Saturday, November 15, 2014

An Intifada of Arab Disappointment - with Themselves

...The "Palestinians" are furious at their own inner reality, one that makes a viable state impossible.

Dr. Mordechai Kedar..
13 November '14..

One of the most important characteristics of a nation is a strong feeling of unity that allows its people to achieve the goals that it deems important. A people with a strong and unified national identity is able to put aside personal, political, ideological and sectorial differences so that its citizens can work together to succeed in reaching a goal that is important and significant to all of them.

Real leaders sense the people's will to unite for the sake of a national cause and can overcome the differences between them; if they do not, they will be replaced by others who are better than they, who know what the priorities are when there is a crucial national objective at stake. A people with a strong feeling of unity can handle a democratic country that does not fear differences of opinion and changes in government, because these do not degenerate into violence and therefore do not endanger its existence.

In contrast, a nation with a weak and fragile identity has chronic disputes that spill over into rhetorical violence and violent acts between its different sectors, with very little cooperation occurring between them. Different sectors feel threatened by each other leading to serious distrust. The nation's symbols are not strong enough to unite its population groups, each of which has goals differing from the other. This kind of nation will invent an external enemy in the hope that the war against it will unify the people for the sake of a higher interest, a war. This kind of nation raises the question of whether its citizens have enough of a feeling of commonality to keep them together and allow them to form a nation-state.

The Palestinian street has been demanding unity between Hamas and Fatah for a long time now, because everyone realizes that the split between the two organizations lets Israel claim that there is "no partner for peace." This limits the ability of the Palestinians to be effective ih the PA, the Middle East and the international arena. That is the reason the two sign agreements every so often, and why the PA has developed a unity government of technocrats, not politicians, who are approved by both organizations – meaning,naturally, that no one is pleased. And despite the "unity" government, Hamas rules Gaza and comes down heavy on Fatah members in Gaza.

On Friday, November 7, bombs exploded in the doorways and vehicles of ten Fatah leaders in Gaza, and another explosion destroyed the stage that Fatah had prepared for the Arafat memorial ceremony that was planned for the tenth anniversary of his death on November 11. Fatah blames Hamas for the bombings, especially since they all took place at the same time and there is no other group in Gaza that can coordinate the timing of eleven bombings. As a result of the bombings and the bad blood between the two organizations, the memorial event was cancelled. The official reason given was that "Hamas refused to guarantee the safety of participants", in other words: Hamas threatened to harm the participants, just as they did the stage. And that means that even Arafat is not a national symbol that can hold the two groups under one roof in his memory

Hamas' real objective is the establishment of an Islamic state with the law of the land being Sharia law that favors Muslims, while Fatah wants something entirely different, a nation-state where Muslims and Christians have equal rights and status. There is no way to bridge these two diametrically opposed goals, it is the reason the battle between Fatah and Hamas, that began as soon as Hamas was formed in December 1987, is still going strong and with no end in sight.

Fatah's problem is that Hamas joined the political game and won most of the legislative seats in the January 2006 election. The PLO fears another election victory for Hamas and that is why there are no elections in sight. That is the real reason that since 2005, when Abbas was elected, about 10 years ago, there have been no elections for the legislature. When a nation lacks national cohesiion, it fears democratic processes and changes in government.

The Palestinian narrative talks about a Palestinian nation in Israel, Gaza, Judea and Samaria, Jordan and about refugees in Syria and Lebanon. If there were a Palestinian nation we would have seen evidence of solidarity between its parts. But did we see the Palestinians residing in Judea and Samaria go out to protest in a grass roots uprising when the IDF attacked Gaza in Operation Protective Edge a few months ago? No,we did not. Did the Israeli Arabs, who call themselves Palestinians, rebel against the state of Israel because of its treatment of the Gazans and the Arabs of Judea and Samaria? No, they did not. Did we see masses of Arabs in Judea and Samaria rushing to Syria to save their people from the Assad government's plans to destroy them? Maybe a few. Did the Arab residents of Judea and Samaria offer to absorb their "brothers" who fled or were expelled from Israel during the 1948 War of Independence? Not at a;;. They kept them in refugee camps, without running water, sewage systems, electricity, communications - for years. Is that how one treats one's brothers?

