab neighbor in the region will frog march every last Palestinian 'refugee' to the border and order to them to go to their new 'homeland'. That is millions of people by their own reckoning that not a single Arab state on earth can muster the energy to pretend to tolerate. Most of them are barely considered humans by their host government. Few have any civil rights even compared to other Arabs. So a declared Palestinian state will result in a truly breathtaking humanitarian calamity, day one. If there is 1.9 million or whatever Palestinan in Yesha today, that number would double in a year. And it is literally of all their own making. But, as we know, the UN, if it does anything at all, it serves to blame the Jews, for something. So there would be enormous pressure to open the floodgates and allow a few million Arabs to shuffle into Israel.

      Not a pretty picture which is why I suggest the Israelis grab what they can and head for the border.

  3. Declare its final borders and plant a Helluva lot of Gharqad trees. Sarcastic perhaps but let's face it....insightful regarding the REAL and biggest problem.