Tuesday, November 23, 2004

The Real Goal

I believe that the Palestinians would have had a state of their own years ago had they chosen the path of nonviolent resistance.

The Palestinians are asking for land that the Israelis possess, the transfer of which will make the Israelis less secure. Moreover, the Palestinians are much weaker then the Israelis (so they cannot take the land by force).

A rational actor under these circumstances would look to history and take the path of Gandhi and the Solidarity movement. They would use nonviolent resistance to shame the rest of the world into pressuring the Israelis to give up the West Bank and Gaza. By resisting without violence they would also strengthen the hand of those Israelis who are prepared to give land to the Palestinians by showing the Israelis that they are a rational and peaceful people who can be trusted to be good neighbors.

But, the Palestinians have chosen violent confrontation instead. There are three possible reasons for this:

(1) I am wrong and violent struggle is the best way to get their state in the West Bank and Gaza. This can be debunked by looking at recent history. The Palestinians have been devastated as a result of their violent struggle and are further from a state then they were before the second intifada.

(2) They are not rational. This one is tempting. I have never seen a society as seemingly irrational as the Palestinians (or the societies of their Arab brethren). But, in the end, I think that the Palestinian’s can make rational decisions (they - even Hamas - are perfectly capable of making truces with the Israelis when they are particularly besieged).

So what is the other possible explanation?

(3) The Palestinians do not have the goal of peaceful coexistence with the Israelis in the West Bank and Gaza. I think their choice of violent struggle can be explained by the fact that they have a goal of eliminating the state of Israel and removing the Jews from the Mideast. And, from their point of view, there is no time like the present to get started on that war.

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