Being Palestinian Means Never Having to Say You’re Sorry

It is predominately understood that Israel was in the right in her actions during the latest operation against the Gaza flotilla. Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu was on the mark when he unequivocally stated that Israel “will never apologize for defending itself.”  The problem is not always being right but also being strategic which is Israel’s biggest challenge.

Consequently, the world was “outraged” the UN was “shocked” and once again we can see how Israel is held to a double standard that no other country in the world is held to. Israel is expected to always behave morally and treat the Palestinians with silk gloves in order not to hurt or offend them in any shape or form. The Palestinians, meanwhile, can do no wrong even when they openly engage in acts of terrorism.

Moreover, it is the hyper-sensitive focus on Israel by the global media outlets that draws attention to every flaw Israel has. Israel by no means is perfect but it is the only democratic country in the region which actually abides by a rule of law. The same freedoms we hold dear as Americans can only be found in Israel. Yet it is Israel that brings the U.N. Security Council together for more commissions and inquires than any other nation and holds anti-Israel kangaroo courts on a regular basis.  The stark contrast relates of course to the real threat – a nuclear Iran, which just a few days ago announced that it now has enough uranium for two nuclear bombs. And yet, somehow it is much easier for the world to focus on the “peace activists” of the flotilla.

The halo effect generated by Israel’s actions against Palestinians spawns the sympathy Palestinians want and yearn for as it depicts them “helpless” and illustrates how Israel is the true obstacle for peace. In fact, this is why the Palestinians and the Arab world at large love to quote UN resolution 242 whenever they have an opportunity. 242 has become the foundation for the land for peace formula drafted after the Six Day War, and a superficial reading seemingly places Palestinian/Arab brokers of peace in a position of strength. For Arabs, this “legal” prerequisite emphasizes the give and take aspect: if Israel valued peace, it would return land; if Arabs wanted land, they would give peace.

The reason Arabs love to quote 242 is that it is a deceptively simple equation; on the one hand it talks about the exchange of land-for-peace with Israel, meaning that there is room to negotiate peace. On the other hand, although we naively believe that it also calls for recognition of Israel as the Jewish state, that is not the case.

In theory they can say they really want peace but in practice it is very far from the truth. The resolution calls for “Withdrawal of Israeli armed forces from territories occupied in the recent conflict.” It deliberately does not call for withdrawal from “all” or “any” because the resolution’s authors knew that such demands were unreasonable. As far as “peace” goes the resolution lays on the bureaucratic boilerplate and calls for “Termination of all claims or states of belligerency and respect for and acknowledgement of the sovereignty, territorial integrity and political independence of every State in the area and their right to live in peace within secure and recognized boundaries free from threats or acts of force.”

The UN Resolution demands that Israel gives up some land in exchange for some, still unspecified, peace. Israel is still waiting. In the context of when the resolution was passed (November 1967) the Arab response was clear. 242 remains the best smokescreen for Palestinians and Arabs, since they say they want peace based on 242 but in the same breath, usually in Arabic, they reassure one another that they are committed to the “3 no’s of Khartum.” And indeed this position has not changed much over the past forty plus years: no peace with Israel, no recognition of Israel, and no negotiations with Israel is still what motivates many Palestinians in their yearning for Israel’s death.

Today, under the Hamas-led Palestinian Authority, “land-for-peace” automatically translates into “land-for-talk” because to most generous Americans and Europeans, talk – not peace – is all that Israel should expect, and possibly deserve, in exchange for territorial concessions. This is the motivation which drove Hizbullah to attack Israel in 2006 and Israel to act against Hamas in Gaza in 2009.

Talk is cheap. Land and lives are expensive. If the Palestinians really want to talk about Resolution 242 as the basis for anything, they should first get their own territories under control, stop firing rockets at Israeli towns, and start creating a decent civil society. Until then Israelis have learned a hard lesson that until the other side stops wanting to wipe Israel off the map, resolutions like 242 really aren’t worth the paper they’re written on and Israel will need to continue combating “peace activists” who work towards violence rather than true peace.

Asaf Romirowsky is a Senior Fellow at EMET and an associate fellow at the Middle East Forum.

  • Ron Grant

    "they should first get their own territories under control, stop firing rockets at Israeli towns, and start creating a decent civil society. Until then Israelis have learned a hard lesson that until the other side stops wanting to wipe Israel off the map,"

    Easier said then done,but Israel also faces some very difficult tasks before peace is realized.And Israeli policies have not been helpful for Palestinians to achieve "a decent civil society".Indeed,the Palestinians may be their own worse enemy,but with the help of Israel,of course.
    From my perspective,Israel being the occupier and oppressor needs concede more then the Palestinians to achieve a fair settlement.And perhaps you are right,more may never be enough,but the European Diaspora was not invited to Palestine,they imposed themselves.
    After Blacks achieved majority rule in white ruled Rhodesia,many ,maybe most,Europeans went home,where ever that was e.g.UK,Australia,Canada,etc.When Helen Thomas asserted "Get the hell out of Palestine" and stated the Jews could return to Germany,Poland,etc. I could hear different voices asserting "Go back to Palestine" of the Palestinian Nakba.The analogies here are certainly imperfect and incomplete,but valid enough for serious thought.
    While Israel was to be sanctuary for European Jews fleeing the Holocaust,it seems they may have jumped from the fire pan into the fire.Those Jews killed in wars and from terrorism in Israel may well still be alive today in Australia,Poland,Canada and Germany.What the old bag Helen Thomas said while outrageous and cruel was certainly food for thought.And effectively Jews have not considered how their actions impacted the Palestinians in similar ways.Muchiboy

