Following UNESCO’s recent decision to recognize the Church of the Nativity as a world heritage site in Palestine, the Palestinians celebrated the event with the much pomp and hyperbole. Prime Minister Salam Fayyad said the inclusion is “the most remarkable event on the path of Palestinian state-building since the establishment of the Palestinian Authority.”
Fayyad called on UN institutions to protect the Palestinian people, land and heritage from Israeli “occupation” and the “terror” of its settlers. Yet the extreme falsehood and hypocrisy of his statements only served to underline the degree to which the entire Palestine outlook on peace with Israel is false, theatrical and characterized by virtual reality.
Virtual reality as commonly defined and understood is essentially a phenomenon related to computer games, with numerous bells, whistles and sophisticated visual effects that aim to provide an effective illusion of reality. These elements have become the key to the Palestinian approach to negotiations with Israel, and also to their relationship with the world in general.
By now these relationships essential boil down to a series of theatrical or magical tricks that have no basis in reality and cannot achieve a thing.
The most recent Palestinian trick was the successful bid to have Bethlehem’s Church of the Nativity recognized by UNESCO as located in Palestine, a meaningless declaration that cannot change reality. Previously, UNESCO also chose to recognize Palestine as a full member state. Still, Palestine mostly exists as a state in the collective Palestinian consciousness and nowhere else.
Tale of a chair
Maneuvering to obtain recognition in UNESCO was a virtual, theatrical step that has no basis in reality and no real effect in the real world. Indeed, it achieved absolutely nothing for the Palestinians. However, this step did cost UNESCO one-quarter of its yearly budget - the 22% contributed by the United States, and another 3% contributed by Israel.
Last but not least, the most theatrical step the Palestinians have taken toward their virtual statehood relates to a special chair that was constructed about a year ago and was supposed to represent Palestine in the UN and in a special round the world journey.
Thirty-five Palestinian artists from the West Bank created the chair in support of the Palestinian statehood bid at the UN, and they sent it to different countries around the world in support of the move. The chair was also made in 48 hours, to represent the "Nakba" or Palestinian catastrophe of 1948.
Yet while the chair has been traveling the world of virtual reality, in the real world the Palestinians have slammed the door shut on bilateral negotiations with Israel. Unfortunately, UN officials and other world leaders do nothing to roundly condemn the false, futile Palestinian maneuvers.
In the final analysis, the Palestinians have been given a clear playing field on the international arena. However, instead of taking real, concrete steps towards resolving their conflict with Israel, they continue to entertain the fantasy that their virtual reality tricks will achieve something. Unfortunately, these tricks and illusions will not achieve a thing, bringing no peace, no resolution, and no statehood.