The images and sounds coming from the Palestinian Authority in recent days should force us to ask ourselves: What's going on here? What happened to a society that in the mid-1990s began to look like an emerging country, waiting only to declare its independence, but now looks like little more than a collection of armed gangs?
Where are the seeds of anarchy planted? What were the mistakes that led to this deterioration?
On the Palestinian side
- Democracy by rifle: Israel has demanded, again and again and always in vain, that the Palestinians "dismantle the terrorist infrastructure." But the Palestinians have no terrorist infrastructure – it would be more correct to say that the terrorist infrastructure has Palestinians. Yasser Arafat's legacy, that it is possible to conduct negotiations while at the same time conducting an armed struggle, is apparently eternal. Yes, the Palestinians have first rights to the phrase "democracy by rifle."
- Where's the alternative to Hamas? The Palestinian leadership has faithfully confused its followers with conflicting messages. Just what alternative does the PA provide when it is simultaneously for and against terror, when it calls for jihad against Israel while also at the same time "denouncing" it? Islamic Jihad is better at terrorism; Hamas is better at social welfare. The PA can fool the Western world and some of us that it is actually worth something – but it can't fool its own people.
- Right-turn only: "Where is the Palestinian Left?" they ask naively in Israel and the West. Do they really expect people educated for decades in the ways of "unity of word, unity of deed" to produce a vibrant opposition? There is no "Palestinian Left," and anyone opposing the right-wing – has always done so from an even further right-wing position.
- Power and depression: The West believes Palestinian corruption is not part of the "Road Map." But the Palestinian street has had enough: Enough of the corruption, enough of the anarchy brought about by the secular Fatah leadership. The street has made clear it will not tolerate a government run by monopoly barons when most of the population lives below the poverty line. In the fight for Hebron, for example, the number of worshippers at certain mosques won out over the number of gas stations Jibril Rajoub owns.
- Verbal terrorism: The Palestinians live with an onslaught of deceitful propaganda. A brigade of PR folks employed by chief propagandist Saib Erekat runs it. Young people on screen and at the microphone, speaking fluent English and getting enormous salaries, concerned day and night with marketing the idea that all PA problems connect back to Israel. More than a few, we should remember, exist on salaries paid by the European Union.
And what about the Israeli side?
- "Concessions for peace." Several days after Arafat arrived in Gaza, he was caught smuggling missiles and suspects wanted by Israel in his helicopter. Then, back in the summer of 1995, not during the al-Aqsa Intifada that began in September 2000, was the beginning of chaos in the territories. The bad winds that took root during the Oslo years, the main feature of which was Israel's refusal to blow the whistle on Palestinian violations and penchant to ignore the fact that terrorism was gaining strength, as well as a policy of "shhhh, we're making peace over here," are all coming back to haunt us.
- Israeli gambles: During the 1970s and 80s Israel supported the Muslim Brotherhood in the territories against the PLO. Years later, Peres gambled on Arafat, Beilin on Mahmoud Abbas and Ahmed Qureia and Shaul Mofaz with Mohammed Dahlan and Jibril Rajoub. The State of Israel doesn't need to assassinate Palestinian leaders with missiles – it's enough to "strengthen" them politically and economically.
- Dahlan, for example: Six months after Israel considered killing Mohammed Dahlan for his involvement with terror groups, Dahlan became the sheriff in Gaza, with Israel's encouragement. In his first test as a "man of law" – restoring order – he came crashing down with a bang second only to the noise of a Qassam rocket. Are intelligence reports mistaken yet again? The concept failed one more time? The sheriff is here, as a manipulator and advertising manager, and no more.
- Geneva: How many more times can the Palestinians mumble about the "Geneva Accord" and the "People's Voice," and that they must rethink the right of return, only to quickly go back and apologize publicly following harsh renunciations by the Tanzim ? We must understand – when it comes to the United States, Yasser Abd Rabbo and Sari Nusseibeh are good guys, but when it comes to Israel - they are collaborators.
- Lazy Middle East: The theory of a "New Middle East" caused the Palestinians to go from being hard workers to lazy welfare recipients. Israel encouraged Western countries to support them economically, but the Palestinians interpreted that as support for a "beggars" culture. Instead of buying a fisherman a rod and a net, the West preferred to give them the fish – and thus turned the Palestinians from farm laborers and hard workers into serial welfare recipients, beggars and rioters.