    • Stern

      Ron Grant, do you know how many white Zimbabweans now live in South Africa, Canada, Australia and other places? There was no "home" for them to go back to to. Rhodesia had been their home for many generations.
      Now compare the Palestinians to the Jews pre-1948. Despite the fact that Palestine was "occupied" by Britain, the Jews built civil institutions, ready for the day they would have a state of their own. So when the Partition was passed at the UN, the Jews were ready to take over from Britain just a few months later. In contrast, the Palestinians, until recently under Fayyad, have preferred to devote their energies to fighting Israel, rather than building their own state. Gaza is a perfect example. When Israel withdrew, it left behind the makings of a thriving export economy. And how long did it take for the Palestinians to trash those greenhouses and everything else "Jewish"? Once again, they demonstrated that, whether "occupied" or not, they don't much care for creating their own state. All they want to do is destroy the Jewish one. And useful idiots like you are one of their best weapons.

      • Ron Grant

        "Ron Grant, do you know how many white Zimbabweans now live in South Africa, Canada, Australia and other places? There was no "home" for them to go back to to. Rhodesia had been their home for many generations"

        Most of my friends including my Army mates no longer live in Zimbabwe.Interestingly,members of my unit were recruited by the IDF or South African forces upon Independence.I don't know how many couldn't leave because they had no place to go.I should have thought South Africa would have taken most of them.I know they took some of our Black units.And sure,the example of Rhodesia would would serve as grave second thought to Jews in Israel.I know that.The leadership in Zimbabwe badly let down all citizens of Zimbabwe.Maybe the same would happen in Israel if allowed.But European Jews occupied Palestine like European whites occupied Zimbabwe.They weren't invited.Too bad,so sad.Zimbabwe is poorer for the loss of the whites and Asians.Countries like mine were the benefactors.A future Palestine would be poorer for the loss of Jews.Countries like mine would give our front teeth for hundreds of thousands of Jews.I'd certainly pay.

        "When Israel withdrew, it left behind the makings of a thriving export economy."

        I don't disagree and I don't know.I also don't care what the Palestinians do after they achieve their goals.I see the need for a just solution.If that means a two state solution then the Jews must give till it hurts and then give some more..contiguous land,water,etc.It is as much a moral as a political solution.

        "And useful idiots like you are one of their best weapons. "

        There certainly is an army of us.Of course we all call each other names but I am impressed by the arguments presented here.And likely the best solution would be a negotiated one with meaningful compromises.Muchiboy

    • Stern

      "Jews have not considered how their actions impacted the Palestinians in similar ways"

      Really? Have you read the Israeli Declaration of Independence? Have you read the actual sayings of Ben Gurion (not the edited ones quoted by Benny Morris and Illan Pappe, but the actual, full statements, reported by true historians like Efraim Karsh)? Have you heard what the Jewish mayor of Haifa had to say when he begged the Arab population to stay in 1948? Have you studied the offers made by Ehud Barak at Camp David and by Ehud Olmert in 2008?

      Or are you simply parroting the garbage you read in places like The Guardian?

      Perhaps, instead of coming here to mouth off at every article, you actually read and absorbed those articles, you might gain some understanding of reality.

      • Ron Grant

        Really? Have you read the Israeli Declaration of Independence? Have you read the actual sayings of Ben Gurion (not the edited ones quoted by Benny Morris and Illan Pappe, but the actual, full statements, reported by true historians like Efraim Karsh)? Have you heard what the Jewish mayor of Haifa had to say when he begged the Arab population to stay in 1948? Have you studied the offers made by Ehud Barak at Camp David and by Ehud Olmert in 2008?

        No.No.No.No.

        "parroting the garbage"

        I have read enough ,argued enough to have an informed opinion.

        "actually read and absorbed those articles, you might gain some understanding of reality."

        One can always benefit from additional readings and debate.I will follow up on some of your suggested sources.But I am sticking to my guns on the core issue.There are moral imperatives here that cannot be ignored.
        And as much as Holocaust deniers recommend I read this or that in support of their bizarre opinions,I have never followed up these sources.However,I will you the give you and your sources the benefit of the doubt.Muchiboy

    • ajnn

      The Arabs could end the war in a moment: (i) stop the terrorism for 1 year and (ii) stop teaching their children that killing a Jew makes an automatic entrance to heaven.

      If these two things happened, there would be no war and the Israelis would be very, very happy to keep their distance from the West Bank and Gaza.