Why do the "Palestinians" who live in Judea and Samaria view the "Palestinians" living in Gaza as members of another culture? Why don't the young women of Hevron marry young men from Shchem (Nablus)? Why do the "Palestinian" citizens of Israel treat the "West Bank Palestinians" who work for them like foreign workers, taking shameful advantage of them? Why does the municipality of Tira - a "Palestinian" village near Kfar Saba - forbid Kalkilya's "Palestinians" use of its local swimming pool? Is it because they are "one people"?

The answer to all these questions is the same: the "Palestinians" are just a bunch of tribes, clans (hamulot) and extended families headed by notables, who never blended and never created a people with a common national consciousness. Some have lived in the land of Israel for generations, but some are recent arrivals. Just for the sake of proving this point: there were two terror attacks in recent weeks in which drivers purposely targeted Israeli civilians. One terrorist was an Arab whose name is Higazi, meaning Saudi, and one was named al-Akri, meaning from northern Lebanon.

Similarly, the "Palestinians" include many families whose names bear witness to the fact that their origins are not in "Palestine", with the letter "i" at the end of a surname meaning "from" in Arabic. Thus, al-Masri and al-Fiumi - mean Egyptian; Halabi - means Syrian; the names Trabolsi, Sidani, Tyrani (from the cities of Sidon and Tyre) all mean that they are from Lebanon; Zarkawi, Kraki - from Jordan. The residents of the village of Jisr al-Azarka to the south of Haifa are Sudanese, and the Bushnak family of Kafar Manda are from Bosnia. One of Mahmoud Abbas' advisers is named Damiri, meaning that he comes from the Syrian village of Damir.

The sectoral schisms typifying the "Palestinians" are not any different from those existing in most Arab countries - Syria, Iraq, Libya, Sudan, Yemen, Algeria and others.This is the real and deeply rooted reason for the terrible crises these countries have suffered over the last four years, where inter-group rivalries turned into such horrible violence that hundreds of thousands of men, women and children have already lost their lives. The cycles of violence that took place in Gaza before Hamas took over in 2007 also stemmed from these schisms: the PLO in Gaza was a coalition of families that opposed another coalition calling itself Hamas. There is no escaping the conclusion that the "Palestinians" ability to form a functioning state based on common "nationhood" with a solid national identity is the same as that of the Syrians, Iraqis, Libyans, Sudanese and Yemenites.

The only thing uniting the "Palestinians" is their virulent hatred of Israel and their animosity towards the Zionist entity. This is the real reason they cannot stop incitement against Israel and the Jewish people, and for the fact that they cannot bring themselves to put Israel on the maps appearing in their school textbooks. Without hatred of Israel and incitement against the Jewish state, there is no glue holding them together. This is also the reason there are no peace organizations among the "Palestinians", because peace with Israel means disintegration for them.

Now they are bursting into the streets, stabbing, running over people, shooting, attacking for several reasons, some of them immediate and some running deep: the immediate ones result from the murder of the youngster Abu Khdeir and the deeper ones from their refusal to view the Jews as a nation in its own land, and the jealousy that consumes them at the sight of the Jews building a nation that is to a great extent united, a democratic state with peaceful government changes, one that wins every war. Jealousy breeds hatred and what we are seeing now is the result of their long term failure to establish a "Palestinian nation" with a feeling of togetherness, with any chance of running an organized and stable state.

It is clear to everyone that a Palestinian state formed by the PLO will turn into a Hamas state in record time as soon as there are elections. That is what happened in January 2006. On the other hand, there can also be a violent takeover, as occurred in Gaza in June 2007. Their frustration breaks out into the street in fury at their own reality. The PA tries to deflect the anger towards Israel in order to win supporters in the rivalry with Hamas, and Hamas deflects the public's anger towards the Zionist entity so as to gain points in its struggle against the PLO.

That is why the only operative solution, the only one that can be implemented on the ground, is one based on Arab sociology, one that creates eight Palestinian emirates: in Gaza, Shchem, Jenin, Tulkarem, Kalkilya, Ramallah, Jerico and Arab Hevron. Details at


Dr. Mordechai Kedar is a senior lecturer in the Department of Arabic at Bar-Ilan University. He served in IDF Military Intelligence for 25 years, specializing in Arab political discourse, Arab mass media, Islamic groups and the Syrian domestic arena. Thoroughly familiar with Arab media in real time, he is frequently interviewed on the various news programs in Israel.

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