The new Palestinian tragedy
Op-ed: Palestinians stunned to discover that world, Israel's Left no longer care about them
In an almost desperate bid to counter the new historical trend, pro-Palestinian elements recently attempted to change direction and bring the Palestinian issue back to the agenda, through what they referred to as "Land Day."
But they failed.
For dozens of years, Arab regimes dealt with Israel and the Palestinians artificially, in order to hide what went on in their own countries and divert the attention of the Arab masses outwardly. Yet today there is no longer a need for this, as the Arab world's real problems have emerged in force.
And so, from being a major issue, and possibly the main issue, the Palestinians were pushed down to the bottom of the priority list; their Land Day did not receive any substantial coverage, neither in the Arab world nor in the Western world.
Today, when the Muslim Middle East is disintegrating into religions, ethnic groups, minorities and distinct regions, when the slaughter in Syria is merely intensifying (the number of fatalities is already nearing 10,000,) when Libya's militias are killing each other, Yemen is crumbling and Egypt is facing deep trouble, it turns out that relatively speaking, the Palestinian issue is the most stable in the Mideast.
Truth be told, that was always the case, yet for self-interested reasons the situation was distorted by various elements.
The Palestinians encountered another grave calamity: Israel's public opinion lost interest in them. For dozens of years, Israel's leftist camp turned the Palestinians into its defining issue. Yet suddenly the Left discovered that Israel moved on and that the issue is no longer on its agenda. When the Left also discovered that the Palestinians have no interest in peace or negotiations, just like Syria's Assad, it replaced the Palestinian agenda with a new one, premised on social issues like cottage cheese and the tent protest.
As those behind Palestinian moves over the years were almost always Israeli or Jewish, once they moved on to another issue there was no longer anyone who could do the work for the Palestinians. The Shalit deal killed any remaining traces of interest in the Palestinian issue. Rockets from Gaza didn't change matters and neither did claims about a Gaza "blockade," as there is no such blockade. Gaza is in fact prospering after connecting to Egypt, but not to Ramallah.
On top of this comes an international doubt: did the Palestinian issue justify such great attention all these years? When a US presidential candidate asserts that there is no such thing as a Palestinian people, many things that appeared solid and absolute no longer seem that way.
Instead of wooing Western policy-makers, the Palestinians' dual leadership chose to barricade itself via unilateral steps doomed for failure, such as the bid to force a new reality through the UN. As result of this, the Palestinian Authority lost much of its credibility in the West, while the embarrassing courting of Hamas, defined as a terror group, did not grant the PA much extra credit.
The Palestinians were also stunned to discover that despite the so-called "Arab Spring," the Arab regimes have not changed much from the previous ones as far as matters pertaining to the Palestinians are concerned. Land Day proved that the regimes in Lebanon, Syria, Jordan and Egypt, as well as Hezbollah, are unwilling to mess with Israel because of the Palestinians. On top of this come the domestic Palestinian divisions, which cannot be healed.
However, another fact emerged on Land Day: The Palestinian Authority and Hamas regimes are also uninterested in a major flare-up, for fear that this will ultimately come at their own expense and spread against unpopular leaderships. Moreover, Israel is too strong and has much experience with facing crises and protests.
All these developments require the Palestinians – both regimes and societies – to engage in self-reflection, yet such phenomenon of self-reflection and correction happens to characterize Israeli society, rather than Palestinian society. As was the case in the last dozens of years, the Palestinian public will continue to follow its leaders, who lead it, one generation after another, to defeats and failures.