      The only way to minimize the terrorist killing is by being present in the West Bank to stop the terrorists. It's the only thing that has ever worked.

      Israel now and for years has wanted 'out' but the terrorist killings keep them in. End the terrorism and the Israelis will be more than happy to stay as far from Gaza and the West Bank as is humanly possible.

      • Ron Grant

        "If these two things happened, there would be no war and the Israelis would be very, very happy to keep their distance from the West Bank and Gaza. "

        It isn't enough that the Palestinians do this or that.Again,Israel having been the aggressor,occupier and oppressor needs do more in stopping illegal settlements,addressing the right of return of Palestinians,and offering contiguous borders for a secure and viable Palestine.Except,your Neo-colonial,Zionist settler mentality won't allow such common sense and moral choices.Muchiboy

  • al Kidya

    Arab citizens of Israel comprise just over 20% of the country's total population. The majority of these identify themselves as Arab or Palestinian by nationality and Israeli by citizenship.
    So if 20% of Israel's citizenry are Arab Palestinian, who are these people living in the Gaza strip?
    Are they just people who had terrorist ties? Are they people who refused to integrate into Israeli society.
    Genetics has proven that most of the population in Gaza is Jewish blood.
    The speak a dialect of Arabic and Jewish combination that is now referred to as Palestinian.
    Palestine didn't even exist until the British mandate of the territory.
    So will somebody please tell me what all this fuss over a "non-race" of people is?

    • Stern

      Where on earth do you get your information? Or perhaps you're right. Maybe if the population of Gaza really does have Jewish blood, that would explain why they're so keen on suicide missions. After all, who wants to be the "sons of apes and pigs"!
      Seriously, though, you really need to read up on some real history. The people of Gaza and the Palestinians of the West Bank are ethnically and by language, exactly the same as the people of Egypt, Jordan and Syria. In fact, before 1948, they identified themselves as "Northern Syrians". However, I certainly do agree with you in your next post, where you suggest that we should get rid of Hamas and Hezbollah and the Muslim Brotherhood.

    • USMCSniper

      You ask: "So will somebody please tell me what all this fuss over a "non-race" of people is?"
      TThe so-called Palestinians are nothing more than the subsidized proxy terrorists of Iran who strap munitions on their own women and children and send them out on homicide-suicide missions to murder other women and children in markets, restuarants, and on school buses. The Palestinians have forfeited their right to even exist.

    • ajnn

      We chould remember that the Israelis left Gaza in 2005 – the 100th anniversary of the massacre of the Jews in Gaza in 1905 that made Gaza 'Arab'.

  • al Kidya

    I think the real problem here is not the "so-called" Palestinian people but socio-political parties like Hamas, Hezbollah, Fatah, the Palestinian Authority and any groups tied-in with the Muslim Brotherhood.

    If they could get rid of Hamas I think all the problems would go away.
    If they could get rid of Hezbollah all problems would go away.
    If they could get rid of the Muslim Brotherhood…

    • To the ignorant

      Well, not really!!!!!!
      Before Hamas and Hezbollah and the Muslim Brotherhood we had the Fedaeens and the Fathas!!!!!!
      Who cares what they call themselves, the only thing that matter is that they are arabs who murder jews for fun and satisfaction because their religion instruct them to do it!!!!!
      and because they believe they will go to haven!!!!!!!
      Crazies nuts that the only thing to do is to help them get to haven faster!!!!!!!!!

  • Leeza

    Why is there such an incredible difference between the way Palestinians in the West Bank are living and those in Gaza are living? Hamas has imposed sharia law in Gaza; it confiscates humanitarian aid and uses it to line its own pockets. Meanwhile on the West Bank, there is thriving free market activity. There is an independant press (ma'an) Even though there are still problems in both territories, there are clear differences between the two.

    These differences demonstrate clearly that the majority of Palestinian suffering is due to the corrupt, war hungry leadership in Gaza under Hamas. Plain and simple. Now Hamas is turning away humanitarian aid too. Al Kidya has the right idea.

  • carol

    CHILD ABUSE!!!

  • To the ignorant

    The ignorant stupid historically false statement that came from Ron Grant, like from Helen Thomas is why we do not have peace in the Middle East.
    The falsehood that the jews just landed on the poor Palestinians is a historical lie and Arab propaganda.
    This is jewish land stolen from the jews not visa versa!!!!!!!
    Israel is willing to give part of their homeland to the Arabs, not Palestinians, because there is no such a thing as Palestinians, if they can be left alone to live their lives.
    The jews are as Palestinians as the arabs and lived in the land of Israel for thousand of years.
    The Nakba is another propaganda trick and a lie. Where is the Nakba of a million jews thrown out of the Arabs countries with the shirt on their backs.
    But then as I said many times before, jewish blood is free for all, jewish land is Arab land and jewish life do not matter!!!!!!!!
    Have been there, have lived it, have seen it!!!!!!!!
    Nothing new under the sun!!!
    Except that this time the jews have something to fight with, and I hope Israel WILL!!!!!!!!
    This time the whole world will feel it!!!!!!!!