Palestinian Zero-Sum Mentality
The legacy of the Mufti Haj Amin al-Husseini is alive and well among Palestinians.
When the former Secretary General of the United Nations (UN) Ban Ki-moon addressed the Israeli-Palestinian Conflict on November 29, 2012, the date was significant. Sixty-five years earlier, the UN voted to partition Mandatory Palestine into two states. Ban Ki-moon failed however to preface his historical reference with the historical facts: The Palestinian-Arabs rejected the Partition resolution, and chose to wage a terror campaign against the Jewish community of Palestine the day after the Partition Plan was voted on (November 29, 1947). Six months later, on May 14, 1948, David Ben Gurion, Israel’s founding father and first Prime Minister, declared in Tel Aviv the establishment of the Jewish state named Israel. A day earlier, the British Mandatory administration departed Palestine. One day after Israel’s declaration of independence, four Arab armies combined with Palestinian-Arab irregulars launched a war of annihilation against the nascent Jewish state. The Jews of Palestine did accept the UN Partition Plan, albeit with less land than promised by the League of Nations mandate given to Britain, which included both banks of the Jordan River (what is today all of Israel and Jordan).
Ban Ki-moon wrote: “What is needed now is political will and courage. Leaders must show a sense of historic responsibility and vision. Israelis and Palestinians must break out of a Zero-sum mentality, and embrace a peaceful path forward. That is the best hope for both peoples. Young people in particular, should be given reason to look to the future with expectation, not with resignation at the certainty of a prolonged conflict.”
Ban Ki-moon expressed meaningful words. The problem is that it should have been directed at one party only; The Palestinians. It is the Palestinians who have rejected self-determination and statehood because of their zero-sum mentality. Compromise was never part of the Arab-Palestinian lexicon; in fact, the minority of Palestinians who sought compromise and peaceful relations with the Jewish community in Palestine were murdered by the Mufti of Jerusalem, Haj Amin al-Husseini. The Mufti was Adolf Hitler’s ally during WWII, and a strong advocate of the Final Solution, which resulted in the Holocaust. The same Haj Amin al-Husseini chartered the course of zero-sum approach in Arab affairs from the early 1920’s until today. Ban Ki-moon’s lecturing Israel a decade ago about zero-sums, political will, and courage is not only misplaced but it is indicative of the UN anti-Israel bias.
Early on, Palestinian Jewish leaders including Ben Gurion, and Israel’s first president, Dr. Chaim Weizmann, tried hard to reach agreements with Palestinian-Arabs. They were willing to make painful compromises for peace. And since the 1920’s until today, Palestinian-Arabs have said NO to each and every proposal presented by the Jews of Palestine, and later by the State of Israel. The Mufti’s zero-sum attitude stemming from his rabid antisemitism, and Islamist extremism, has influenced generations of Palestinian leaders including the Mufti’s distant relative - Yasser Arafat, and to a lesser extent his successor, Mahmud Abbas.
Zero-sum politics as practiced by the Palestinians (the Mufti) meant rejecting the 1937 Peel commission recommendation of an Arab state on 75% of Mandatory Palestine, and a Jewish state on less than 20%. As the Mufti saw it, even 1% of Jewish sovereignty was unacceptable. It was to be everything (100% of Mandatory Palestine) for the Palestinians and nothing for the Jews. This attitude was repeated a decade later in the 1947 Partition Plan. It has also pervaded the thinking of Arafat and Abbas, the Palestinian Liberation Organization (PLO) Charter, and today’s Hamas’ charter that seeks the destruction of the Jewish state, and its replacement with an Islamist Palestinian state.
At the July, 2000 Camp David summit chaired by President Bill Clinton, which included Palestinian Authority chairman Arafat, and Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Barak, far reaching concessions to the Palestinians were offered by Barak and endorsed by Clinton. Arafat rejected all of it, and chose instead to launch the Second Intifada against Israeli civilians. Arafat’s unwillingness to compromise continued the Mufti’s tradition. Abbas, likewise, failed to compromise when in 2008, Israeli PM Ehud Olmert offered even more extensive concessions. In both cases, Arafat and Abbas knew that anything less than their impossible maximalists demands, including the ‘return of Palestinian refugees to Israel’ (millions of descendants born in Lebanon, Syria, and elsewhere in the Arab world, which would spell the end of the Jewish state, creating a bi-national state) would result in their assassination. The Mufti’s legacy of murdering any leader that would compromise with the Jews continued in the Palestinian streets.
There is also the Islamist notion of ‘dar al-Islam,’ or the domain or house of Islam. This is the belief that any territory conquered by Muslims is forever part of the Waqf (an Islamic endowment of property to be held in trust). Muslims consider all of Palestine part of the Islamic domain; they similarly consider Spain as well. To the likes of the Mufti and his successors, it means that only Muslims can rule in Palestine. Hence, compromising on a two-state solution, namely partition, or a Jewish sovereign state, is haram or forbidden.
The Mufti laid down a pattern of behavior in the 1920’s that has been followed to this day. It shuns compromise and operates on intimidation, and murder of anyone who has transgressed. During British Mandatory times, Arab moderates were liquidated by the Mufti’s goons. It has solidified the extremists that still set the tone in the Palestinian society, even among Israeli-Arabs. Israeli-Arab parliamentary (Knesset) representatives are virtually all anti-Israel extremists who openly and defiantly stand in solidarity with Palestinian terrorists. Increasingly though, ordinary Israeli-Arabs are integrating into Israeli society and are rejecting the extremism of their leaders. The majority of Israeli-Arabs, and Jerusalem Palestinians with Israeli identity cards, prefer to live in Israel rather than under the PA.
Ban Ki-moon stated that, “The outline of an end to the conflict is clear. We know them well. They are laid out in United Nations Security Council (UNSC) resolutions, the Madrid principles, including land for peace, the road map, and existing agreements between the parties…”
Ban Ki-moon was clearly pandering to the Islamic bloc in the UN when he invoked the Saudi 2002 “peace plan,” which echoed the Palestinian demand of the “return of the Palestinian refugees.” He should have known better than make his moral equivalency statements. Israel did make good on the UNSC resolution 242 calling for land for peace. Israel returned the entire Sinai Peninsula to Egypt, including its oil wells, and demolished established Jewish communities. Israel did the same with Jordan; it traded land for peace.
Once Arafat’s PLO took over negotiations with Israel following the Madrid process, there was never a chance for peace. Just like his distant relative, the Mufti, he used intimidation and terror to squash any possibility for a peaceful compromise and a two-state solution. The weakness of the current Abbas-led PA has increased the influence of the Islamist terror group Hamas in Gaza, and their jihadist partners; the Palestinian Islamic Jihad.
As long as the legacy of the Mufti, Haj Amin al-Husseini prevails among Palestinians, and the zero-sum mentality coupled with intimidation, terror, and murder guides Palestinian leadership, there will not be peace or a two-state solution.